« ForrigeFortsæt »
same spirit of tranquil confidence animated the apostles. "Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness." Because they exulted in glorious power they were patient and long-suffering.
In these days of feverishness and haste our eye is too much on the clock. Rae, writing of The White Sea Peninsula, alleges that in all the hundreds of Russian peasants' huts, cottages, and houses that he visited every one had a clock, yet he saw only one going. Wise people! It is well to remember that we are children of time; but the agitation and tension of watching the clock are not good for us in any sense, least of all in relation to spiritual things. Let us do our duty, and do it with confidence. When the Duke of Wellington saw a painting of Waterloo which represented him sitting on horseback with a watch in his hand anxiously scanning the hour, the great soldier ridiculed the picture, declared the posture false, and told the artist to paint the watch out. No battle is won with a watch in our palm. The victory over our own nature, the victory that overcometh the world, are gained in patient faith and endeavour. The victory of Christ, and the setting up of His kingdom over all the earth, will be achieved, not as against time, but in quietness and confidence.
Their inward thought is.—Ps. xlix. 11.
ES, this is what we want to get at-our real spirit, belief, sympathy, purpose-that which lies hidden in the inmost recesses of the soul. Modern thinkers are much interested in what is known as the Philosophy of the Unconscious. They maintain that in our bodily organism distinct wills and ideas exist of which our higher consciousness is unconscious. And not only so, but distinct mental elements and processes exist which do not report themselves in the higher consciousness. Below consciousness is a dim realm of obscure ideas, reasonings, impulses, and purposes-a realm which by the great majority of men is almost entirely unsuspected. And this nebulous region is not confined to our psychic and intellectual nature, it also underlies and seriously influences moral and spiritual life. In the text the psalmist glances at this dark, inchoate deep where seethes the stuff of which character and destiny are ultimately made.
"Their inward thought." That is not the thought we express to those about us; the idea of the psalmist is that the outer life is another thing to the thought. Our talk ignores it, or sophistically misrepresents it. If ever telepathy becomes a science and thought-read
ing a fact, they will disclose unpleasant contradictions between the inward thought and the profession. But— and this is of yet greater consequence-the inward thought is not merely undivulged, it often remains obscure and unavowed to those who cherish and obey it. The real wish and passion lie like guilty secrets in subterranean chambers rarely visited; occasionally the bull's-eye exposes for a moment the foolish, vile, or vulgar imagining hidden there; but, as a rule, our eyes are averted from that which will not bear thinking about.
Is not envy the worm in the bud? We should be ashamed to confess that the secret of our severe strictures on some we criticize is this base canker of envy indeed, it is by no means clear to us that jealousy does discolour our judgments, when it is a fact, nevertheless. Is not ambition at the bottom of our action? We cunningly persuade ourselves that we are actuated simply by sincere motives, whilst the "inward thought" cowering in the dark corner dreams only of personal aggrandizement. Is not malice from time to time the chief factor in our hostility to our fellows? We dare not formulate to ourselves the mean motive, it is speciously disguised, yet rancour is of its essence. Is not the inner thought covetousness? A selfish, miserly soul alone explains our conduct; but we elude the truth, never once permitting expression in consciousness or speech of the sordid passion which governs us. Is not the inner thought sensual? We delicately veil the animating appetite, yet the core is rottenness. The sleight of hand and cunning craftiness by which we deceive others are clumsy trickery compared with the
deft conjuring by which we deceive ourselves. We shrink from giving expression to the "inward thought"; it is too impolitic, preposterous, disgraceful. South has a famous sermon, "On the Fatal Force of Words"; but there is also a saving force in words, and when impulses, moods, and inclinations are brought up from the underworld into the daylight and frankly interpreted, it is a great gain. We are, however, not courageous enough to define and disavow the vague thing, and so it continues to lurk with "the shadows of the caverns of man's mind."
Yet the unspoken, unrealized thought is the most potent factor in character; the real belief and motive determine and mould life. A French naturalist has recently shown that the invisible morphological characters of plants and animals are more influential in deciding the future of the species to which they belong than the visible characters are. What the microscope searches out means more to the future of the flower or creature than do its obvious characteristics. And we may truly say that the secret things of the human heart are more fateful than anything appearing on the surface. The hidden sympathies of the soul silently yet masterfully sway the whole course of life.
What is described as probably the largest meteorite known in the world, recently arrived in New York. It was brought from the coast of Greenland by Lieutenant Peary. On the cruise home the presence of this magnetic iron in the hold of the ship affected the compass, and whenever there was bad weather and the mariners had to depend on dead reckoning they could not keep their course. So the "inward thought" in
the depths of the personality imparts a bias to the mind, confuses the judgment, cajoles the conscience, paralyses the will, and makes the life to swerve from the line of godliness and righteousness. The first stage in all eccentricity of character and irregularity of life is this secret inward leaning.
Remember that God knows "the inward thought," and judges it, and us by it. "Thus saith the Lord; Thus have ye said, O house of Israel; for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them." He sees us as we sit "each one in the chambers of his imagery." "He knoweth our thought afar off," in its remote, embryonic conception. Let us deal with ourselves in the secret places of fancy and desire. The wish behind the thought, the inclination behind the resolve, the unconscious intention, the secret, cherished affinities out of which all dubious actions and courses of life spring-these origins and breeding-places of character and action call for searching and candid oversight and discipline. We must carry the illuminating, purifying process right back here. "Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part Thou shalt make me to know wisdom."