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speaking of the failure of his brother, who was highly gifted in artistic lines, to arrive at the achievement that should have been his, he says: “O, ye gifted ones, follow your calling, for, however various your talents may be, ye can have but one calling capable of leading you to eminence and renown; follow resolutely the one straight path before you, it is that of your good angel. Let neither obstacles nor temptations induce you to leave it; bound along if you can; if not on hands and knees follow it, perish in it if need be; but ye need not fear for that; no one ever yet died in the true path of his calling before he had attained the pinnacle. Turn into other paths, and for a momentary advantage or gratification ye have sold your inheritance, your immortality. Ye will never be heard of after death."
The indomitable spirit of going out to claim the heritage of individuality, has given the church its richest development, as well as the most rare characters of its history. Saul of Tarsus would never have had a renown surpassing that of Gamaliel, had he not been obedient to the heavenly vision. Boldly bidding defiance to his Jewish persecutors, how splendidly he measures the unique power of his soul's individuality, when he gives the Magna Charta of theological liberty.
“ After the manner,” says he," which they call heresy, worship I, the God of
Augustine in the fifth century was the father of many things. He is one of those extraordinary per
sons who have dominated the minds of men with a sway which makes the rôle of world conquerors look cheap and puny. He exemplified both the religion of authority and the religion of the spirit. No man has done more to construct an authoritative church than he. The architectural plan was already there when he joined the church, when his work was done the Roman Catholic Church was organized for its mighty task of making a new empire on the ruins of the old. Not less did he do in the development of theological doctrine. He gave his stamp to that high exaltation of the sovereignty of God, which made the doctrine of election preëminent doctrine, until the days when Calvin gave it a new accent. Though Augustine was such a mighty builder of the church as an institution, and so profound a theological thinker, yet he could tell in the tenderest and sweetest tones the mystical experience that marks him as the greatest saint of the ages. “Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our heart is restless until it rests in Thee,” was his spirit's interpretation of the reality of God. “Our whole work in this life is to heal the eye of the heart by which we see God,” was the refrain by which he continued his anthem in innumerable forms. From his Carthaginian Capital, he could hear the reports of Rome being ground into dust by the Barbarians. In that hour he dreamed dreams, and saw visions of the city, a new city, that should be eternal, because it had foundations whose maker and builder is God. This threefold and mighty task could Augustine accomplish,
marking himself as one of the most remarkable men of all times, because he was obedient to the call to go forth into the realm of his own individuality.
Francis of Assisi left the home luxury in the beautiful vale of Umbria, forsook the wealth which his father had in store for him, because he had a vision that called him to give his life in loving service. Poor ragged beggars and unfortunate people, found themselves personally ministered to by him. He became the founder of the mighty order of the Franciscans, and gave to Christianity one of its most unique expressions, because he poured his soul forth through the channels of his own individuality. Martin Luther, the young monk, who entered with such simple loyalty into the ecstatic expression of pride, when he visited Rome, and its manifold memorials of martyrdom, did not remain an unquestioning Augustinian Monk to the end of his days, because he was obedient to the inner call that bade him to march forth into new realms. With as much pride as any other faithful son of the church, he climbed the Santa Scala in Rome on bended knee, but when he felt the power of the experience within his own heart that made him feel the just shall live by faith, he went forth to make the church something different from what it had ever been before, and became what Pfleiderer calls the founder of Protestant civilization.
The pathfinder of the soul-country shall come to the true appreciation of the riches of his realm, when he enters in through the imagination. The
poetic souls have ever pictured the beautiful things of the soul-country. If from his barren exile on Patmos, John could see the heavenly country with its river of crystal water of Life, in the midst of the glorious realm of the same country, Dante beheld the river of Light with its molten waters ever shooting forth sparks of living fire which shone like rubies among the flowers that bordered its banks. When he drew near to the presence of the Eternal, he saw all the white-robed throng, whose bliss it was there to dwell, arranged in companies forming the petals of the white rose of Paradise.
Blessed discoveries shall be made by every pathfinder who journeys into the soul-country. Bathing in Dante's mystic river, Lethe, he shall forget the tribulations of the past, touching the waters of Eunöe, he shall have his eyes opened to the beholding of spiritual secrets whose glory he never saw before. “Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be." Sublime discoveries of the immortal destiny of the human spirit shall be made by these pathfinders until in very joy the faithful explorer shall exclaim as did the dying Arthur when he shaded his eyes and looked out into that unknown realm, whence three queens in their barge came for him,
"I go on a long journey
The pathfinder of the soul-country ever takes with him the spirit of faith, obedience, and conquest. He greets the unseen with a cheer. If sacrifice and hardship and sorrow stand beside his way, they do but challenge the heroic that abides within. The legend on his banner is never furled :
"To seek, to strive, to find and not to yield.” He cries :
“I go to prove my soul!
I see my way as birds their trackless way.