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Life's Great Task

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Our thought oí JJeity is at lts truest and best when wc think of a noble man, doing evè'ry duty of life in a noble fashion, anti when we cali such a man godlike. No conception of Deity can be trae which lias not in it some elements of lmman justice, and human mercy, and human sense of right. Although Deity must be infinitely more than we are, still He is all that we are when we are at our best. He must possess attributes of which we can have no conception, to which we shall never be able to give a name, still these tmimaginable and unnamable attributes must agree with and cannot in anywise be contrary to those attributes which we I can imagine and can name, and which by the very constitution of our nature we cannot help revering. The prophet thought of what the shepherd's life was, as he himself had seen it and known it ; i he thought with what tireless patience and sure and tender care the shepherd ' ministered to the wants of his flock - i i how he led them to places where herbage was plentiful and waters clear and still- how the young lambs were nurtured in the shepherd's bosom, and the expectant mothers gently led, and out of this lowly thought . there came the loftier thought: Behold how God "shall feed His flock like a shepherd. j He shall gather the lambs in His arms, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." j How'ineffably tender the conception! is, and how the truth in it squares with most of the experiences of our lives. Our life would be happier and statelier if we would not fret so inuch about what the future days of it were destined to bring forth for ns ; if we would just do the duty of to-day as that duty daily comes, and not vex ourselves with the endeavor to take forward looks into the morrow. Sehemings for tomorrow generally result in nothing, for not one time in a hundred do our schemes turn out exactly as we planned them. Duty done to-day leaves early on the to-morrow, and fits us for nobly receiving the sunshine or the shadow that to-morrow may await us. We strive after the unreaohable, to us; therefore, the unattainable, and, while straining after that distant something, the blessing freshly put day by day at our very fcet is unnoticed - the duty that day by day freshly comes to us is slurred'hastily over or goes altogether undone. And so our lives, instead of being one great fullness of content, become one great vexatious craving- one greát sense of emptiness. We drop our buckets into the empty wells of our om poor ambitions, and they return empty to'us - no refreshing drink in tliem wherewith to slack our thirst. I don't know but Whftt it is the master virtue of life to govern lii'e in accordance with the principie hidden in the words, "He shall feed His flock like a shepherd." The wretchedness of our lives comes of our over-eagerness to feed ourselves. It is most true that no life can be noble which has not a forward look in it. Do we dream of one day being wiser, better, wealthier, grêatèr than we now are? I hope we do, for that life is a low and mean life indeed that has no sueh dream in it. We may realize our dream, or we may not, whoknoweth? But the only way to the realization of any such dream is found along the path of present duty. Eailure to realize that dream, pursuing that path, will be but another name for an unthought of, and, therefore, all tlie more welcome success. Dying on the Pisgah top of duty, with the promised and of our ambition fading away from before our death-dimmed eyes, we flnd that we are blessed with a blcssing we dienmed not of, and that we are flnding preoions profit even in the loss of what we had made our life - hope. Do you remember Shakspeare's wise words? We pray, sometimes, he says, to our own hurt. The wise powers deny us for our good, "thus find we profit by losing of our prayers." The ambition of our lif e can only come to us ; or, f ailing that, as most likely it will fail, this other thing precious and infinitely greater and better for us than the realization of our ambition - either the gratification of our ambition, or thing better m lts placo, wmcn we - dreamed not of, eau only como to us toy ! doing well each day the task that each ■ day brings, and so feeding ourselves, and '■ máking ourselves strong by the fresh experiences that each day freshly surround us. It is so trae as to have passed into a proverb, that "We know not what a day may bring forth." And what varied j experiences come in the days of onr lives ! One day it is a proud exp( rience. Something we have attempted has turned out triumphantly well. Our nam es are in men's mouths, and all sorts of people shower golden opinions on uk. We walk elate along the world as though we feit we had conquered it, and we receive complacently, as though it were'our righteous due, all the j age men are eager to award us! Another day, instead of pride we get bitter huniiliation. Some darling scheme of our life has coÜapsed and come utterly to naught. There we are, wearily plodding along the valley of humiliation, to be crucified on the cross of failure. With many a jibe and jcer the passersby will wa'g their heads at us and mock us. Another day we get a glad experionce. Some great joy has come to us - it is freshly paidin our dwellings, "Lo ! a child is born" - or, it may be, a boy, a darling boy, whom we have watchedday by day growing up into nobleness under oiir iostering care, and in whom we have leaniod to take so fond a pvide, does somt; deed of honor that brings more thnn a reflected honor on us, whose mane he bears; all tlie chambers of our being are straight lit up and made radiant with the glad sunshine ; our very footstejis seem to go to music, and our "bosom lords it lightly on its throne." Another day it is a sorrowful experience that comes to us - we are led through the bitter waters of a great woe. There is an empty chair in the household in which a man, old and bent and wrinkled, was wont to sit, whosc hcart glowed with love for us, iiiul whosc lips dropped words of wisdom for the guidance of our lives. Alas! and alas ! the old man'a heart is cold, and the ips that so oft received our kiss of thanks will move no more f orerer ! Or it is an empty eradlo over which we lean, and as our eyes rain down tears we think of the thousand and one happy baby ways, and of the gladsome baby crows and laughs that will no more, forever and forever, enrich our lives ! Well, here's the great task of life, to take all these varied experienees with equal thanks, never to suffer anything to beat us - never to suffer sorrow to spoil the wine of life for us, turning it into vinegar - never to allow a triumphant joy unduly to elate us and puff us up with a braggart confidence. There's fine wisdom in Hamlet's words to Horatio: Since my dcar soul was mistress of her choice, And eould oL men duttogutab, lier elecüon Hath sealed thoc for herself; for thou hast been As ono. ju HiiffiTin all. that suff-TH nottiin. A man, that fortune's buffets and rewards llast ta'en with equïl thanks: and l)lesK'd are those Wli.isi' blood und judgment are sowell conamingled ■]'li;i( they are not a pipo for fortuno's fln;;eiTo sound what stop nhe picase. Give me that man That is not papsion.'e slave, and I will wear him In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heartf . I As I do thee. That, I say, is life's great task- to larn how to take the buffels and rewards of fortune with eqnal thanks. We cannot do it completely, bnt wc can all try. I cannot do it completely, but I can try, and, in my better moments - for people who preach to you have thcir better moments, almost as often, perhaps, as any other class of evil-doers Lave - in my better moments, I say, I am ashamed to tliink how feebly I have tried. You cannot do it completely, but you eau all try. Whether you have but 'feebly tried or not, you can best determine. That's your business, not mine. Anyhow this is religión, so far as it is a principio within man. So far as the principie of it can be made regnant in one's own nature, there is no higher, no nobler religión than this. You may talk about creed-belioving until you are hoarse, you may talk about the divine vengeance on unbelief until you yourself shall deserve that vengeance for the transcendent audacity you manifest in daring to invoke it on another; but here, dwarfingto nothingness all your creeds, and outblazing all the lights you burn on your decorated altars - here is the religión. So to live that day by day we may take the food the Shepheid gives with equal thanks ; so to live, with "blood and judgment so well commingled," that, whether the daily bread we get be that of pride or of humility, of gladness or of sorrow, the noblf r self in us may be fed therefrom.


Old News
Michigan Argus