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'THE PURPOSE OF LIFE. 417
events, the cares, duties, and pleasures that meet us day by day will lose none of their significance before an absorbing interest in this highest end. The rather, since this will coordinate and arrange the lower, so as to make them fitly ministerial to itself, will they gather a new worth and lustre from the central purpose they serve. The whole of life, indeed, is always elevated or depressed to the level of its ruling purpose; if that be of God, then is life in a sort divine, and if of hell, infernal. Because life is high in its motives, pure, simple, and wise in all its goings, it is not dead to the sweet and soft things that fall to it unsought. No ascetic hardness as to the graceful and the pleasant is forced upon us by the determination to pursue, through all its details, this highest object. As the earth has a season for flowers, when it offers flagrant thanks to the sun in return for his genial beams, so has the heart not less its hours and days of cheerfulness and joy, in which our smiles and gladness are not ungrateful thanks to Him who opens in us all the springs of happiness. And as our work, directed immediately towards the smaller objects of life, gets an elevation and worth from being infilled with a purpose that looks beyond time and space, so are our pleasures purified by the high aim that, at all moments, consciously or unconsciously pervades our existence.
It is not, then, to the extinction in us of any human interest, of any hearty, genial appreciation of the little things and affairs of life, that this higher purpose looks, even when wholly supreme. For it is in the cares and anxieties, in the labours and the duties of life,—in the affairs which bring men together to differ and concede, to bargain, buy, and sell,—in the social reunion, where the strife of mutually pleasing is the only contest,—it is in these, and not away from them, that devotion to the chief purpose of life should be nurtured and matured. G. P.
Meekness is one of those graces that seem to be of a passive rather than of an active character, one that betokens the absence of evil, as preparatory to the presence of good; one allied more to patient waiting than to active zeal. Not that there is any grace that is merely negative, but among those that enrich and beautify the Christian mind and adorn the Christian character, there will be found a difference similar to that which exists between the masculine and feminine character. Among those which may be called feminine graces, meekness holds a distinguished place. It is a plant that can grow only in a soil that has
been prepared for the reception of such a heavenly seed by thorough cultivation, including the breaking up of the fallow ground by the plough and clearing it by the harrow. It may be compared to the foundation of a palace upon which arise fair walls of alabaster, with gates of gold, leading through corridors of marble to an inner throne of purity and holiness.
But it will contribute more to the purpose we have in view to speak of the practical uses of meekness. Meekness implies humility and selfabasement. It leads us to think meanly of ourselves, and to hold others in esteem; to tolerate no evils in ourselves, but to deal gently with the faults of others. Knowing its own weakness, it dares not scorn. Filled with love which casts out murmuring and discontent, it is qualified to receive Divine strength to enable us to engage and persevere without fainting in the battle of life.
"Blessed are the meek," is one of the beautiful encouraging sentences delivered by the Lord in His Sermon on the Mount. He who knows the elements of true character and of real happiness, has placed this grace among the beatitudes, no doubt to mark its great value and importance, and to point out the necessity of diligently cultivating it in our hearts and lives. And to show us how intimately meekness is connected with a life of obedience, especially in that which consists in observing the prohibitory clause "Thou shalt not," Moses, who represented the Divine Law, was the meekest man in all the earth. Meekness has a beauty peculiarly its own, but it is not so conspicuous and attractive as some others. It is like the sweet violet hid under its green leaves, and drawing attention to itself by its delicious fragrance. It delights to dwell in the secluded valley of domestic life, where it is watered by the gentle streams of moral wisdom that flow most directly from the Fountain
"And thus within the heart that lieth low,
The meek are ever ready to receive instruction and reproof. They have gone through the earlier stages of the regenerate life. They, as "the poor in spirit," have confessed their own nothingness and unworthiness,— they have mourned over their sins, and have been comforted; and in meekness they are now waiting for the Lord to give them to hunger and thirst after righteousness, that they may be filled; to make them merciful, that they may obtain mercy; pure in heart, that they may see God; and peace-makers, that they may be called the children of God. Would it be right to say that the meek are like Mary, who sat in the house till the Lord called her? What a perfect idea of meekness
and humility is given here! An internal abnegation of self expressed in the outer life. In this representation meekness shows its passive, patient, waiting character—reposing in the Lord's love, with peaceful satisfaction in the present and undoubting trust in the future. These are some of the characteristic signs of meekness; which yet is but one of the steps in the golden ladder that reaches from earth to heaven.
In the beatitude which our Lord pronounced on meekness, to the' meek is given the promise that they shall inherit the earth. This may seem strange, seeing the kingdom of heaven had been already promised to an earlier grace; and one might think that having heaven he would have all. But when we know that heaven and earth are parts of our own mental constitution that are to be brought under the Lord's rule, we can see the propriety of giving the promise of heaven before the promise of the earth. In our individual experience, the heavenly inheritance is not only promised but acquired before the earthly. Religion is implanted in the spiritual mind, which is our heaven, before it strikes its roots downward into the natural mind, which is our earth; and internal joys precede external delights. And we see also the appropriateness of the earthly inheritance being given to meekness; for meekness implies the conquest and subjugation of our natural impatience, irritability, resentment, pride, and all that long train of passions that rebel against the yoke of Him who was meek and lowly of heart.
To bear trouble and disappointment with meekness is a great step in the progress of the new life. To have our cup of happiness dashed to the ground, our visions of the future obliterated by one sudden stroke, the hope of years engulfed in one great moral earthquake, yet to live on, serene, peaceful, grateful, happy,—this is one of the fruits of meekness. To forget ourselves in sympathy for others,—to perform our duties with cheerfulness and alacrity,—to be willing to serve rather than be served,— these are invaluable fruits, worth labouring for, and the reaping of which is its own great reward.
"Formed in thine earthly tenement,
0 man of earth! when thou ghalt die,
* Believe in God, and soon shalt thou,
In entering upon the consideration of the question—"What is Life?" I think we must connect it with form and organization, for without these we can know nothing of life, its order, degrees, and variety. Life in itself,—in its esse, as the source and origin of everything that lives, must be divine, infinite, eternal, yea, God Himself,—and consequently far above or beyond human ken. But in its going forth, or perhaps more properly, in its omnipresence, life organizes and forms, in indefinite variety and degrees, beings and things into which it may flow and which it may infill, and thus become finited, as we find it in the three kingdoms of nature, the animal, vegetable, and mineral.
The question, then, "What is Life 2." becomes narrowed in its extent, and somewhat more capable of illustration.
All life is from God,—every angel in heaven,—every spirit in the regions of unhappiness, and every man, yea, everything of the animal and vegetable kingdoms, lives from Him; yet the life in them is not God, but from God; nor is it like a spark of life infused into anything, and there left to increase and develop itself, as it were, independently of its source and origin. But in all organized life, the subject lives by influx, that is, by the continual inflowing of life from the Source of Life. Some idea may be formed of the manner in which this takes place, by the faint type of it in the action of the heat and light of the sun upon the atmosphere and earth, whereby they become, in spring and summer, the media of prolification in both the animal and vegetable kingdoms.
Life, in its going forth, is a most intense, vital, emanating sphere of glory from God, by which He creates and sustains all things,—is omnipresent through all space, and penetrates the most minute forms and essence of everything that is. The sphere of our sun is highly active upon all the bodies and atmospheres within its system; but the emanation of life from God is a glorious sphere of living activity, above, within, and independent of nature, yet nevertheless encompassing and enclosing all things and beings in all worlds throughout universal creation, and is beautifully and eloquently described in the first six verses of the 19th Psalm, viz.:—" The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth His handy work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is
LIFE—WHAT IS IT? 421
no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath He set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it; and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof." And thus it is that "in God we live, move, and have our being."
Life, although divine and infinite in itself, yet in its proximate proceeding or outgoing, creating, organizing, and infilling forms, it becomes of many and varied degrees, adapted to every form, and diversified and finited in every organization throughout creation: thus in man and angel the inflowing life becomes human, because the forms are human; in the animal it is instinct and merely animal, and in the vegetable it is simply vegetable. Here we see three classes or degrees of life, because the forms of it are distinct, and more or less perfect in their degrees in respect to each other. In each of these classes of living subjects, life is the same in its inflowing, and only becomes different in degree by the difference of the forms that receive it. Similar is the case of the effect of heat and light of the sun upon its subjects; on the violet and rose it causes them to give forth the most beautiful perfume, while upon the poisonous herb and dead carcase, it causes them to send forth the most offensive stink. Seeing, then, that life is present everywhere, and in all cases becomes adapted to the forms and organization which receive it, we seem a little prepared to answer the question— "Life, what is it?" Now, though we say that life in the animal form is instinct and animal,—in the growing herb and plant it is vegetable,— and in man and angel it is human and rational; yet it may be thought that this does not quite precisely answer the question—" What is it?" A great writer, a profound scholar, a man of almost universal science, and above all, perhaps the most philosophical theologian of ancient or modern times,—Emanuel Swedenborg,—has stated that " Life is Love," and that "Love is Life"
At first sight, and while we are thinking deeply upon the subject, this may not appear to be a true answer to the question, because we have, perhaps, made up our minds that the answer cannot be so palpably evident. But it is possible to think too abstrusely upon some subjects,— we may be looking at the bottom of the river for the piece of wood that is gently floating on the surface. Some of the greatest discoveries have been made by the simple experience of every-day life;—the discovery of the circulation of the blood was not made till many ages had passed