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impressed with a sense of the ever-shifting law of spiritual unity, tending to merge all specialities into ever completer and completer generalizations, to rest never satisfied with any degree of self-knowledge, but to preserve unshaken a faith, which will grow with exercise, in the possibilities of the human soul.
In urging the harmony of these two laws of the soul (just stated) as the result of this argument, it may save the statement from whatever in it is transcendental and unintelligible, to take the very common topic of fashion as an illustration.
The adventitious origin of all fashions is well known, but it is not so well appreciated that the nature of their origin constitutes the true claim they have to our respect. If every man was true to himself, there would be no fashion, for fashion is imitative. If you are a laborer, your true fashion of dress will be coarseness and durability of material, rather than exactness of fit or grace of cut, and it is simply nothing to you that with the tailor, competing closely for custom, refinements in the style become a real necessity rather than durability in a material of dress. You know the value of your fashion, and is not the skill required to adapt the dress more perfectly to the symmetry of the human form worth anything? Let the laborer be thankful, that, through the infinite division of labor, the human mind has had the leisure to work out an ideal even of a well-fitting coat, — a coat without superfluity, and yet easy for every natural movement of the body, — and let him who wears such a coat put it on with a profounder sense of the dignity of human labor, and punctiliously pay his tailor's bills.
But men are continually mistaking the sign for the reality. If they can successfully imitate the appearance, they think they have attained the spiritual excellence of which the former is but an emblem.
The truth would seem to be, that all fashions have an origin in personal wants, which, if always peculiar, are also
real. A man's circumstances, must, therefore, determine his fashion, and any man who is true to himself may set a good fashion, because he will do always what is best for him, and there will always be some who, not willing to do what is best for them, will imitate.
In this way the soul stamps its special image on the world, and thus it practises the only true economy of living. Character, not individual merely, but character in the aggregate, is thus created, for the nobleness in men will rise to meet us, if we are noble.
But fashion is, proverbially, fleeting, and if, in view of the law of the soul, which allows it to specialize, to create, we ought to set our own fashion, or, in other words, give our character to the world, so likewise, regarding reverently the progressive law of all souls, which is ceaselessly flowing through all special creations, and recreating more general types from the old special ones, ought we to remember, that there is one fashion of unchanging excellence never attainable, always by its very progressive nature to be attained ; an ideal perfection which is made up of the ideals of all the persons in the world; a fountain of character, whence all human character is derived; which gives knowledge of character in infinite ration on the simple condition of willingness to receive.
In conclusion, it may be said that, if the mind must create, and by its nature give its character to the world, so, too, must it be constantly recreated; that, if we are desirous of knowledge of character, we can obtain it, not by widening our experience of men, but by changing our own ideas of them.
One more word, in closing, seems to be called for. If any one has reached the point of desiring to deepen bis nature, and, as it were, expose a larger reflecting surface of character, he is ready, it may be presumed, to take a method in order to win his desire.
It is the invincible argument for the truth of Christ, that to the soul inquiring at this point, willing for its own sake to learn of better and surer things than any mere business, or the knowledge of men upon which business is based, can give, - anxious to find a business which shall be work, the only possible, the very possible method of progress is the way of self-sacrifice, - a doctrine revealed by Jesus Christ alone.
E. T. F.
" THEN AND NOW.”
Then I stood with eager longings
For the toil, and for the strife,
As it wove my web of life.
That, although the work was fair,
Would put darker threads in there,
Much I fear me, this the answer:
“No there are not those for me;
Though to others gray they be.”
Was not trusting, sweet, and low,
Like the knights of long ago.
O the words they told of conquest,
Told of laurels I should wear,
How all great things I would dare !
Of the baptism God would will;
I must do my life-work still.”
THE ATLANTIC CABLE.
A SERMON BY A. P. PUTNAM.*
Luke ii. 14:-“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will toward men.”
As time goes on, man multiplies more and more rapidly his wonderful achievements. In all that illustrates his capabilities, his dignity, his greatness, no age in the past has been so remarkable as the present. The progress of his history has shown a continual progress in his development. Works which at one period were regarded as impossible to his power of accomplishment, he has at the next period completed, until now one is encouraged to believe that our race is yet to perform feats and miracles more stupendous than ever have seriously engaged the hopes or efforts of the world. What may we not indeed expect in the future, when we consider what has been done in the centuries that are gone? Survey the record of human triumphs, and see what a mighty power — power of mind, will, faith, courage, and execution – God wraps up in the human form. Behold man as the successful hero of many a well-fought battle-field, subduing whole nations beneath the sway of his own individual authority, and with a strong hand ruling their millions through laws which he himself has made and chosen! What complicated institutions and magnificent empires he has built! What vast and splendid temples he has erected, and decorated with every brilliant ornament which earth or sea could furnish, and with every grace and beauty of art! How glorious an object is the noble ship which he has constructed, and with which he sails the seas! Think how he pierces with it the regions of perpetual cold and ice, outrides the gale, and visits every land. What a monument of his genius and toil are those languages which countless myriads have used as the means of communicating to each
* Delvered in the Mount Pleasant Church, Roxbury, September 5, 1858.