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character, and bases it confidently on transcendent motives; we might all be spirits inhabiting a spiritual world so far as the New Testament concerns itself with political instructions or material provisions. Christianity little concerns itself with material advantage, and it makes few promises in terms of bread and gold. Its great design is to captivate the human spirit by the sight of God's beauty and love, so that perfect obedience may spring out of pure admiration, reverence, and affection. It identifies man with the truth itself, so that right action does not result from the lower reason of utility, but from the higher cause of a will so purified from self as to sympathize by instinct with the eternal laws. And this ultimate ideal of unselfish life and obedience commends itself to our deepest consciousness; for the fatal objection to utilitarian morality is not logical, but is found in that incurable sentiment of the heart which is not satisfied unless the highest conduct is the expression of pure affection.

Are we capable of this pure affection and disinterested service? Human nature is capable of far more disinterestedness than it usually gets credit for. Selfish instincts are indeed strong, and sadly overlay the higher instincts, yet we are often reminded of the latent poetry of the human heart. Miss Anna Swanwick, the translator of the dramas of Eschylus, formed a class of shop girls and servants. Once when she was trying to interest them in Milton, some one suggested that instruction in arithmetic would be more useful, considering their work and future. She thought not, but resolved to leave it to themselves to decide.

So at their next meeting she put the question to them, "Which do you prefer-instruction in the poets or in book-keeping? and, not to hasten their decision, left them to discuss it among themselves, telling them that she would come back for their answer. When she returned she found that only two of the girls were in favour of what bore upon their ordinary work; all the rest wished what would take them away from it or lift them above it.

We get splendid glimpses of the higher susceptibilities and possibilities of human nature when and where we least expect them; a noble idealism triumphs over gross secularism, flashing out like a diamond in the dark. By the glorious energy of divine light and grace this faculty of disinterestedness is stimulated until the love of truth, right, and beauty fills the soul, and the whole man is mastered by the highest impulses and forces, unconscious of meaner interests and hopes. The raiser of the celebrated Shirley poppy tells how he noticed in a waste corner of his garden a patch of common wild field-poppies, one solitary flower having a very narrow edge of white; preserving its seed, and by careful and diligent culture year by year, the successive flowers got a larger infusion of white to tone down the red, whilst the black central portion was gradually changed, until the flower throughout became absolutely a pure white. Just as the skill of man, taking advantage of a slight tendency in the flower, transforms the black heart and fiery leaves of a poisonous weed into a sort of eucharistic lily; so divine grace seizes upon the gracious susceptibilities of degenerate nature, and converts the selfish soul into the

rarest beauty of purity and disinterestedness. We have seen too many delightful changes worked in humanity to doubt this crowning transformation. Love is the fulfilling of the law, and asks no aid from lucre.

Let us not enter on the religious life with the thought of worldly advantage. It is quite admissible to defend religion against the reproaches of secularism, but it is a fatal mistake to adopt religion on any ground of worldly welfare. In this age far too much is made of the big loaf and the social laurel to persuade men to follow Christ; and the consequence of holding forth such inducements. can only be unhappy. Art does not confer upon her elect disciples popularity, or J. F. Millet would not have suffered neglect; science does not grant opulence to her brilliant sons, or Faraday would not have remained poor; literature does not guarantee social eminence, or Carlyle would not have lived and died in such modest estate; nor does religion tempt by vulgar bribes of worldly largess. They who followed the Master because they ate of the loaves and were filled soon forsook Him, and discipleship inspired by hopes of earthly gain is ever precarious. It is only when we dare to serve God for nought that we discover the infinite riches God's nought stands for.

Let us not become discontented with our spiritual faith if it ceases to be accompanied by worldly advantage. The vast reward of a godly life is in the soul itself, and no spoiling of our goods can abate this inward wealth and felicity. James Smetham's painting, poetry, and study of literature did not lead to conventional success; yet toward the end of life

he wrote: "In my own secret heart I look on myself as one who has got on, and got to his goal, as one who has got something a thousand times better than a fortune, more real, more inward, less in the power of others, less variable, more immortal, more eternal; as one whose feet are on a rock, his goings established, with a new song in his mouth, and joy on his head." Here is the exceeding great reward of devout souls, however carnal fortune may fail.

XXXIX

THE GRAND GOAL AND THE
LOWLY PATH

To them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honour and incorruption, eternal life.-Rom. ii. 7.

HE GRANDEUR OF THE QUEST.-"Seek for glory and honour and incorruption." What thrilling words these are when taken with their great meanings! Some would eliminate them. from the vocabulary, and shut us up to more modest language. But take these words, properly understood, out of the vocabulary, and what will be the effect on character? The noblest character, the strongest and most beautiful life, are impossible without the large ideas and hopes expressed in these terms. One of the finest orchids in the world is found in England, but owing to the inclement climate it grows in a dwarfed form destitute of beauty, and is of no value; and the various virtues which bloom so radiantly under the quickening influences of the great ideals and promises of the New Testament, dwindle and sicken into mere dull properties once those vital influences fail. Supreme character is born and sustained in magnificent spiritual conceptions.

Take these great words out of the vocabulary, and

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