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be confusing oscillations in a life's tendency, it may at some point describe a crooked and uncertain path; but as a whole it has a definite trend this way or that. The definite trend of your life discovers your real aim; you cannot disguise it except transiently. It is not something outside of you, compelling you this way or that; it is you, the complex of your generic choices and volitions.


I dwell on this because it is one of those trite yet tremendous truths which so many forget or ignore, and which has such vital consequences in the destiny of the soul. Always you are moving somewhither, always you are becoming somewhat; and the direction which you are now taking, the character which you are now forming, becoming fixed, the success or failure. of your life is unchangeably determined.

That is the most critical moment in your experience when you consciously and deliberately ask: "Whither am I going; what am I becoming in thought and feeling and character?"

Then, if ever, is the choice made, the purpose formed, which henceforth makes your life-story easy to read. Many young people step upon the threshold of responsible life, and amid the multitude of eager self-questionings that rise in their hearts the one chief question scarcely

appears. They ask, "How can I best earn a living? What trade or profession shall I learn? What business shall I follow? How can I get an education? How can I secure pleasure? How can I make a fortune?" But deeper than all these is the one question that gives meaning to all the rest: "What am I living for? What shall be the supreme purpose and result of my life?"

The thoughts that I wish to present to you now gather themselves naturally about three simple propositions:

1. The first of these is: Every one ought consciously to have an aim in life. Whether he is conscious of it or not, every one has a ruling tendency; but every one should have a controlling and persistent purpose in life. No one has a right to live aimlessly, for no one has a right to abandon reason and self-control, and consent to be a mere waif drifting hither and thither like some plaything of the winds. We are endowed with powers that make us capable of good and often great achievement. We are gifted with reason and conscience and will, in order that we may both become and do that which is noble and beneficent.

"For what are men better than sheep or goats,

That nourish a blind life within the brain,"

if they live without any purpose that is essentially higher than the instincts which prompt them to eat and sleep and propagate their kind? In the mythology of the Greeks, Phaethon, an earthly son of Helios, aspired to drive the flaming chariot of the sun. The task was beyond his human powers, and his disastrous rashness was expiated by his death by a bolt hurled from the hand of Zeus; but the Naiads, who buried him, wrote in his epitaph:

"He could not rule his father's car of fire;

Yet was it much so nobly to aspire."

He is not worthy to live who only vegetates; he does not truly live who drifts aimlessly through the years from youth to age. Indeed, he whose aim is even lower than the highest, less than the greatest, is nobler than he who has no conscious purpose in life.

But, besides being ignoble, a purposeless life is inefficient; to aim at nothing is to hit nothing. The cannon-ball strikes somewhere, indeed, though the cannon be fired at random. So each of us is moving toward some end, though that end, undetermined by choice and rational endeavor, demonstrates the futility and failure of a life. Each soul should be, not the missile aimlessly flung upon destiny by external

forces, - not the ball that flies wildly to an unperceived mark, but the gunner that aims his piece, or rather, as if he were gunner and ball in one, and with conscious purpose and inherent propulsive force, speed onward to a definite goal. Many a man falls short of that at which he aimed, and some men attain more or other than the specific object which they sought; but no one who has lived with a purpose has failed of a certain efficiency. The dreary and desert hell of utter failure is reserved for the soul that has not lived, but existed without aim.

Of first importance, then, in the consideration of the question as to what your life shall be, is the fact that you cannot avoid moving toward some end, good or bad, and that it is your duty to move consciously in the line of a clearly defined purpose.

2. The second proposition that I would present to you is: The supreme aim of life should be consonant with the nature and capabilities of the whole man. The chief end sought should be such as to bring to their highest development all our powers, mental and spiritual. It should be comprehensive enough to include all right temporal ends, and of such moral excellence and attractive force as to subordinate to itself in

complete harmony all the limitless detail of our daily choices, plans, and endeavors.

It is a principle of practical ethics that every man should aim to do some one thing in this world supremely well; and in order to attain the highest efficiency, it is necessary that each should do that for which, by temperament and training, he is best fitted. There is a natural division of labor indicated by natural aptitudes: one man is born with a special aptitude for trade, another for invention, another for teaching, another for mechanics, another for persuasion and argument. No man can do all things, or even many things, equally well; efficiency inexorably demands concentration of effort. Definiteness of aim in life's work is a chief factor in successful achievement. Aimless effort is fruitless effort, save as it is fruitful in mischief, like the action of an idiot or a madman. History and experience abound in illustrations of this truth. The failure of many a business man is clearly traceable to his lack of concentration upon some one line. The manufacturer who dabbles in stocks, and cultivates margins in oil and wheat, will, as the rule, soon find himself with a depreciated credit and a short account at the bank. The majority of men, if they would succeed, must be content to do one thing and to do that with all their might.

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