The Chief End of Man Part 19
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"Saying, What is excellent, As God lives, is permanent; Hearts are dust, hearts' loves remain, Heart's love will meet thee again."
It is the same voice that speaks through all the ages. It speaks through Isaiah, "to give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." It speaks in Paul, when in one sentence he gives the relation with God and his fellows into which man may come when out of darkness is born light. "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."
Where, asks the stricken heart, shall I find the God of comfort? O heart, only God himself shall answer you! But know this, that the very end and purpose of grief is that it shall be comforted. Comfort? The word has no meaning except to those who have mourned; was never stamped with its sacred significance except by those who had been through the deep waters of grief. "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you." A man child, a woman child, He trains you to fullness of stature, to greatness of experience, to capacity for noble joy, for heart-sufficing love. To greatness and to joy he calls us, and draws us slowly by the changing years. The cross is the symbol of a passing experience. The end, the attainment, is figured to us by that face of Nature which is the face of God, with the strength of the mountains, the gladness of the sunlight, the freedom of the sky, the infinitude of the ocean.
The ripe days of early autumn open their best joys only to the sturdy walker, who turns his back on the streets to seek the country roads, and leaves the roads behind him to explore the forest nooks, the ravines, and the sheltered meadows, hidden deftly away from the incurious traveler, and keeping a wild sweetness for him who finds them out for himself. If one is in good tune, he may get the finest flavor of such a walk by taking it alone, or with only rarely perfect companionship. The ideal companion is one who can fully enjoy, who will help you to glimpses through another pair of eyes, and who will never obtrude inopportunely between yourself and nature. If a satisfactory human comrade be not at hand, one may find these qualities in no ordinary degree in--a good dog.
But then to appreciate them one must be a true dog-lover, a gift which is, alas! denied to some otherwise exemplary and worthy people.
What does the dog think of it all? He has his own keen pleasures. His nose is an organ of intelligence and enjoyment which his master does not possess. He explores woodchuck holes; he tracks real or imaginary squirrels; one barks and scolds at him from a high limb, and throws him into a delicious fever of excitement. As Fox said the greatest pleasure in life was to win at cards, and the next greatest to lose at cards, so apparently the dog finds even an unsuccessful chase to be the second best joy he knows. Look at him, tense and motionless with excitement, as he watches the noisy chatterer overhead! No doubt the squirrel will brag to all his acquaintances of how he openly defied and triumphed over his huge enemy.
A chestnut bough swings low, and with hospitable hand proffers a half-open burr, out of which shine the glossy brown nuts. Sweet is the taste of the nuts. Sweet is the crisp red apple into which we bite, and with just a hint of the flavor of stolen fruit.
What audacious pen will try to reproduce or even dryly catalogue the glories poured out for eye and ear, for heart and brain, upon a bright and cool September day? The deep-glowing sumacs, the asters purple and white mixed with flaming goldenrod, in a splendid audacity of color such as only One artist dare venture on; the occasional dash of scarlet upon a maple, a first wave of the great tide that is sweeping up to cover the whole north country; the masses of yet unbroken green left neither dimmed nor dusty by the generous, moist summer; the oaks that will long hold their green flag in unchanging tint, as if "no surrender" were written on it, and then, last of all the trees, change to a hue of matchless depth and richness, like the life-blood of a noble heart that shows its full intensity only just before death's translation falls upon it; the separate tint of each leaf and vine, "good after its kind;" the soft whiteness of the everlastings in the hill-pastures; the reaped buckwheat fields heaped with their sheaves, stubble and sheaves alike drenched in a fine wine of color; the solemn interior of the woods, with the late sunlight touching the shafts of the pines; the partridge-berry and the white mushroom growing beneath, as in a cathedral one sees bright-faced children kneeling to say their prayers at the foot of the solemn pillars; the masses of light and of shadow--one cannot say which is the tenderer--lying on the cool meadows as evening draws on; the voice of unseen waters, the voice of the wind in the pines.
And so, with song, with autumn colors, with sunset lights, the Mother calls her children home.
The Chief End of Man Part 19
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The Chief End of Man Part 19 summary
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