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spirit, the story of whose great humanity, whose yearning pity, whose divine compassion, is such a temptation of God's holiness to ours as cannot be overborne or utterly obscured by all the theologians' patient arts, weaving their veils and painted tapestries between his image and our eyes. "If I be lifted up from the earth," he said, “I will draw all men unto me." Lifted up he has been by all the faithful and discerning scholarship of the modern world, by all the sturdy common sense which, without much aid of scholarship, has been able to disengage the man from all the wrappages of the dogmatists; and, if he does not draw all men to him, it is because some have been somehow spoiled for the appreciation and the reverence and love of what is loveliest and best in human life.
Not only by the outward beauty of the world and by the course of history and its great names and high examples, but as well by those whom we have personally known, men and women in whom the beauty of holiness and the beauty of helpfulness have shone with equal light. In whatever calling we are called, in whatever round of circumstance we may be set, there will be those about us truer and better than ourselves, who by the simplicity of their goodness make it shine for us with pressing invitation. All do not so. Some wear their virtue with so great a difference from these, so consciously, with such superior airs, with such dread of happiness as if that were the most deadly sin, that they make virtue questionable, if not repulsive, in our eyes. If, to be virtuous, we must be like these, then we will not be virtuous : such is the argument they lend our creed. Good men have much to answer for in every time, so much have they availed to make all goodness seem to men who balance good and ill a harsh, repellent thing. I sometimes wonder if the bad have done so much to draw these doubters to themselves as the unlovely good to drive them to the bad by their repellent force. Yet, in the midst of these, God's tempters do not fail,
the men and women who wear their goodness with such simplicity and native grace that to come near them is to be
charmed by their benignity and to make compact with our selves, Such goodness shall be ours. So it would seem that it must be; that the purity, the integrity, the tenderness, the thoughtfulness, the generosity, the self-surrender, of these tempters of God, shine with such happy light that it would be impossible for any to come near to them and not be drawn into the service of the things they love. With so many generous men in the community, who from the exercise of their generosity reap such noble satisfaction, it is incomprehensible how some, and not a few, are able to resist the fascination of their joyous helpfulness, and go on earning and hoarding only for themselves, or spending only on the lines of selfish pleasure or to glut the already jaded appetites of their immediate families and friends. One is not sorrier for the enterprises of great pith and moment that deserve, but lack, their help than for their miserable delusion, their building on such barren rocks, when happy isles are just at hand. The temptations from beneath must be of dreadful strength when such temptations from above do not avail to make them less than nought. But these by which God tempts us to the better way are not of feeble force. And, thank Heaven, to encounter them, we need not, some of us, go far afield! Their healing shadows are upon the floors of chambers where we sleep, rooms where we eat our daily bread or have our evening talk. And their temptation is so sweet and strong to every noblest habit of the soul that, even while such habits seem impossible for us, we are drawn into their charmed circle ever more and more by imperceptible degrees.
We often hear of the temptations of the business world,that they were never so great before as they are now. And this is true enough; but it is not truer of the temptations from beneath than of the temptations from above. What are a few thousands, or a few millions, more or less, compared with the noble self-esteem of those who feel themselves in honor bound to do nothing to imperil that mutual trust and confidence on which the good of all depends; compared with realization of
the ideal of compulsory nobility,- advantages are obligations? To be tempted by such generous ideals is to be tempted of God in the great world of business with its fierce and passionate competitions and its vast, immeasurable unrest. And one has only to regard this world with a judicial mind to see that these temptations or some others to the highest and the best are of a mighty potency. Let there be any great catastrophe upon the street, the collapse of some long-standing house, the breaking down of some distinguished reputation, and immediately there is a chorus of the Jeremiahs, chanting a doleful lamentation over the rottenness of the commercial world. What such catastrophes do actually make apparent is the bed-rock of mutual confidence on which rest all the conventional securities of the business world, and how irrefragable it generally is.
Every fresh catastrophe is a fresh teaching of the abounding honesty of business men, contrasting with the abundance of their opportunities for irregularity, and to which they are much more in honor bound than by any artifice for its own security which the business world has yet been able to invent. And never do the temptations of the business man to high nobility appear so strong and irresistible, and those to fraudulent practices so weak and vain, as when a great catastrophe brings into vivid contrast the actual depth of fallen honor and the possible heights which it has foolishly foregone. Such are the respect of honorable men, the esteem of noble friends, the unshamed happiness of the hearth and home, the approving voice of one's own conscience, the noble consciousness of being one of that great company through which the industrial order keeps its married calm. As gold to dirt are these compared with any prizes that the tempter from beneath can show to eager and impatient
The temptations of the political world furnish another theme of frequent comment; and doubtless they are many and of such fascinating quality that their seduction of such men as are sometimes elected to high offices is not incon
ceivable. But, surely, there are temptations from above as well as from below,- temptations to honesty and ideal ends, to lofty character and consecration. Here is a man of character and standing who is made mayor of a great city, or governor of a great State, or President of the United States, and immediately we hear of the temptations that he will encounter; and the doubt is frequently expressed whether he will be able to resist them, and to effect an honorable and honest administration. What are these terrible temptations that can so beguile men who have been known as honest gentlemen to various crookedness? The good will of the bosses and the boys of the political machine; perhaps some low pecuniary gain; the prospect of continuance in office or a higher place. But what for any man, who is not already hopelessly corrupt, should be the strength of such temptations compared with that of the temptations to the heights of character and social help! And what are some of these? To have a name among the few who have established for themselves an honorable fame instead of being nameless with the swarm who have been "neither for God nor for his enemies," or infamous with those who have preferred to drag their garlands in the mire; to improve material condiditions earning so the gratitude of decent folk; to make some juster law or polity that shall be a better monument than one of bronze or stone; to shame a cowardly constituency into honorable ways, or, failing to do that, to set over against their baseness a perennial rebuke, a name the best can conjure with until the devils have come out, albeit rending as they come. These, and such as these, are the temptations that beset the servants of the people — mayors and governors and presidents on the right hand and the left. Tempted of God are they to these high ways, to these good things, in comparison with which their temptations from beneath are so contemptible that it would not be strange if those before content with lowest aims should find the highest none too high for them to seize and hold.
But, when God would make most irresistible his tempta
tions to things sweet and pure or great and strong, then he embodies them not in the beauty of the natural world, nor in the course of history, nor in its greatest names, nor in the social pressures that converge to force men into high and honorable ways, nor even in the eminent goodness of our companions and our friends, but in the love which binds the hearts of its beloved to all noblest service of the good and
"There's nothing in the world, I know,
That can escape from love;
Until the clouds go by,
Secure when they are gone
Men may resist the God-temptation of the most exigent nobility of word and deed; but how can they resist the love that yearns unceasingly for their good,― nay, how can they resist the love they feel for those whose lives, as if God did beseech them, plead with them to put away all manner of unworthiness? And when the friend whose love, our love for whom, is full of a divine persuasion, is lifted up out of our sight, then does the power of his or her temptation sometimes attain unto a rarer potency than it ever had in the old days of visible companionship. And if it was not then what it should have been, had not the attraction and compulsion that it should have had for us, let us be glad of any afterglow that softens for us all the lights and shadows, and in the mystic silence draws us to secret haunts of memory and prayer. But happiest they who do not wait for any distance between earth and heaven to enhance the attractive force of the beloved friend, but, while such a one is safe within their arms, offer the purest pledge, the sweetest sacrifice, that love can make,—a heart devoted to all beautiful and blessed things.
And now I trust that I have shown that, whatever our