The Most Successful Man in America

Phineas Taylor "P. T." Barnum (July 5, 1810 – April 7, 1891) was an American politician, showman, and businessman remembered for promoting celebrated hoaxes and for founding the Barnum & Bailey Circus.[1] Although Barnum was also an author, publisher, philanthropist, and for some time a politician, he said of himself, "I am a showman by profession...and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me",[2] and his personal aim was "to put money in his own coffers".[3] Barnum is widely, but erroneously, credited with coining the phrase "There's a sucker born every minute".[4]
Born in Bethel, Connecticut, Barnum became a small-business owner in his early twenties, and founded a weekly newspaper, before moving to New York City in 1834. He embarked on an entertainment career, first with a variety troupe called "Barnum's Grand Scientific and Musical Theater", and soon after by purchasing Scudder's American Museum, which he renamed after himself. Barnum used the museum as a platform to promote hoaxes and human curiosities such as the Feejee mermaid and General Tom Thumb.[5] In 1850 he promoted the American tour of singer Jenny Lind, paying her an unprecedented $1,000 a night for 150 nights. After economic reversals due to bad investments in the 1850s, and years of litigation and public humiliation, he used a lecture tour, mostly as a temperance speaker, to emerge from debt. His museum added America's first aquarium and expanded the wax-figure department. While in New York, he converted to Universalism and was a member of the Church of the Divine Paternity, now the Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York.
Barnum served two terms in the Connecticut legislature in 1865 as a Republican for Fairfield. With the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution over slavery and African-American suffrage, Barnum spoke before the legislature and said, "A human soul, ‘that God has created and Christ died for,’ is not to be trifled with. It may tenant the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab or a Hottentot – it is still an immortal spirit".[6] Elected in 1875 as Mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut, he worked to improve the water supply, bring gas lighting to streets, and enforce liquor and prostitution laws. Barnum was instrumental in starting Bridgeport Hospital, founded in 1878, and was its first president.[7]
The circus business was the source of much of his enduring fame. He established "P. T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome", a traveling circus, menagerie and museum of "freaks", which adopted many names over the years. Barnum died in his sleep at home in 1891, and was buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport, which he designed himself.

You can learn the secrets to success - buy the book from P.T. Barnum

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The Turkish province of Van lies in the remote north-eastern corner of Asia Minor; it touches the frontiers of Persia on the east and its northern boundary looks toward the Caucasus. It is one of the most beautiful and most fruitful parts of the Turkish Empire and one of the richest in historical associations. The city of Van, which is capital of the vilayet, lies on the eastern shores of the lake of the same name; it is the one large town in Asia in which the Armenian population is larger than the Moslem. In the fall of 1914, its population of about 30,000 people represented one of the most peaceful, happy, and prosperous communities in the Turkish Empire. Though Van, like practically every other section where Armenians lived, had had its periods of oppression and massacre, yet the Moslem yoke, comparatively speaking, rested upon its people rather lightly. Its Turkish Governor, Tahsin Pasha, was one of the more enlightened type of Turkish officials. Relations between the Armenians, who lived in the better section of the city, and the Turks and the Kurds, who occupied the mud huts in the Moslem quarter, had been tolerably agreeable for many years.
The location of this vilayet, however, inevitably made it the scene of military operations, and made the activities of its Armenian population a matter of daily suspicion. Should Russia attempt an invasion of Turkey one of the most accessible routes lay through this province. The war had not gone far when causes of irritation arose. The requisitions of army supplies fell far more heavily upon the Christian than upon the Mohammedan elements in Van, just as they did in every other part of Turkey. The Armenians had to stand quietly by while the Turkish officers appropriated all their cattle, all their wheat, and all their goods of every kind, giving them only worthless pieces of paper in exchange.
The attempt at general disarmament that took place also aroused their apprehensions, which were increased by the brutal treatment visited upon Armenian soldiers in the Caucasus. On the other hand, the Turks made many charges against the Christian population, and, in fact, they{194} attributed to them the larger share of the blame for the reverses which the Turkish Armies had suffered in the Caucasus. The fact that a considerable element in the Russian forces was composed of Armenians aroused their unbridled wrath. Since about half the Armenians in the world inhabit the Russian provinces in the Caucasus, and are liable, like all Russians, to military service, there was certainly no legitimate grounds for complaint, so far as these Armenian levies were bona fide subjects of the Tsar. But the Turks asserted that large numbers of Armenian soldiers in Van and other of their Armenian provinces deserted, crossed the border, and joined the Russian Army, where their knowledge of roads and the terrain was an important factor in the Russian victories. Though the exact facts are not yet ascertained, it seems not unlikely that such desertions, perhaps a few hundred, did take place.
At the beginning of the war Turkish officials appeared in this neighbourhood and appealed to the Armenian leaders to go into Russian Armenia and attempt to start revolutions against the Russian Government, and the fact that the Ottoman Armenians refused to do this contributed further to the prevailing irritation. The Turkish Government has made much of the “treasonable” behaviour of the Armenians of Van, and have even urged it as an excuse for their subsequent treatment of the whole race. Their attitude illustrates once more the perversity of the Turkish mind. After massacring hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the course of thirty years, outraging the women and girls, and robbing and maltreating them in every conceivable way, the Turks still apparently believed that they had the right to expect from them the most enthusiastic “loyalty.” That the Armenians all over Turkey sympathised with the Entente was no secret. “If you want to know how the war is going,” remarked a humorous Turkish newspaper, “all you need to do is to look in the face of an Armenian. If he is smiling, then the Allies are winning; if he is downcast, then the Germans are successful.” If an Ottoman Armenian soldier should desert and join the Russians that would unquestionably constitute a technical crime against the State, and might be punished without violating the rules of all civilised countries. Only the Turkish mind, however—and possibly the German—could regard it as furnishing an excuse for the terrible barbarities that now took place.
Though the air all during the autumn and winter of 1914-15 was filled with premonitions of trouble, the Armenians behaved with remarkable self-restraint. For years it had been the{195} Turkish policy to provoke the Christian population into committing overt acts, and then seizing upon such misbehaviour as an excuse for massacres. The Armenian clergy and political leaders saw many evidences that the Turks were now up to their old tactics, and they therefore went among the people, cautioning them to keep quiet, to bear all insults, and even outrages, patiently, so as not to give the Moslems the opening which they were seeking. “Even though they burn a few of our villages,” these leaders would say, “do not retaliate, for it is better that a few be destroyed than that the whole nation be massacred.”
When the war started, the Central Government recalled Tahsin Pasha, the conciliatory Governor of Van, and replaced him with Djevdet Bey, a brother-in-law of Enver Pasha. This act in itself was most disquieting. Turkish officialdom has always contained a minority of men who do not believe in massacres as a State policy and who cannot be depended upon to carry out strictly the most bloody orders of the Central Government. Whenever massacres have been planned, therefore, it has been customary first to remove such “untrustworthy” public servants and replace them with men who are regarded as more reliable. The character of Tahsin’s successor made his displacement still more alarming. Djevdet had spent the larger part of his life at Van; he was a man of unstable character, friendly to non-Moslems one moment, hostile the next, hypocritical, treacherous, and ferocious according to the worst traditions of his race. He hated the Armenians and cordially sympathised with the long-established Turkish plan of solving the Armenian problem. There is little question that he came to Van with definite instructions to exterminate all Armenians in this province, but for the first few months conditions did not facilitate such operations. Djevdet himself was absent fighting the Russians in the Caucasus, and the near approach of the enemy made it a wise policy for the Turks to refrain from maltreating the Armenians of Van. But early in the spring the Russians temporarily retreated.
It is generally recognised as good military tactics for a victorious army to follow up the retreating enemy. In the eyes of the Turkish generals, however, the withdrawal of the Russians was a happy turn of war mainly because it deprived the Armenians of their protectors and left them at the mercies of the Turkish Army. Instead of following the retreating foe, therefore, the Turks’ Army turned aside and invaded their own territory of Van. Instead of fighting the trained Russian Army of men, they turned their rifles, machine guns, and other weapons upon the Armenian women,{196} children, and old men in the villages of Van. Following their usual custom, they distributed the most beautiful Armenian women among the Moslems, sacked and burned the Armenian villages, and massacred uninterruptedly for days. On April 15th about 500 young Armenian men of Akantz were mustered to hear an order of the Sultan; at sunset they were marched outside the town and every man shot in cold blood. This procedure was repeated in about eighty Armenian villages in the district north of Lake Van, and in three days 24,000 Armenians were murdered in this atrocious fashion.
A single episode illustrates the unspeakable depravity of Turkish methods. A conflict having broken out at Shadak, Djevdet Bey, who had meanwhile returned to Van, asked four of the leading Armenian citizens to go to this town and attempt to quiet the multitude. These men made the trip, stopping at all Armenian villages along the way, urging everybody to keep public order. After completing their work these four Armenians were murdered in a Kurdish village.
And so when Djevdet Bey, on his return to his official post, demanded that Van furnish him immediately 4,000 soldiers, the people were naturally in no mood to accede to his request. When we consider what had happened before, and what happened subsequently, there remains little doubt concerning the purpose which underlay this demand. Djevdet, acting in obedience to orders from Constantinople, was preparing to wipe out the whole population, and his purpose in calling for 4,000 able-bodied men was merely to massacre them, so that the rest of the Armenians might have no defenders. The Armenians, parleying to gain time, offered to furnish 500 soldiers and to pay exemption money for the rest. Now, however, Djevdet began to talk aloud about “rebellion,” and his determination to “crush” it at any cost. “If the rebels fire a single shot,” he declared, “I shall kill every Christian man, woman, and child up to here,” pointing to his knee.
For some time the Turks had been constructing entrenchments around the Armenian quarter and filling them with soldiers, and, in response to this provocation, the Armenians began to make preparations for a defence. On April 20th a band of Turkish soldiers seized several Armenian women who were entering the city; a couple of Armenians ran to their assistance and were shot dead. The Turks now opened fire on the Armenian quarters with rifles and artillery; soon a large part of the town was in flames and a regular siege had started. The whole Armenian fighting force consisted of only 1,500 men; they had only 300 rifles and a{197} most inadequate supply of ammunition, while Djevdet had an army of 5,000 men, completely equipped and supplied; yet the Armenians fought with the utmost heroism and skill. They had little chance of holding off their enemies indefinitely, yet they knew that a Russian Army was fighting its way to Van, and their utmost hope was that they would be able to defy the besiegers until these Russians arrived.
As I am not writing the story of sieges and battles, I cannot describe in detail the numerous acts of individual heroism, the co-operation of the Armenian women, the ardour and energy of the Armenian children, the self-sacrificing zeal of the American missionaries—especially Dr. Usher and his wife and Miss Grace H. Knapp—and the thousand other circumstances that make this terrible month one of the most glorious pages in modern Armenian history. The wonderful thing about it is that the Armenians triumphed. After nearly five weeks of sleepless fighting, the Russian Army suddenly appeared, and the Turks fled into the surrounding country, where they found appeasement for their anger by again massacring unprotected Armenian villages. Dr. Usher, the American medical missionary, whose hospital at Van was destroyed by bombardment, is authority for the statement that, after driving off the Turks, the Russians began to collect and to cremate the bodies of Armenians who had been murdered in the province, with the result that 55,000 bodies were burned.
I have told this story of the “revolution” in Van not only because it marked the first stage in this organised attempt to wipe out a whole nation, but because these events are always brought forward by the Turks as a justification of their subsequent crimes. As I shall relate, Enver, Talaat, and the rest, when I appealed to them on behalf of the Armenians, invariably instanced the “revolutionists” of Van as a sample of Armenian treachery. The famous “revolution,” as this recital shows, was merely the determination of the Armenians to save their women’s honour and their own lives, after the Turks, by massacring thousands of their neighbours, had shown them the fate that awaited them.


CHAPTER I—Over the City

One of the three richly-uniformed officials who were in charge of the captive balloon, destined to be a leading attraction of the City of Pleasure, murmured this name warningly to his companions, as if to advise them that the moment had arrived for them to mind their p’s and q’s. And each man looked cautiously through the tail of his eye at a striking figure which was approaching through crowds of people to the enclosure. The figure was tall and had red hair and a masterful face, and it was clothed in a blue suit that set off the red hair to perfection. Over the wicket of the enclosure a small enamelled sign had been hung:

Islam, Her Moral and Spiritual Value: 8 Unbelievable things you never knew about Islam


President: Josephus Ilam.
Managing and Musical Director: Charles Carpentaria.
Balloon Ascents every half-hour after three o’clock. Height of a thousand feet guaranteed. Seats, half-a-crown, including field-glass.”
The sign was slightly askew, and the approaching figure tapped it into position, and then entered the enclosure.
“Good afternoon,” it said. “Everything ready?”
“’d afternoon, Mr. Carpentaria,” said the head balloonist respectfully. “Yes, sir.”
The three men with considerable ostentation busied themselves among ropes, while a young man in gold-rimmed spectacles gazed with sudden self-consciousness into the far distance, just as if he had that very instant discovered something there that demanded the whole of his attention.
“Going up, sir?” inquired the head balloonist.
“Yes,” replied Carpentaria. “Mr. Ilam and I are going up together. We have time, haven’t we? It’s only half-past two.”
“Yes, sir.”
Carpentaria examined the vast balloon, which was trembling and swaying and lugging with that aspiration towards heaven and the infinite so characteristic of well-filled balloons. He ignored the young man in spectacles.
“Where’s the parachutist?” Carpentaria demanded.
A parachutist was to give éclat to the first public ascent of the silken monster by dropping from it into the Thames or somewhere else. His apparatus hung beneath the great circular car.
“He’ll be here before three, sir,” said the head balloonist.
“He’s been here once, sir,” added the second balloonist, anxious to prove to himself that he also had the right to converse with the mighty Carpentaria.
A few seconds later the august President arrived. Mr. Josephus Ilam was tall, like his partner, but much stouter. He had, indeed, almost the inflated appearance which one observes constantly in the drivers of brewers’ drays; even his fingers bulged. His age was fifty, ten years more than that of Carpentaria, and it was probably ten years since he had seen his own feet. Finally, he was clean-shaven, with areas of blue on his chin and cheeks like the sea on a map, and his hair—what remained of it—seemed to be hesitating between black and grey.
“What’s the matter?” he asked of Carpentaria.
“Oh, I thought I would just like to make the first ascent with you alone,” Carpentaria answered, and added, smiling, “I have something to show you up there.”
His hand indicated the firmament, and his peculiar smile indicated that he took Ilam’s consent for granted.
Ilam sighed obesely, and agreed. He did not care to argue before members of the staff. Nevertheless, the futility of ascending to the skies on this, the opening day, when the colossal organism of the show cried aloud for continual supervision on earth, was sufficiently clear to his mind. He climbed gingerly over the edge of the wickerwork car, which had a circumference of thirty feet, with a protected aperture in the middle, and Carpentaria followed him.
“Let go,” said Carpentaria, gleefully. “Let go!” he repeated with impatience, when the balloon was arrested at a height of about ten feet.
“Right sir,” responded briskly the head balloonist. There appeared to have been some altercation between the balloonists.
The day was the first of May, but the London spring had chosen to be capricious and unseasonable. Instead of the snow and frost and east wind which almost invariably accompany what is termed, with ferocious irony, the merry month, there was strong, brilliant sunshine and a perfect calm. The sun glinted and glittered on the upper surfaces of the balloon, but of course the voyagers could not perceive that. They, in fact, perceived nothing except that the entire world was gradually falling away from them. The balloon had ceased to shiver; it stood as firm as consols, while the City of Pleasure sank and sank, and the upturned faces of more than fifty thousand spectators grew tinier and tinier.
It would be interesting and certainly instructive to unfold some of the many mysteries and minor dramas which had diversified the history of the making of the City of Pleasure, from the time when Carpentaria, having conceived the idea of the thing, found the necessary millionaire in the person of Josephus Ilam, to the hurried and tumultuous eve of the opening day; but these are unconnected with the present recital. It needs only to remind the reader of the City’s geography. Towards the lower left-hand corner of any map of London not later than 1905, may be observed a large, nearly empty space in the form of an inverted letter “U.” This space is bounded everywhere, except across the bottom, by the Thames. It is indeed a peninsula made by an extraordinary curve of the Thames, and Barnes Common connects if with the mainland of the parish of Putney. Its dimensions are little short of a mile either way, and yet, although Hammersmith Bridge joins it to Hammersmith at the top, it was almost uninhabited, save for the houses which lined Bridge Road and a scattering of houses in Lonsdale Road and the short streets between Lonsdale Road and the reservoir near the bridge. The contrast was violent; on the north side of the Thames the crowded populousness of Hammersmith, and on the south side—well, possibly four people to the acre.
Ilam and Carpentaria, with Ilam’s money, bought or leased the whole of the middle part of the peninsula—over three hundred acres—with a glorious half-mile frontage to the Thames on the east side. They would have acquired all the earth as far as Barnes Common but for the fact that the monomaniacs of the Ranelagh Club Golf Course could not be induced to part with their links, even when offered a fantastic number of thousand pounds per hole. They obtained the closing of the Bridge Road, which cut the peninsula downwards into two halves, and the omnibus traffic between Hammersmith and Barnes was diverted to Lonsdale Road—not without terrific diplomacy, and pitched battles in the columns of newspapers and in Local Government offices. They pulled down every house in Bridge Road, thus breaking up some seventy presumably happy English homes, and then they started upon the erection of the City of Pleasure, which they intended to be, and which all the world now admits to be, the most gigantic enterprise of amusement that Europe has ever seen.
As the balloon rose the general conformation of the City of Pleasure became visible. Running almost north and south from Hammersmith Bridge was the Central Way, the splendid private thoroughfare which had superseded Bridge Road. It was a hundred feet wide, and its surface was treated with westrumite, and a service of gaily coloured cable-cars flashed along it in either direction, between the north and the south entrances to the City. It was lined with multifarious buildings, all painted cream—the theatre, the variety theatre, the concert hall, the circus, the panorama, the lecture hall, the menagerie, the art gallery, the story-tellers’ hall, the dancing-rooms, restaurants, cafés and bars, and those numerous shops for the sale of useless and expensive souvenirs without which the happiness of no Briton on a holiday is complete. The footpaths, 20 feet wide, were roofed with glass, and between the footpaths and the roadway came two rows of trees which were industriously taking advantage of the weather to put forth their verdure. Footpaths and road were thronged with people, and the street was made gay, not only by the toilettes and sunshades of women, but also by processions of elephants, camels, and other wild-fowl, bearing children of all ages in charge of gorgeous Indians and Ethiops. From every roof floated great crimson flags with the legend in gold: “City of Pleasure. President: Ilam; Director: Carpentaria.” Add to this combined effect the music of bands and the sunshine, and do not forget the virgin creaminess of the elaborate architecture, and you will be able to form a notion of the spectacle offered by the esplanade upon which Ilam and Carpentaria looked down.
Midway between the north and south entrances, the Central Way expanded itself into a circular place, with a twenty-jetted bronze fountain in the middle. To the west was the façade of what was called the Exposition Palace, an enormous quadrangular building, containing a huge covered court which, with its balconies, would hold twenty thousand people on wet days. The galleries of the palace were devoted to an exhibition of everything that related to woman, from high-heeled shoes to thrones; it was astonishing how many things did relate to woman. North of the Exposition Palace stretched out the Amusements Park, where people looped the loop, shot the chute, wheeled the wheel, switched the switchback, etc.; and here was the balloon enclosure. South of the palace lay the Sports Fields, where a cricket match was progressing.
Finally, and most important of all, to the east of the circular place in Central Way rose the impressive entrance to the Oriental Gardens, the pride of Ilam and Carpentaria. The Oriental Gardens occupied the entire eastern side of the City, and they sloped down to the Thames. They formed over a hundred acres of gardens, wood, and pleasaunce, laid out with formal magnificence. Flowers bloomed there in defiance of seasons. On every hand the eye was met by vistas of trees and shrubs, and by lawns and statues, and lakes and fountains. In the middle was Carpentaria’s own special bandstand. A terrace, two thousand five. hundred feet long, bordered the river, and from the terrace jutted out a pier at which steamers were unloading visitors.

Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx


Early in the year 18998 I had a small group of stories communicated to me by the Rev. W. Evans Jones, rector of Dolbenmaen, who tells me that the neighbourhood [108]of the Garn abounds in fairy tales. The scene of one of these is located near the source of Afon fach Blaen y Cae, a tributary of the Dwyfach. ‘There a shepherd while looking after his flock came across a ring of rushes which he accidentally kicked, as the little people were coming out to dance. They detained him, and he married one of their number. He was told that he would live happily with them as long as he would not touch any instrument of iron. For years nothing happened to mar the peace and happiness of the family. One day, however, he unknowingly touched iron, with the consequence that both the wife and the children disappeared.’ This differs remarkably from stories such as have been already mentioned at pp. 32, 35; but until it is countenanced by stories from other sources, I can only treat it as a blurred version of a story of the more usual type, such as the next one which Mr. Evans Jones has sent me as follows:—
‘A son of the farmer of Blaen Pennant married a fairy and they lived together happily for years, until one day he took a bridle to catch a horse, which proved to be rather an obstreperous animal, and in trying to prevent the horse passing, he threw the bridle at him, which, however, missed the animal and hit the wife so that the bit touched her, and she at once disappeared. The tradition goes, that their descendants are to this day living in the Pennant Valley; and if there is any unpleasantness between them and their neighbours they are taunted with being of the Tylwyth Teg family.’ These are, I presume, the people nicknamed Belsiaid, to which reference has already been made.
The next story is about an old woman from Garn Dolbenmaen who was crossing y Graig Goch, ‘the Red Rock,’ ‘when suddenly she came across a fairy sitting down with a very large number of gold coins by [109]her. The old woman ventured to remark how wealthy she was: the fairy replied, Wele dacw, “Lo there!” and immediately disappeared.’ This looks as if it ought to be a part of a longer story which Mr. Evans Jones has not heard.
The last bit of folklore which he has communicated is equally short, but of a rarer description: ‘A fairy was in the habit of attending a certain family in the Pennant Valley every evening to put the children to bed; and as the fairy was poorly clad, the mistress of the house gave her a gown, which was found in the morning torn into shreds.’ The displeasure of the fairy at being offered the gown is paralleled by that of the fenodyree or the Manx brownie, described in chapter iv. As for the kind of service here ascribed to the Pennant fairy, I know nothing exactly parallel.



The female half of our species has sometimes been called the paragon of paradoxes, because the intuitive working of its mind is beyond the comprehension of men's "arithmetical understanding." The Chinese ideogram denoting "the mysterious," "the unknowable," consists of two parts, one meaning "young" and the other "woman," because the physical charms and delicate thoughts of the fair sex are above the coarse mental calibre of our sex to explain.

In the Bushido ideal of woman, however, there is little mystery and only a seeming paradox. I have said that it was Amazonian, but that is only half the truth. Ideographically the Chinese represent wife by a woman holding a broom—certainly not to brandish it offensively or defensively against her conjugal ally, neither for witchcraft, but for the more harmless uses for which the besom was first invented—the idea involved being thus not less homely than the etymological derivation of the English wife (weaver) and daughter (duhitar, milkmaid). Without confining the sphere of woman's activity to Küche, Kirche, Kinder, as the present German Kaiser is said to do, the Bushido ideal of womanhood was preeminently domestic. These seeming contradictions—Domesticity and Amazonian traits—are not inconsistent with the Precepts of Knighthood, as we shall see.
Bushido being a teaching primarily intended for the masculine sex, the virtues it prized in woman were naturally far from being distinctly feminine. Winckelmann remarks that "the supreme beauty of Greek art is rather male than female," and Lecky adds that it was true in the moral conception of the Greeks as in their art. Bushido similarly praised those women most "who emancipated themselves from the frailty of their sex and displayed an heroic fortitude worthy of the strongest and the bravest of men."[24] Young girls therefore, were trained to repress their feelings, to indurate their nerves, to manipulate weapons,—especially the long-handled sword called nagi-nata, so as to be able to hold their own against unexpected odds. Yet the primary motive for exercises of this martial character was not for use in the field; it was twofold—personal and domestic. Woman owning no suzerain of her own, formed her own bodyguard. With her weapon she guarded her personal sanctity with as much zeal as her husband did his master's. The domestic utility of her warlike training was in the education of her sons, as we shall see later.
Lecky, History of European Morals II, p. 383.
Fencing and similar exercises, if rarely of practical use, were a wholesome counterbalance to the otherwise sedentary habits of woman. But these exercises were not followed only for hygienic purposes. They could be turned into use in times of need. Girls, when they reached womanhood, were presented with dirks (kai-ken, pocket poniards), which might be directed to the bosom of their assailants, or, if advisable, to their own. The latter was very often the case: and yet I will not judge them severely. Even the Christian conscience with its horror of self-immolation, will not be harsh with them, seeing Pelagia and Domnina, two suicides, were canonized for their purity and piety. When a Japanese Virginia saw her chastity menaced, she did not wait for her father's dagger. Her own weapon lay always in her bosom. It was a disgrace to her not to know the proper way in which she had to perpetrate self-destruction. For example, little as she was taught in anatomy, she must know the exact spot to cut in her throat: she must know how to tie her lower limbs together with a belt so that, whatever the agonies of death might be, her corpse be found in utmost modesty with the limbs properly composed. Is not a caution like this worthy of the Christian Perpetua or the Vestal Cornelia? I would not put such an abrupt interrogation, were it not for a misconception, based on our bathing customs and other trifles, that chastity is unknown among us.[25] On the contrary, chastity was a pre-eminent virtue of the samurai woman, held above life itself. A young woman, taken prisoner, seeing herself in danger of violence at the hands of the rough soldiery, says she will obey their pleasure, provided she be first allowed to write a line to her sisters, whom war has dispersed in every direction. When the epistle is finished, off she runs to the nearest well and saves her honor by drowning. The letter she leaves behind ends with these verses;—
"For fear lest clouds may dim her light, Should she but graze this nether sphere, The young moon poised above the height Doth hastily betake to flight."
For a very sensible explanation of nudity and bathing see Finck's Lotos Time in Japan, pp. 286-297.
It would be unfair to give my readers an idea that masculinity alone was our highest ideal for woman. Far from it! Accomplishments and the gentler graces of life were required of them. Music, dancing and literature were not neglected. Some of the finest verses in our literature were expressions of feminine sentiments; in fact, women played an important role in the history of Japanese belles lettres. Dancing was taught (I am speaking of samurai girls and not of geisha) only to smooth the angularity of their movements. Music was to regale the weary hours of their fathers and husbands; hence it was not for the technique, the art as such, that music was learned; for the ultimate object was purification of heart, since it was said that no harmony of sound is attainable without the player's heart being in harmony with herself. Here again we see the same idea prevailing which we notice in the training of youths—that accomplishments were ever kept subservient to moral worth. Just enough of music and dancing to add grace and brightness to life, but never to foster vanity and extravagance. I sympathize with the Persian prince, who, when taken into a ball-room in London and asked to take part in the merriment, bluntly remarked that in his country they provided a particular set of girls to do that kind of business for them.
The accomplishments of our women were not acquired for show or social ascendency. They were a home diversion; and if they shone in social parties, it was as the attributes of a hostess,—in other words, as a part of the household contrivance for hospitality. Domesticity guided their education. It may be said that the accomplishments of the women of Old Japan, be they martial or pacific in character, were mainly intended for the home; and, however far they might roam, they never lost sight of the hearth as the center. It was to maintain its honor and integrity that they slaved, drudged and gave up their lives. Night and day, in tones at once firm and tender, brave and plaintive, they sang to their little nests. As daughter, woman sacrificed herself for her father, as wife for her husband, and as mother for her son. Thus from earliest youth she was taught to deny herself. Her life was not one of independence, but of dependent service. Man's helpmeet, if her presence is helpful she stays on the stage with him: if it hinders his work, she retires behind the curtain. Not infrequently does it happen that a youth becomes enamored of a maiden who returns his love with equal ardor, but, when she realizes his interest in her makes him forgetful of his duties, disfigures her person that her attractions may cease. Adzuma, the ideal wife in the minds of samurai girls, finds herself loved by a man who, in order to win her affection, conspires against her husband. Upon pretence of joining in the guilty plot, she manages in the dark to take her husband's place, and the sword of the lover assassin descends upon her own devoted head.
The following epistle written by the wife of a young daimio, before taking her own life, needs no comment:—"Oft have I heard that no accident or chance ever mars the march of events here below, and that all moves in accordance with a plan. To take shelter under a common bough or a drink of the same river, is alike ordained from ages prior to our birth. Since we were joined in ties of eternal wedlock, now two short years ago, my heart hath followed thee, even as its shadow followeth an object, inseparably bound heart to heart, loving and being loved. Learning but recently, however, that the coming battle is to be the last of thy labor and life, take the farewell greeting of thy loving partner. I have heard that Kō-u, the mighty warrior of ancient China, lost a battle, loth to part with his favorite Gu. Yoshinaka, too, brave as he was, brought disaster to his cause, too weak to bid prompt farewell to his wife. Why should I, to whom earth no longer offers hope or joy—why should I detain thee or thy thoughts by living? Why should I not, rather, await thee on the road which all mortal kind must sometime tread? Never, prithee, never forget the many benefits which our good master Hideyori hath heaped upon thee. The gratitude we owe him is as deep as the sea and as high as the hills."
Woman's surrender of herself to the good of her husband, home and family, was as willing and honorable as the man's self-surrender to the good of his lord and country. Self-renunciation, without which no life-enigma can be solved, was the keynote of the Loyalty of man as well as of the Domesticity of woman. She was no more the slave of man than was her husband of his liege-lord, and the part she played was recognized as Naijo, "the inner help." In the ascending scale of service stood woman, who annihilated herself for man, that he might annihilate himself for the master, that he in turn might obey heaven. I know the weakness of this teaching and that the superiority of Christianity is nowhere more manifest than here, in that it requires of each and every living soul direct responsibility to its Creator. Nevertheless, as far as the doctrine of service—the serving of a cause higher than one's own self, even at the sacrifice of one's individuality; I say the doctrine of service, which is the greatest that Christ preached and is the sacred keynote of his mission—as far as that is concerned, Bushido is based on eternal truth.
My readers will not accuse me of undue prejudice in favor of slavish surrender of volition. I accept in a large measure the view advanced with breadth of learning and defended with profundity of thought by Hegel, that history is the unfolding and realization of freedom. The point I wish to make is that the whole teaching of Bushido was so thoroughly imbued with the spirit of self-sacrifice, that it was required not only of woman but of man. Hence, until the influence of its Precepts is entirely done away with, our society will not realize the view rashly expressed by an American exponent of woman's rights, who exclaimed, "May all the daughters of Japan rise in revolt against ancient customs!" Can such a revolt succeed? Will it improve the female status? Will the rights they gain by such a summary process repay the loss of that sweetness of disposition, that gentleness of manner, which are their present heritage? Was not the loss of domesticity on the part of Roman matrons followed by moral corruption too gross to mention? Can the American reformer assure us that a revolt of our daughters is the true course for their historical development to take? These are grave questions. Changes must and will come without revolts! In the meantime let us see whether the status of the fair sex under the Bushido regimen was really so bad as to justify a revolt.
We hear much of the outward respect European knights paid to "God and the ladies,"—the incongruity of the two terms making Gibbon blush; we are also told by Hallam that the morality of Chivalry was coarse, that gallantry implied illicit love. The effect of Chivalry on the weaker vessel was food for reflection on the part of philosophers, M. Guizot contending that Feudalism and Chivalry wrought wholesome influences, while Mr. Spencer tells us that in a militant society (and what is feudal society if not militant?) the position of woman is necessarily low, improving only as society becomes more industrial. Now is M. Guizot's theory true of Japan, or is Mr. Spencer's? In reply I might aver that both are right. The military class in Japan was restricted to the samurai, comprising nearly 2,000,000 souls. Above them were the military nobles, the daimio, and the court nobles, the kugé—these higher, sybaritical nobles being fighters only in name. Below them were masses of the common people—mechanics, tradesmen, and peasants—whose life was devoted to arts of peace. Thus what Herbert Spencer gives as the characteristics of a militant type of society may be said to have been exclusively confined to the samurai class, while those of the industrial type were applicable to the classes above and below it. This is well illustrated by the position of woman; for in no class did she experience less freedom than among the samurai. Strange to say, the lower the social class—as, for instance, among small artisans—the more equal was the position of husband and wife. Among the higher nobility, too, the difference in the relations of the sexes was less marked, chiefly because there were few occasions to bring the differences of sex into prominence, the leisurely nobleman having become literally effeminate. Thus Spencer's dictum was fully exemplified in Old Japan. As to Guizot's, those who read his presentation of a feudal community will remember that he had the higher nobility especially under consideration, so that his generalization applies to the daimio and the kugé.
I shall be guilty of gross injustice to historical truth if my words give one a very low opinion of the status of woman under Bushido. I do not hesitate to state that she was not treated as man's equal; but until we learn to discriminate between difference and inequalities, there will always be misunderstandings upon this subject.
When we think in how few respects men are equal among themselves, e.g., before law courts or voting polls, it seems idle to trouble ourselves with a discussion on the equality of sexes. When, the American Declaration of Independence said that all men were created equal, it had no reference to their mental or physical gifts: it simply repeated what Ulpian long ago announced, that before the law all men are equal. Legal rights were in this case the measure of their equality. Were the law the only scale by which to measure the position of woman in a community, it would be as easy to tell where she stands as to give her avoirdupois in pounds and ounces. But the question is: Is there a correct standard in comparing the relative social position of the sexes? Is it right, is it enough, to compare woman's status to man's as the value of silver is compared with that of gold, and give the ratio numerically? Such a method of calculation excludes from consideration the most important kind of value which a human being possesses; namely, the intrinsic. In view of the manifold variety of requisites for making each sex fulfil its earthly mission, the standard to be adopted in measuring its relative position must be of a composite character; or, to borrow from economic language, it must be a multiple standard. Bushido had a standard of its own and it was binomial. It tried to guage the value of woman on the battle-field and by the hearth. There she counted for very little; here for all. The treatment accorded her corresponded to this double measurement;—as a social-political unit not much, while as wife and mother she received highest respect and deepest affection. Why among so military a nation as the Romans, were their matrons so highly venerated? Was it not because they were matrona, mothers? Not as fighters or law-givers, but as their mothers did men bow before them. So with us. While fathers and husbands were absent in field or camp, the government of the household was left entirely in the hands of mothers and wives. The education of the young, even their defence, was entrusted to them. The warlike exercises of women, of which I have spoken, were primarily to enable them intelligently to direct and follow the education of their children.
I have noticed a rather superficial notion prevailing among half-informed foreigners, that because the common Japanese expression for one's wife is "my rustic wife" and the like, she is despised and held in little esteem. When it is told that such phrases as "my foolish father," "my swinish son," "my awkward self," etc., are in current use, is not the answer clear enough?
To me it seems that our idea of marital union goes in some ways further than the so-called Christian. "Man and woman shall be one flesh." The individualism of the Anglo-Saxon cannot let go of the idea that husband and wife are two persons;—hence when they disagree, their separate rights are recognized, and when they agree, they exhaust their vocabulary in all sorts of silly pet-names and—nonsensical blandishments. It sounds highly irrational to our ears, when a husband or wife speaks to a third party of his other half—better or worse—as being lovely, bright, kind, and what not. Is it good taste to speak of one's self as "my bright self," "my lovely disposition," and so forth? We think praising one's own wife or one's own husband is praising a part of one's own self, and self-praise is regarded, to say the least, as bad taste among us,—and I hope, among Christian nations too! I have diverged at some length because the polite debasement of one's consort was a usage most in vogue among the samurai.
The Teutonic races beginning their tribal life with a superstitious awe of the fair sex (though this is really wearing off in Germany!), and the Americans beginning their social life under the painful consciousness of the numerical insufficiency of women[26] (who, now increasing, are, I am afraid, fast losing the prestige their colonial mothers enjoyed), the respect man pays to woman has in Western civilization become the chief standard of morality. But in the martial ethics of Bushido, the main water-shed dividing the good and the bad was sought elsewhere. It was located along the line of duty which bound man to his own divine soul and then to other souls, in the five relations I have mentioned in the early part of this paper. Of these we have brought to our reader's notice, Loyalty, the relation between one man as vassal and another as lord. Upon the rest, I have only dwelt incidentally as occasion presented itself; because they were not peculiar to Bushido. Being founded on natural affections, they could but be common to all mankind, though in some particulars they may have been accentuated by conditions which its teachings induced. In this connection, there comes before me the peculiar strength and tenderness of friendship between man and man, which often added to the bond of brotherhood a romantic attachment doubtless intensified by the separation of the sexes in youth,—a separation which denied to affection the natural channel open to it in Western chivalry or in the free intercourse of Anglo-Saxon lands. I might fill pages with Japanese versions of the story of Damon and Pythias or Achilles and Patroclos, or tell in Bushido parlance of ties as sympathetic as those which bound David and Jonathan.
I refer to those days when girls were imported from England and given in marriage for so many pounds of tobacco, etc.

The Philosophy of the Practical: Economic and Ethic by Benedetto Croce





The connection between the actual situation and will, means and end having been made clear, no distinction that it may be desired to establish between general and concrete volition, ideal and real volition, that is to say between intention and volition, is acceptable. Intention and volition coincide completely, and that distinction, generally suggested with the object of justifying the unjustifiable, is altogether arbitrary in both the forms that it assumes.
Volition in the abstract and in the concrete: critique.
The first form is that of the distinction between abstract and concrete, or better, between general and particular. It is maintained, that we can will the good in the abstract and yet be unable to will it in the concrete, that we may have good intentions and yet behave badly. But by our reduction of the thing willed to the volition,[Pg 54] to will the abstract is tantamount to willing abstractly. And to will abstractly is tantamount to not willing, if volition imply a situation historically determined, from which it arises as an act equally determined and concrete. Hence, of the two terms of the pretended distinction, the first, volition of the abstract, disappears, and the second, concrete volition, which is the true and real volition and intention, alone remains.
Thought volition and real volition: critique.
The second form abandons, it is true, the abstract for the concrete, but assumes two different volitional acts in the same concrete: the one real, arising from the actual situation, the other, thought or imagined, side by side with the former: this would be the volition, that the intention. According to such a theory, it is always possible to direct the intention, that is, the real volition can always join with the volitional act imagined and produce a nexus, in which the volition exists in one way, the intention in another; the first bad and the second good, or the first good and the second bad. Thus the honourable man approved by the Jesuit, of whom Pascal speaks, although he desire the death of him from whom he expects an inheritance and rejoice when it takes place, yet endows his desire with a special character, believing that what he[Pg 55] wishes to attain is the prosperity of his affairs, not the death of his fellow-creature. Or the same man may kill the man who has given him a blow; but in so doing he will fix his thought upon the defence of his honour, not upon the homicide. Since he is not able to abstain from the action, he at least (they say) purines the intention. The worst of this is that the real situation, the only one of which we can take account, is the historical, not the imaginary situation. In the reality of the consequent volition, it is not a question of his own prosperity and nothing more, but of his own prosperity coupled with the death of another, or of false prosperity. It is not a question of his own honour and nothing more, but of his own honour in conjunction with the violation of the life of another, that is, of false honour. Thus the asserted fact of prosperity and honour is changed into two qualified bad actions, and what was honourable in the imaginary case, becomes dishonourable in the real case, which is indeed the only one of which it is question. It is of no use to imagine a situation that differs from reality, because it is to the real situation that the intention is directed, not to the other, and therefore it is not possible to direct, that is to say,[Pg 56] to change the intention, if the actual situation do not change.
The antipathy that has been shown for good-hearted and well-intentioned men in recent centuries, and for practical doctrines with intention as their principle (the morality of intention, etc.), arises from the sophisms that we have here criticized. But since it is henceforward clear to us that those so-called well-intentioned and good-hearted people have neither good hearts nor good intentions and are nothing but hypocrites, and because we do not admit any distinction between intention and will, we are without fear or antipathy in respect to the use of the word "intention," understanding it as a synonym for "volition."
Critique of volition with base either unknown or imperfectly known.
But it will be said that we have here considered the case, in which, while the real situation is known, there is a hypocritical pretence of not knowing it, in order to deceive others and maybe oneself, and that we have justly here declared that in such a case the will and the intention were inseparable. But there is another case, in which, though the situation of affairs be not known, yet it is necessary both to will and to act at once. Here the concrete will is separated at the beginning from the intention: the will[Pg 57] is what it can be, the intention is as the action would wish to be.
But this instance is equally or even more inconceivable than the preceding. It has been clearly established that if we do not know, we cannot will. Before arriving at a resolution, man tries to see clearly in and about him, and so long as the search continues, so long as the doubt is not dissipated, the will remains in suspense. Nothing can make him resolve, where the elements for coming to a resolution are wanting; nothing can make him say to himself "I know," when he does not know; nothing can make him say "it will be as if I knew," because that "as if I knew" would introduce the arbitrary method into the whole of knowledge, and would cause universal doubt to take the place of doubt circumscribed. This would disturb the function of knowledge itself, against which an act of real felony would be committed. From nothing nothing is born.
Illusions among the cases that are cited.
There are no exceptions to this law, and those that are adduced can be only apparent. A man is cautiously descending the dangerous side of a mountain, covered with ice: will he or will he not place his foot on that surface, of which he does not and cannot know the resistance? How[Pg 58]ever, there is no time to be lost: he must go on and take the risk. It seems evident that in a case like this he wills and operates without complete knowledge. But the case is not indeed unique or of a special order: every act of life implies risk of the unknown, and if there were not in us (as they say) potestas voluntatem nostram extra limites intellectus nostri extendendi, it would be impossible to move a step, to lift an arm, or to put into one's mouth a morsel of bread, since omnia incerta ac periculis sunt plena. What must be known in order to form the volition is not that which we should know if we were in a situation different from that in which we are (in which case, also, the volition would be different), but that which we can know in the situation in which we really find ourselves. The man on the glacier has neither time nor means to verify the resistance of the surface of the ice; but since he is obliged to proceed further, he does not act in a rash, but in a very prudent manner, in putting his foot trustfully on the ice that may be unfaithful to him. He would be acting rashly if, having the means and the time, he failed to investigate its resistance, that is to say, if he were in another and imaginary situation, not in that real and present situation, in which he finds himself. If I knew[Pg 59] the cards of my adversary, as the cheat knows them, I should play differently, but it cannot be argued that because, as an honest player, I know only my own, I am therefore playing inconsiderately: I am playing as I ought, with the knowledge that I possess, that is, with full knowledge of the real situation in which I find myself.
With this very simple observation is also solved an old puzzle of the theory of volition. How does it happen that a man can choose between two dishes of food at an equal distance and moving in the same manner,[1] or between two objects altogether identical, offered for sale to him at the same time, at the same price, by the same individual? First, we must correct the hypothesis, for as two identical things do not exist in nature, so the two objects in question and the two possible actions of the example are not identical.
[1] This was an example used by the Schoolmen and by Dante.
Indeed the refined connoisseur always discovers some difference between two objects, which to the ignorant, the absent-minded, and the hasty seem to be the same. The question, then, is not of identical objects and actions, but of those as in which there is neither time nor[Pg 60] mode (majora premunt) of recognizing the difference. For this reason, therefore, we take no account of this difference, or, as is said, they are looked upon as equal in this respect. But the adiophora, the indifferent, do not exist, and owing to that abstraction, we do not take account of other differences that always exist in the real situation, owing to which my volition becomes concrete in a movement that causes me to take the object on my right, because (let us suppose) I am wont to turn to the right, or because, owing to a superstition that is not less a matter of habit, I prefer the right to the left, or because, through sympathy due to dignity, I prefer the object that is offered to me with the right hand to a similar object offered with the left, which, if only for this reason, is, strictly speaking, not the same, but different, and so on. These minute circumstances are absent from consciousness and are not felt by the will, not because they escape as a rule reflection. If we neglect them in analysis as non-existent, this always occurs, because we substitute for the real situation another unreal situation imagined by ourselves. Thus it has also been remarked, as a proof of the irrationality believed to exist in our volitions and to be the cause of our acting without precise knowledge, that[Pg 61] no reason nor any theoretic precedent can be adduced as to why, when fixing legal punishments, or in the application of sentences, we give forty and not forty-one days' imprisonment, a hundred lire fine instead of a hundred and one. But here, too, it is clear that the detailed facts are not wanting, the knowledge of which causes us to will the punishment to be so and so. This knowledge is to be found in traditions, in the sympathy that we have for certain numbers, in the ease with which they can be remembered or calculated, and so on.—To sum up, man forms the volitional act, not because he possesses some portentous faculty of extending his will outside the limits of the intellect, but, on the contrary, because he possesses the faculty of circumscribing himself within the limits of his intellect on each occasion and of willing on that basis and within those limits. That he wills, knowing some things and ignorant of infinite other things, is indubitable. But this means that he is man and not God, that he is a finite and not an infinite being, and that the sum of his historical knowledge is on each occasion human and finite, as is on each occasion the act of will which he forms upon it. Psychologists would say that this arises from narrowness[Pg 62] of consciousness, but Goethe, on the contrary, remarked with metaphor more apt and thought more profound, that the true artist is revealed in knowing how to limit himself. God himself, as it seems, cannot act, save by limiting himself in finite beings.
Impossibility of volition with a false theoretic base.
If the intention cannot be separated from the volition, because this belongs to the real and not to the imaginary, and proceeds from the known and never from the unknown, there yet remains a third possibility, which is, that the will results differently from the intention, owing to a theoretical error; as when we are said to err in good faith as to the actual situation, that is, we do not indeed substitute the unknown for the known, nor do we substitute the imaginary for the known, but we simply make a mistake in enunciating the historical judgment to ourselves: intending to perform one action, we perform on the contrary another.
This third possibility is also an impossibility, because it contradicts the nature of the theoretical error, which, precisely because it is a question of error and not of truth, cannot be in its turn theoretical and must be and is practical, conformably to a theory of error of which many great thinkers have seen or caught[Pg 63] sight and which it is now fitting to restore and to make clear.
Forms of the theoretical error and problem concerning its nature.
We have elsewhere amply demonstrated how theoretical errors arise from the undue transference of one theoretical form to another, or of one theoretical product into another distinct from it. Thus, the artist who substitutes for the representation of the affections, reasoning on the affections, mingling art and philosophy, or he who in the composition of a work, fills the voids that his fancy has left in the composition, with unsuitable elements taken from other works, commits the artistic error, ugliness. Thus too, the philosopher, who solves a philosophical problem in a fantastic way, as would an artist, or, instead of a philosopheme, employs the historical, naturalistic or mathematical method, and so produces a myth, or a contingent fact universalized, or an abstraction in place of concreteness, that is to say, a philosophical error. It is also a philosophical error to transport philosophical concepts from one order to another and to treat art as though it were philosophy or morality as though it were economy. This also happens in an analogous manner with the historian, the natural scientist, and the mathematician, all of whom are wrong, if they interweave[Pg 64] extraneous methods with those that are their own, and with the views, conceptions, and classification of one order, those of another.—But if this be the way in which particular errors and general forms of theoretical error arise, what is the origin of the theoretical error in universal? We have not asked this question explicitly elsewhere, because only now can it receive the most effective reply.
Distinction between ignorance and error: practical genesis of the latter.
Error is not ignorance, lack of knowledge, obscurity or doubt. An error of which we are altogether without consciousness is not error at all, but that inexhaustible field which the spiritual activity continues to fill to infinity. True and proper error is the affirmation of knowing what we do not know, the substitution of a representation for that which we do not possess, an extraneous conception for the one that is wanting. Now affirmation is thought itself, it is truth itself. When an inquiry has been completed, a process of cogitation closed, the result is the affirmation that a man makes to himself, not with a new act added to the foregoing, but with the act itself of thought that has thought. It is therefore impossible that in the circle of the pure theoretical spirit error should ever arise. Man has in himself[Pg 65] the fountain of truth. If it be true that on the death-bed there is no lying, because man transcends the finite and communicates with the infinite, then man who thinks is always on his bed of death, the death-bed of the finite, in contact with the infinite. We may know that we are ignorant, but this consciousness of ignorance is the cogitative process in its fieri, not yet having attained to its end, certainly not (as has been said) error. Before this last can appear, before we can affirm that we have reached a result, which the testimony of the conscience says has not been reached, something extraneous to the theoretical spirit must intervene, that is to say, a practical act which simulates the theoretical. And it simulates it, not indeed intrinsically (one does not lie with the depth of oneself or on one's death-bed), but in taking hold of the external means of communication, of the word or expression as sound and physical fact, and diverting it to mean what, in the given circumstances, it could not mean. The erroneous affirmation has been rendered possible, because something else has followed the true affirmation, which is purely theoretical, something that is improperly called affirmation in the practical sense, whereas it is[Pg 66] only communication, which can be substituted in a greater or less degree for the truth and falsely represent it. Thus the theoretical error in general arises, as do its particular forms and manifestations, from the substitution for, or the illegitimate mating of two forms of the spirit. These cannot be both theoretical here, but must be the theoretical and the practical forms, precisely because we are here in the field of the spirit in general and of the fundamental forms of its activity. We are ignorant, then, because it is necessary to be ignorant and to feel oneself ignorant, in order to attain to truth; but we err only because we wish to err.
Proofs and confirmation.
Like all true doctrines, this of the practical nature of the theoretical error, which at first sight seems most strange (especially to professed philosophers), is yet found to be constantly confirmed in ordinary thought. For all know and all continually repeat that (immoderate) passions and (illegitimate) interests lead insidiously into error, that we err, to be quick and finish or to obtain for ourselves undeserved repose, that we err by acquiescence in old ideas, that is to say, in order not to allow ourselves to be disturbed in our repose that has been unduly prolonged, and so on. We do not mention those[Pg 67] cases in which it is a question of solemn and evident lies, the brazen-faced manifestation of interests openly illegitimate. Let us limit ourselves to the modest forms of error, to the venial sins, because if these be proved to be the result of will, by so much the more will this be proved of the shameless forms, the deadly sins. It is also said that we err in deafening ourselves and others with words, with the verse that sounds and does not create, with the brush that charms but does not express, with the formulæ that seem to contain a thought but contain the void. In this way we come to recognize that will has been rendered possible, owing to the communication being a practical fact, of which a bad use can be made by means of a volitional act. For the rest, if this were not so, what guarantee would truth ever possess? If it were possible to err even once in perfect good faith and that the mind should confuse true and false, embracing the false as true, how could we any longer distinguish the one from the other? Thought would be radically corrupt, whereas it is incorrupt and incorruptible.
It is vain, therefore, to except the existence or the possibility of errors of good faith, because truth alone is of good faith, and error is always[Pg 68] in a greater or less or least degree, of bad faith. Were this not so, it would be incorrigible, whereas it is by definition corrigible. Consequently, the last attempt to differentiate intention from volition fails, since it posits an intention that is frustrated in the volition, as the effect of a theoretical error, a good intention that becomes, through no fault of its own, a bad volition. The intention, being volition, takes possession of the whole volitional man, causing the intellect to be attentive and indefatigable in the search for truth, the soul ready to accept it, whatever it be, pure of every passion that is not the passion for truth itself, and eliminates the possibility, or assumes the responsibility of error.
A proof of this is afforded by the fact that to exquisite and delicate souls, to consciences pure and dignified, even what are called their theoretical errors are a biting bitterness, and they blame themselves with them. On the other hand, in the presence of the foolish and the wicked, one is often in doubt as to whether their folly and wickedness come from the head or from the heart, whether it be madness rather than set purpose. The truth is that all this evil, which seems to arise from defective vision, comes really[Pg 69] from the heart, for they have themselves forged those false views with their sophisms, their illegitimate internal affirmations and suggestions, that they may be more free in their evil inclinations, thus obtaining for themselves and for others a false moral alibi. We must applaud the former and exhort them to continue to persevere in their scruple, the condition of theoretical and practical health: we must inculcate to the second a return to themselves and the removal of the mask that they have assumed' as a disguise from themselves, before assuming it towards others.
Justification of the practical repression of error.
A consequence of the principle established is the justification of the use of practical measures to induce those who err theoretically to correct themselves, castigating them, when this is of assistance, for admonition and example. It will be replied that these are measures of other times, and that we are now in an epoch of liberty, when their use is no longer permissible, and that we should now employ only the persuasive power of truth. But those who say this are without eyes to look within upon themselves. The Holy Inquisition is truly holy and lives for that reason in its eternal idea. The Inquisition that is dead was nothing but one of its contingent historical incarnations. And the Inquisition must have[Pg 70] been justified and beneficial, if whole peoples invoked and defended it, if men of the loftiest souls founded and created it severely and impartially, and its very adversaries applied it on their own account, pyre answering to pyre. Thus Christian Rome persecuted heretics as Imperial Rome had persecuted Christians, and Protestants burned Catholics as Catholics had burned Protestants. If certain ferocious practices are now abandoned (are they definitely abandoned, or do they not persist in a different form?), we do not for that reason cease from practically oppressing those who promulgate errors. No society can dispense with this discipline, although the mode of its application is subject to practical, utilitarian and moral deliberation. We begin with man as a child, whose mental education is at once and above all practical and moral education, education for work and for sincerity (and no one has ever been seriously educated who has not received at the least a provident slap or two or had his ears pulled). This education is continued with the punishments for culpable negligence and ignorance threatened in the laws, and so on until we reach the spontaneous discipline of society, by means of which the artist who produces the ugly and the man of science who teaches the false are[Pg 71] rebuked by the intelligent, or fall into discredit with them. Such illegitimate and transitory applause as they may sometimes obtain at the hands of the unintelligent and of the multitude is but a poor and precarious recompense for them. Literary and artistic criticism always has of necessity, and the more so the better it understands its office, a practical and moral aspect reconcilable with the purest æstheticity and theoreticity in the intrinsic examination of works.
Empirical distinctions of errors and philosophical distinctions.
We certainly have good empirical reasons for distinguishing between errors of bad faith and errors of good faith, errors that are avoidable and errors that are unavoidable, pardonable and unpardonable, mortal and venial. No one would wish to deny that there is a wide difference between a slight distraction that leads to a wide erroneous affirmation, and such malice as gives rise to a small and almost imperceptible error, to a lie, which, externally considered, is almost harmless. We should be as indulgent in respect to the former as we are severe in respect to the latter. And from the empirical standpoint we should recommend in certain cases tolerance and indulgence in respect to the theoretical error, which should be looked upon rather as ignorance than as sin. We cannot but take count of all[Pg 72] those affirmations, which, while they do not represent the firm security of the true, are yet offered as points of support, or as provisional affirmations, like those tibicines, props or stakes, those bad verses that Virgil allowed to remain in the Aeneid, with the intention of returning to them again. But it was needful to record the true bases of the theory of error against the illusions arising from empiricism, the more so since the general tendency of our times (for reasons that we need not here inquire into) has led to their not being recognized. Those bases are in the practical spirit, and the practical theory of error is one of the justified forms of pragmatism, although perhaps it be that very truth against which the pragmatists sin.



John ix. 4.

“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”

This week has been one of heavy sorrow to very many.  The neighbourhood has lost one who for many years has stood foremost in large-hearted Christian benevolence.  The poor have been deprived of a kind friend, to whose liberality they might ever resort.  The children have been bereaved of one who has for years been anxious to devote her attentive care to their early training; and all who have ever needed a sympathizing friend have followed one this day to the grave as warm-hearted, energetic, and intelligent as is often to be met with in society.  Her character is well described in some lines written by herself on the death of one she dearly loved—

“Within this frame, by Jesu’s grace,
 High gifts and holy held their place;
 A noble heart, a mighty mind,
 Were here in bonds of clay confined.”

And all this is now gone.  The spirit has taken its flight.  Northrepps Cottage is without its tenant.  The ruins of the body have been left this morning in the ruins of the little church, and many a weeping heart has sent forth its unmistakable evidence of genuine and deep-felt sorrow.

But we may be quite certain that there is a wise unseen purpose in this bereavement.  Not a sparrow falls to the ground without the Father’s knowledge, and how much more may we be satisfied that “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”  There are many of his dispensations which seem very dark to short-sighted men, but they all have their sure purpose.  Many and bitter were the tears shed at Bethany when Lazarus died; painful and anxious the watchings of his affectionate sisters as they saw their dear brother growing worse and worse, till all hope ceased, and the struggle ended in his death.  Yet all was for a gracious purpose; as the Lord Himself said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”  Many, doubtless, were the tears shed by the parents of the blind man whose case is described in our chapter.  Many a heartache must they both have felt as they saw their dear boy in the midst of his companions, but unable through his  blindness to share their games or enjoy their pleasures; but there was a kind purpose in that lengthened trial, for as we read in verse 3, it was permitted “that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”  So, doubtless, there is a sacred purpose in this present affliction.  It may be hidden from you, but it is not hidden from Him who has appointed it.  Be sure, all ye mourners, that your tears are not for nought.  There is a needs be for the whole.  Not a sorrow has ever yet been laid on any one of God’s people from the very first, nor ever will be laid on them to the end of time, without some clear, some gracious, some wise purpose on the part of our God.  Let us, then, endeavour in the sorrow for her death to learn the lessons taught us by the retrospect of her life; and, instead of simply deploring our loss, let us strive to move a step forward in our own upward progress.
Now, in looking at her character, the point that strikes my own mind more than any other is the fine, vigorous, persevering, affectionate, and unselfish use of time and talents; and in studying this we cannot do better than take as our guide the words of our blessed Lord, “I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”  May the Holy Spirit bless the study of the passage to the salvation of souls and the glory of Christ!

I.  The day.

The idea is to compare life to the daytime, and the comparison is one as appropriate as it is simple.

The day is the time for intercourse; the time when, in the light of heaven, we enjoy each other’s fellowship, and have all the lovely scenery of God’s creation brought to the view: and so it is with life.  It is the short and sacred season in which we are placed together in the flesh, surrounded by those we love, linked together by countless ties, refreshed and cheered by happy intercourse.  In the daytime of life there ought to be the enjoyment of each other’s love, and the mutual fellowship with each other’s interests.  And where, I may safely inquire, could be found a welcome more hearty, or a greeting more affectionate, than in Northrepps Cottage?  How many are there in this church that have experienced the warm cordiality of that hearty welcome that was to be found there on every occasion!  She might have been busy or at leisure, at ease or in severe suffering; but it made no difference in the real genuine pleasure with which she received you under her roof.

But the prominent point of the text is, that the day is the time for work; the brief period set apart for labour; the chosen opportunity, the short time in which it is our sacred privilege to be doing something for God and man—something to bring man nearer to God, and something to bring down God’s blessing in larger abundance upon man.  Thus our various positions in life correspond with the various periods of the day.  There is the little child, with its mind just opening and intelligence just dawning, like the sun rising in the east.  There is the young man, entering life full of energy, hope, and power, with all his work before him, corresponding to the morning period, when the risen sun is summoning mankind to labour.  There is the middle-aged man, with the advantage of half a life’s experience, and scarcely yet feeling the symptoms of decay, like the sun at its height in the fulness of his meridian splendour.  And there is the aged Christian, with the grey hairs coming on upon his head, with his strength diminishing, but wisdom deepening and hope brightening, with the greater part of life already past, and an earnest desire that the short remainder should be well occupied for God,—corresponding to the gradual closing in of evening.  And then, at last, there is the bright conclusion, when the soul is lighted up at the immediate prospect of his Lord’s presence; when rest is taking the place of labour, and triumph that of conflict; so that there is all the beauty of a glorious Christian sunset.

“And when he comes nearer to finish his race,
 Like a fine setting sun he looks richer in grace,
 And gives a new hope at the end of his days
          Of rising in brighter array.”

II.  The night.

Our Lord says, “The night cometh.”

Now, there is something inexpressibly solemn in such a thought to the unconverted and unprepared; for the night, in such a case, is the deep, dark, cheerless night, that settles down on the wicked; a night of black darkness, and without one ray of light or hope; a night in which there is not even one star visible, nor the least encouragement from the most distant hope of morning.  “To what end,” saith the Prophet, “is the day of the Lord to you?  The day of the Lord is darkness and not light.”  Oh! that every unconverted man would consider well what is his own prospect when his sun sets, and would make haste in seeking that blessed Lord who can turn darkness into light, and death into immortality and life!

But how different is the night to the believer,—to such an one as we are now called to mourn!  When the evening was closing in, and the sun just setting, she was not aware of her great danger, and still thought she had strength to recover; but when a dear friend thought it her duty to inform her that the time of separation was very nearly come, her reply was that of calm faith and full submission,—“Let us then obediently receive it.”  The truth was realized, and accepted at the hand of God.  There is no real night in such a case; or, if there be, it is like the night in the Arctic summer, in which the sun is always visible; for such are never separate from Him who is both light and life.

“Sun of my soul, thou Saviour dear,
 It is not night if thou art near.”

Or it is like the night in the height of summer, when the twilight of evening waits to welcome the dawn of morning, and it is almost difficult to discover whether it is the past sunset or the coming sunrise that sheds a soft brightness over the heavens.  So, throughout the believer’s night-time, there is continuous light till the morning dawns.  And then what a morning will it be!  The morning of resurrection, the morning of righteousness, the morning of joy, the morning of the Redeemer’s triumph!  “Sorrow may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”  Every tear will then be dry; every anxious soul will then be satisfied; every aching heart will then be healed, and every care forgotten in the sweet peace of uninterrupted union with Christ.

Such is the night of the believer; and therefore it appears only to deserve the name of night because it is the close of this world’s working season.  Angels, not men, do the work of heaven; and they are sent forth to minister to them that shall be heirs of salvation.  But to the believer, the characteristic of the heavenly state is rest.  The interval between death and the resurrection is a period of holy, happy, peaceful, intelligent rest.  “They rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.”  When the late lamented Bishop Weeks was entering on his most laborious mission at Lambeth, and when it was remarked to him that he would have hard work to carry out his plans, his reply was,—“But there will be plenty of rest at the end.”  It is well to dwell on that blessed hope of rest; it is well, when the heart grows weary, to know that there is repose in prospect.  That, however, is not the great lesson to be learned, but rather this.  If that be the time for rest, then this is the day for work; and we must all make haste to seize the opportunity in its rapid flight.  I remember to have seen a card in the study of a friend, on which it was written, “Lost between the hours of sunrise and sunset a golden hour, set in sixty diamond minutes.  No reward is offered for their recovery, for they are lost for ever.”  Oh, let not the precious time which God has given us be lost, but rather at the close of each day let us each one put the question, and put it honestly—What has been done this day for God?  I had the great privilege of visiting the late Mrs. Fry in her dying illness, and she then said to me, “I believe I can safely say that, since the time of my conversion, my first thought on awaking has been, what can I do this day for God?”  Would that all of us lived in such a spirit, with a more constant thoughtfulness for our Master’s service!  For is it possible to imagine anything more deeply affecting, than to see a man at the close of life with no effort made for Him who has redeemed him by his blood?  There he is with his race nearly run, and his opportunity almost over.  He has passed through life with time and talents; with friends, servants, children, under his influence, and now what has he done?  He may have made his fortune, acquired a reputation, and filled his home with comforts; he may have done well for himself, and perhaps done well for his family; but for his God, for his blessed Lord who has done all for him, who has shed his own most precious blood that his sins might be blotted out—for Him he has done nothing.  His day is almost over, and he has spent it for himself; his life is nearly run out, and he has lived it for himself.  And now he is about to lie down and die; but still all in himself, with his hope in himself, his strength in himself; and that hope all vanity, that strength all weakness.

How different is the end of him, who when his sun sets is found well at work for God!  Who can look back on the whole pilgrimage, and though he discovers countless defects, and is compelled to come before God with the prayer, “Pardon the iniquity of my holy things;” is yet found in his harness—not rusting out, but working out, with the loins girt, and the lamp burning, and the whole man conscientiously consecrated to God!

Now, such was truly the case with our departed friend.  Her eye was not dim, nor her hand heavy even to the last.  Even after the fatal illness had set in upon her, she assembled the teachers and school-children of the place where she was sojourning; and as disease advanced, she said with characteristic energy to her faithful attendant, “If I go home I must do more for God, and you must keep me up to it.”  But there was no return in prospect; her work was finished, and she has entered on her rest.

III.  The work.

Now, the text teaches us at the outset, that the work to which our Lord referred was an appointed work.  “I must work the works of him that sent me.”  He was sent to carry out God’s purpose, and intrusted with an apostleship from the Father, to which apostleship he here refers.  In the same sense, every individual has his apostleship or mission.  The trust may vary, and no two men have the same mission.  One has money committed to him, one time, one stores of knowledge; another family ties, and another widely-extended influence; but all have their work from God.  The master, the servant, the rich, the poor, the preacher, the hearer, the clergyman, the layman, the father, the child—all have their mission; and it is the part of the wise Christian to endeavour to see clearly what that mission is, and then to lay himself out for the work to which God has called and fitted him.

Now, I think that all who knew our dear departed friend must acknowledge that this was pre-eminently the case with her.  She was one who had her mission, and endeavoured most faithfully to fulfil it.  She was intrusted with property, and you all know what use she made of it.  She did not keep it as if it were her own, but employed it, as knowing that it was her Lord’s.

She was intrusted with time and fine talents, and we all know how she used them.

Remember her interest in foreign objects.  How great was her zeal for missionary work!  Even in her dying hours, she left her charge that 50l. be given to the Mandingo Mission, a Mission scarcely known in the Church, but which had been brought to her notice by a friend.  How steady and stimulating was her attachment to the Bible Society! and how did her heart yearn to the very last over the wrongs and woes of Africa!  Never yet was there a more zealous and intelligent supporter of the great foreign enterprises of the Church of Christ.

But some persons are disposed to say, Why always think of Africa, and foreign lands?  Why not turn your attention more to home?  In answer to which inquiry, I would simply say, that I believe it to be capable of the most indisputable proof that, as a general rule, the best friends of Africa are the best philanthropists at home.  The fact is, that Christian love is expansive in its character, and cannot be chained down to one locality.  And of this we have just parted with a noble proof.  She was zealous for Africa, but there was no neglect of her own neighbourhood.  Let the fishermen all along the coast bear their testimony, and it must be to her zeal and energy for their good.  Let the lads who used to meet on Sunday afternoons for instruction bear their witness to the reality of her Christian perseverance.  Let the young women of the village, and the school children that were privileged to meet for instruction every morning at the cottage, let them give their evidence, and it must be to the most steady and affectionate perseverance for their welfare.  Oh! that these lessons may be now remembered!  Oh! that the voice may be listened to from the grave, and that the seed so carefully sown may be found to spring up to present holiness and future blessedness in Christ Jesus!  Nor was this limited to purely religious effort.  Look back upon her deep interest in all that befell the shipping.  Remember her energy with reference to her gun.  Recall her energetic figure seated on the cliff in the midst of the storm, to stimulate the efforts of those who were endeavouring to save the shipwrecked sailors.  Recall all this, and remember that it was done in the midst of physical infirmity and pain, that might well have justified an indulgent consideration of self.  If any one might have claimed exemption from active effort it was she.  If any one might have pleaded disability it was she; and her conduct is a noble evidence of the power of the heart to overcome the body, and a splendid proof that faith and zeal never recognize impediments, except as fresh incentives to energetic activity for God.

And now, brethren, all this activity is over.  She rests from her labours, and her works do follow her.  But there is a great void left in this neighbourhood.  A gap is made and the responsibility of filling it is thrown on the survivors.  It is well, therefore, for us all to remember that our own night-time is rapidly advancing.  On how many well known to those here present has it already closed!  How many workmen for God are already in their rest!  Let your mind look back to one of the Meetings of the Bible or Church Missionary Society some fifteen or twenty years ago.  On how large a proportion of those who were then the active labourers has the night already closed!  There you might have heard that manly and energetic labourer for God, Sir Fowell Buxton, in full vigour pleading for God and men, but his night is come: and my own dear father by his side, full of sterling, high principled, Christian zeal; but his night too is come: and the faithful pastor of the little flock at Gresham, always ready to take a part on such occasions, but his night is come: and our zealous friend from Sherringham, who rejoiced to co-operate in every such enterprise, but her night is come: and the two Cottage Ladies united in the strong bond of sisterly affection, and acting together with a sacred unanimity for God, but now their suns have both set, they now rest as they once lived, together, and the night has closed in on almost the whole of that noble company.  But there were present likewise young men, just rising into life, and just beginning to put forth their powers; and time has now done its work with them.  Some, indeed, it has cut down, so that their sun has set even at noon; but for the most part it has had the effect of placing them where their fathers then stood.  Their own brows are becoming furrowed, and their own hairs grey.  They have already reached the afternoon of life.  The shades even of evening are beginning to appear among those who were then lads and listeners.  And now that they have been this day called to follow to the grave almost the last of a whole generation of faithful labourers passed away, the lesson spoken to them from the tomb is surely that conveyed in the text, “I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”

But in speaking of this sacred work we must not lose sight of the paramount importance of a personal work in our own soul.  It would be, indeed, an awful thing to be compelled to acknowledge, “They made me the keeper of the vineyards, and mine own vineyard have I not kept;” to preach to others, and yet oneself to be a cast away; to work as a philanthropist, and perish as an unconverted man.  We should take, therefore, a most imperfect view of the subject, if we were to neglect the consideration of the personal work within.

And this we ought to carry through all departments, for God has given to each man certain powers, and these should be improved.  We are not at liberty to leave neglected the high gifts which God has given us.  The intellect which God has bestowed should not lie dormant.  And I cannot but think that we have parted with a noble example in this respect.  How vigorous was her spirit of self-improvement!  How stimulating was her influence on all who came within her reach!  How urgent she was with young men that they should aim high, and not sit at ease satisfied with inferiority! and what a fine example did she herself set them!  What a contrast did she present to the listless, fanciful, and indolent novel reader upon the sofa!  How manfully did she grapple with one language one after another!  I cannot enumerate those that she had acquired, but this we all know that she qualified herself to become the valued correspondent of the first linguists of the day; and now, if, beside her grave, we could have breathed a wish of such a kind, it would have been that she could have left us, as a legacy, some small fraction of the rich stores of her accumulated knowledge!

But it is not merely an intellectual work that has to be considered, for, after all, what are all intellectual acquirements if we be not in Christ?  Nay! we may extend the question further and inquire, what would all our labour in such a case avail us before God?  And if we be not forgiven in Christ Jesus how shall any one of us stand in his presence?  Can intellect justify?  Can talent justify?  Can self-improvement justify?  Nay, more, can philanthropic effort justify?  Can benevolence justify?  Can religious activity justify?  Can energetic labour for God justify?  Beautiful, indeed, are all such things when springing forth as the rich fruits of heavenly grace in the soul of the justified believer; but nothing better than filthy rags if employed as a covering for the dark moral guilt in the soul of the sinner.  No, brethren!  If the inquiry is made, how must the soul be saved?  How can the sin be blotted out?  How can the sinner stand justified in the Lord’s presence? there is but one answer, and that is, it must be in Christ.  No intellect and no activity will ever lift us above the old promise, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”  All our hope is in the substitution of the sinless Saviour for the sin-stricken sinner, in the transfer of guilt from the guilty criminal to the guiltless substitute; and if a man be a stranger to Christ, though he have all the philanthropy of a Howard, or all the intellect of a Newton, he will be found condemned before God for the inherent corruption of his heart and character.  Well, therefore, does the Apostle urge us to “Work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in us to will and to do of his good pleasure;” and most earnestly will every wise man pay good heed to the inquiry, Am I in Christ Jesus?  Am I born again of the Spirit?  Is my name written in the Lamb’s book of life?  Am I now pardoned through His blood?  Am I justified through His righteousness?  And am I prepared to meet Him in His kingdom?

Now this hope was the turning point in the character of our departed friend.  After she had been informed that her end was close at hand, her faithful attendants began to read to her some of the promises of the Gospel, in the hope of assisting her faith through her last struggle.  But she preferred silence, and replied, “I have them.”  Who can wish more for his dying hour than to be able to say, “I have them”?  For the words imply not merely that she had them in her memory, but that she had them to reveal Christ to her soul, and so to bear her up through her last struggle.  Happy that soul who is so possessed of the promises that he has Christ as his glorious hope in his dying hour!

And now, dear brethren, to conclude.  I am speaking to some of you at the very outset of your career.  Your sun is only now rising in the fulness of its morning beauty.  You have, possibly, the greater part of life before you, some forty, fifty, sixty years to be spent either for the world or for God.  Oh! dear brethren, let the whole of that vigour be consecrated to Him.  Leave it not to old age, then to hand over the refuse of your powers.  But now, in your youth and in your vigour, remember the call of Him that has redeemed you by His blood, and let the prime of your life be a freewill offering to your Lord.  Or possibly I am speaking to some old men who have but a little time left; honoured fathers in the family of God; men whose sun is sinking brightly, but still rapidly, in the west.  And what shall we say to such?  Oh! dear brethren, we would speak with the utmost respect and reverence, but, bear with us while we remind you that it is but a little time that remains; but a very few more winters and then the sense of loneliness will pass away in the society of heaven, and the pang of the wounded heart will be for ever healed by the leaves of the tree that we know are for the healing of the nations.  Hold on your way, then, for that little time with a good courage.  Let a bright hope sustain the failing eye, and the Lord’s right hand give vigour to the faltering step.  The rest is at hand; the privilege of labour is nearly over; let no time, then, be lost in the service of our God, but, if the power be less, let the zeal be greater than ever in the holy efforts to be faithful servants to your Lord.

But why do we speak of different ages as if they secure to us different periods of labour, for who can say how short his time is?  There may be many here who may never hear another sermon, as I myself may never preach one.  You may single out the powerful young man with his broad chest, and open forehead, and powerful arm, who may think himself safe for many years to come, but who can say that ere a week closes, there shall not be another funeral procession, and that young man, notwithstanding all his strength, be borne by his sorrowing friends to an unlooked-for grave?  You may note some middle-aged man in the full vigour of midday life, who now thinks only how he may maintain his wife and family; but let him remember that ere another Sabbath dawns, that wife may be a widow and those children fatherless.  Oh, dear brethren, remember, I beseech you, how short your time may be, and take heed that when the day closes, you may be found in Christ!  The door is open to you now.  The invitation is open to you now.  The promises of the Spirit are presented to you now.  All the rich gifts of the kingdom are offered now without money and without price.  Nay, more than that, you are now invited, urged, entreated to accept them.  But the night may come and the door be shut to-morrow.  Hearken, then, I beseech you, ye that are still unconverted sinners, ye that are still without Christ.  Hearken, ye that are still strangers to peace, and may God grant you such a sure salvation in Him that you may be able to say, whenever the day closes, “To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain!”