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mind a condition of pregnant relations which forbids the thought of the permanence of the bad. That permanence can rest only on the reverse assumption, that the universe sprang from the womb of Omnipotent Evil. However real the existence and stubbornness of a bad character, or the laws by which such bad character has been attained, this state of things cannot continue only under the double or compliment: ary conditions of a mind, on the one hand lost to all susceptibility to change, and on the other hand the non-activity upon it of all its relations, including that of the Supreme Reality, the Highest Good. Or, if it be said that such a mind retains susceptibility to the influences of relations, then these relations must be such as to ever pour in upon it only baneful influences. Thus permanence of bad character requires an immortal mind gifted with powers of thought and ever in the midst of the universe of influential things, yet with only thoughts of evil. This could only be considered as certain on the assumption that the mind is endowed with evil possibilities alone, and that the entire immortal environments were of only evil influence. But precisely the reverse of this are the facts which all rational faith and actual knowledge present before us. Those who talk of permanence of bad character seem wholly to overlook the intrinsic nature of mind and its surroundings. Mind is spirit in full endowment of reason and its companion gifts of God as here contemplated. It is not possible to conceive of it as existing unresponsive to the perpetually influential relations of other things and beings, and the All-Sustaining Highest Good. Mind in a living universe must itself keep alive, and in a beneficently governed universe it will be itself beneficently effected in the end.
Richmond Fisk, D.D.
Aspiration and Inspiration.
"IGNORANCE," says a current aphorism, " is the mother of devotion." The animus of the saying is plain, and yet we may at once admit it, without prejudice to religion, if we only insist that the principle it brings into use shall be still further applied and more closely analyzed. It is true that ignorance is the mother of devotion, just as much as it is true that ignorance is the mother of knowledge, of culture, and of intelligence. For ignorance is the condition out of which man climbs to all these states and activities of the mind, just as it is the condition out of which he mounts to worship and to duty. Nor is the human race devout in proportion to its ignorance, any more than it is learned, polished, and sensible in the degree of its ignorance. Our ignorance puts us to shame, and so we learn the myriad arts of civilization. We improve upon ourselves because we cannot rest in our inferiority. In the same way, and in no other, it is to be admitted that our ignorance breeds devotion. It forces man to aspire. He is bound by an irresistible tendency of his nature to reach upward into the mystery which broods over his soul. This aspiration is the ground and root of his devotion. And so if you please to accept the aphorism in this way, it is entirely true; not otherwise.
For the human race is in the condition which Paul describes in his address to the Athenians. Men everywhere "seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him and find him." The saying is among the tritest of stock phrases, that man is a religious being. He aspires to know the facts of his existence. He reaches up to a wider knowledge, from his earliest moments of intelligence. His very ignorance forces him to do so, and is the spur to all his faculties. He does not know how to get him a good dinner, and the sharp goad of hunger drives him at last to discover fire; and the very first use he makes of that promethean gift is to boil his kettle. He needs a better
broadsword and the axe.
knife than the rough stone he has hewn into a blade, and so is led to learn the art of working metal, till he can fashion the Thus from his lower necessities, his appetite and his senses, he is looking up and reaching up for better things than he has, searching and seeking in the unknown, to enlarge his knowledge.
The necessity thus established becomes a habit; it even rises to a passion. And at length we see man, burning with this desire to know and to understand, turning the prow of his vessel across untraversed waters, or starving himself on the dreary coasts of northern seas, sacrificing himself in the interests of the pure passion for knowledge.
What more thrilling evidence could we have of this eager inextinguishable passion which has grown so strong in the human mind, than that little tent away on the extreme verge of the habitable earth, in which Greeley and his miserable comrades faced death by starvation and by cold, for those long winter months; or that other rude lodge in the tropical woods where Livingstone succumbed to the poisonous airs of Africa, and knelt down by his bed to die. The spirit of these men whom, not the vigors of arctic cold nor the perils by tropic heat could turn back from their journeys of research, attests the invincible yearning man has after the widest knowl edge for its own sake. Man's passion for knowledge, begun in the simple studies which helped him to better food, raiment and shelter, continue long after these have ceased to be the objects of his seeking, and after he has turned to research among the higher facts of matter and of mind. And those simple and prosaic efforts are the poor beginnings of the aspirations which by and by make him a little lower than the angels.
The aspirations of man's spirit are as necessary and as fundamental as those of his intellect. Out of his deepest ignorance he lifts up searching eyes toward the mystery which not even his latest thought will solve, and seeks to penetrate it. The lowest savage has some explanation for the powers above him and around him, powers he cannot even faintly compre
hend. As long as his mind is poor in its knowledge and weak in its powers of conception, his ideas of what lies within the borders of that mystery will be low and inadequate. But he must hold some belief about the unknown, must project some foregleam of his own thought into that great abyss of darkness, and give some hold to his imagination, upon the facts that lie hidden there. These gropings are but the poor blunders of the untrained and undeveloped soul. They may, indeed, be worth little in themselves. But like the child's first steps, like his earliest words, like the dawning activities of his brain, they are worth everything for what they prophesy. For they are the signs of man's spiritual nature. They are the feeble and ill-directed efforts which reveal the spiritual capacities that by and by will be man's claim to a larger understanding of things divine. They are the pledge that God has made man capable of entering into spiritual mysteries; that man's nature fits him for a knowledge of his Creator; and that his nature, moreover, impels him to seek that knowledge. And by this token, moreover, we are sure that man is fitted to receive that truth when it is made known to him. In the intellectual process which enabled the primeval savage to reason that he could fashion for himself a stone to hammer with, like that he had picked up on the beach, we have the "promise and potency" of that intellectual power which made Isaac Newton connect the fall of the apple with the motions of the celestial bodies. In like manner the resistless craving for explanations which led the early tenants of England's soil to attribute an echo to the voice of an answering spirit, is the early manifestation of that master-piece of induction, by which the theist reasons the existence of his God from the evidence of force, intelligence and goodness in the external world.
Now let it be remembered that this capacity for religious knowledge is limited to no people and to no age. It was present in the earliest man. It is found in every race to-day. All men are capable of receiving truth; all are seeking after truth. Men are incapable of contenting themselves in their
ignorance. They inevitably seek the light. This is the trait which God has made world-wide and characteristic of man. He is a seeker after God. And all the mythologies, the idolatries, the systems and the creeds of the world, far from being. the sad evidences of man's utter impotence in the face of the great unknown and inscrutable One, are on the other hand. only so many crowding tokens that man cannot rest in utter ignorance of the source of his life, that he must by the very constitution of his soul, aspire after the truth and find some language in which to express the little that he grasps. This is the universal advantage of humanity. No race, no people has any exclusive right to the religious capacity. It exists everywhere. It belongs to all time. It is the ground and basis of man's highest knowledge. Like his capacity for improvement, like his intellectual possibilities, it is the latent trait in every soul, only waiting for the announcement of the truth to rise and receive it.
But the capacity for knowledge does not of itself originate knowledge. Hunger does not make food. A shivering body does not produce warm clothing. Capacity is only the latent possibility of knowledge or power. It is latent, passive, a possibility, and no more. And this is all that we can fairly claim for the aspirations of humanity. They are its common inheritance. They are the prophecy of its spiritual life. They are the forces which underlie its worship and its sacrifices. But in and of themselves they find out nothing; they lay bare no mystery; they grasp no truth.
But there never was a capacity in the human soul which did not find its complement in some faculty of that soul. Every capacity implies some means to rouse and then to satisfy that capacity. And so the aspirations of the human race justify us in looking for some powers, some appropriate faculties by which their needs may be met and their hunger satisfied. Nor do we seek in vain. The progress of the race discloses an unfolding power to comprehend the laws and the forces of the creation. Intelligence grows with the centuries; and with the growth of intelligence the powers of spiritual