« 上一頁繼續 »
power. Is this man, then, the instrument of blind fate? No, a thousand times no! He is the king of his own realm. He is the creator of his own character. There is no power in blood, or circumstances, to condemn a man. The almost omnipotence of his own will is at once his salvation and the cause of his responsibility. Nature furnishes the materials, but man fashions the tools and makes the furniture. God gives man forests, but no house. Every man is the recipient of materials for the making of character, but it is his time, and his strength, and his persistency, and his perfect pattern which bring the result. The raw material of blood and environment are his for higher use. Even a man's thoughts come to be the greatest workmen in the building of life. "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he." His very features are the lines upon which his thoughts are written. The secret things of the soul reveal themselves at last. A German boy was reading a blood-and-thunder novel. Right in the midst of it he said to himself:
Now, this will never do. I get too much excited over it. I can't study so well after it. So here it goes!" And he flung the book out into the river. He was Fichte, the great German philosopher. In
every man's life there have been moments of such revelation, but not always moments of victory. Skakespeare was arrested for deer-stealing and brought before a Warwickshire judge. He fled from the ire of Sir Thomas Lucy and became a second-rate actor in the theatre. His natural disposition was to a dissolute life. Some of his minute descriptions reveal his thorough familiarity with the low life and sin of the London taverns. His father was determined to make his boy live as he had lived and become an ordinary wool-comber of Stratford, but this boy could not be chained fast to that kind of an occupation. He harnessed his wagon to a star and changed the whole course of his life and at last wrote the dramatic as no mortal has ever written, and secured an imperishable fame and made a glorious record in the literary world. His natural inclination was conquered by his holy resolution. He wrote marvellous dramas, but played his part better. He never bowed to chance or fate.
The great fact of human existence is that character makes destiny. Every man comes to his own place. The motive of a man's heart controls his life and makes his measure of success. Agassiz so loved natural history that not a bone, or a bird, or a fish,
or even a strange pebble escaped his notice. The skeleton of a peculiar fish was brought into the museum at Cambridge. The excitement of the old man was intense. He placed it beneath his glass and examined it hour after hour and forgot his food and his sleep. He was so enthusiastic over the study of God in nature that it became his real life, and the world crowned him. Why is Pasteur known the world over and recognized as supreme authority in his speciality? Because he has been obedient to the leading great passion of his life. His discoveries in bacteriology were his delight, and at last entered into every drop of blood which coursed through his veins. He could not let it go; he must toil at it unceasingly. It was on his heart in the daytime; it was the dream of the night. Obstacles and difficulties were banished before this great, overmastering passion and supreme motive of his life. He could not conceal it; it was himself. The inner life stamped itself upon every part of the external. That was his world. He conquered it and owned it. There are no exceptions to this great rule. Every man fashions his own world and makes his own future. There is not a mean moment in life. It is all sublime and glori
ous, freighted with the gold of possibility and stamped with eternity. The gallery of the human soul may be covered with works of art and frescoed with the beauty of fidelity, or it can be a wretched daub. No space is left blank; something must be done; even idleness takes a brush in hand and does its work unceasingly and indelibly. Every stroke remains forever. Remorse and regret are the associates of a man who thus fills his life. If he will not have flowers he must have weeds. If he will not have wheat he must have nettles. There is no wisdom in challenging the divine economy. The laws of nature never change to accommodate carelessness or negligence. The rule has no exceptions, and is bold in its demands upon obedience. It never succumbs to the prayer of ignorance. Gardens and harvests depend upon an inexorable law. But life also has its laws, and character bears its sacred and eternal relation to them. Neglect and refusal to obey forever grows weeds instead of flowers. Intellectual and physical strength or weakness come always by their own pathway to every man. Moral nature is subjected to the same principles. The end has an inevitable but direct connection with the beginning. Sowing and reaping can be separated
only in time. Negative condition is not an option. There will be growth without cultivation. Production is a necessity. Man has the power to declare its kind.
Neither the sluggard nor the fool is relieved from obligation. Here is evidenced the sharpest wisdom or the bluntest folly. This great and binding law does not confine itself to a man's own life. It even works on with startling and pathetic effect in the lives of others. It is a delusion to suppose that a broken commandment touches only the offender's character and condition. He racks his body, and shatters his mind, and forfeits his property, but he is convicted before the suffering of his family and the blight he places upon society. No man lives unto himself. He has no possession exclusively his own. His life itself is a sanctified trust. Weeds in a garden give their seeds into the hands of the wind to be scattered in a hundred other gardens. The far-reaching result of one life is not measured by the mathematics of the schools. The eternities and infinities enter into the calculation. It is a dramatic and tragical moment when man holds the germs of righteous or evil action in his hand. He recognizes the result, but knows it only