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with patience. We are under illusion while we are pitting our energy against the forces of the world, but when at last we can say, “I cannot conquer but I can endure,” we are no longer acting under illusion but in true accord with the might and majesty of our nature. Ulysses could not contend against the tempest, but he was superior to it when
"He beat his breast, and thus reproached his heart;
Endure, my heart; far worse bast thou endured.” “ Man is but a reed,” says Pascal, “but he is a thinking reed; were the universe to crush him he would still be more noble than that which kills him, for he knows that he dies, and the universe knows nothing of the advantage it has over him.” This elaborated patience, and knowledge of one's relations to life, is an immeasurable gain over the untested strength and false measurements of our earlier years.
3. We make another gain as thought grows calm, and the judgment is rounded to its full strength. Knowledge becomes wisdom. Passion and prejudice pass away from our estimates. And especially we gain in comprehensiveness and so lose the spirit of partisanship. This not only renders age valuable to the world, but it is a comfortable possession ; it is a deliverance from the small tempests that fret the surface of life. Then only, truth feeds the mind with its unalloyed sweetness.
4. There is a great gain in the later years of life, in certain forms of love and sympathy. The passion of early love, its semi-selfishness, and the restriction and prejudice of early sympathy, pass away, but love itself remains in all its strength, purer, calmer, more universal. It takes on a yearning quality, it pities, it forgives and overlooks, it bears and hopes and forgets, and so is like God's own love. Early love is intense but it is without knowledge, but that of age is calm and broad because it is wise. Especially does the grace of charity belong to full years. The old are more merciful than the young; they judge more kindly and forgive more readily. Hence they are poor disciplinarians, but their fault is rather their virtue; they are not called to that duty. This changing and expanding form of the supreme principle of our nature has great significance in the question before us. At no time are we let from under its power; at first an instinct, then a conscious passion for one, but blind; then a down-reaching tenderness for children, wiser and more patient; then an out-reaching to humanity, moved by conscience and guided by knowledge; and at last a pitiful, universal sympathy that allies itself to the Eternal Love. Here is a gain that is simply immeasurable, spanning the breadth between the unconscious instinct of the child and the method of God's own heart.
There is also in advanced years a mingling and merging of the faculties, one in another. Thought has more faith in it and faith more thought; reason more feeling and feeling more reason; logic and sentiment melt into each other; courage is tempered with prudence, and prudence gets strength and courage from wisdom ; joys have in them more sorrow and sorrows more joy; if it has less zest it
touches the mind at more points, while sorrows lose their keenness by falling under the whole range of faculties. An old man does not feel the same rapture before a landscape as one younger, but he sees it with more eyes, so to speak; his whole nature sees it, while the youth regards it with only the one eye of beauty. This united action of the mind, this coöperation of all the faculties, is something far higher than the disjointed experiences of early life. It is like the action of the Divine Mind in which every faculty interpenetrates every other, making God one and perfect. And in man, it is an intimation that he is approaching the Divine Mind, and . getting ready, as it were, for the company of God.
Life is a fire, yet not to blast and reduce to ashes, but to fuse. It takes a vast assemblage of qualities and faculties most unlike and often discordant, and reduces them first to harmony and then to oneness. Consider how man is made up; under a simple bond of self-consciousness a set of qualities not otherwise related, warring against each other; good and evil passions, selfishness and love, pride and humility, prudence and folly, mental faculties so unlike at first as to antagonize each other; the logical faculty opposed to imagination, reason to sentiment, the senses demanding one verdict and the conscience another, - such a world is man at the outset. Life is the reconciliation of these diversities and antagonisms; the process may be attended by apparent loss, but only apparent. The law of the conservation of forces holds here as in the physical world. In the fire of life, the form is melted away
from each quality, but only that their forces may flow together and be fused into one general force that shall set towards the Eternal Righteousness. Thus there comes on that process and condition of life which is called a mellowing. When the growth is normal and is unhindered by gross or deep-seated sin, a change or development takes place in nearly all that is well described by this word. The man ripens, his heart grows soft, he speaks more kindly. A rich autumnal tint overspreads his thoughts and acts. He looks into the faces of little children with a brooding tenderness. He finds it hard to distinguish between the faults and the vices of the young.
He hates no longer anything except a lie, and that · because it contradicts the order into which he has
come. He draws no sharp, condemnatory lines about conduct, but says to all offenders, “Go and sin no more.” His pride dies away; he no longer cherishes distinctions, but talks freely with the humble and has no awe before the great; he forgets his old notions of dignity, and is a companion with his gardener or with the President. This state is sometimes regarded as weakness, and as though it sprang from dulled faculties, but it is simply the moral qualities come into preponderance, or rather the equilibrium of all the forces. Life has ripened its fruits, and the man begins to feel and act like God. Something of the divine patience and charity and wisdom begin to show in him, and we now see why God made him in his own image, and gave him his life to live. If life can start at the point of mere existence, and thence
grow up into likeness to God, it is worth living. And if life reaches so far, we may be sure it will go on. If it gets to the point of laying hold of God, and begins to feel and act like God, it will never relax its hold, it will never cease from action so essentially and eternally valuable. There is the same reason for the continued existence of such a being as of God Himself ; that which is like the Best must, for that very reason. live on with the Best. We can no more conceive of God suffering such an one to go out of existence than that a good father would put to death his child most like himself because of the likeness.
This line of thought has force only in the degree in which life is normal, but the fact that it is not wholly such does not break up or foil the divine intention wrought into it. For there is a provision in humanity against its own failures. Life of itself may not reach its proper fullness, but One is in humanity who is redeeming it from its failures and filling its cup even to overflow. Nor is the sadness of age an indication of real loss; it may have another meaning:
“The clouds that gather round the setting sun,
That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality." It may be a wise provision for attenuating the thread that holds us to this world. The main feature of life is not its sorrow or its joy, nor even its right or wrong doing. Its main feature is that, starting at the bare point of existence, it grows with such stride and rapidity that it yields first a