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O God, we come in the love which Jesus Christ has for us, and which we have learned to have for each other and for Thee. We catch glimpses of what love must be since we are taught that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him might not perish-not lose lifebut might find it. Life comes to us in all its varied expressions, but not one of us has ever yet known what it is to live, to see life full. The fragments of life are about us, but what the great completed whole of it might be, none of us has yet known. We have had ecstatic moments, times when feeling was full and floodlike, when the vision was clear, when it seemed to us as if this, indeed, was to live; but then this flood of life has been followed by its ebb, and we have foundered in shallows and in miseries.
We have seen pictures of beauty and heard tones of sweetness. We have had little children in our arms and in our families. We have known friends. And all these indications of love and of life have taught us that some time, somewhere, the human soul shall come to its fullness of stature. Little children have come into our families and lingered for a little time, a few or more years, and then, with all the promise of life about them, have gone out into death. And young men and young women, just at the threshold of life, have suddenly stopped, and to our mortal sight have disappeared, and we are continually haunted by this feeling, that life, so large in promise, must have its completion, and so much that is begun must have its fulfillment. None of us has ever yet seen a completed, filled-out life. None of us has ever yet known one who fulfilled all the promise of his beginning, but even as a blight
comes to some opening flower, or as an arrest of development to something that is just coming toward its perfection, so it seems ordained for human life, for some reason that we can not understand, to stop short of what it might be. It is from these hints that we can infer what must be the life if it were rounded out to its fullness, as it is in God's thought. We have not yet attained, neither are we already perfect. of us must say this for himself, for herself, and each of us must affirm it for the great ones of the earth. No one has yet attained to the measure of the stature of the fullness which God has in his thought for human
These hints and suggestions, these glimpses and fragments are that out of which we build our hope and our expectation of the stronger race and the perfect man and the completed life-that at some time and at some place God will bring to its completeness this promise of life. We press on; we are not satisfied with any day's attainment. We reach and grasp that which we long for, only to find that it is not what we thought it was. The most perfect love lacks something of the satisfaction which the soul seeks. So we go on and on, our ideal constantly changing before us, and we know we are moving in a vast circle, that we can not complete it in seventy years of life. No one can complete it. The most gigantic intellect, the largest sweep of vision, the most perfect love—nothing can complete it. We are moving in an infinite circle, and shall never be satisfied until we awake in Thy likeness.
Thou art the fulfillment of all our thought, O God. Thou art the answer to all our questions. Thou art the satisfaction for all our thirst in life, and when we see Thee as Thou art, we shall come to be like Thee. We know the value of the human soul in part. have known what it. is to have, to hold and to lose, to
love and to lose sight of that which we love. But, 0 God, we thank Thee for the hope that grows brighter and the faith that is firmer, that that which is incomplete shall come to its completion. Thou dost not play fast and loose with human souls. Thou dost not juggle with these hopes and faiths of the human mind. We can trust Thee, and we will trust Thee, that sometime, the value of the human soul, the perfection of it, shall be seen and known. That which is unfinished shall be completed; that which is a broken fragment, seemingly, shall build itself into the fair and completed edifice of manhood or womanhood, as God saw it in the creation.
And now, we thank Thee for good men and women that have been. We thank Thee for our ecstatic moments. We thank Thee for our imperfect love, for our unsatisfied desire, and our unquenched thirst. It is our sign of life, and we will press on and on, though we slip much and fall often, though we fail in attainment, though we sin, and though we sorrow, we will press on, until at last we attain and apprehend that for which Thou hast also apprehended us in Christ Jesus. Our better self, the Christ of history and the Christ of the ideal, our better self shall be before us, and we will not be satisfied until at last we have come to be like him, since we see him as he is; and every one that hath this hope purifieth himself even as the Christ is pure, from all unholy living-from all untrue things, and from all unjust dealing and from all unkindness.
We pray Thee that Thou wilt bless us this morning, strengthen that which is weak, lift up that which is fallen down, comfort all sorrow, restore all that wander, forgive all that have sinned, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
THE VALUE OF A HUMAN SOUL.
"For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
MARK viii, 36, 37.
HESE are familiar words to us, my friends. We have heard from them much and strange preaching. They are usually employed to emphasize the necessity of the acceptance of that plan of salvation which shall secure for us freedom from suffering in the world that is to come. But I make bold to say that that was not the thought of Jesus when he uttered them. He was rather thinking upon the transcendent value of every human soul, when looked at in the light of its history and in the light of its destiny. It was not a warning against possible suffering and loss, so much as it was an urging that we should understand the worth and value of ourselves, . for the word soul and the word self are the same thing. And he asks us to consider what it shall profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose himself, or what shall a man give in exchange for himself?
The teaching falls into line with that of the value of a little child, as when he said: "Suffer little children. to come unto me," and, "except ye be converted and become as little children, ye can not enter into the kingdom of heaven," and, "whoso shall cause a little child to offend, it were better for him that a mill stone were hanged about his neck and he were cast into the depths