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By Stopford A. Brooke, M.A

"Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man up-
right ; but they have sought out many inventions." ECCLES.
vii. 29.
By Stopford A. Brooke, M.A

"Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man up-
right ; but they have sought out many inventions." ECCLES.
vii. 29.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jun 14, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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ILLUSIOBy Stopford A. Brooke, M.A"Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man up-right ; but they have sought out many inventions." ECCLES.vii. 29.o one can say how large a part in life illusionplays. We are led on from youth to later years bysome idea of whose fulfilment we dream, by somedesire for knowledge or beauty, by a hope or anaffection we determine to realize, or by some theorywhich we imagine will reconstruct our little society orthe whole world, to complete which theory in practicewe devote our life. Then, when we have done allthat we can do, and idea, hope, love, and theory arebrought as far as we can bring them, all is oftentaken out of our hands. We stand like thealchemist over the crucible into which we have castall our possessions, waiting for the mystic Rose of life to open its golden leaves, and what comes forthis not what we expected or desired, but somethingaltogether new and different, often the very con-tradiction of our hope and expectation. There hasbeen something which has mixed its disturbingelements in the original elements we used, or some-1851 86 ILLUSIOone at the back of our effort who has taken a secrethand in the experiments, and modified them intoa conclusion distinct from our hopes or adverse toour views. Then, full of anger, we dash thecrucible to the earth, and go forth from thelaboratory of the will, embittered or despairing. Isthis chance, we ask, or impersonal law, or God, whohas done this wrong ? If it be chance, we answer,there is nothing to be said, only we are indignantat belonging to a world of chance. If it be a resultof blind but inevitable law, there is no remedy, but
we are no less indignant. Why are we left ignorantof the law ? ature does not forgive our mistakes." We have failed," we say, " for want of know-ledge," but the confession does not make us lessbitter when we know that we have been checkmated,and have no time to play another game. And if there be a God who has done this, if there be reallya will at the back of events who has brought us,through all our work, to dead loss and disappoint-ment, why then, He may call it education, but wethink it elaborate irony. We see in it no educationat all, but plain destruction. Is He amusing Hisleisure with the drama of our life, or perhaps, ona larger scale, with the tragedy of a disappointedworld, and ringing down the curtain when He haspurified His soul with our illusive pity and our realterror ?There are many who think that, few who say it.And, in truth, the pain and anger that prompt thereproach are natural enough. It is bitter, whenILLUSIO 187we take down the scaffolding, to find that the housewe have been building is quite different from thatwe hoped it would be, that someone unknown hasbeen at work upon it and changed it, someone of whom we took no count. And instead of askingourselves, " Is it possible that this unexpected thingis the true end of my first desires and hopes, the realhouse itself, the proper goal of all my work ?" wefling away from it in a rage. " My idea," we say," my plan, has not come out, and because it is notmine it is wrong. I will oppose it, I will destroyit." Then we waste the rest of our life in attackingthe strange result which has emerged from the eggwe cherished, instead of trying to understand whathas happened, and saying to ourselves, " This wouldnot have emerged had it not been in the order of things. There must have been something wrong,something out of harmony with the law of theuniverse, in my work, otherwise my idea would nothave been shaped so differently from my expectation,and the fault of my disappointment must be in
me. It cannot be in the course of things, unlessthere be no law therein. Therefore, I will ask," What is the fault in me ? Let me learn that,correct it, and life will be right, and I content." Dowe do that in life ? Do we act as we would in ascientific investigation ? Oh no ! We throw upthe sponge, and pass from fury into sullen gloom." Life is over," we cry, at the very moment when, if we were wise, it would, in reality, be beginning.Still, I am sorry for these folk. What I have1 88 ILLUSIOsketched is one of the worst sadnesses of life, oneof its ever-recurring problems. And the remedyof the sadness and the solution of the problem areboth difficult. If we assert that chance has doneit, or the automatic action of natural law, or anironical God, there will be neither solution norremedy. But suppose we were to ask, Have Idone it, I myself? Have I introduced into mywork elements which have spoiled my originalidea, which were against the Divine laws of theuniverse, so that my conception of my work waschanged and degraded, and its results broke thoselaws ? Is that the truth ? Or is it possible thatGod has made it right in spite of me, and that Iam angry with the right thing because it is notmy own wrong thing ?To ask these questions firmly, and answer themsincerely, would go far, I think, to remedy ourtrouble and solve our problem. There are reallyno deceiving illusions in life. What has happenedis a matter of plain law, not, of course, of physical,but of spiritual, law. For we are now talking of ideas, spiritual ambitions and hopes, intellectualaims, imaginative plans of life, aspirations to reachthe heights of knowledge or beauty, deep desiresto live for the bettering of the world. Why, weask, when we have been lured on through life bythem, do they suddenly break down, perish, andleave us naked to the blast of despair, or lashedby our failure into a fury with life and God ?

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