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There are just such people nowadays. They do not like Orthodoxy because it is too severe in its demands; but still they believe in it. They like liberal Christianity, but they do not believe in it. They believe in terror and punishment as the only motives which can influence men; but they do not like them. They like the Sermon on the Mount, and the Good Samaritan, and the Prodigal Son, but do not believe in them. They think something stronger necessary.

The difficulty is in themselves. There is no unity within, so nothing suits them. If they would earnestly follow what they believe, obey the law, be good Orthodox men, or good Liberals, — by either path they would reach the full light of the Gospel and be something better by and by.

When a man's conscience is pulling him one way and his heart is pulling him another way, nothing pleases him. If you ask him to do his duty, and tell him what he ought to be, his conscience assents, but he does not like it. If, on the other hand, you make excuses for him, and tell him he is all right, then his feelings are soothed, but his conscience remonstrates, because he knows what you say is untrue. Wilfulness is thus always ill at ease, and has no inward unity so long as any conscience is left. Men at discord in themselves can have no lasting unity with each other. They may be united for a time by common interests, but there is continual danger of a rupture.

The union of good men is internal, though there may be outward differences. The union of wilful men may be external, but there are always inward differences. The children of folly may unite for a common purpose, may be allied together as Herod and Pilate were allied against Christ. Pirates may join for plunder; the children of this world, for power, pleasure, and earthly gain. But there is no inward union, and as soon as the outward advantage of alliance ceases, the partnership is dissolved. But good men, though separated outwardly, are inwardly at one. They belong to one invisible and indivisible church. By and by they will come together outwardly, and see eye to eye. The inevitable logic of faith and reason will at last unite them, and then wisdom shall be justified of all her children. John the Baptist will understand Christ; Barnabas will comprehend Paul; Fénelon and Martin Luther, Athanasius and Arius, Dr. Channing and Dr. Beecher, will recognize each other's worth, and bless God together for what each has accomplished for the kingdom of heaven.

So shall wisdom be at last justified of all her children. So shall all good men, sincerely desiring to do right, be found at last to be walking together on the same road toward the best things. He who is faithful in the least will discover that he belongs to that family of which Christ is the head, and he will have for his brothers and sisters the great and the good of all climes and of every age. He will be a member of the society of great intellects, the cherubim with many eyes, and great lovers, the seraphim hiding themselves with their wings from the intense glory of God's throne. Wisdom is not sectarian nor bigoted; she has a large church, and many children, and is justified of them all.

XXVII.

LOST OPPORTUNITIES.

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