" Serve the Lord with gladness : come before His presence with singing." — Ps. c. 2.

Our environment is one of exceeding beauty, but it is a matter of temperament and disposition whether we appreciate and enjoy it or not. The eyes of the body may be so defective that the sight is dim, and the eyes of the soul can be affected in the same way. If I had the power, therefore, and wanted to make a man happier in his surroundings, I should not change the surroundings, but rather the man. Nobody gets out of his life half as much as God has put into it. Our egotism will not allow us to blame ourselves for this, and so we find a wretched kind of relief in blaming the Almighty. We wonder why He does not arrange matters differently, and at the same time the angels are wondering why we do not see things differently. There is no sunset for one whose eyes are closed,



and there is no joy for one who believes himself to be badly treated. There never yet was an environment so perfect that a man could not find fault with it if he had a bitter soul, nor an environment so full of hardship that a man could not find some comfort in it if he was willing to look and knew where to look.

The chief mission of religion, as I understand it, is, first, to change a man's attitude toward events by the necromancy of faith in God's love and wisdom, and, second, to so inform him that he will know how to use his life to the best advantage. That is what is meant by the new birth, and in very truth the general outlook becomes so different from anything before experienced that no greater change could be made if he were to be literally born again.


It is possible to think of the good things and lay the others aside, to dwell on what makes for happiness and ignore all else ; but our human nature finds it difficult to do this, because the habit of doing just the contrary has become fixed.

The catalogue of things to be grateful for is very large. What a pleasure, for instance, it is to be alive, and what a beautiful mystery life is! To


think, to feel, to aspire, to reach out with speculative daring toward the stars, to dream of other worlds like this, to take a still loftier flight and explore that far-away country which we call heaven — how marvelous a creature is man, what a perfect piece of machinery he is if regarded from the standpoint of materialism even, and how much more marvelous when you recognize that interior something which is independent of the mere machine and will live a better and broader life without

it after the airy nothing which we call death has done its little all !

And then, what a world this body-and-soul creature has for a residence! Can even ecstasy conceive anything more beautiful than the physical universe? The changing seasons, unrolled day after day by unseen hands and presenting a new picture with every dawn : the springtime, when the apparently dead earth breaks forth into renewed life ; the glorious summer, when the impenetrable mysteries of growth unfold themselves and blossoms change to fruit ; the ruddy autumn, when the work of the year reaches its consummation, and when laden trees and vineyards and ripened harvests yield their abundance ; the frosty


winter, when forests and fields fall on slumber, perhaps to dream of a better springtime to come — how awe-inspiring it all is, and with what strange

emotions it fills the heart! And as we ponder, how helpless we are, how little, how like children who have scarcely mastered the simplest rudiments of knowledge, and what a vast, what an inexpressibly grand territory stretches out before us, inviting us to penetrate its mysteries and solve its problems!

But take the next step. The chief object in life is not to know, but to be, and events have been so arranged that if we use them skilfully they will each one of them become a stepping-stone to higher things. The soul of childhood is nothing but a bundle of undeveloped possibilities; the powers of an archangel are packed within that narrow space. The soul grows just as the body does — no one knows how ; but, strangely enough, when the body has reached its maturity the soul is still in its adolescence, and sooner or later you face the curious fact that every man is a double, and that when one part of him is in the ripe fruit the other part is still in blossom.

Now, if what you call your religion does not


practically convince you that life can be made verybeautiful as well as holy, and does not persuade you that there is joy to be found almost everywhere if you will train your eyes to look for it, then put that religion aside and go to the Christ for a new set of truths. When God has given you something, do not take what man gives you in its stead. Your creed is well enough if you leave it on the shelf, but you must keep the Sermon on the Mount within reach for constant use.

Yes, there are sighs and tears, but one may even weep with hope, and your sorrow at the setting of the sun is cheered by the promise of a better morrow. There is no experience which may not be used for your benefit if you and God engage in the task together.




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