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and flowers around. The delicate surface of the green leaves absorbs the carbonic acid, and parts it into its elements, retaining the carbon to make woody fibre, and courteously returning you the oxygen to mingle with the fresh air, and be inhaled by your lungs once more. Thus do you feed the plants; just as the plants feed you; while the great life-giving sun feeds both; and the geranium standing in the sick child's window does not merely rejoice his eye and mind by its beauty and freshness, but repays honestly the trouble spent on it; absorbing the breath which the child needs not, and giving to him the breath which he needs.
So are the services of all things constituted according to a Divine and wonderful order, and knit together in mutual dependence and mutual helpfulness.—A fact to be remembered with hope and comfort; but also with awe and fear. For as in that which is above nature, so in nature itself; he that breaks one physical law is guilty of all. The whole universe, as it were, takes up arms against him; and all nature, with her numberless and unseen powers, is ready to avenge herself on him, and on his children after him, he knows not when nor where. He, on the other hand, who obeys the laws of nature with his whole heart and mind, will find all things working together to him for good. He is at peace with the physical universe. He is helped and befriended alike by the sun above his head and the dust beneath his feet: because he is obeying the will and mind of Him who made sun, and dust, and all things; and who has given them a law which cannot be broken.
THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE.
The more I have contemplated that ancient story of the Fall, the more it has seemed to me within the range of probability, and even of experience. It must have happened somewhere for the first time; for it has happened only too many times since. It has happened, as far as I can ascertain, in every race, and every age, and every grade of civilisation. It is happening round us now in every region of the globe. Always and everywhere, it seems to me, have poor human beings been tempted to eat of some“ tree of knowledge,” that they may be, even for an hour, as gods; wise, but with a false wisdom; careless, but with a frantic carelessness; and happy, but with a happiness which, when the excitement is past, leaves too often—as with that hapless pair in Eden-depression, shame, and fear. Everywhere, and in all ages, as far as I can ascertain, has man been inventing stimulants and narcotics to supply that want of vitality of which he is so painfully aware ; and has asked nature, and not God, to clear the dull brain, and comfort the weary spirit.
This has been, and will be perhaps for many a century to come, almost the most fearful failing of this poor, exceptional, over-organised, diseased, and truly fallen being called man, who is in doubt daily whether he be a god or an ape; and in trying wildly To become the former, ends but too often in becoming the latter.
For man, whether savage or civilised, feels, and has felt in every age, that there is something wrong with him. He usually confesses this fact—as is to be expected—of his fellow-men, rather than of himself; and shows his sense that there is something wrong with them by complaining of, hating, and killing them. But he cannot always conceal from himself the fact that he, too, is wrong, as well as they; and as he will not usually kill himself, he tries wild ways to make himself at least feel-if not to be—somewhat“ better." Philosophers may bid him be content; and tell him that he is what he ought to be, and what nature has made him. But he cares nothing for the philosophers. He knows, usually, that he is not what he ought to be; that he carries about with him, in most cases, a body more or less diseased and decrepit, incapable of doing all the work which he feels that he himself could do, or expressing all the emotions which he himself longs to
express; a dull brain and dull senses, which cramp
“ 'Tis life, not death, for which you pant;
More life, and fuller, that you want.” And your tree of knowledge is not the tree of life: it is, in every case, the tree of death ; of decrepitude, madness, misery. He prefers the voice of the tempter
—“Thou shalt not surely die.” Nay, he will say at last,—"Better be as gods awhile, and die : than be the crawling, insufficient thing I am; and live.”
Hedid I say? Alas! I must say she likewise. The sacred story is only too true to fact, when it