Copyright
John Lubbock.

The use of life; online

. (page 13 of 14)
Online LibraryJohn LubbockThe use of life; → online text (page 13 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


histories, faithful sayings, treasure-houses of
precious and restful thoughts ; which care
cannot disturb, nor pain make gloomy, nor
poverty take away from us, houses built
without hands, for our souls to live in."

The last watchword given by the good and
great Emperor Antoninus, when dying, to the
officer of the watch, was " ^Equanimitas."
Nothing ever broke the serenity of Christ's
life.

" Forego desire," says St. Thomas aKempis,
" and thou shalt find peace." We are almost
as much vexed in life by little things, as
grieved by great ones.

" Of all bad things by which Mankind are cursed,
Their own bad temper surely is the worst." 1

Try then so to manage yourself that you
may be able to say with Keble

" Lord my God, do thou Thy holy will

I will lie still ;
I will not stir, lest I forsake Thine arm

And break the charm
Which .lulls me, clinging to my Father's breast,

In perfect rest."

1 Cumberland.



294 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.

We must not look outside for our happi-
ness, but in ourselves, in our own minds.
" The kingdom of heaven is within you." If
we cannot be happy here, why should we ex-
pect to be so hereafter ? Will Providence watch
over us then more than now ? If we do not
make for ourselves peace on earth, how can
we expect to find it in heaven ? What de-
prives us of it ? Pride and Avarice, Selfish-
ness and Ambition. But for these and their
like, we might be happy here, and with them
we can be happy nowhere. If we are anxious
here lest we should lose what we value, how
much more keenly anxious should we be in
heaven! If we cannot live in peace with
others here, what hope have we of doing so
elsewhere ? If we base our peace and happi-
ness on outward things, and look exclusively
to another world, should we not in a second
life look forward to a third, and so on for ever ?
No doubt as Happiness may be thrice blessed,
in Anticipation, in Fruition, and in Memory,
one pure and great source of happiness may
be in looking forward : in hoping "to meet
again those whom we have loved and lost, to
see clearly much that is now hidden from us.



xvni ON PEACE AND HAPPINESS 295

Against this source of comfort and of joy,
I have nothing to say, but we must not
undervalue, or be ungrateful for, present
blessings.

So only can you enjoy the calm of Nature

" The silence that is in the starry sky,
The sleep that is among the lonely hills." 1

Then will angels come to you in your own
homes, as they did to Abraham of old, on the
plains of Mamre, long ago.

It may even be possible that "there are
many new joys unknown to man, and which
he will find along the splendid path of civ-
ilisation." 2

" For then the Soul and Body make a per-
fect Man, when the soul commands wisely,
or rules lovingly, and cares profitably, and
provides plentifully, and conducts charitably
that Body which is its partner and yet the
inferior. But if the Body shall give Laws,
and by the violence of the appetite, first abuse
the Understanding, and then possess the supe-
rior portion of the Will and Choice, the Body
and the Soul are not apt company, and the

1 Wordsworth. 2 Mantezza in Ideals of Life.



296 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP, xvm

man is a fool and miserable. If the Soul
rules not, it cannot be a companion; either
it must govern, or be a Slave." l

It is our own fault if we do not enjoy life.
" All men," says Ruskin, " may enjoy, though
few can achieve." To keep the mind peace-
ful and happy you must fill it with wise and
noble thoughts. The Divine, says Plato in
Phcedrus, " is beauty, wisdom, goodness, and
the like; by these the wing of the Soul is
nourished, and grows apace, but if fed on
evil, it wastes and withers away."

Make then a wise choice, and

" So take Joy home,

And make a place in thy great heart for her,
And give her time to grow, and cherish her,
Then will she come and oft will sing to thee,
When thou art working in the furrows ; ay,
Or weeding in the sacred hours of dawn.
It is a comely fashion to be glad
Joy is the grace we say to God." 2

" The best man," said Socrates, "is he who
most tries to perfect himself, and the happiest
man is he who most feels that he is perfecting
himself."

1 Jeremy Taylor. 2 Jean Ingelow.



CHAPTER XIX

RELIGION

IF the Religion of Theology is still a mys-
tery even to the most learned, the Religion of
Duty is plain even to a child.

" The lines of Duty," says Jeremy Taylor,
" are not like the oracles of Apollo, double in
their sense, intricate in their expression, secret
in their meaning, deceitful in their measures,
and otherwise in the event than they could
he in their expectation. But the word of
God, in the lines of duty, is open as the
face of heaven, bright as the moon, healthful
as the sun's influence ; and this is certainly
true, that when a thing becomes obscure,
though it may oblige us to a prudent search,
yet it binds us not under a guilt, but only so
far as it is or may be plainly understood."

"What Locke says of children, will apply

297



298 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.

indeed to most grown-up people : " Instil into
them a Love and Reverence of this Supreme
Being. This is enough to begin with, with-
out going to explain this matter any further ;
for fear lest by talking too early to him of
Spirits, and being unseasonably forward to
make him understand the incomprehensible
Nature of that Infinite Being, his Head be
either filled with false, or perplexed with un-
intelligible Notions of Him. Let him only be
told upon Occasion, that God made and gov-
erns all things, hears and sees everything,
and does all manner of Good to those that
love and obey Him ; you will find that, being
told of such a God, other Thoughts will be
apt to rise up fast enough in his Mind about
Him, which as you observe them to have any
Mistakes, you must set right. And I think
it would be better if Men generally rested
in such an Idea of God, without being too
curious in their Notions about a being which
all must acknowledge incomprehensible
whereby many, who have not Strength and
Clearness of Thought to distinguish between
what they can, and what they cannot know,



xix RELIGION 299

run themselves in Superstition or Atheism,
making God like themselves, or (because
they cannot comprehend anything else) none
at all."

Lowell used to quote with especial admira-
tion the saying of Johnson, that " Whatever
withdraws us from the power of our senses,
whatever makes the past, the distant, or the
future predominate over the present, advances
us in the dignity of thinking beings." Relig-
ion is in one sense a matter for the body as
well as for the soul. The body as well as the
mind should be treated with all honour.

Theology and Dogma are the science, but
not the essence, of religion. Religion in daily
life is a rule of conduct, a safeguard in pros-
perity, a comfort in adversity, a support in
anxiety, a refuge in danger, a consolation in
sorrow, a haven of peace.

" Religion," Fichte truly says, " is not a
business by and for itself, which a man may
practise apart from his other occupations,
perhaps on certain fixed days and hours ; but
it is the inmost spirit, that penetrates, in-
spires, and pervades all our Thought and



300 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.

Action, which in other respects pursue their
appointed course without change or inter-
ruption."

The Bible does not bewilder us with ab-
struse definitions, but rather turns our
thoughts from such speculations.

"For this commandment," said Moses,
u which I command thee this day, it is not
hidden from thee, neither is it far off : it is
not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who
shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it
unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou
shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for
us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear
it, and do it ? But the word is very nigh
unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart,
that thou mayest do it." *

" Pure religion," says St. James, " and un-
defiled before God and the Father is this, To
visit the fatherless and widows in their afflic-
tion, and to keep himself unspotted from the
world."

We may not be able to tell whence we

1 Deuteronomy.



xix RELIGION 301

came or whither we go, we may not be sure
what to think or believe, but in our hearts
we almost always know well enough what we
ought to do. The duty to our Neighbour is
part of our duty to God. The mediaeval
brigand, who described himself as " the friend
of God and the enemy of mankind," did not
more entirely mistake the true spirit of
Christianity than many who have less excuse.
The love of God is best shown by the love of
man.

If we are sometimes disposed to complain
of others, we should remember that " if thou
canst not make thyself such an one as thou
wouldest, how canst thou expect to have
another in all respects to thy liking?" 1

And even if we have just cause of com-
plaint, we are to forgive, as we hope our-
selves to be forgiven ; not " until seven
times," as Peter suggested, but " until
seventy times seven." 2

On many minds the fear of pain acts more
energetically than the hope of happiness.
There is a quaint old epitaph in Faversham
church which runs as follows :

1 Thomas a Kempis. 2 St. Matthew.



302 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.

"Whosohimbethoft
Inwardly and oft
How hard it were to flit
From Bed unto the Pit ;
From Pit unto pain
That ne'er shall cease again ;
He would not do one sin,
All the world to win."

We must neither neglect the warnings nor
despise the promises. u Yet a little while is
the light with you. Walk while ye have the
light, lest darkness come upon you : for he
that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither
he goeth." l

"Therefore every one that heareth these
sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be
likened unto a foolish man, which built his
house upon the sand : and the rain descended,
and the floods came, and the winds blew, and
beat upon that house ; and it fell : and great
was the fall of it." But, on the other hand,
" Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine,
and doeth them, I will liken unto a wise man,
which built his house upon a rock : and the
rain descended, and the floods came, and the

1 St. John.



XIX



RELIGION 303



winds blew, and beat upon that house;
and it fell not : for it was founded upon a
rock." 1

And above all, woe to the man who mis-
leads others, and especially the young.

"It is impossible but that offences will
come : but woe unto him through whom the
offence cometh ! It were better for him that
a millstone were hanged about his neck, and
he cast into the sea, than that he should
offend one of these little ones." 2

"For what is a man profited, if he shall
gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ?
or what shall a man give in exchange for his
soul?" 3

But yet, however much we have sinned,
passage after passage, promise after promise,
forbid any one to despair.

Christianity is a religion of Hope, rather
than of Fear. We may indeed wisely com-
bine both in our thoughts, as Raleigh sug-
gests

u Of death and judgment, heaven and hell,
Who oft doth think, must needs do well."

1 St. Matthew. 2 St. Luke. 3 St. Matthew.



304 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.

But men can be more easily led than driven ;
example is better than precept. And many
who would scorn all the terrors of the Inquisi-
tion, will feel the truth of Drummond's remark
that " Ten minutes spent in Christ's society
every day, ay, two minutes, if it be face to
face, and heart to heart, will make the whole
life different."

Think on what is good, and you will not do
what is bad. " Whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever
things are just, whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever
things are of good report ; if there be any
virtue, and if there be any praise, think on
these things." 1

"Do not," said Seneca, "ask anything of
God, which you would not wish man to know ;
nor anything of man, which you would not
wish God to know." But when we consider
what ephemeral and infinitesimal beings we
are in the infinities of time and space, we may
well ask with Spencer

" And is there care in Heaven ? and is there Love ?
In Heavenly Spirits to these creatures base."

1 Philippians.



xix KELIGION 305

Truly does the Psalmist say : " When I con-
sider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the
moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained ;
What is man, that thou art mindful of him ?
or the son of man, that thou visitest him ? "

But there is comfort in Coleridge's answer

that

" Saints will aid, if men will call,
For the blue sky bends over all."

Are we not promised, " Ask, and it shall be
given you ; seek, and ye shall find ; knock,
and it shall be opened unto you " ?*

And again: " Whatsoever ye shall ask in
my name, that will I do." "If ye abide in
me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask
what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." 3
We are told also that to God " all hearts are
open, all desires known " ; that He despiseth
not the sighing of a contrite heart, nor the
desires of such as are sorrowful ; that you
may "cast all your cares upon him; for he
careth for you." 4

We must not indeed look to aid from above
as any excuse for our own idleness, but yet we

1 St. Matthew. 2 St. John. 3 Ibid. 4 1 Peter.



306 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.

are not only assured of help, but told that
" Except the Lord build the house, their labour
is but lost that build it : except the Lord keep
the city, the watchman waketh but in vain."
That " every good gift and every perfect gift
is from above, and cometh down from the
Father of lights, with whom is no variable-
ness, neither shadow of turning." l

Christianity does not call on us to sacrifice
this world in order to secure the next. On
the contrary, " to love that which is com-
manded and desire that which is promised"
would add to our happiness here as well as
hereafter. There is no real difference between
worldly and heavenly wisdom. For religion
consecrates daily life.

" We need not bid, for cloistered cell,
Our neighbour and our work farewell :
The trivial round, the common task,
May furnish all we ought to ask,
Room to deny ourselves, a road
To bring us, daily, nearer God." 2

" I pray not," said Jesus of His disciples,

" that thou shouldest take them out of the

*

1 St. James. ' 2 Keble.



xix RELIGION 307

world, but that thou shouldest keep them
from the evil."

There are noble sentiments in Plato and
Aristotle, and Epictetus, in Seneca and Mar-
cus Aurelius, but there is no such Gospel of
Love as that in the New Testament.

Truly said Jesus that His was a new re-
ligion. " A new commandment I give unto
you, That ye love one another ; as I have
loved you, that ye also love one another. By
this shall all men know that ye are my dis-
ciples, if ye have love one to another." 2

And again : " These things have I spoken
unto you, that my joy might remain in you,
and that your joy might be full. This is my
commandment, That ye love one another, as I
have loved you. Greater love hath no man
than this, that a man lay down his life for his
friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatso-
ever I command you. Henceforth I call you
not servants; for the servant knoweth not
what his lord doeth : but I have called you
friends ; for all things that I have heard of
my Father I have made known unto you." 3

i St. John. 2 St. John.



308 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.

The advent of Christianity was announced
as " Glory to God in the highest, and on earth
peace, good will toward men." 1

Jesus specially contrasted it with the teach-
ing of Moses, as enjoining repeated forgive-
ness, and love even to enemies.

"Ye have heard that it hath been said,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine
enemy : but I say unto you, Love your ene-
mies, bless them that curse you, do good to
them that hate you, and pray for them which
despitefully use you, and persecute you ; that
ye may be the children of your Father which
is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on
the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on
the just and on the unjust. For if ye love
them which love you, what reward have ye ?
do not even the publicans the same ? And
if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye
more than others ? do not even the publicans
so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your
Father which is in heaven is perfect." 2

We must expect trouble and sorrow and
anxiety, but we may " glory in tribulations

1 St. Luke. ' 2 St. Matthew.



xix RELIGION 309

also : knowing that tribulation worketh pa-
tience ; and patience, experience ; and experi-
ence, hope." * And we are assured that "the
sufferings of this present time are not worthy
to be compared with the glory which shall be
revealed in us:" 2 that "eye hath not seen,
nor ear heard, neither have entered into the
heart of man, the things which God hath pre-
pared for them that love him." 3

" In the place of all other delights," says
Epictetus, " substitute this, that of being con-
scious that you are obeying God ; and that,
not in word but in deed you are performing
the acts of a wise and good man." And yet
how little men will do for their religion !
They will " wrangle about it, dispute about it,
call names, worry their neighbours and burn
them ; fight for religion, and lay down their
lives for it ; indeed do anything but live up to
it. Very few even try to do that." 4

" For a small payment," says Thomas a
Kempis, " a long journey will be undertaken ;
for everlasting life many will scarce once lift
a foot from the ground." And in another

1 Romans. 2 Ibid. 3 1 Corinthians. 4 Friswell.



310 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.

place : " Write, read, mourn, keep silence,
pray, suffer crosses manfully ; life everlasting
is worthy of all these, yea, and of greater
combats." And yet how little is demanded
of us ! " For what doth the Lord require of
thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and
to walk humbly with thy God ? " 1

But even if much more were expected of
us, if great sacrifices were demanded, if we
were called on to give up everything in this
world, how short life is !

u As shadows cast by cloud and sun
Flit o'er the summer grass,
So, in thy sight, Almighty One,
Earth's generations pass ;
And as the years, an endless host,
Come swiftly pressing on,
The brightest names that earth can boast
Just glisten and are gone." 2

We must of course ask in a right spirit.

" Still will I strive to be,
As if thou wast with me :
Whatever path I take,
It shall be for thy sake." 3

Such a spirit is its own reward. For the
promises of religion are not confined to the

1 Micah. * Bryant. 3 Thoreau.



XIX



RELIGION 311



next world. They begin here, now, and at
once. Each one of us possesses a well of
living water in his own soul, if he will only
keep it pure

" Some feelings are to mortals given
With less of earth in them than heaven." 1

Cicero very truly says : " If it be true that
no one except a good man is happy, and that
all good men are happy, then what deserves
to be cultivated more than philosophy, or
what is more divine than virtue ? "

It seems difficult to believe, though it is
no doubt substantially true, that men are not
tempted beyond endurance, but that " God is
faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted
above that you are able ; but will with the
temptation also make a way to escape, that
ye may be able to bear it." 2

Yet so weak is man that we are also told
to " Watch and pray, that ye enter not into
temptation : the spirit truly is willing, but
the flesh is weak." 3

"We must aim at perfection. " Be ye per-
fect, even as your Father which is in heaven

1 Scott. 2 Corinthians. 3 g t . Matthew.



312 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.

is perfect." And the reward is immediate,
as well as immeasurable. Most of our
troubles arise in ourselves. " Man disquiet-
eth himself in a vain shadow." We can
most of us say with Daniel, " The visions of
my head troubled me." Yet if we would,
we might be at peace : it is our own fault if
we are not. Religion promises us rest and
safety, peace of mind and freedom from care,
even in this world. Heaven is not merely in
the futurity and distance : heaven is within
you.

If you are tired and overworn, are you not
invited, "Come unto me, all ye that labour
and are heavy laden, and I will give you
rest " ? l " Let not your heart be troubled :
ye believe in God, believe also in me." 2 To
be distressed by doubt is to be wanting in
faith.

We have been told that we have no real
cause for fear : " For though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear
no evil : for thou art with me ; thy rod and
thy staff comfort me." Nor for anxiety.

i St. Matthew. 2 St. John.



xix RELIGION 313

" Behold the fowls of the air : for they sow
not, neither do they reap, nor gather into
barns; }^et your heavenly Father feedeth
them. Are ye not much better than they ?
. . . And why take ye thought for raiment?
Consider the lilies of the field, how they
grow : they toil not, neither do they spin :
and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon
in all his glory was not arrayed like one of
these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass
of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is
cast into the oven, shall he not much more
clothe you, ye of little faith ?" l

" Seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye
shall drink. . . . For all these things do the
nations of the world seek after : and your
Father knoweth that ye have need of these
things. But seek ye the kingdom of God ;
and all these things shall be added unto
you." 2

The same lesson is inculcated, the same
promises are made, over and over again.
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon
earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt.

1 St. Matthew. 2 St. Luke.



314 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP.

and where thieves break through and steal :
but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt,
and where thieves do not break through nor
steal : for where your treasure is, there will
your heart be also." And again: "If
riches increase, set not your heart upon
them." Riches, in fact, and not poverty, are
a real cause for some anxiety. " How hard is
it for them that trust in riches to enter into
the kingdom of heaven."

Those to whom Heaven is promised in the
Sermon on the Mount, are the merciful, the
meek, the peacemakers, the pure in heart.

We are told not to fear God : that He is
our Father, and perfect love casteth out
fear.

We need not fear man. " In God have I
put my trust ; I will not be afraid what man
can do unto me."

Indeed nothing will injure us. " All things
work together for good to them that love
God." 2

We are assured that throughout all the

1 Psalms. 2 St. Paul.



XIX



RELIGION 315



troubles and anxieties and difficulties of life,
" the peace of God, which passeth all under-
standing, shall keep your hearts and minds
in the knowledge and love of God," and the
blessing of God will be with you and remain
with you always.

And these promises are made to us all.
Not merely to the rich, and great, and clever,
and learned, but to us all, for " God is no re-
specter of persons." 1

" Suffer little children to come unto me,
and forbid them not ; for of such is the king-
dom of heaven."* 2

We alone can deprive ourselves of these
advantages.

" For I am persuaded, that neither death,
nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor
powers, nor things present, nor things to
come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other
creature, shall be able to separate us from
the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our
Lord." 3

Thus, and thus only, will life be bright,
peaceful, and happy.

1 Romans. ~ St. Mark. 3 Romans.



316 THE USE OF LIFE CHAP, xix

"Keep innocency, and take heed unto the thing that

is right,
For this alone shall bring a man peace at the last."

And so may you hope 'to be among those
" whose names are written in the Book of
Life."

So may you hope to be happy whatever
your lot in life may be, and wherever it is
cast, for

" All places that the eye of Heaven visits
Are to the wise man ports and happy havens."

Be good, in the noble words of Kingsley

" And let who will be clever,

Do noble things not dream them all day long,
And so make Life, Death, and the vast forever
One grand, sweet song."



THE END



Macmillan & Co.'s Publications.



THE

BEAUTIES OF NATURE

AND THE WONDERS OF THE WORLD
WE LIVE IN.

By The Right Hon. Sir JOHN LUBBOCK, Bart., M.P.,
F.R.S., D.C.L., LL.D.

Cloth, gilt top. 12mo. $1.50.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13

Online LibraryJohn LubbockThe use of life; → online text (page 13 of 14)