Beauty Of Life
( Originally Published 1896 )
The most beautiful life is the one most busy and completely filled up with labors and usefulness. Christ's earthly life was the most beautiful of all, because He himself was always busy, never losing a moment that could be improved in benefiting others. That religion which only breaks out in spots and spasms of service is neither beautiful nor desirable. There is a proper and divinely ordered place in the world for every one - except the idler. Every willing hand and heart can find their work, and God employs a great variety of talents and attainments in his vineyard, but He has no use for the idler, no place for those who are only half awake. Every one should be making some advancement in grace and holiness, the blood should be getting warmer, the brain quicker, the heart softer. While the heart is growing tender and softer, let not the head get softer nor the neck stiffer. Swelling of the head or of any part of the body is a symptom of disease, growing is a sign of health. He who has the "big head" can fit it with a very small hat. A healthy body has a good appetite, so a sonl that is doing well, is not puffed up, but ever seeking the truth, anxious to increase in knowledge and usefulness. We love to see a young person who has a voracious appetite for study, an in-satiable longing for wisdom, for self-improvement, and for a preparation to be of some good service to the world.
A beautiful character must be alive and active, progressive and practical, in contact with society, the rough side as well as the smooth. Even trees, it would seem, must have a kind of exercise to do well - tossings and buffetings by the winds and storms, to make them take a deeper root. So Christian characters need moral emergencies, stern trials and temptations to make them sturdy and thoroughly furnished with 'both strength and beauty. A tree that is no longer growing is dead and destitute of comeliness. A tree cannot be beautiful unless it is thrifty. There is nothing pleasing about a dying tree with its yellow, withering leaves and sapless branches. Some characters, like certain trees, are either stunted or overgrown, with their order and harmony all deranged. There may be the appearance of vigor and exuberance in one branch, but there is feebleness and sterility in another. There are too many thin and scrawny, half-starved characters. Leanness and lack of beauty are sure to follow a stinting of the mental and spiritual nature. A man who starves his spiritual nature shuts out God and heaven from his soul, lives a pigmy and dies a pauper for all eternity. " There is that withholdeth more than is meet, and it tendeth to poverty."
There are too many religious dwarfs who have ceased growing in grace and in knowledge of the truth. We have now-a-days a surplus of statuary Christians who. love to stand still and see others work. The marble statues in the gallery are beautiful to look upon, but we prefer to see beauty in action, a warm, earnest, living moving beauty with heart in it. Motionless beauties are too common. The sun setting is beautiful,and so is the sun rising, if you only knew it. Awake, thou that sleepest. "Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." Go forth into the fresh air and under the broad, blue canopy and bask freely in the beautifying sunshine of God's countenance. What beauty wants is room and freedom to develop its proportions, just as an elm or an oak or a maple taken out of the crowded forest, will grow in the open field full, rounded out and beautifully symmetrical.
As, therefore, the body may be made to grow healthy and strong and beautiful by proper attention to exercise, diet, and the laws of sanitation, yea, and one may grow old gracefully, notwithstanding the coming on of wrinkles and gray hairs and tottering limbs, so the immortal soul - that better part of man, may grow continually in every grace and virtue, may look out through these darkening windows as beautiful as the dew-drops of a summer's morning or the tears that glisten in affection's eye, by growing amiable, and cultivating kindness, sympathy, forbearance, and that love that makes us akin to God and the angels.