« PreviousContinue »
ance of all life's genuine commands, whenever and wherever the seals shall be broken. These are the single eye, the pure heart, the incorruptible conscience, the humane sympathy, the unquailing courage and strength that can hold the helm to the line of reason and right, let storm and tempest rage, or sunshine allure. Whoever is thus piloted journeys as calmly and safely in night and storm as when he voyages by light and day under clear skies. These qualities make all duties performable, however suddenly revealed, all trials passable, all sorrows bearable. These furnish the constant woof for all substantial character as it is woven day by day, year by year, in the loom of time.
We are all spinners at Time's wheel. We must all contribute our part, great or small, good or ill, to the great world-life. Often we may not be able to see how our work is to fit in with the completed web of the whole, or to be of any avail. Often, indeed, we are blind spinners (as Helen Hunt Jackson pictures), working by feeling and not by sight. Yet feeling may become as sure a guidance as sight; and, if we are but faithful to the appointed task of the hour, we may do our work in faith and confidence and joyous hope. All good work finds its fitting place. It makes its own stability, its own qualities of endurance. Perhaps
"Like a blind spinner in the sun,
I tread my days,
Yet know that all the threads will run
I know each day will bring its task,
"Sometimes the threads so rough and fast
I know wild storms are sweeping past,
And fear that I
Shall fall; but dare not try to find
"I know not why, but I am sure
Such qualities as these keep the identity of character amid all time's changes, and through all duties and circumstances. One who is permeated with the spirit and power of such moral principles can never be at a loss how to act in any strait of life, can never be lost can never be otherwise than at home in any moral realm of the universe; and, when the final seal of all earthly orders is broken, and the summons is sounded to depart on that journey whence no traveller returns, such a soul cannot go to a strange country, but to a land with which it is already familiar. Moral realms. are not separated by space nor time nor outward condition. Whoever lives a life of righteousness on whatever planet, in however lowly sphere, dwells now in heaven and inhabiteth eternity.
WHEAT AND TARES.
"Let both grow together till the harvest."— MATT. xiii. 30.
JESUS' parable of the tares, which were to be allowed to grow with the wheat until the time of harvest, suggests one aspect of the moral condition of human society that may profitably engage our attention this morning. Note that I take only the point of the growing together, and not the conclusion of the parable. Within the questions of the existence of evil and of the continuance of evil is involved the subsidiary question, Why should evil be allowed in such close association with good as to imperil the existence of the latter? And this question touches human life at so many practical points that it probably perplexes and worries more people than does the more metaphysical question, Why should evil exist at all? Evil and good are so intricately blended in the relations of social life, in the home, in marriage, in problems of education, in affairs of politics, in questions of recreation and amusement, in matters of trade and business, aye, in the individual heart that somewhere to almost every person the query must daily arise, How can I here, at this point of experience, secure the good and escape the evil that lies close
beside it? In the midst of the commonest duties required of us there lurk temptations that might work our ruin. Accompanying our richest blessings come seeds of evil that may fructify in curses. Within our best hopes are possibilities that may overshadow them with despair. While we lift our heads into a clear atmosphere of joy, a deep chasm of disappointment and sorrow may be ready to yawn at our feet. We thrust forth our hands with courage and enthusiasm to the culture of certain virtues; we draw them back pricked with the thorns of vices that are growing on the same field. Thus, everywhere we find the wheat and the tares together, the good and the evil side by side, in the same soil, growing, of course, from different yet from intermingled roots.
Now, however much we might be disposed to complain of this state of things and to impeach the wisdom of the Power that has so arranged it, the complaint and the impeachment are alike useless. Wiser is it to accept the facts of existence as we find them, observe carefully the natural moral suggestions which lie in them, and then bring out of the facts the best result possible. It is very evident, from the experience of mankind, that good and evil are in such close neighborhood for a purpose, at least, that the mightiest results pertaining to the world's progress have depended upon this proximity. On the mutual relation between good and evil on account of their necessitated existence side by side turns the drama
of the life of mankind. This is the fulcrum of all historical movement,-the point whence we may trace the development and education of the human race.
Various attempts have been made from time to time, under the auspices of different religions and nationalities, to make an unnatural separation of good and evil,- to withdraw, for instance, good and pure persons into a society by themselves, to shut them off from contact with the motley world, in the hope that they in their protected enclosure would not only be safer themselves from the world's evil, but might send out into the world an influence for redeeming it. But no such experiments appear to have been successful in attaining either object. Such protected enclosures have not, on the one hand, kept out the power of evil. Corruption has somehow found entrance into these consecrated places. And, on the other hand, the devout persons thus set apart from the world, if they have preserved their own integrity, have too often become too ignorant of the world's condition and needs and ways to be efficient workers against its vices. So, in spite of all such attempts arbitrarily to separate them, the wheat and the tares have continued to grow together side by side.
We may say, indeed, reasoning from the history of the past, that the world has been built on the plan of self-improvement. Whatever Supreme Power may have initiated and vitalized the process of advancement, that process has been carried on