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The Hebrew had to encounter the ugly and bitter facts of the same depressing nature as those which confront us to-day. Yet through them he caught glimpses of green pastures and still waters,glimpses of an ideal destination toward which the Eternal was leading his people and against which no facts of present hardship would be able to prevail. The sublime interpretation which he thus gave to present facts was impervious to criticism. His faith rose above the facts, so that he seemed to ignore them. He believed that the Eternal was leading him; and would not he do all things well, and ultimately make the very enemies of Israel to praise him? Of course, our modern logician will say that the Hebrew here begged the very question at issue. And, regarding merely the small segment of human experience which he had in view, he did beg the question. The enemies of Israel as a nation were not conquered. Nationally Israel fell, fell pierced to death by its stronger neighbors, fell as the sparrow fell stabbed by its angered comrade. As a nation, Israel was not led into the green pastures and by the still waters of its promised land. And yet, when these questions are put to-day, What do these hard facts mean, the cruel conflicts, the disappointments, the hardships and poverties, the bloody horrors, the sparrow's fall, the nation's overthrow, the crucifixion of Jesus by his own national kindred, the pressure of the poison to Socrates's lips by the hand of cultivated, classic Greece? I aver that enlightened
reason to-day is in a better condition than Hebrew or Christian theology has ever been to overbalance all these dark facts of existence with brighter, larger, and higher facts, and to give to all life's facts a rational and ethical interpretation.
Science, with its doctrine of evolution, has given us the clew. The universe is a school of education, which has the Eternal for its leader and master, and eternity for its course. The Eternal Power is thus, through the new science, revealing its purposes in a grander scheme to sublimer ends than the Hebrews ever conceived or dreamed of in their dream of national glory. It is an ascending process and progress, leading on from one amelioration to another, all the way from the clay and the atom and the primal force to the intelligent consciousness of man, which enacts rectitude into laws and customs, creates States, and controls brute passions by reason and love. The brief suffering of a sparrow in its fall, the violent death of a man, the calamity of a nation, are throes incident to these higher births. Nor, in viewing this evolutionary process and progress from the point of view of science, are we burdened with the questions which have always embarrassed the theologians in debating the problem of evil, "Why does not the Eternal, All-wise, and All-benevolent Omnipotence prevent this, and do that?" It is ours only to note what the Eternal is doing, and to adjust our own lives thereto; to discover to what end and by what method the Eternal is moving and to make that our aim and way.
That with respect to man the movement is onward and upward there is no reason nor science that can doubt. The history of the ages is proof that man is slowly led, by the constraining power within him uniting with the power without, away from brutal degradations and childish errors toward greatening realms of wisdom and right, and toward corresponding experiences of felicity and peace.
Human adjustment to the Divine or Eternal Power, that is always the one dominant duty. Whatever our surroundings, whatever the events that befall us, in whatever form the Eternal may here and now touch our dwellings, our lives, the primary question is, How shall we adjust ourselves. to the Power so as to draw into ourselves somewhat of its strength, wealth of resource, and felicity? The Power is abundant, over and above all human needs can we not connect with it so as not merely to find all our necessities supplied, but to feel also a sense of the supplying, creative, nourishing energy around us in such luxuriant bounty that we can have no longer present ailing, nor fear for the future, nor any sense of estrangement from, but only vital unity with, the very sources of Life and Well-being and wholesome Joy?
Consider even the lowest plane of life,- that of physical sustenance. "The green pastures and still waters represent that provision for human. wants which looks beyond to-day's boundary of meagre necessities. They may symbolize for us nature's fertile resources for meeting man's pro
gressive wants. Whatever man himself can save from the product of to-day's toil, beyond the day's needs, for the morrow's or the next week's uses, that helps to emancipate him from the mere drudgeries of toil and opens opportunities for the supply of higher needs. It may be safely asserted that, even with the world as it is, nature's capacities for furnishing sustenance to mankind, responding to man's labor, would be more than sufficient to feed all the millions of mankind on the earth every year. Even now, with a more skilful adjustment of intelligence to improved methods of cultivating the soil and distributing its products and for preventing waste, there need nowhere at any time be starvation nor hunger. But by and by irrigation may convert the most desolate deserts into gardens and laugh at years of drought and famine. Last winter, in California, I saw vast districts of dale and hill, which three years before had been as barren of vegetation as Sahara, covered now with every variety of shrub and blossom, with grass and with groves of young orange and olive trees, and with forest shade trees thirty feet high and more, which had grown in that time from small twigs. Irrigation had done it all. The nutritive elements. were waiting there unused in the soil, and there was the snow in sight on the mountains. And human skill had married the snow and the soil together, and hence all this fruitfulness and beauty. The great San Joaquin valley, once almost a desert from the Sierra Nevada to the Coast
Range of mountains, now by the same means teems with towns and cities, with vineyards and orchards and fields of grain, bearing wheat and fruit ample for millions of people. Thus by improved modes of agriculture man literally creates for himself green pastures, and waters which shall be still or shall flow at his pleasure; and thus he produces food in excess of the day's needs, and can turn his faculties to other achievements.
Man's progress in civilization and in the refining arts of life depends, for one of its essential conditions, on the surplus he is able to save from supplying the mere necessities of physical existence. This is true of nations and of individuals. The first-earned surplus above actual wants of the body is the opening gateway to the green pastures and still waters of life. As soon as that saved surplus can begin and the saving is persistently followed, whether it be a saving of material earnings or of time from physical toil, the road is entered that leads to better education, enlightenment, culture, to refinement of manners and the creation of the tastes which demand nobler than physical sustenance and pleasures. That saved surplus above. daily uses or wastes is the seed of all these mentally nutritious and pleasant pastures, the fountain whence started the rills that have gathered in these inward waters refreshing to mind and heart. A dime or half-dime saved each week might mean a picture on the wall of the home, plants in the window, a plat of grass and flowers in the yard;