THE SOUL'S POSSESSIONS. BY GEORGE H.

HEPWORTH

" For all things are yours." — I Cor. iii. 21.

Of course St. Paul had something very definite in his mind when he made so strong an assertion as this, but what it was the world does not yet fully know. There is apparently a kind of mysticism in the text, and though two thousand years have nearly passed, we have only just begun to appreciate its significance. If we shall ever be able to accept the statement as literally true, and to assimilate that truth in our spiritual life as the body assimilates food and is made strong and healthy thereby, we shall have a religion so practical and so priceless that we shall depend upon it as we depend on the oxygen in the air to give vitality to the blood.

In his second letter to the Corinthians he explains, but in a way that is somewhat vague. When this wonderful ownership of all things has 184
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been accomplished, he says, we may still be " troubled on every side," but we shall not be " distressed " ; we shall be " perplexed, but not in despair"; we may be "cast down," but we shall not be " destroyed."

Such a prophecy stimulates our curiosity, if not our ambition. If it is possible to develop a state of mind which can look down calmly and hopefully on the evils which invade our lives, and cheerfully regard them as a part of our discipline so necessary to our welfare that we trust their dispensation to One whose wisdom and love we cannot doubt, then two results must naturally follow : first, we shall see that our heretofore conception of religion has been exceedingly defective and erroneous, and second, that the religion of the future will be more beautiful than anything the world has ever dreamed of.

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What is this marvelous ownership of which the apostle speaks? It is evidently ownership by the soul, not by legal contract. Let us think a moment. When a man says he owns a fine tract in the country, dotted with hills and lakes, overarched by clouds in the daytime and by the studded firmament at night, what does he mean? Is it possible for him to own the grandeur of the pros-

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pect or have certain other rights which no law can ignore ? Do his legal documents debar you from the delights which the extended landscape affords, or do you share with him the undulating beauty of the land and the shimmering glory of the sky? Can he keep these things for himself alone? Is it not true that the best part of his possessions is just as much yours as his, and very much more yours unless his ability to appreciate is equal to your own? The real owner of these things is God, and there never yet was a landscape
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on which the whole world did not have a lien. No man living can say that it is all his,' for the human law is powerless to deprive you of the right to look and to have your soul warmed to worship by what you see. It is your privilege as well as his to say, " This is all mine," and his registered deed counts for very little. The truly noble souls literally own the whole earth — its beauty, its glory, and the aspirations which it fosters. All other ownership is petty in comparison and fosters the greed of gain, which is a disease.

When, therefore, you say of a man that he is rich, you are far from the truth if you merely refer to his material possessions. Money makes no one

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rich. The rich man is he who owns his soul and is proud of that ownership. You cannot put real wealth into your pocket or into a bank of deposit. No matter who says you nay, you may have
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countless dollars and still be a beggar ; but if you have ideas, and moral principles, and rectitude of character, and eyes that seek and find the beauty which God has scattered everywhere, you are rich and your life is worth something to yourself and to others.

Is it not possible to carry this principle so far that a soul can say, " My God, my Father," in a possessive sense? May it not be true that whatever God has is ours, since He is so willing to give it to us? Is there anything He will not give us if we know how to reach forth our hands for it and to use it for our advantage? If a soul dwells in God, and if God therefore dwells in a soul, are there any limits to that soul's attainments?

If we were thus godlike, disease would flee from the body as night flies before the rising sun, and the same natural law would be operative in both cases; our attitude toward the world would no longer be one of defiance or desperation, as it is now, but, calm and quiet, we should meet our

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fortune as the Christ met His, and that very attitude would dissipate half the ills from which we suffer and give us strength to bear the rest ; our tears at separation would lose their bitterness in the hope, or rather the certainty, of reunion ; heaven would become such a grand and vivid reality that the roughness of the path which leads thereto would seem of little consequence.

We shall never know what true religion is until we understand that " all things " may be ours, and we shall never really become religious until we have entered upon the possession of earth and sky and God and Christ and whatever may be included in the "all things" of St. Paul.

Think of living from day to day undisturbed by the world's envyings and heartburnings, standing on so high a level of thought and purpose that heaven itself opens its doors every now and agaim
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that we may catch a glimpse of what awaits us. That is what God would have us do, that is what the Christ actually did, and that is what the ideal man.can do and will do. Our present conception of spiritual'possibilities is crude, but the time is not far distant when men will see so much of the otherworld that this world will be transfigured and glorified.

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