Page images
PDF
EPUB

through which that spirit expresses himself or ought to express himself. Anything that has to do with conscience, mind or heart has to do with the territory of the soul. Even our physical habiliments touch the confines of that country. Hence the wise old Ben Ezra reminded :

" Thy body, at its best, how far can it project the soul on its lone way."

THE PATHFINDER AND FAITH 2. The pathfinder into the soul-country must be a man of faith. All explorers have been men of faith, of faith in themselves, in their companions, and in the work undertaken. The very fact of their going out into the unknown emphasizes this. Most of them have had faith in God. The very dangers and uncertainties have made them trust in the Power without themselves in whose hands they were.

Much more must the pathfinder of the soul-country be for the man of faith in God, in himself and in God's destiny for him. For the country of the soul is not ours to begin with. It has to be achieved, won, built up in the likeness of Christ. No man is in possession of his own soul until he sees its relation to the eternal, beholds it in the light of God.

There is a difference between faith, which is the attitude of trust toward the unseen, and a faith which is the statement of a creed supposed to be held in common by a group of individuals. It is faith, not a faith, with which the pathfinder of the soul-country is primarily concerned, though he

may sometimes profitably consult the creed, which is a statement of a faith, as a suggestive guide book, which others have found valuable.

Faith is not so intangible and irrational as it is sometimes thought to be. The very organization of the society in which you live implicitly emphasizes faith. The bank trusts the merchant, and the merchant trusts you. You have faith in your doctor, faith in the engineer and in the trustworthiness of all the railroad employees into whose hands you commit your precious life when you go on a journey and in the vast majority of cases you are not mistaken in so doing. It is but a natural step further to have faith in God.

“Thou canst not prove the Nameless, O my son,
Nor canst thou prove the world thou movest in,
Thou canst not prove that thou art body alone,
Nor canst thou prove that thou art spirit alone,
Nor canst thou prove that thou art both in one;
Thou canst not prove that thou art immortal, no
Nor yet that thou art mortal,-nay, my son,
Thou canst not prove that I who speak with thee,
Am not thyself in converse with thyself,
For nothing worthy proving can be proven,
Nor yet disproven; Wherefore thou be wise,
Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt
And cling to Faith beyonds the forms of Faith!
She reels not in the storm of warring words,
She brightens at the clash of “Yes” and "No,"
She sees the Best that glimmers through the Worst
She feels the Sun is hid but for a night,
She spies the summer through the winter bud top,
She tastes the fruit before the blossom falls,
She hears the lark within the songless egg,
She finds the fountain where they wailed, 'Mirage.'"

Acting on that conception of faith, which is second nature with you in all the affairs of life, let God be the companion of your soul. The beauty and majesty of your soul-country shall depend on the amount of trust that you have in God and how much He has in you. Your intuitions, your desires, your thoughts must be well-pleasing unto Him. Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” It has been a question of long and deep debate as to which side played the introductory part in the union of the divine and human which is a necessary condition for the real development of the soul. Augustine in the third century and Calvin in the sixteenth so exalted God that there could positively be no approach to Him by debased men until the Divine made the first overture. The British Monk, Pelagius, in the fifth century and John Wesley in the eighteenth century championed the ability of whosoever will, on his own volition, to find God. Both sides were right, each beheld the opposite side of the same silver shield. “It is God that worketh in us both to will and to do of His own good pleasure,” and “Every man worketh out his own salvation." “ The Lord direct your hearts into the love of Christ." By the gentle mingling of the human and divine shall the domain of your soul be rendered rich and beautiful.

THE PATHFINDER AND OBEDIENCE 3. Obedience shall be the watchword of the pathfinder into the soul-country. “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out into the land

which he was to receive for an inheritance." He heard the call and he obeyed. So has every true pioneer gone into the undiscovered country obedient to the call that sent him thither. The call of God, of conscience, of duty, of obligation, of truth, of opportunity, of growth, and development has ever sounded the bugle note of obedience.

The first note of obedience for the pathfinder to the soul-country is that of obedience to God; the placing of the human heart and the human will in harmony with Christ.

The next note of obedience is that of obedience to the individuality of one's own soul. There never was a more serious mistake made by the Christian church than that of confusing unity of the spirit with uniformity of expression. Unity of the spirit is the mystic bond of life, uniformity of expression is the wrapping of the grave-cloths for one who shall soon be dead. How often seminaries and presbyteries in a dull insistence on uniformity of interpretation have turned into the ministry, or if they haven't, it is no fault of their method,-a continuous army of clerical leaders for the church as much alike as a box of shoe-pegs. Not theological fossils, not mere eclectic essayists, but glowing human spirits clothed upon with all the power of individual personality, shall lead mankind forward to moral and spiritual victory. If there is any choice possession given of God to any individual it is his own individuality. A man shall achieve the birthright of his own soul-country, just so far as he

shall make his bodily powers, his talents, his environment expressive of himself, of the master spirit, his soul which God has placed within. He shall do this just in so far as he is obedient to the call whatever the call may be, whether of ideals or of duty, or of opportunity, of habit or environment, which shall lead him out of the bondage into a land where he shall be free, to express himself. The thing that placed Abraham in the roll of immortals was that by faith he obeyed to go out—to go out-unto the place which he was to receive for an inheritance. He was obedient to his own individuality, he obeyed to go out into the country of his soul's ideals, which he was to receive for himself and for the blessing of many. Photiades, who so brilliantly interpreted George Meredith to the French people, says: “ I have no sweeter memory than this old man so passionately fond of France.” When he had passed many days with Meredith at his home at Boxwood, though he grew into the spirit of the old man's life, still, as an interviewer, he appeared much as a literary hack, and the great novelist said to him one day, “But you, Sir, who honour me by presenting my works to the French public, why do you yoke yourself to this barren task? You appear to me to be imaginative, give us then some original work.” So he spoke the secret that every master soul discovers for himself that he must be obedient to go out into his own promised land if he would achieve the soulcountry that was intended for him. George Borrow in “ Lavengro" sounds the same trumpet note. In

« PreviousContinue »