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and women. How is our spiritual nature to be
developed into more and yet more until it becomes
the undisputed sovereign of our constitution ? The
parable of our necessities is found in the material



SELF-IMPROVEMENT. 261

frame. It can healthfally live only in an atmo-
sphere suited to it. It needs for its nourishment
food convenient for it. It needs exercise. So it
is with us mentally. So is it spiritually. Christ-
ianity is the atmosphere suited to the spirit's life.
That spirit needs truth to feed upon. It needs
fellowship with other spirits. Whatever promotes
faith purifies the soul. Whatever generates hope
puts courage into the soul, whatever intensifies
affection warms and vitalizes the spirit of man.
We know from experience of eighteen hundred
and more years that there is nothing in the world
which does this like the Christian religion. The
best, the strongest, the grandest specimens of
manhood have grown up under the inspiration
of the facts and truths of Christianity. There are
other religions in the world, and I would not
deprive men of them if I could not give them
something better. It it is better for a man to be
chained even to the idea of God as over him than
to be without the idea. It is much better to be
held to the allegiance we owe to Deity by an at-
traction which draws our spirits into loving and
reverent homage. It is impossible to compel any
man to be a Christian because it is impossible to
compel love. The heart of man must feel drawn
to the ol)ject set before it. And so we fail to do
any justice to the Christian religion unless its
relation to the heart of man be presented so as to



262 SELF-IMPROVEMENT.

wake that heart into response. Along this line
all self-improvement must proceed. We must
take heed to ourselves.

I venture to add that there is no spiritual self-
improvement that is worth anything apart from
jplan and piuyose. A spasmodic religiousness
will do little. If a young man at college should
study only when he feels in the humor he would
be disgraced. If a man of business should go to
his store or office only when the fit takes him he
would be bankrupt. Is it likely that these
methods of action will bankrupt men on these
lower levels, and save them from bankruptcy on
the higher? A spasmodic religiousness without
high purpose and intelligent plan is the bane of
our time. Spiritual self-improvement means so
using the upper regions of our nature as that there
shall be development and enlargement of our
powers. It means that this should be done in
recognition of the fact that we are spirits destined
to live on, destined to use hereafter all that here
we have acquired of faith and hope and love in a
wider and more blessed condition. No material
wealth can we take with us hence, but that inward
wealth which consists in high aspirations, purified
affections, a will consenting to the Divine will,
faculty co-ordinated to the needs, services and
delights of a condition more glorious than * ' eye
has ever seen or ear ever heard," that we can take



SELF-IMPROVEMENT. 263

with us, that which shall warrant our Lord in
saying to us * ' Thou hast been faithful in a few
things, I will make thee ruler over many things — -
enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."



XIX.
WEARINESS IN WELL-DOING.



And let us not be weary in well-doing; for in due season we
shall reap if we faint not — Galatians, vi, 9.

THESE words are necessarily addressed to
those who are already engaged in well-
doing, and who, being so engaged are in danger,
of ceasing therefrom because of the weariness
which inevitably attends the putting forth of effort
of any kind. Weariness may be of three kinds,
it may be muscular, or mental, or spiritual.
Muscular weariness comes from long continued
physical effort ; mental weariness from excessive
attention to such matters as demand thought ;
spiritual weariness from loss of faith in a cause,
or loss of love to it, or loss of hope of any tangible
results. It is to this last kind of weariness that
the Apostle refers. It may include the others as
nothing worth the doing can be accomplished
unless the resources of the mind are expended in
the doing of it. Well-doing may be of two kinds,

264



WEARINESS IN WELL-DOING. 265

subjective, the doing well to ourselves simply,
objective, the doing well towards others. It is
quite true that we cannot very w^ell separate these,
for as Seneca says, "He that does good to
another man does good also unto himself, not only
in the consequences, but in the very act of doing
it, for the conscience of well-doing is an ample
reward." If a man should set himself to improve
his mind and manners simply out of a desire to be
something better than he had been, he would still,
in the doing, be helping others, for he would
become a more valuable member of society. And
on the other hand, no man can set himself to do
good to others without receiving good himself.
Hence, it must appear to us that God, in His
providence, has so ordered it that well-doing is
necessary to well-being. Every one not imbecile
wishes well to himself. God has so appointed it
that well-doing shall be necessary to the develop-
ment of the soul to the highest degree of blessed-
ness of which it is capable.

It is assumed, however, that there is a strong
temptation to grow weary in well-doing, to cease
from good activities ; to let opportunities pass un-
improved ; to allow the best of causes to suffer
from want of giving them that assistance which it
is competent to us to give.

And this for three reasons. 1. On account of
the indolence of our nature. Unless we are



266 WEARINESS IN WELL-DOING.

tempted to a thing by some immediate pleasure
belonging to it, or goaded to it by some stern
necessity, there is in us all a tendency to relapse
into a condition of indiiference and repose. Our
physical nature seems to yield readily to the great
law of gravitation to which everything material is
subject, and oftentimes we too readily obey the
lowest of all forces by which we are influenced.
To such an extent may we yield to the material
part of our being that it becomes tyrannous, the
muscles refuse to do their duty readily, the diges-
tion relapses from a healthy tone, and the wdiole
system becomes impaired. And as saintship has,
somehow or other, become associated with a pale
face, a feeble voice, and general physical incom-
petence, anyone is at a disadvantage who pleads
for health of body as a duty, because of its rela-
tion to health of mind and health of soul.

There is the temptation to grow weary in well-do-
ing not only on account of the indolence of our na-
ture but also, 2nd, on account of not seeing adequate
results to our eflforts. I think that probably this is
one of the most general reasons for weariness in the
matter of positive well-doing. The man whose
mind has been schooled and formed in the com-
mercial world, especially if he has achieved large
results in a brief period of time, assumes that he
and others ought to have something equally tangi-
ble to show for the expenditure of mind and



WEARINESS m well-doing: 267

feeling in those directions which are generally
included under tlie words "well-doing." We are
constantly hearing of the disappointments which
come to all Christian workers ; indeed of the dis-
couragements which come to all benevolent helpers
of all kinds. We hear far too much of this. Let
it be recognized by us that the results of work on
mind and heart are not as immediate, certainly
not as visible, as the results of work in anything
material, and that they require in order to discern
them, and estimate them aright, a different order
of mind, and that will do something to correct
wrong impressions. There is a book published
entitled "The History of Humane Progress under
Christianity," which ought to be sufficient to help
any wdio read it to take a broader view of this
question of results than is generally done. More-
over, no man but he who is unreasonable would
ever expect to measure mental and spiritual
results by the rules of Arithmetic. Eeligious sta-
tistics are necessary, I suppose, but they are not
the less misleading and unreliable. In the olden
times Jehovah tau2:ht Gideon and David that
influence did not depend on numbers. I know
how w^e are all influenced by appearances ; we like
outsides to be respectable. That does us no
harm, so long as we do not substitute appearances
for that which is invisible, mind, heart, character.
Quality is always more than quantity. I have no



268 WEARINESS IN WELL-DOING.

doubt that some of the greatest men mentally, and
the devoutest spiritually, among the New England
clergy of to-day are to be found in villages, min-
istering to a small handful of people who have
not the first approach to an idea of the quality of
the man in their pulpit. And that man may be
the very type and synonym of faithfulness ;
faithfulness^ that which our Lord requires, that
about which he always speaks. Nothing else
does he ask from any of us than this — to be
faithful — faithful to the truth as we see it, faith-
ful to the opportunity he gives, whatever come or
do not come from our using that opportunity as
well as we can.

I grant you that large results are often given.
But the word ' ' results " is a very indefinite kind
of word. It may be that the results which God
can give are not the results which you mean.
** Only one soul brought to Christ by all my
eflforts," says a discouraged Sunday School
teacher. Let us look at that expression a moment.
Supposing that Sunday School teacher had built
the Pyramids it would have been undeniably a
great result of persistent labor, but it would have
been such labor as would last at the longest for a
limited time, and its use would be problematical,
for we are not very sure why and for what the
p^^'amids were built. Supposing one soul is
brought to Christ, and permanently united to



WEAUINESS IN WELL-DOING. 269

Christ by the love and faith of the heart, so united
that that soul becomes a faithful Christian soul,
living a life of love and faith, doing good to others,
and those others doing good to a wider circle
still, and so from generation to generation the in-
fluence broadens, how can you calculate the result?
Admit the Immortality of that soul, follow it
beyond the confines of the present, into Eternity ;
what then? The results are not measured, nor
are they measurable. Who has done the greatest
work, he who built the pyramids, or that discour-
aged Sunday School teacher who brought one soul
to Christ, into living union with the life-giving
Savior? Am I romancing in making such a
comparison? Is there anything unreasonable in
suggesting that work in that material which we
call " mind " and '*soul" is essentially different
from work on matter ? If our Lord could ask the
question and yet be reasonable, ^* what shall it
profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose
his own soul ? If He could put a ' ' soul " against a
*' world " and appraise it as more valuable, is the
comparison we have made illegitimate? Results
are not to be estimated by material or arithmetical
measurements. In speaking to any who have been
engaged in well-doing and have become wxary in
it, I would rather remind them that our Lord does
not put us upon achieving results but upon being
faithful to Him and our convictions. If tangible



270 WEARINESS IN WELL-DOING.

or visible results come, we will be all the more
thankful, but if not, the duty of faithfulness still
remains. Some results are sure to come. An
Apostle w^io knew what it was to live a martyr's
life has left it on record, that no good, honest,
Christian work ever yet failed, '' Be ye steadfast,
unmovable, ahvays abounding in the work of the
Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is
not in vain in the Lord."

3. And this brings me to a third source of
weariness and discouragement in well-doing, our
narrow and inadequate views of life. We con-
stantly forget that this life of ours is, as to every-
thing mental and spiritual, the sowing time, not
the time of reaping. Evidently this is the thought
in the mind of the Apostle, *' for, in due season,
ye shall reap if ye faint not." The idea of reaping
involves the idea of sowing.

When a farmer sows seed he virtually commits
it to fructifying influences over which he has no
control. He cannot command the sunlight, nor
the rain, nor a suitable season for ingathering.
He is obliged to trust in a power not his own, and
in a beneficence which he calls Nature, but which
means God. And so when w^e sow seeds of truth
in a human mind, or the seeds of kindly deeds in
human hearts, w^e commit the seed to God and
His Providence. And as the farmer has long
patience, so ought we to have long patience. But



WEARINESS IN WELL-DOING, 271

patience is one of the higher virtues — it is not
the same as indifference or laziness, nor is it ' a
dogged obstinacy under difficulties ' — it is some-
thing else than these, the ability to labor and to
wait ; the ability to stand in face of a mysterious
providence, not knowing what it means, or why
and wherefore it is sent, and wait those evolve-
ments of life which shall bring the interpretation.
The very word '* patience" means suffering, for
in all wishing and waiting and exploring there is
an element of suffering. What a trying time
is that which the affectionate watcher by the sick
bed has during paroxysms of pain in the suflerer,
when no relief can be • afforded ! If only the
watchful eye could see something to be done it
would be an immeilse relief. But to stand by and
let pain do its work, this is the trial, this the
labor. It is a question in such a case who suffers
most, the subject of bodily or of mental pain.

Distributed throusfhout our life are occasions
which bring the need of patience. The soul,
needs, for its perfectness, patience as much as it
needs anything. And yet, let us not mistake ;
let us remind ourselves once more that patience
is not indifference. Not to care whether life «roes
this way or that, whether it be good or bad in
quality, whether it be spiritual or sensual, whether
it end in a blissful immortality or in annihilation,
to be perfectly indifferent to all this, that is not



272 WEARINESS IN WELL-DOING.

patience. It is poverty of mind and heart, want
of vitality. To be able to feel even to the point
of agony, and yet not to lose hope or heart, to
believe on still that throus^h all these suffering's a
God, too good to let us live like brutes and die like
brutes, is workinof out somethins: which in the
glory of its end shall justify the severity of the
means — to hold that attitude of soul against all
temptations to abandon it — this is patience.

And so in regard to well-doing, I admit without
any debate the impossibility of continued well-
doing as a mere matter of policy. Apart from the
idea of immortality — apart from the idea of the
rewardableness of all well-doing, — persistency
in any course which costs self-denial and sacrifice
seems to me out of the question. How is it, then,
that cases are to be met with of persons who con-
tinue in well-doing and yet profess to have no
convictions of i mmor tall ity for man? We must
always make a distinction between that which God
has put into human nature, its intuitions, and that
which man acquires intellectually. Take, as an
illustration of what I mean, the most famous liter-
ary woman of this century — her intellect, trained
under the influence of a school of philosophical
sceptics, became infidel ; in the intuitional region
of her nature, so far was she from being a sceptic
that she was obliged to let herself out in an ode
on immortality. Every best character she has



WEARINESS IN WELL-DOING. 273

drawn is Christian in spirit, self-oblivious, self-
sacrificing. All her good sentiments had their
roots in that intuitional resfion which is before and
above the intellectual. And so, it is not surprising
if sometimes w^e meet with men and women whose
persistent w^ell-doing is not accounted for by their
opinions. They have intuitions as well as opin-
ions. Their intuitions are not created by learning
or reasoning — their opinions are. A man's
opinions belong to the school to which he belongs.
The basis intuitions of his nature belong to no
school. It is because of this that I believe that
when, as is reported, Emerson said to a man who
started an arc^ument with him — ** I never ar«:ue"
he acted wisely. When you begin to argue with
a man you put him on the defensive. You
summon him to do his best to justify himself. It
is a simple intellectual contest. Argument has its
place and its use, but *' convince a man against
his will, he's of the same opinion still." Many
and many a sceptic is simply the slave of his own
opinions, he bends the knee servilely to his own
intellectual greatness. It is strange that men are
more anxious to appear intellectually strong than
morally strong, or spiritually percipient. But so
it is. And therefore I would advise those of you
who are younger in years than the rest of us, not
to be discouraged when you find that you do so
very little by the arguments which to you are



274 WEARINESS IN WELL-DOING.

sufficient if not conclusive. Don't argue. State
that which appears to you to be the truth and
leave it. If you need a very respectable example
to justify you, Emerson in New England is
respectable enough, especially with those who are
oppressed with the w^eight of their own culture,
or continually^ living in the enjoyment of a con-
sciousness of being endowed with great intellectual
ability. Religion is the development into sov-
ereignty of the intuitions of our nature. To kill
them out is impossible. To the end of life they
will either trouble us or comfort us. When scep-
tical men continue in well-doing they but ol)ey
their intuitions instead of their opinions. That is
the explanation of the phenomenon.

Our narrow views of life account for much of
our weariness in well-doing. Practically, we plan
for this life and this only. Our sentiments may
embrace the beyond, our opinions, actions, plans,
purposes are too much controlled by the example
set us by the men whose creed is ' ' let us eat and
drink, for to-morrow we die." And so we sow
only that which we can reap now — or that which
the children in our households can reap here on
earth. Not entirely of course, but too much.

I do not deny that it is hard, very hard, to con-
tinue well-doing in the presence of those mean hos-
tilities which assail every well-doer. In well-doing
we have to encounter the want of appreciation of



WEARINESS IN WELL-DOING, 275

those who have no ability of appreciating anything
which has not its origin in themselves ; we have to
meet all kinds of criticism ; we have to be sus-
pected as to the purity of oar motives ; and not
seldom we have to experience the ingratitude of
those we try to help ; and much else. But, is it not
enough for the servant that he be as his Master ?
These experiences are not new ; they do not
belong to this generation alone. Our Lord's sin-
less life was one which provoked every form of
hostility that the enemy could bring against it.
The troubles of the great Jewish lawgiver began
when «' it came into his heart to visit his brethren."
David lived quietly until God called him into
service. Paul was not assailed, but lived in great
credit until the Lord summoned him to the
preachership of the gospel.

That we are made for doing is evidenced by the
ingenious inventions by which men and women kill
time, as if the moment we are indolent w^e are
unhappy ; that we are made for well-doing is abun-
dantly manifest by the almost countless routes
along which we may move towards some end that is
in some way beneficent. One cannot contemplate a
life like that of the English nobleman whose
departure from this earth has been so recently
recorded — the late Earl of Shaftesbury — without
a sigh at the thought that among that privileged
class there was only one such man — a man distin-



276 WEARINESS IN WELLDOING.

guished by birth, but specially distinguished by
his consecration of himself to every kind of benev-
olence by which he could help others. He did
not simply give money but his time — the days
and nights as they came, visiting the homes of the
poorest and most abject.

When a great orderly crowd of the very poor-
est and raggedest people in all London assem-
bled outside of Westminster Abbey as the funeral
services w^ere held, a man of note, regarding the
character of the throng, remarked, '' There is not
another man in England could gather that crowd."
So that human nature, even at its worst, is not all
ingratitude. There are so many ways to do good,
— and with its usual largeness. Scripture leaves
us free to choose our own.

But there is the temptation to forget that the
path of active well-doing is the path of allegiance
to the Master — of benediction and of growth —
that here w^e are sowing seed whose fifty-fold
produce we may never see, but it shall ripen else-
where. *' The due season" may never come on
earth. But, in due season, we shall reap that
which we sow. That is a just and benevolent law
a law that none can escape. I might appeal on the
ground of self-interest — only in well-doing can
we develop our own natures into the fulness of
their powers. To enkindle the mind — to enlarge
the heart — to awake the imagination, these will



WEARINESS IN WELL-DOING, 277

be spiritual results to ourselves, worth while surely.
Even here on earth, says Lord Jeffrey, " he will
always see the most beauty in things whose
affections are warmest and most exercised, whose
imagination is the most powerful, and who has
most accustomed himself to attend to the objects
by which he is surrounded." How are we to get
that competence to feel the invisible in the visible
which a Wordsworth possessed so royally, which
makes Euskin the high-priest of the beautiful to
the age in which he lives ? Only by well-doing,
not spasmodically and occasionally, but of set
intent and purpose. We may, like the caterpillar,
spin a very beautiful cocoon and call it our home,
but even the caterpillar will teach us, if we will
listen, that if he were to remain satisfied in that
silken ball which he has woven, it would become
not his home, but his tomb. Forcing a way
through it, and not resting in it, he finds sunshine
and air and life more abundantly. Man says —
here will I rest. I will make my home in these
pleasant surroundings. I will shut out the sob of
sorrow, the wail of the woe-worn, the sigh of the
suffering, the baying and babblement of the crowd ;
here, spending my sympathies on myself, I will
enjoy all that is enjoyable. Ah ! that silken
cocoon ! — fastened in it you are dead while you
live. No : says God, that is not what I mean for
you. And He calls to His aid His angels, clothes



378 WEARINESS IN WELL-DOING.

them in funeral robes, and they call themselves
Pain, Disease, Death ; and they stir up the intel-
lect, stir up the heart, stir up the imagination,
compel men to think and to feel about Eternity,
and then, when it is all over, these disiruised ano:els
throw aside the masks they have worn and strip
off the sable garb and lo, underneath is the pure
white of Immortality. We are sowers of seed
here. Let us not forget that he that soweth to the
flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that
soweth to the spirit shall of the spirit reap life
everlasting. And, ** let us not be weary in well-
doing, for in due season we shall reap if we
faint not."



XX.

THE DIVINE INVISIBILITY.



"Verily, thou art a God that hidest thyself." — Isaiah, xlv : 15.

WHEN John the Evangelist wrote **No
man hath seen God at any time ; the
only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the
Father, he hath declared him, (or brought him to
view)," he put two great truths into one sentence,
the truth of the Divine invisibility, and the truth
that man needed to know something definite about
Deity. It is impossible for us to account for
human life apart from a life-giver. The mind is
so made that it demands God. How true it is
then that in every nature there is evidence of the
existence of a Creator — a Divine Personality!
The mind is so made that it also demands that to
all worthy action there shall be a reward, and so in
every mind there is the truth that God is a
re warder of them that diligently seek Him. Men
have tried, with a perseverance worthy of a better
cause, to shake themselves free from these ideas,


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