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germs these impulsions, like everything else, do spring from the Eternal Energy; but in their original form they are void of moral attributes. They appear first in the lower animal creatures as instincts merely of self-nourishment and self-perpetuation and preservation. And there they are as normal as they are necessary. In primitive man
these instincts were little removed from their brute stage; and in individual man to-day, as in primitive man, these instincts of self-interest and selfgratification have a normal function, especially in the earlier years of life. But, since man is also a being of rational and moral consciousness, these instincts in him come into rightful subjection to the higher laws of reason and conscience. And they become evil impulsions in him when they refuse this subjection to the larger and higher law of life which the Eternal Power, through the very conditions of his creation, has wrought out for man. Self-interest is never normally an end in itself. It is only an instrumentality for the accomplishment of some universal good. And it is of the very essence of the religious and ethical consciousness, when it is awakened, to annul all interests and gratifications which are bounded by self, and to subject all the self-seeking propensities to the service of the general benefit or of some universal aim. In his capacity as a free agent, free within certain limits, man can pursue the ends of sheer selfish gratification. But, so far as he does so, he is irreligious, immoral. He unmans him
self, and resuscitates in his nature the cast-off brute, only in worse form, from which the Eternal Power had been lifting him for a higher possibility. So far from acting under an impulsion of the Eternal, he has transmuted what the Eternal once made good into evil, and for consequence loses the conscious power of the Eternal and the godlike from his nature, and sinks back under the sway of carnal and material law, toward the meagre existence of the brute and the clod; and thus he subjects the Eternal Goodness to another effort to lift his existence again to the capabilities of manhood.
There is, moreover, one additional consideration on this phase of our theme on which I wish to dwell for a moment or two. Our verse says, "Goodness and mercy shall follow us." Perhaps the writer would have said "attend us" or "lead us "just as readily. Yet, in the use of the word "follow," there is a peculiar suggestiveness. In the midst of life's ills, they are sometimes so dark and distressing that, at the time, we cannot see nor feel the overshadowing goodness and mercy. There are calamities in which we cannot say, and are not called to say, that all is for the best because Eternal Power has so willed it. The Eternal has not willed to drown your child, nor to sweep away a city by flood, nor to make a holocaust. of a town's population. The Power has simply not interfered; and it is better, on the whole, that the great natural laws of cause and effect, which
are pregnant with benefit for man, should take their course than that a life should here and there be saved from violent death, and you and I be spared from grief. Yet even then the goodness and mercy of the Eternal are not wanting, though often they may follow so far behind our suffering that we may fail to see them. They are never to be looked for in the suffering itself, but in the way we meet it. The substance of character is such that it may be nourished from sources which seem most unpromising. Trials that threaten to destroy may strengthen its fortitude. Temptations resisted, vices overcome, may be converted into moral vigor. Sorrow and tears, however bitter to bear, may beget a tenderer humanity and a more spiritual loveliness. There is no distress which can befall us for which there is not a following mercy in the very laws and forces whereby character grows and is ennobled; no wound made in our natures, whether by moral transgression or outward calamity, but that from the greater nature that holds us and of which we are born there begin to move toward us, and toward the very place of bruise, the forces of healing and restoration. Only we must hold our minds and wills in readiness to receive and co-operate with the good intent. We are free, within certain natural limits, to walk our individual ways and to open or close the avenues of beneficial influence to our hearts; yet, on whatever way we walk, and whatever evils we encounter, there is in the very laws of being and
life a reserve force of goodness and mercy following us, ready at our first beckoning gesture to come up to our side, and to help us transform the ills into some kind of moral benefit, and to lead us ever toward larger vision and higher attainments of character.
And this same Power that has been patiently working during a past eternity and through all kinds of conditions for and toward goodness may be trusted to have in store for man a worthy moral destiny. Whether that destiny is to include a personal immortality there is no science as yet, using that word in its common acceptation, which either affirms or denies. We are here left to the argument of the most rational probability. And sometimes, when there comes over me an impression of the inconceivable magnitude and orderly grandeur of this universe, of its indescribable splendor and beauty, of the eternity during which it has been in process of creation, of the infinite transformations and interactions of its forces, of its manifold realms of life, material, mental, affectional, moral, spiritual, organism rising upon organism and life upon life to ever complexer nature and finer consummation, - and when I think of man as the crown of this ineffably sublime process of creation on this earth, and as endowed with the faculty and responsibility of carrying the creative task forward in this world to some nobler issue, he being a veritable and conscious incarnation and agent of the Eternal Power that
"Step by step lifts bad to good,
when I think of man, honored by such a capacity, mission, and service, I am almost ready to say: "That is enough: to fulfil that function well is adequate dignity and destiny; no other immortality can be asked for than that which accumulates from personal goodness in the aggregate welfare of the race, and which seemed to suffice even the womanly heart of George Eliot, when she wrote of
The choir invisible
Of those immortal dead who live again
In minds made better by their presence;
In thoughts sublime that pierce the night like stars,
Were that to be all, it would yet seem a worthy destiny for individual man. He must then live so well as to greaten and gladden the mind and heart of the human race for all time after him. His rectitude would be a necessity for continuing the unbroken and beneficent succession of the allabounding and ascending life. The individual. might perish, but even then the life that was in him would go on. The old leaf on a tree, which the new bud pushes off, we may imagine even to welcome the new, since the same life has gone into it to serve a perpetuated purpose. So man might