Графични страници
PDF файл

force it into the entertainments of the heart; and because it is painful to draw it forth by a sharp and salutary repentance, he still rolls and turns upon his wound, and carries his death in his bowels, where it first entered by choice, and then dwelt by love, and at last shall finish the tragedy by divine judgments and unalterable decree.




All pursuits are pursuits of happiness. The young men who are standing in presence of a group of professions, try to select one which will yield them not only a support but also the most of happiness. No man will of his own accord select an avocation against which his heart recoils. So universally does man seek personal happiness, and so widely does society in its organized forms seek this destination, that many philosophers have declared happiness to be the final motive of all conduct-that all other motives are but shapes of this one all-prevailing influence. It is indeed true that no act of life can be found in which this reward of being may not be seen as a possible motive, or at least as an expectation, but that all acts are done from considerations of the final welfare of the doer may well be denied, for without very clear proof we should not make man a creature of only self-interest. It is evident that all good conduct and all good character are inevitably joined with that result called happiness, and this is perhaps as far as the common mind can see in this direction in the spiritual world.

While philosophers are ardently and almost vainly attempting to learn whether all actions and all virtue are to be explained by the influence of this one pursuit, this truth remains for the common public, namely: that the pursuit of happiness, enjoyment, pleasure, is one of the most immense chases in which the human multitude ever joins. There are some who do not seek riches-perhaps because they were born into an old wealth which in generations has not increased nor diminished, or perhaps they were born so poor that the thought of riches is a hopeless dream-and there are persons who do not seek a home, or a name or culture; but persons who do not seek pleasure one can with difficulty discover. This crusade is one in which all join and march to this music in front of the mighty procession.

Not every single individual of the human family has marched to this music, but no one shape of motive has come so near making a unit in one particular of the races and epochs of man. The history of the exceptions, could we find them, would reveal to us only more clearly the fact that the Creator designed that all his creatures should

seek, to a greater or less degree, personal pleasure. At least those who have attempted to shun the smiles and laughter and joys of earth, have found their method to be, not a form of development, but a blight. In almost all histories of old lands we find a band of asceticism or stoicism drawn across the great page-a black line in this wide spectrum. Some disappointed priest of some god, or some baffled politician, or some baffled lover, or some unbalanced brain, has gone out from almost every state of the past, and in some desert has founded an order and a philosophy, whose cardinal idea has been that man should mortify all his feelings and look upon all pleasure as a weakness. Before our era came with its Christian hermits, old India and Arabia, and the Nile Valley, poured forth these streams of monasticism. The Eremite was a man who fled from civilization and took to the desert (eremos, a desert), that he might escape pleasure. But even these the inborn love of happiness followed, for when one of these had made his cell or lodge in the bleak sand or rocks, he soon managed to have company, and thus soon a hundred or a thousand hermits assembled in one valley or mountain or plain, that they who scorned all pleasure might have the pleasure of companionship. Although they ate in perfect silence and with faces unrelieved for years by a smile, and ate only little bread and oil and salt, and sat on a little bunch of straw by day, which bundle became a pillow at night, yet they wished the pleasure of society and always located in such a manner that each could see some companions of the common misery. In India, where the most miserable selftorturers exist, these seekers of suffering go in groups that they may have the pleasure of the company of each other. Thus these sets of men who have set forth with the cardinal doctrine of denying self, have hastened to gratify self by demanding the presence of companions. Thus has asceticism failed to root out from the heart the motive of happiness, because where it has vowed to be miserable it has asked the pleasure of companions in the distress; (it asked the happiness of being seen.

When this eccentricity of human nature passed over from the Pagan to the Christian world, it could not by any effort become a perfect selfdenial, for the recluses, the hermits and the monks, all betrayed points at which they wanted happiness to come in, and so rapidly did these points multiply and enlarge, that at last a monastery became a place where there was plenty of good food and good wine and good hearty laughter. To be fat and jolly as a monk became the quality at last of those orders whose founders had left the world that the body and soul might escape its sensual pleasures. Thus so stubborn is the natural law of pleasure that men who have set forth to oppose it

[ocr errors]

have been found at last fatter and redder of face people. Let us have instead of iron men, souls and jollier than those who remained away from sensitive to joy and pain, for these only can measthis contest with the flesh and the devil.

ure fully the joy and pain of another. A sensibility Again: in so far as individuals have succeeded to one's own happiness is pre-requisite to a concepin overcoming the smile and joy of earth, to that tion of the happiness of others. How can man be distance have they also blighted the other natural anxious to bestow upon another that of which he powers of the soul. In the effort to overthrow himself knows but little? No doubt the poet Milton pleasure, these men have dragged down all else. possessed immense learning and immense powers The mind hastens to pass into a stupor when it and heroism; but if the story be true, his daughters, has become convinced that there is nothing around who are pictured as reading so affectionately to it worth living for. The more the ascetic-be he their blind father and the nephews about the MilPagan or Christian, be he Stoic or a Fakir or a tonian home, must have had often convincing Monk-limits the horizon of pleasure in the best proof that their Paradise at least had been long sense of that word, the more he limits the out- lost. Much of the prose of Milton is marked by a reachings of the mind and heart, and contracts ferocity of which our times can furnish no parallel. the powers and works of his life. A suicide is a Having but one life to live, and having the choice man whose heart has become perfectly emptied of all times, one would be justified in locating his of joy and the hope of it; and next to the suicide span of existence in a happiness-seeking age, for stands the ascetic, who holds the theory of the only such an age would care for your tears and suicide but in a less real form; he has the faith or make any effort to dry them. Iron men are noble creed of the suicide, but has not yet risen to his to bear, but hard to be borne. practice.

When Christianity has in any way been made A classic orator once spoke so powerfully about into a severe state of philosophy or character, this the worthlessness of human existence that his ad- bad result has been achieved by a wandering away dresses were always followed by a sudden increase from Christ and by a linking together of Mosaic of suicides. We who from our happier era look law and Christian gospel. When our ancestors back, cannot but feel that the hatred some of our condemned and executed witches, they quo:ed ancestors cherished for pleasure, made the world Exodus 22:18, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to seem so small and ill-deserving that they did live.” When the Christian Church began to put not care to extend toward it their esteem or their to death all those who rejected its line of belief, it charity. From the years which they had sown studied and imitated the example of Moses and broadcast with their hatred of laughter, they | Joshua in their extermination of the Canaanites. reaped a harvest of indifference and coldness of The early Christian Church studied, not its soul. It mattered little to them how much their Founder, Christ, but its imaginary predecessor, neighbor or their enemy suffered, for suffering was the Mosaic Church, and put to death millions of a digniñed condition of body and mind, and was non-believers because the Mosaic model had cut not half so weak a thing as loud enjoyment. If down the Pagans root and branch. Many of this stoicism enabled some men to be martyrs and these olden-time writers explain persecution by to sing songs at the stake, it also made them willing quoting from Deuteronomy. One of them, Simanto make martyrs of others and to sing cheerfully cas, says that persecution to death is right, beat the burning of bodies other than their own. If cause in the 17th chapter of Deuteronomy we are asceticism had but one side to it-the ability to en- told that stubborn unbelievers must be burned in dure ills-it might pass for a virtue; but it has sight of all the people, and that idolaters must be always another side; the power to inflict ills-a led outside the gates and there be stoned to death. vice to which a willingness to have one's thumb Our own ancestors, when they made the penal twisted or right hand burned is an inadequate code of Connecticut, founded it as far as possible compensation. Thus the heroism of Cranmer and upon the Pentateuch. Again and again at the More and Knox had its dark side, for the severity end of a law they cite the holy precedent for such of philosophy which enabled them to endure well, an act of legislation. For example, we find on the made them equally powerful to inflict. The power code this Blue Law: "If any child or children to repel happiness has been too often joined to the about sixteen years old and of sufficient underinability to care for the happiness of others. It is standing, shall curse or smite their natural father no doubt true that some of the iron-hearted men in or mother, he or they shall be put to death. See the past did great good in their day, but one may Exodus 21:17; Lev. 20:9; Ex. 21:15.” Again, “If well be glad that their day has passed by, and that a man have a stubborn son who will not obey the with the passing away of the men who could hold voice of his father or mother, and that when they their hand in a blaze until it were consumed have shall have chastised him he will not hearken unto passed away, also the men who could without them, then shall they bring him before the magisflinching hold in the same blaze the hands of other trate and testify that their son is stubborn and



rebellious, and will not obey their voice and ehas. tisement, but lives in sundry and notorious crimes, such a son shall be put to death. See Deut 21:20." You may study all you will and can the alleged cruelty of Christianity, and you will find it all to have come from the assumption that Moses brought the perpetual will of God to earth, and that Christ and Moses were linked in an equal and everlasting partnership. Out of this assumption has come an endless amount of cruelty and blood and tears and sorrow. But the moment you dissolve this terrible companionship between the thunder of Sinai and the Sermon on the Mount you perceive that Christianity comes bringing happiness and asking you to carry happiness to all within your part of society. Christ in his own true isolation was not an ascetic, but an advocate of human cheerfulness. There were no tears of sympathy falling down through the Mosaic times, such as rained down through the Bethlehem skies when Christ went from home to home and village to village, cheering all, and healing all, and blessing all. The time for burning the skeptical and stoning to death the idolater rolled away like a black cloud after the Advent, and the new dispensation seen blessing all, comforting the mourner, holding in its arms little children. The austerity of the Mosaic era Christ would not permit to envelop even the Sabbath, much less all the days of the week, for passing through the wheatfields on Sunday, he commanded his companions to eat cheerfully of the sweet wheat, since the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for a Sabbath. At the wedding feast Christ harmonized with the festival and helped fill the wine-cup of the happy hours. Those lilies which Christ saw were not seen by the bloody men that put to death so willingly the Amorite and the Perrizite, but they were trampled down by the rush of the horsemen and the iron chariots. In Christ you will perceive just that sensibility of soul which loves at once the happiness of self and the joy of all mankind.

This must be said over all history, not only of Mosaic times but of Gospel times, and all early periods: that it omits to picture to us the laugh and smile and delight of man, and exhausts its time upon those wars and events and characters which overthrew thrones or set up thrones or changed the maps of nations. History is a filing in and out of soldiery. It is a march of kings and queens. In all its long period no happy children are seen; no feast is spread, unless like Belshazzer's it is to be followed by some calamity, and some poet is about to say:

"Hour to the empire's overthrow

The princes to the feast are gone;". no marriage bell rings; no mirth-making stories are told; no young people dance in the large halls. As kings were the large things of the by-gone cen

turies, around them moved all the chronicles of events from Ezra to Gibbon, each writer composing his book as on a shield, and dipping his pen in an inkstand made of a skull or of a helmet. Looking into such a record our fathers shaped religion to fit this funeral gloom, and gave us a worship in whose sombre presence pleasure partook of the quality of a sin or of a weakness. This being true, it is the privilege and duty of our time to note the injustice of history and to affirm that Christianity is in full sympathy with that vast love of pleasure that fills up the mortal soul. Gloomy religionists inquire whether Christ ever laughed, and whether St. Paul ever joined in a dance!-as though there were a most withering rebuke to the inquiry. This we know: that history has never given us the picture of man in his home and joys and laughter and all delights, but only of man as swaying a scepter or as making a speech or writing a poem or founding a religion; and hence you who love pleasure need not ask Josephus or Tacitus or Livy or Hume or Gibbon to show you a precedent; you may cast your case upon the wisdom of a different court-that of reason-or you may re-write history and omit the battle-field and the monarch, and fill your pages with common men, women and children, from all lands and all generations. Thus studying man you will find that the pursuit of happiness has quickened his genius and the beating of his heart all along his great highway, from the old Eden to the fresh and new America.

Happinss thus reevealing itself as a lawful and noble and universal pursuit, it must now be asked what happiness is it that is so lawful and noble? It must be a happiness that does not conflict with morality. Pleasure sought by a violation of any law of health or of conscience or of society, is only a pain delayed. The so-called “daughters of joy" are the daughters of infinite grief. And the appeal to the drunkard's glass for happiness is only placing a heavy mortgage upon the soulin good times to be paid with heavy interest when times are bad. The pleasure of the gambler, the betting man, and generally the fashionable man, is only an inflation of to-day at the expense of to-morrow. Happiness is much like money-money must represent an actuality. It must stand for some stored-up labor of individual or nation. If a man has earned a farm or a house or has digged a pot of gold, he may issue bills of paper almost to the amount of value in his farm or house or pot of gold, but should he issue checks or drafts to ten times the value of his realty, his bills must decline to ten cents on the dollar so as to harmonize with his possessions. No man and no state, however powerful, can create a value. No state can make land or make a wheat-crop. Their bills of exchange must represent what is. God alone can create. He might appeal to what might be. It is much thus




[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]




[ocr errors][ocr errors]

with pleasure. Man cannot wander much beyond Such a law would give pleasure to only those have
his absolute possession of power and right. An ing some money, and would give it to them only
over-drinking and over-eating, an over-tax of in July and August. Nature does not fill the soul
mind or body is an over-issue of drafts; and lo, on with an immense and universal longing and then
the morrow, an awful depreciation of body and bring to this longing such a small outcome. It
mind and soul is reported on street and 'change has made no such failure as this, but, on the oppo-
and in the church circles, and in that most tender site, God has made happiness grow up around the
and tearful place—the home. You see on the very avocations which consume all our days, and
streets daily persons, male and female, who years around the cities or towns or homes which cherish
ago discounted too heavily their future, and now us when the toil of the day is done. Each profes-
the time is out. The health of the body and of sion, each business should be also a pursuit of
the mind, the welfare of self and of society, the happiness. Men should so regulate their work, if
eternal laws of God-these are realities upon possible, in its quantity and quality, that they will
which all may issue their pleasure-notes, but the go to it each morning with pleasure. In all the
instant you go beyond these actualities you be- ten thousand honorable pursuits the toiler in each
come a defaulter-you are no longer in the valefof industry goes cheerfully to his task, for his feel-
pleasure, but of pain.

ings have fitted themselves to it like a soft glove
It must therefore be true that what we call to the hand. There are men now in the learned
amusements are things to be regulated rather than professions who came up from a farm; and now
sweepingly condemned. The pleasure of the in looking back over the long stretch of years they
theatre, of games, of the hunt, of the dance, of the cannot tell when they were happiest—whether it
dinner, of the party, of the club, must be one that was last year in a public life or in their years of
shall not over-tax health or morals or money, or student life, or in those former years when they'
militate against one's avocation. The bounding up

at dawn in summer to get ready for plow-
line between virtue and vice is not always made ing or harvesting while the grass was still glitter-
vividly on life's great plain. Our world was not ing with dew. One may find pleasure by travel
made for the accommodation of stupid people nor and by any form of diversion, but God has so
for the growth and increase of stupidity, but to de- made the world that the great bulk of its joyful-
velop the intellect and the judgment. All college ness is to spring up around home and its pursuits.
students are wont to ask, “Why study this Greek, The heart is born into it.
with its endless details and rules and exceptions? And all ye young hearts who are just entering
Why not study easier things?" And the grave upon this great debate about pleasure, where it is
teachers will say in triumph, there is a to be found, do not fall into the error that when
amount of discipline in Greek. After mastering you become rich then you will try to be happy.
that all else will be easy. These Greek professors Happiness is the most accommodating of all
have nature on their side; for nature draws dim things. It will come to a cottage as soon as a pal-
lines between virtue and vice, pleasure and pain, ace. - You need never wait for any outward pomp
and then says: "Find these lines, oh, my children, to come. As the sunshine of the Almighty will
and you will become as mighty men!" The old shine through a simple vine as richly as upon the
church declined the task. It asked for easy stud- velvet of a king or upon the gilded dome of a
ies. It condemned the whole region of faint temple, so happiness falls with equal sweetness
boundaries. It condemned the drama and the upon all whose minds are at peace and in whose
dance and the games, and even laughter and a hearts flow the good thoughts and good sentiments
neat toilet, and fell back on its formulas as being of life. Never for a moment admit that any mil-
about the only place where reason's trumpet could lionaire or king can surpass you in the possession
utter no uncertain sound. A religious conference of that peace of mind and smile of existence which
being unable to distinguish between croquet and we call happiness. Here you are cqual to the
billiards, did not admit billiards but they abolished highest.

Upon duties well done to self and mankind,
And now let us come to one more general law upon health of soul and body, this dependent vine
about the pursuit of happiness. You perceive tens bears its weight. Pleasure is not a self-sustaining
of thousands setting out from home at times in the oak, but it is a dependent vine. The great vine
pursuit of this winged butterfly. They go to what of Santa Barbara, which bears tons of grapes each
are called "resorts." They ride and they sail; year, which demands almost a field for its ar-
they eat and they drink, and they make merry. bor, and which has a trunk sixteen inches in
Often this is all well enough, and much of what diameter, does not stand alone, but wanders to and
they seek is found. But it would be a strange fro over strong posts, clasping them all in its many
law of Nature if man must travel from home in arms. Happiness is thus only a dependent, climb-
order to find any important form of blessedness. ing product of the soul's floral world. The many


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

pursuits of man, his industry, his studies, his honor, his home, his philosophy, his shape of religion, are a long series columns upon which this flowering plant hangs and relies, and from which it shows its blossoms and suspends its fruit. God has made man not only for toil but for his joyfulness. Let no yearning for riches or for office or for any form of vain display, destroy or impede the stream of contentment and peace which the Creator designed should all the year flow through your soul. The fact that religion paints heaven as being a happy land, is enough to point out the lawfulness and attractiveness of happiness; for what is so desirable on the shores of eternity must be a boon to seek and to find on the shores of time.

The boat is now going at a fearful rate; but, de. ceived by the moving waters, they are unconscious of its rapidity. They hear the hollow rumbling at the water-pool's center. The voices from the shore are no longer audible, but every effort is being used to warn them of their danger. They now, for the first time, become conscious of their situation, and head the boat toward shore. But, like a leaf in the autumn gale, she quivers under the power of the whirlpool. Fear drives them to frenzy! Two of the strongest seize the oars, and ply them with all their strength, and the boat moves toward the shore. With joy they cherish hope! and some, for the first time in all their lives, now give thanks to God-that they are saved. But suddenly, crash goes the oar! and such a shriek goes up from that ill-fated band, as can only be heard when a spirit lost, drops into perdition!

The boat whirls again into its death-marked channel, and skips on with the speed of the wind. The roar at the center grinds on their ears, like the grating of prison doors on the ears of the doomed. Clearer, and more deafening is that dreadful roar, as nearer and still nearer the vessel approaches the center; then whirling for a moment on that awful brink, she plunges with her freight of human souls into that dreadful yawning hollow, where their bodies shall lie in their watery graves till the sea gives up its dead!



[ocr errors]



In the Arctic ocean near the coast of Norway is situated the famous Maelstrom or whirlpool. Niany are the goodly ships that have been caught in its circling power, and plunged into the depths below. On a fine spring morning, near the shore opposite, are gathered a company of peasants. The winter and the long night have passed away, and, in accordance with their ancient custom, they are holding a greeting to the return of the sunlight, and the verdure of spring. Under a green shade are spread, in abundance, all the luxuries their pleasant homes could afford. In the grove at one side are heard the strains of music, and the light step of the dance.

At the shore lies a beautiful boat, and a party near are preparing for a ride. Soon all things are in readiness, and, amid the cheers of their companions on shore, they push gaily away. The day is beautiful, and they row on, and on. Weary, at length, they drop their oars to rest; but they perceive their boat still moving. Somewhat surprised -soon it occurs to them that they are under the influence of the whirlpool.

Moving slowly and without an effort-presently faster, at length the boat glides along with a movement far more delightful than with oars. Their friends from the shore perceive the boat moving, and see no working of the oars; it flashes upon their minds that they are evidently within the circles of the maelstrom. When the boat comes near they call to them, “Beware of the whirlpool!" But they laugh at fear: they are too happy to think of returning. “When we see there is danger then we will return." Oh, that some good angel would come with warning unto them, “Unless ye now turn back ye cannot be saved." Like as the voice of God comes to the soul of the impenitent, "Unless ye mend your ways ye cannot be saved.”

No bird-song floated down the hill,
The tangled bank below was still;
No rustle from the birchen stem,
No ripple from the water's hem.
The dusk of twilight round us grew,
We felt the falling of the dew;
For from us, ere the day was done,
The wooded hills shut out the sun.
But on the river's farther side,
We saw the hill-tops glorified-
A tender glow, exceeding fair,
A dream of day without its glare.
With us the damp, the chill, the gloom;
With them the sunset's rosy bloom;
While dark, through willowy vistas seen
The river rolled in shade between.
From out the darkness where we trod,
We gazed upon those hills of God,
Whose light seemed not of morn or sun;
We spake not, but our thought was one.

« ПредишнаНапред »