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"O Thou whose power o'er moving worlds presides,
Whose voice created and whose wisdom guides,
'Tis thine alone to calm the pious breast
Boethius, translated by DR JOHNSON. “There entertain him all the saints above,
In solemn troops and sweet societies,
Lycidas. “With God, the human soul not merely interprets the secret of the universe; it comprehends, and is at peace with itself. For God is the satisfaction of its thirst." - CANON LIDDON, Elements of Religion, page 80.
GOD OUR REWARD.
We now take up man's other main need, the positive one, namely, the fulfillment of desires and labors.
It is the characteristic of man that he plans and remembers; he plans to gain an object, he remembers his plan and looks for its fulfillment. Life is based on this idea of a return or reward to be gained ; that is, it is not its own reward. It is not enough for man simply to live. The ox lies down in the shade and chews his cud in utter content. There is, doubtless, a vast joy, an immeasurable, blissful content in the animal creation that seems to mock the inseparable woe of humanity. Their almost perfect health, their harmonious adjustment to their surroundings, their entire oneness with their world and their kind, must yield a joy nearly perfect in its kind. A bird's song, a child's laughter, are simply the expression of joy in bare existence. But a man soon gets beyond the state when he can say, “ It is enough to live, to eat and drink and sleep and dwell at peace with my kind.” There are indeed moments when the cup of life overflows; days in June when heaven and earth draw so near together that the rapture of both fills
the heart, and one is forced to cry with the poet: “O God, I thank thee that I live.” There are moments also when love so overwhelms the other faculties that we think not of yesterday or to-morrow, but only of our present perfect bliss, as when words of plighting troth have been uttered, or, in some tenderer moment, a father takes his prattling child on his knee, and in the unutterable outgoing of his love, catches a glimpse of how God loves, and why, loving so, He dwells in infinite repose. But such moments are transient, bits of eternity unduly realized, chance foretastes of what shall be when that which is perfect is come. The law of our condition soon reasserts itself; the ecstasy of eternity passes, and time resumes its sway over us, time that gives us nothing because it has itself no existence, and can only promise us something in the future, crying as it flies past on its swift wings: “to-morrow and to-morrow!”
This great figure standing in front of the mists of antiquity, the first man with clear heavens above him, outlined our leading relations to life and to God. He had in some way, it matters not how, got a clear sight of God, and it worked upon him in a legitimate way: it awed and commanded him, and drew him out of himself toward God, so that God was more to him than his child; for it is in the nature of God and of man, that God should be more to man than his child, even his only child. And having such sight of God, he has like faith in Him, a vast, all mastering, all possessing faith answering all the ends of righteousness, nay, it is righteousness. What is external righteousness, — the petty details of doing, or not doing, — to this passionate, immeasurable loyalty of faith? The faith itself sweeps to the outermost skirts of conduct and infuses its devotion into every act and feeling. Here, in such a faith as this, not in any legal posturings and formal coming and going, is found the true philosophy of life. Now, what shall God do for a man, how deal with one who trusts him in this way? He will be his shield, will protect him against the world and mischance and his own finiteness. And he will see to it that this other great necessity, this looking for a fulfillment of labors and desires, is met; and he will see to it in a personal way, and, in a sense, become the reward itself: “I will be thine exceeding great reward.”
And so Abram lived his life of solitary obedience, waiting but never doubting, patiently enduring, looking for the promised country but never finding it, and at last died without its sight. But all along God was rewarding him, making life tolerable if not triumphant, calm if not joyful, while the great, main desire of his life, the dream and aspiration of his years, is carried over into the world to come. He found a country, but it was beyond the Jordan of death. It was not a land flowing with the milk and honey of earth, of heavy clusters of grapes and abundance of corn, but was a heavenly country: its riches were the fruits of his own patient endurance, its valleys were the depths of his own humility, its mountains were the exaltations of his own faith, all wrought into some fit expression amongst the realities of eternity.