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a desirable haven, that the darkness may be but the prelude of dawn. We have been enabled to say with poor broken-hearted Job, “Behold, I go forward, but He is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him: on the left hand, where He doth work, but I cannot behold Him: He hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him. But He knoweth the way that I take : when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as
O blessed memories of childhood's most precious lesson! Let us do what we can that they may be the heritage of the rising generation.
“ To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life.”
-REVELATION ii. 7.
“ SHOW me,” says Fichte, “what thou truly
lovest, show me what thou seekest and strivest for with thy whole heart, and thou hast thereby shown me thy life. This love is the root and central part of thy being. What thou lovest is that thou livest.” This remark of Fichte's is very true. Different men have different notions as to what constitutes a desirable existence. Everyone has, consciously or unconsciously, formed some ideal of life, for the realisation of which he thinks it worth his while to strive.
There goes a man shabbily dressed, looking very anxious and careworn. He is hurrying on at a great pace, but suppose we stop him and say, “Şir, what is life?” “What is life?” he replies; “why, life is money. I toil and scheme for it day and night. I am worth a good deal already. I may one day be a millionaire. That is my fondest hope. Then I might truly say I have lived.” With this short but pregnant reply he hastens on his way.
He has no sooner gone than we meet a young man, faultlessly attired, with a remarkably handsome, and still more remarkably vacant, countenance, lounging slowly along, looking unutterably bored. Let us ask him the same question. “ Life,” he replies, “is pleasure. Man's chief end is to enjoy himself. Philosophers, poets, statesmen, philanthropists, scientists, all earnest thinkers and workers,—I look upon either as drudges to be pitied or as fools to be despised. I go in for enjoyment. I have broken my mother's heart; I have sent my father in sorrow to the grave; I have ruined scores who were fools enough to trust in me. I wish there were more pleasure than there is to be thus obtained. It is much less than it ought to be. Still it is the only thing worth living for. To continue in this course as long as possible is, I believe, to make the best use of my existence.” With these remarks he leaves us and saunters on.
We next encounter a placid-looking couple, man and wife. There is nothing at all noteworthy in their appearance. They would seem to be moderately well to do, and in all other respects very much like a great many other couples. To our question, “What is life ?” the gentleman replies, “Why, the proper way to live is to take things easy. It is not worth while to aim at being very rich—this would require too much exertion. It is not worth while to seek after enjoyment. It is better to be contented with what the gods send. Look at me. I make a pretty good income without any trouble. I never do what I dislike doing, with the exception of going to church on Sunday morning; and that is an unavoidable annoyance
"At church on Sunday to attend
Of course I never think—thinking is troublesome, and does not pay. My actions and opinions are all that can be desired, for they are just like those of my neighbours. My outward conduct is always irreproachable; my opinions are always orthodox.” Here the lady chimes in and says, “ Yes, and we hate enthusiasm ; enthusiasm is so vulgar. It disturbs the delicious calmness of a well – regulated existence. We live in a delightful, half-conscious dream.”
We allow these good people to pass on, and to relapse into their usual state of semi-consciousness. Then we espy a man with a well-shaped head, and a quick, eager, penetrating glance. We put to him our old question; we tell him the answers we have already received; and we ask him if he agrees with any of them. “No,” he replies; “ten thousand times no. Money is mere dross. Pleasure is but vanity. An easygoing, indolent, useless life is an existence worthy only of a cabbage. Life is fame. Ambition is my goal. For this I strive with all the energy of my nature. I am willing to sacrifice everything for fame. To be acknowledged as one of the ablest men of my age, and at last to be received into Westminster Abbey,—that would be life.”
Now these persons, whom we have thus been fortunate enough to meet, one after another, though somewhat extreme, are still typical examples of very large classes of men and women. But if we criticise these ideals of life, even from a temporal standpoint, if we regard them for a moment without any reference to a future state of existence, their unsatisfactoriness must be very evident. It will be clear enough to us, at any