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when we ask: What is the discipline of the passions to them who have no idea of the purities of love? That union, to which the kingdom of heaven itself is compared, is utterly unknown to them, and the mockery of it to which they submit is too often the prelude to special violence and cruelty. The judges of the land are in despair over the vile scenes described before them, and a reviral of ancient severities seems rapidly becoming imminent over multitudes who “eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence" (Prov. iv. 17); yet, vast as the evil is, we cannot say that it covers so large an area of society as to make sensuality the vice of the age. The majority of working men are not drunken and debauched, and the middle and upper classes are generally temperate. Uncontrollable sensuality and unbridled violence among great numbers of the lower classes are occasioned by a condition hitherto unknown in this country, where, for the first time in the history of the world, an almost fabulous increase of wages has given them more money to spend than they know how-or care to know how-to spend wisely, and so they “spend it on their lusts," and their lusts are visible; but there are other lusts which "walk the earth unseen," and which have always been the master demons of the world—the lust of power
and the lust of wealth. The sober craft and ambition of Cæsar triumphed over the sensuality of Antony, and the battle of Actium is but repeated in one form or other whenever the same forces are opposed.
Sensuality may indeed and frequently does exist together with educated scientific knowledge, and some of the worst cases I ever saw were among medical men, who surely knew what they were about This indeed only proves that “knowledge is " not necessarily the “power” of virtue, and that they who rely upon secular education alone for the purification of society, from even gross vices, rely upon a broken reed.
Perhaps it is not too much to say that the merely sensual are not of this age though they are in it; for if there is one characteristic of the times more universally confessed than another, it is the spirit of progress, which is seen in the enlargement of material good, in the spread of intellectual light, and in the equalizing of those political rights which aspiring instincts claim, and which are being steadily embodied in our constitutional law; but it is certain that the brawlers, the illiterate, and the sensual contribute little or nothing to that progress, and that if left to themselves there would soon be an end of it
. They would consummate the age in a more than Egyptian darkness of ignorance and vice—the cant of equality notwithstanding—and, when every better intelligence was banished to some distant land, they would sit
among the ruins of railways, and the scattered limbs of the monsters which now drag their“ rolling stock,” and the wires of prostrate telegraphs, stretched like gigantic snares in the endless jungle which would soon grow up where rich cultivation now flourishes, and the blocked-up harbours where fleets of noble ships now ride secure, and the stones of solemn temples now hallowed by an Empire's worship, and the ruins of banks and exchanges, and all the buried mausoleums of a mighty commerce, with as little power to restore them, and as little sympathy with the travellers who should come thousands of years hence to search for evidence of their traditional existence, as " the children of the desert” now possess when they watch the excavations of Europeans searching for relics of a past civilization in the very land of their own birth. Not that there have not been many specimens of genius, both inventive and executive, among the grossly sensual, nor was a revered friend of mine without some reason for his opinion that very strong intellect was always weighted with very strong passions of the baser kind; but, where the inventive faculty is thus weighted, its offspring would be strangled in their birth, or come to no perfection without the disciplined nurture aud care of better regulated minds. Such "precious jewels" in the snout of ugly and venomous sensuality prove nothing but the wonderful inconsistency of human nature.
The general truth remains that sensual pursuits as a purpose of life are inimical to all progress, even in material good, and therefore the best friends of “the working man,” who have dealt with him in masses daily, most profoundly deprecate that indiscriminate worship of him which is one of the cants of the age. “Give him his rights, and do not find fault with his ignorance how to use them. How can he use them if he never has them? How can a man learn to swim who never goes into the water ?”
This is the language of those small philosophers who read history upside down, and have learned just enough to have an ignorant impatience of subordination ; but the answer is simple and conclusive :" True! but your very popular illustration, like most others which a severe logic has not pruned, conceals a fatal defect. A man cannot swim without he goes into the water, but throw him into twelve feet deep of it and see how long he will swim if you who can swim do not save his life."
Some preparation for new duties is the dictate of common sense, and there is ground of hope that the very grossness of the sensuality prevailing in certain districts will tend to put an end to degrading excesses among workmen, as it has among those above them, and by the same means—the pressure of public opinion, enlightened by education of every kind. If these were days when the cultivation of science, literature and art was confined to a few, we could hope little from their most brilliant masterpieces, or their profoundest discoveries, or their most humanizing thoughts, even though those thoughts were clothed with the severe beauties of Tacitus. He was powerless over a corrupt people who did not understand him, and equally powerless over their tyrannic rulers who did understand him. The falling state fell in spite of him, and not even the splendid virtues of a few of the Cæsars could stop it ; but our times are different, though the causes of the difference are beyond the reach of sensual science. The atomie philosophy is useless here, and we must revisit the unseen to account for it, though we cannot do it now. The circle of education is steadily enlarging, and its light will certainly bring better tastes and better conduct. Sheer disgust will gradually shame popular excess, and make men more decent if not less worldly.
Above the sensual subsoil of society is a vast multitude in an ascending series, whose object in life is more or less worthy of intelligent beings. To improve their material condition, and bring up their families to prospects even better than their own, these are practically the objects they aim at, and they are good of their kind; but they are not the highest good, nor do they even consist with the highest when their pursuit engrosses every power, and success in it satisfies every cultitivated affection with congenial activity. He who made us said to his ancient people: “Man doth not live by bread only, but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of Jehovah doth man live” (Deut. viii. 3); and when he put on flesh and dwelt among us He showed that this declaration contained a command, for in quoting the words He said, “ Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. iv. 4). Here then are two lives, for it is certain that words cannot feed the body, and this was perhaps the reason of the plural form of the original in Gen. ii. 7, “ And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives.”
There are then two lives, a higher and a lower life, and a successful pursuit of the gratifications of the one may tend only to starve and destroy the other. The eyes of the prosperous may “stand out with fatness."
more than heart could wish ” (Ps. Ixxiii. 7); but if that is the best that can be said of them, the ancient retribution is prophetic as well as historical, and they are smitten by the sentence once declared, “God gave them their request, but sent leanness into their souls” (Ps. cvi. 15). It is the part of wisdom to avoid that sentence, by choosing some purpose in life which will harmonize the two, and give us a sound mind in a sound body. We are not left without instruction what that purpose ought to be, for it is written, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these (worldly) things shall be added unto you” (Matt. vi. 33); and again, “The kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. xiv. 17).
It is unnecessary to inquire whether “righteousness” is the prime pursuit of “the masses” of any class of society, and since "peace and joy in the Holy Ghost ” are only consequences of righteousness, we ought not to be surprised that there is so little peace and joy on earth, and that men “rise up early and sit up late, and eat the bread of sorrows” (Ps. cxxvii. 2), and so go on until death.
It would seem à priori to be the most natural thing in the world to inquire, on the very budding of reason, “what was I made for? what is the purpose of my existence, and what ought to be the purpose of my actual life?” But few make such inquiries until that" more convenient season " which seldom comes except when they are the most inconvenient questions possible, and of those who ask such questions sooner it is sad to observe how many neglect the definition of John (1 John iii. 7): “He that doeth righteousness is righteous," and seek after some unreal or fantastic righteousness, which is not the practice of Christian virtues. In truth the word virtue has almost ceased to be Christian, and this may be one reason why some fall short of that perfection of character which might increase peace and diminish care. They don't know what to aim at. In fact, if not in words, they say,
" What is the use of cultivating virtues painfully hard to attain if they contribute nothing to salvation ?” And there is no one thing which they are told so frequently as the absolute uselessness of those virtues for that end. Multitudes therefore of well-meaning people, who would willingly learn the great mystery of systematic well-doing, are never taught that heavenly art, but live on from sermon to sermon in a haze of piety in which no spiritual object is clearly seen ; while others, happily not
few, of bolder intellect“ read between the lines” of their formularies, and "snatch” from the Scriptures themselves "a grace beyond the
reach of (dogmatic) art.” There is reality in their constant prayer : “ Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven," and they are themselves living examples of the transforming activity they pray for ;and yet they are not counted among successful men, because of the saintly virtues of their Christian life. If they have money also well; but if not they are failures; for to “succeed,” is to get wealth, station or power, and for the most part wealth stands first. Never was money so universally and so absorbingly the object of pursuit, and, with all our boasted education, never were pure intellectual pursuits less valued for their own sake in proportion to the numbers who can read. Mr. Gladstone, alluding to this characteristic of the times, said, in a public address at Liverpool not long since, that there has been more wealth accumulated in this country in the nineteenth century than in all the ages since the landing of Julius Cæsar. The absolute and literal truth of this may be doubted, though as to floating wealth it may be literally true ; but the land itself is the mother of all wealth, and the value of the soil of the three kingdoms, and of all the buildings upon it in the year 1800 was immeasurably greater than in the year 60 B.C. ; while our mineral wealth has been fearfully diminished during the present century by huge extravagance and heedless exportation. Still, there can be no doubt that the general increase of wealth is very great. Simplicity is thought to be meanness now, and every one is straining to outdo his neighbour. This is the reigning vice of those who are not merely sensual, and it is harder to cure than the other. To be worth “a plum” 2 was once a great ambition, but, in the next ten years, at the rate we are now going on the millions will exceed the plums of 1800-1810. The rate of increase is positively alarming. Why then all this care? Why do not spiritual blessings shower on us with equal richness, and bring peace from heaven to sanctify plenty on earth? Clearly because the Divine order is reversed, and material things are sought first. Dives was a successful man. Dives “died rich ;' worth a plum, or a million perhaps, and his title-deeds,-registered in heaven,-his "works did follow him.” They were acknowledged at once, and secured him an everlasting inheritance; but it was not in Abraham's bosom.
On the other hand, how painful it is to see the failures of the worthy among this greedy contention. Many years ago I knew a consummate man of business who, by great intelligence and steady industry, had risen from the condition of a servant to that of a partner in the concern 1 December 28, 1872.