The cynic is one who never sees a good quality in a man and never fails to see a bad one. He is the human owl, vigilant in darkness and blind to light, mousing for vermin, and never seeing noble game. The cynic puts all human actions into two classes — openly bad and secretly bad. .
Caution and conservatism are expected of old age; but when the young men of a nation are possessed of such a spirit, when they are afraid of the noise and strife caused by the new applications of the truth, Heaven save the land! Its funeral bell has already rung. .
Is it not possible for truth to be so large that ten men shall believe it differently, and yet each one of them so sectionally believe it, that they shall be all true though none of them has more than partial truth, and that all of them shall compass the whole truth? .
The Scriptures make the test of believing to lie in the life and in the disposition. They nowhere require men, as the condition of acceptance and salvation, to be technically and philosophically right on all points of belief; but they do require that a man, in the presence of truth, using it as he pleases, selecting it according to the analysis and attractions and repulsions of his own nature, should live right. They hold men accountable for the development of their manhood on the pattern of Christ . They say, "Here are the truths of God; sort them, use them, every man according to his own liberty, in the spirit, and not in the letter." You are called to liberty; but it is that every one of you may become men in Christ Jesus. Men are held accountable for manhood, but not for the way in which they use the instruments by which the manhood is produced. .
There are many persons of combative tendencies, who read for ammunition, and dig out of the Bible iron for balls. They read, and they find nitre and charcoal and sulphur for powder. They read, and they find cannon. They read, and they make portholes and embrasures. And if a man does not believe as they do, they look upon him as an enemy, and let fly the Bible at him to demolish him. So men turn the word of God into a vast arsenal, filled with all manner of weapons, offensive and defensive. .
Like the cellar-growing vine is the Christian who lives in the darkness and bondage of fear. But let him go forth, with the liberty of God, into the light of love, and he will be like the plant in the field, healthy, robust, and joyful. .
Christ is the ideal of what a man should be. He has my ideal portrait, as it were, drawn out in His own thought and feeling. There is an exaltation and a grandeur for myself in the time to come, which Christ knows, and I do not; but I am following after. I am pressing up toward that thought that Christ has of what I am and ought to be; and I am determined that I will apprehend it as Christ Himself does. Not that I have it; but I will strive for it. My manhood is in the future. My life lies beyond the present. .
It is not to come in any particular way, or with any particular experience, but to arise and come to your Father, and say unto Him, "Father I have sinned against heaven and before Thee, and am no more worthy to be called Thy son; make me as one of Thy hired servants." .
Thou, Everlasting Strength, hast set Thyself forth to bear our burdens. May we bear Thy cross, and bearing that, find there is nothing else to bear; and touching that cross, find that instead of taking away our strength, it adds thereto. Give us faith for darkness, for trouble, for sorrow, for bereavement, for disappointment; give us a faith that will abide though the earth itself should pass away — a faith for living, a faith for tying. .
We would walk with Thee when Thou smitest us, and we would walk with Thee when Thou smilest upon us; for, smiling or smiting, it is in love. We take chastisement because we are sons, and Thou art Father. O grant that we may never feel Thy hand as Judge! Restrain us with Thy love. Wean us from our sin, and from the love of it, and bring us back to Thine own self. .
Our yearnings are homesicknesses for heaven; our sighings are for God, just as children that cry themselves asleep away from home, and sob in their slumber, know not that they sob for their parents. The soul's inarticulate moanings are the affections yearning for the Infinite, and having no one to tell them what it is that ails them. .
A man is a fool who sits looking backward from himself in the past. Ah! what shallow, vain conceit there is in man! Forget the things that are behind. That is not where you live. Your roots are not there. They are in the present; and you should reach up into the other life. .
May we feel after Thee; still calling out in the darkness, as children waking in the night call "Father," so may we call out for God; and, at times, even if we do not hear Thy voice, may there be the form of a hand resting upon us, and that shall be enough; for we shall take hold of it, though it be in the dark, and it shall guide us to the growing light; for the day shall come, and the release and triumph. .
It is a view of God that compensates every thing else, and enables the soul to rest in His bosom. How, when the child in the night screams with terror, hearing sounds that it knows not of, is that child comforted and put to rest? Is it by a philosophical explanation that the sounds were made by the rats in the partition? Is it by imparting entomological knowledge? No; it is by the mother taking the child in her lap, and singing sweetly to it, and rocking it. And the child thinks nothing of the explanation, but only of the mother. .
Greatness lies, not in being strong, but in the right using of strength; and strength is not used rightly when it serves only to carry a man above his fellows for his own solitary glory. He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own. .
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