A fine lady; by which term I wish to express the result of that perfect education in taste and manner, down to every gesture, which heaven forbid that I, professing to be a poet, should undervalue. It is beautiful, and therefore I welcome it in the name of the author of all beauty. I value it so highly that I would fain see it extend not merely from Belgravia to the tradesmans villa, but thence, as I believe it one day will, to the laborers hovel and the needlewomans garret.
After all, there is such a thing as looking like a gentleman. There are men whose class no dirt or rags can hide, any more than they could Ulysses. I have seen such men in plenty among workmen, too; but, on the whole, the gentlemanby whom I do not mean just now the richhave the superiority in that point. But not, please God, forever. Give us the same air, water, exercise, education, good society, and you will see whether this haggardness, this coarseness (etc., for the list is too long to specify), be an accident, or a property, of the man of the people.
Ah, my friends, we must look out and around to see what God is like. It is when we persist in turning our eyes inward and prying curiously over our own imperfections, that we learn to make God after our own image, and fancy that our own darkness and hardness of heart are the patterns of His light and love.
And how high is Christs cross? As high as the highest heaven, and the throne of God, and the bosom of the Fatherthat bosom out of which forever proceed all created things. Ay, as high as the highest heaven! forif you will receive itwhen Christ hung upon the cross, heaven came down on earth, and earth ascended into heaven.
And we shall be made truly wise if we be made content; content, too, not only with what we can understand, but content with what we do not understandthe habit of mind which theologians calland rightlyfaith in God.
And what is the joy of Christ? The joy and delight which springs forever in His great heart, from feeling that He is forever doing good; from loving all, and living for all; from knowing that if not all, yet millions on millions are grateful to Him, and will be forever.
Because I believe in a God of absolute and unbounded love, therefore I believe in a loving anger of His which will and must devour and destroy all which is decayed, monstrous, abortive in His universe till all enemies shall be put under His feet, and God shall be all in all.
Do not fancy, as too many do, that thou canst praise God by singing hymns to Him in church once a week, and disobeying Him all the week long. He asks of thee works as well as words; and more. He asks of thee works first and words after.
Do you feel that you have lost your way in life? Then God Himself will show you your way. Are you utterly helpless, worn out, body and soul? Then Gods eternal love is ready and willing to help you up, and revive you. Are you wearied with doubts and terrors? Then Gods eternal light is ready to show you your way; Gods eternal peace ready to give you peace. Do you feel yourself full of sins and faults? Then take heart; for Gods unchangeable will is, to take away those sins, and purge you from those faults.
Feelings are like chemicalsthe more you analyze them the worse they smell. So it is best not to stir them up very much, only enough to convince ones self that they are offensively wrong, and then look away as far as possible, out of ones self, for a purifying power; and that we know can only come from Him who holds our hearts in His hands, and can turn us whither He will.
Grandeur * * * consists in form, and not in size: and to the eye of the philosopher, the curve drawn on a paper two inches long, is just as magnificent, just as symbolic of divine mysteries and melodies, as when embodied in the span of some cathedral roof.
Have charity; have patience; have mercy. Never bring a human being, however silly, ignorant, or weakabove all, any little childto shame and confusion of face. Never by petulance, by suspicion, by ridicule, even by selfish and silly hastenever, above all, by indulging in the devilish pleasure of a sneercrush what is finest and rouse up what is coarsest in the heart of any fellow-creature.
My friends, let us try to follow the Saviours steps; let us remember all day long what it is to be men; that it is to have every one whom we meet for our brother in the sight of God; that it is this, never to meet anyone, however bad he may be, for whom we cannot say: Christ died for that man, and Christ cares for him still. He is precious in Gods eyes, and he shall be precious in mine also.
Nothing like one honest look, one honest thought of Christ upon His cross. That tells us how much He has been through, how much He endured, how much He conquered, how much God loved us, who spared not His only begotten Son, but freely gave Him for us. Dare we doubt such a God? Dare we murmur against such a God?
Purge me, or Lord, though it be with fire. Burn up the chaff of vanity and self-indulgence, of hasty prejudice, second-hand dogmashusks which do not feed my soul, with which I cannot be content, of which I feel ashamed dailyand if there be any grain of wheat in me, any word or thought or power of action which may be of use as seed for my nation after me, gather it, oh Lord, into Thy garner.
Therefore, let us be patient, patient; and let God our Father teach His own lesson, His own way. Let us try to learn it well and quickly; but do not let us fancy that He will ring the school-bell, and send us to play before our lesson is learnt.
We shall be made truly wise if we be made content; content, too, not only with what we can understand, but content with what we do not understand,the habit of mind which theologians call, and rightly, faith in God.
What right has any free, reasonable soul on earth to sell himself for a shilling a day to murder any man, right or wrong, even his own brother or his own father, just because such a whiskered, profligate jackanapes as that officer, without learning, without any good except his own looking-glass and his opera-dancer,a fellow who, just because he was born a gentleman, is set to command gray-headed men before he can command his own meanest passions. Good heavens! that the lives of free men should be intrusted to such a stuffed cockatoo; and that free men should be such traitors to their own flesh and blood as to sell themselves, for a shilling a day and the smirks of the nursery-maids, to do that fellows bidding.
Whatever may be the mysteries of life and death, there is one mystery which the cross of Christ reveals to us, and that is the infinite and absolute goodness of God. Let all the rest remain a mystery so long as the mystery of the cross of Christ gives us faith for all the rest.