Self Sacrifice Is Life
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
AN apple is an arrested branch. Each apple in the orchard hangs at the end of the twig to which it is attached. A terminal bud, which otherwise might have formed woody fibre and added to the size of the tree, is, by a regular law of nature, turned aside from this course and developed into blossom and fruit instead. As a branch, it could have but a limited range of development and of growth on the tree to which it remained attached. But, giving itself to fruit, it either perpetuates itself in the several independent trees which may spring from its buried seeds, or it at once ministers to the welfare of man, and so attains the end for which it was created. In this field of nature, as in all others, we catch some foregleams of the truth which our Master taught when He said, " He that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that hateth his life shall keep it unto life eternal." Here is, at least, the prophecy of unselfishness. It may not be strictly philosophical to say that the act of reproduction in grains or mosses or trees has any moral character; but, so far as it indicates the tendency of nature's work, it certainly suggests unselfishness rather than selfishness. Down at the very bottom or nature's work this tendency appears—in the protoplasmic cell which can only be studied under a microscope. There the two great processes begin which characterize all life—nutrition and reproduction. As Professor Drummond once said : " At one moment, in pursuance of the struggle for life, it will call matter from without, and assimilate it to itself ; at another moment, in pursuance of the struggle for the life of others, it will set a portion of that matter apart, add to it, and finally give it away to form another life. Even at its dawn, life is receiver and giver; even in protoplasm is self-ism and other-ism. These tendencies are not fortuitous. They have been lived into existence. They are not grafts on the tree of life ; they are its nature, its essential life. They are not painted on the canvass ; they are woven through it."