Obrázky na stránke

bind his thoughts, if you blind his eyes, if you blunt his hopes, if you steal his joys, if you stunt his body, and blast his soul, and at last leave him not so much as to reap the poor fruit of his degradation, but gather that for yourself, and dismiss him to the grave, when you have done with him, having, so far as in you lay, made the walls of that grave everlasting (though, indeed, I fancy the goodly bricks of some of our family vaults will hold closer in the resurrection day than the sod over the laborer's head), this you think is no waste, and no sin!

Then, lastly, wise work is cheerful, as a child's work is. And now I want you to take one thought home with you, and let it stay with you.

Everybody in this room has been taught to pray daily, "Thy kingdom come." Now, if we hear a man swear in the streets, we think it very wrong, and say he "takes God's name in vain.» But there's a twenty times worse way of taking his name in vain than that. It is to ask God for what we don't want. He doesn't like that sort of prayer. If you don't want a thing, don't ask for it; such asking is the worst mockery of your King you can mock him with; the soldiers striking him on the head with the reed was nothing to that. If you do not wish for his king dom, don't pray for it. But if you do, you must do more than pray for it; you must work for it. And, to work for it, you must know what it is: we have all prayed for it many a day without thinking. Observe, it is a kingdom that is to come to us; we are not to go to it. Also, it is not to be a kingdom of the dead, but of the living. Also, it is not to come all at once, but quietly: nobody knows how: "the kingdom of God cometh not with observation." Also, it is not to come outside of us, but in the hearts of us: "the kingdom of God is within you." And being within us, it is not a thing to be seen, but to be felt; and though it brings all substance of good with it, it does not consist in that: "the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,"-joy, that is to say, in the holy, healthful, and helpful Spirit. Now, if we want to work for this kingdom, and to bring it, and enter into it, there's just one condition to be first accepted. You must enter it as children, or not at all; "Whosoever will not receive it as a little child shall not enter therein." And again, "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven."

Of such, observe. Not of children themselves, but of such as children. I believe most mothers who read that text think that all heaven is to be full of babies. But that's not so. There will be children there, but the hoary head is the crown. "Length of days, and long life and peace," that is the blessing, not to die in babyhood. Children die but for their parents' sins; God means them to live, but he can't let them always; then they have their earlier place in heaven, and the little child of David, vainly prayed for; -the little child of Jeroboam, killed by its mother's step on its own threshold,-they will be there. But weary old David, and weary old Barzillai, having learned children's lessons at last, will be there too; and the one question for us all, young or old, is, Have we learned our child's lesson? It is the character of children we want, and must gain at our peril; let us see, briefly, in what it consists.

The first character of right childhood is that it is Modest. A well-bred child does not think it can teach its parents, or that it knows everything. It may think its father and mother know everything, perhaps that all grown-up people know everything; very certainly it is sure that it does not. And it is always asking questions, and wanting to know more. Well, that is the first character of a good and wise man at his work. To know that he knows very little;-to perceive that there are many above him wiser than he; and to be always asking questions, wanting to learn, not to teach. No one ever teaches well who wants to teach, or governs well who wants to govern; it is an old saying (Plato's, but I know not if his first), and as wise as old.

Then, the second character of right childhood is to be Faithful. Perceiving that its father knows best what is good for it, and having found always, when it has tried its own way against his, that he was right and it was wrong, a noble child trusts him at last wholly, gives him its hand, and will walk blindfold with him, if he bids it. And that is the true character of all good men also, as obedient workers, or soldiers under captains. They must trust their captains; - they are bound for their lives to choose none but those whom they can trust. Then, they are not always to be thinking that what seems strange to them, or wrong in what they are desired to do, is strange or wrong. They know their captain: where he leads they must follow, what he bids they must do; and without this trust and faith, without this captainship and soldiership, no great deed, no great salvation, is

[ocr errors]

possible to man. Among all the nations it is only when this faith is attained by them that they become great; the Jew, the Greek, and the Mahometan agree at least in testifying to this. It was a deed of this absolute trust which made Abraham the father of the faithful; it was the declaration of the power of God as captain over all men, and the acceptance of a leader appointed by him as commander of the faithful, which laid the foundation of whatever national power yet exists in the East; and the deed of the Greeks, which has become the type of unselfish and noble soldiership to all lands, and to all times, was commemorated, on the tomb of those who gave their lives to do it, in the most pathetic, so far as I know, or can feel, of all human utterances: "O stranger, go and tell our people that we are lying here, having obeyed their words."

Then the third character of right childhood is to be Loving and Generous. Give a little love to a child, and you get a great deal back. It loves everything near it, when it is a right kind of child- would hurt nothing, would give the best it has away, always, if you need it does not lay plans for getting everything in the house for itself, and delights in helping people; you cannot please it so much as by giving it a chance of being useful, in ever so little a way.

And because of all these characters, lastly, it is Cheerful. Putting its trust in its father, it is careful for nothing— being full of love to every creature, it is happy always, whether in its play or in its duty. Well, that's the great worker's character also. Taking no thought for the morrow; taking thought only for the duty of the day; trusting somebody else to take care of to-morrow; knowing, indeed, what labor is, but not what sorrow is; and always ready for play,- beautiful play,- for lovely human play is like the play of the Sun. There's a worker for you. He, steady to his time, is set as a strong man to run his course, but, also, he rejoiceth as a strong man to run his course. See how he plays in the morning, with the mists below, and the clouds above, with a ray here and a flash there, and a shower of jewels everywhere; - that's the Sun's play; and great human play is like his-all various-all full of light and life, and tender, as the dew of the morning.

So then, you have the child's character in these four things: Humility, Faith, Charity, and Cheerfulness. That's what you have got to be converted to. "Except ye be converted and become as little children "-You hear much of conversion nowa

days; but people always seem to think you have got to be made wretched by conversion,-to be converted to long faces. No, friends, you have got to be converted to short ones; you have to repent into childhood, to repent into delight, and delightsomeness. You can't go into a conventicle but you'll hear plenty of talk of backsliding. Backsliding, indeed! I can tell you, on the ways most of us go, the faster we slide back the better. Slide back into the cradle, if going on is into the grave-back, I tell you; back-out of your long faces, and into your long clothes. It is among children only, and as children only, that you will find medicine for your healing and true wisdom for your teaching. There is poison in the counsels of the man of this world; the words they speak are all bitterness, "the poison of asps is under their lips," but "the sucking child shall play by the hole. of the asp." There is death in the looks of men. « Their eyes are privily set against the poor"; they are as the uncharmable serpent, the cockatrice, which slew by seeing. But "the weaned child shall lay his hand on the cockatrice den." There is death in the steps of men; "their feet are swift to shed blood; they have compassed us in our steps like the lion that is greedy of his prey, and the young lion lurking in secret places," but, in that kingdom, the wolf shall lie down with the lamb, and the fatling with the lion, and "a little child shall lead them." There is death in the thoughts of men; the world is one wide riddle to them, darker and darker as it draws to a close; but the secret of it is known to the child, and the Lord of heaven and earth is most to be thanked in that "he has hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and has revealed them unto babes." Yes, and there is death-infinitude of death in the principalities and powers of men As far as the east is from the west, so far our sins are not set from us, but multiplied around us: the Sun himself, think you he now "rejoices" to run his course, when he plunges westward to the horizon, so widely red, not with clouds, but blood? And it will be red more widely yet. Whatever drought of the early and latter rain may be, there will be none of that red rain. You fortify yourselves against it in vain; the enemy and avenger will be upon you also, unless you learn that it is not out of the mouths of the knitted gun, or the smoothed rifle, but "out of the mouths of babes and sucklings" that the strength is ordained, which shall "still the enemy and avenger."

[ocr errors]

From "The Crown of Wild Olives."
Conclusion of the first lecture.




ALF the evil in this world comes from people not knowing what they do like, not deliberately setting themselves to find out what they really enjoy. All people enjoy giving away money, for instance: they don't know that, they rather think they like keeping it; and they do keep it under this false impression, often to their great discomfort. Everybody likes to do good; but not one in a hundred finds this out.



RICH man ought to be continually examining how he may spend his money for the advantage of others; at present, others are continually plotting how they may beguile him into spending it apparently for his own. The aspect which he presents to the eyes of the world is generally that of a person holding a bag of money with a stanch grasp, and resolved to part with none of it unless he is forced, and all the people about him are plotting how they may force him; that is to say, how they may persuade him that he wants this thing or that; or how they may produce things that he will covet and buy. One man tries to persuade him that he wants perfumes; another that he wants jewelry; another that he wants sugarplums; another that he wants roses at Christmas. Anybody who can invent a new want for him is supposed to be a benefactor to society; and thus the energies of the poorer people about him are continually directed to the production of covetable, instead of serviceable things; and the rich man has the general aspect of a fool, plotted against by all the world. Whereas the real aspect which he ought to have is that of a person wiser than others, intrusted with the management of a larger quantity of capital, which he administers for the profit of all, directing each man to the labor which is most healthy for him, and most serviceable for the community.

« PredošláPokračovať »