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our earliest lessons. But, by our present constitution, he who has taken one step can take another, and life may become a perpetual advance from good to better.
This is the one and sufficient reward of all virtue, the one sufficient punishment of all wrongdoing, that right actions and wrong actions gradually harden into character. The reward of the good man is, that having chosen truth and pursued it, it becomes at last a part of his own nature, a happy companion of all his life. The condemnation of the bad man is, that when light has come into the world he has chosen darkness, and so the light within him becomes darkness. Do not envy the bad man's triumphs and worldly successes. Every one of them is a rivet fastening him to evil, making it more difficult for him to return to good ;, making it impossible but for the redeeming power of God, which has become incarnate in Christ, in order to seek and save the lost.
The highest graces of all — Faith, Hope, and Love - obey the same law. By trusting in God when we see him ever so faintly, we come at last to realize, as by another sense, his divine presence in all things. By praying to him when we can only say, “O God !--if there be a God - save my soul if I have a soul,” we at last learn to talk with this Heavenly Friend just as we would with an earthly friend. As, on a summer's day, when we sit among the pines, though we do not see the wind, nor know whence it cometh or whither it goeth, we yet hear its silvery voice above our heads, and feel its cool breath kissing our cheek; so, though we do not know how God answers prayer, we have the sense of strength, of content, of kindly purpose, of love, joy, and peace, making our whole life useful to others and satisfactory to ourselves. Faith in God, at first an effort, at last becomes automatic and instinctive.
Thus, too, faith in immortality solidifies into an instinct. As we live from and for infinite, divine, eternal realities, these become a part of our knowledge. Socrates did not convince himself of his immortality by his arguments; but by spending a long life in intimate converse with the highest truths and noblest ends, he at last reached the point where he could not help believing in immortality, As the pure in heart see God, so the pure in heart also see immortality. Death fades away and becomes nothing; it is unthinkable, impossible. “He who believes in me," said Jesus, “cannot die.” He who enters into his thoughts, sympathizes with his purposes, partakes of his spirit, knows that death is nothing. Thus it is that Christ abolishes death. The true resurrection is rising with Christ to a higher life; as the Apostle says, “If ye, then, be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above."
The moral of all this is evident. Every man, every woman, every child has some talent, some
power, some opportunity of getting good and doing good. Each day offers some occasion for using this talent. As we use it, it gradually increases, improves, becomes native to the character. neglect it, it dwindles, withers, and disappears. This is the stern but benign law by which we live. This makes character real and enduring; this makes progress possible; this turns men into angels and virtue into goodness. And thus, at last,
“Love is an unerring light,