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without it, it would have no vocation, no field, no possibility of existence even. Pegasus loses his wings and becomes a plow-horse. All thought is reduced to a bare realization of material facts, man a thinker, but with nothing to think of except matter! All poetry, all high art, is a protest against this degrading conclusion. By its own inspired instinct it assumes a moral and spiritual order that enfolds man and plays into him. Shakespeare, almost without fail, puts every great moral action into a framework of corresponding physical like
The tempest in Lear's heart is linked to the tempest of the elements by more than a fancy. The moonlight sleeping on the bank, and the distant music, have a logical relation to the lovers' hearts. When “fair is foul, and foul is fair," these moral confusions “hover through the fog and filthy air," and are uttered on a blasted heath." When the noble king draws nigh to the castle in confiding love and gratitude, —
“ The air
Unto our gentle senses."
“Good things of day begin to droop and drowse.” Macbeth appeals to night to aid him in his crime. Thus, throughout, this master of thought throws back into the physical world the reflections of the moral acts done within it, but on what ground, except that in and behind the physical there is a moral order on which they repose. He could not find in nature a reflection of moral acts, if nature
itself were not an expression of moral realities. The physical itself is environed and contained by the spiritual. Indeed, the whole relation of man to nature runs up into morals for its explanation, nor can it be found elsewhere. Thus, the uniformity of natural law, when brought into contact with the free will of man, means a fixed moral habit. Thus, his recurring natural wants tend to fix him in wise and orderly ways that are more and higher than physical customs. And so the uniformity of nature's forces and operations have not only a moral significance, but become sources and educators of moral habits. Man is thus being trained as a moral being into a certain affinity with the courses of nature; the stars rise and set in him; the steadiness of gravitation is reduced to a moral equivalent in his obedient heart. This steadfast environment of natural law is simply a plan and method, so far as it goes, for getting man into a corresponding moral state, - uniform but free, and so tending to produce a fixed yet free character, — brought up, at last, to the nature of God whose perfect freedom finds expression in the uniformity of his laws.
It will not answer to shut out character from these external orders, and confine it to an interplay of emotions and convictions in our secret bosoms; it must have another world than its own to secure and draw out its development. And such a world is provided. The nation when viewed as a moral order and citizenship is made sacred, the family when regarded as divine and eternal, society when it is felt to be a relation of righteousness, the church when it is recognized as the necessary and natural condition of spiritual life, — these are the outer walls of the environment upon which high character depends, and by which it is shaped in its general features. But as within a walled city there are other walls environing household life, and within these still other walls enclosing the individual, and as the body itself is a sort of wall about the spirit,
— all needed to secure a full, sound life, — so character must have successive rings or layers of environment about it in order that it may have fullness and strength.
I believe it to be one of the chief mistakes of the age, the fruit of an excessive individualism, that the value of such environment in shaping and fixing character is overlooked. There are more vital points on the other side, life is from within, but truth is double; it can reach no height but on the balancing pinions of the within and the without; clip either wing and it circles round and round and at last comes to the earth. The outward drill of religious observance and spiritual habit is as needful as the devout feeling, even though, like the river of life, it flows out of the throne of God. One logically implies the other, but it does not necessarily secure it. One may run the risk of formalism, but the other runs the risk of extinction. It is a matter of regret that to stand within or without the church is getting to be regarded with indifference. And if within, the recurring duties of the relation are regarded as hardly obligatory or even important. Now, this framework of Christian ser.
vice is indispensable to Christian character, and the necessary condition of its permanence and steadiness. The outward habit tends to create an inward habit; the external method favors the internal disposition and becomes its measure, as in a plant the soil and light are the conditions and the measure of the growth of the vital principle within it.
Here lies the secret of public worship; we do not worship because we feel like it, but that we may feel. The feeling may have died out under the pressure of the world, but coming together from mere habit, and starting on the level of mere custom, we soon feel the stirring of the wings of devotion, and begin to rise heavenward on the pinions of song and prayer. This is well understood in England, and underlies the much criticized: “ Cathedral system.” To one who goes for the first time from our simple American churches into an English cathedral, York or Westminster, and en- . counters its elaborate ritual, repeated twice every day, often to almost no congregation, a service composed largely of singing, the prayers intoned, the Scriptures read in a strange penetrating monotone, - it seems the vainest form, a relic of popery, a thing kept up to please the ear and eye, and to reap the fruits of the rich endowments. There is, indeed, much to criticize, much that might well be changed, much that might well be added ; but the longer one thinks of this system and usage, the more one suspects there may be in it solid sense and far-reaching wisdom ; he sees in it a nearly indestructible embodiment and assertion of worship.
The building itself is of stone, its history shades off into dimly recorded ages. In its crypt lie the ashes of the great for a thousand years ; on its walls are the names and effigies of statesmen and soldiers and philosophers and saints; its pavements are worn with the tread of generations. It is vast, beautiful, solemn, enduring; it spreads wide and generous over the earth, resisting the encroachments of this world's eager hands, and rising high into the pure spaces
of heaven. St. Paul's is not a beautiful structure, but it overlooks the Bank of England and the Exchange. And thus all over England, in towns nowhere two hours apart, are found these great churches, with their corps of clergy and choirs, with daily service heralded by softly chiming bells, uttered by divinest music, and invested with the solemn usage of long ages. There is no interruption of this service, no vacation, no holiday, no break from pestilence or war or political change. Here is a mighty fact tremendously asserted; it forces a sort of inevitable reverence, not the highest and purest indeed, but something worth having. It becomes the conservator of the faith, and in the only way in which it can be conserved, through the reverent sentiment and poetry of our nature. Hence, it has reduced the entire service to song and chant. The prayers and creeds are not said but sung. Translated thus intò sentiment, etherealized into poetry, the hard and outworn part of them vanishes away,
nd their real spirit lays hold of the spirit, and is sent up into the spiritual heavens on the wings of song; for a creed is not made to be read as prose,