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Brief Sermons By Doctor Converse

[May 25, 1913.]

"Every man has his proper gift from God, one after this manner, another after that." I Corinthians vii:7.

Every man has his proper gift from God, one after this manner, another after that. It is a commonplace of science to-day that there are no repetitions in physical nature. Not only is one star different from another in glory, but there are no two flakes of snow alike, no two leaves upon the tree, no two blades of grass in the field, no two grains of sand upon the seashore, are repetitions one of the other. The Divine idea of creation seems to be to have the most infinite variety in individuals. Now it is so in the moral sphere. No two persons are really alike. The fundamental parts of our nature are perhaps the same, but in combination of quality, in quality and degree of aptitude, in fineness and harmony of the moral nature, there is no repetition. Each one of us stands as something particular and distinct, a member of the Divine purpose.

Now this is a very important truth, a truth that has a most important and practical bearing, and I ask you this morning to dwell briefly upon the bearing of this truth as respects our growth in goodness, and our work, our life work in the world.

The fact, I say, that we are not repetitions one of the other, shows that God means something by you and by me. He has something for us to do; not simply to be echoes one of the other, but something individual, the carrying out of the Divine plan and purpose, in the conduct of the moral world.

I say this is a very important truth as regards our growth in goodness. Goodness, real goodness, must be self-won. Of course you and I can obtain direction and example from the counsel of the elders, from the teachings of the wise we may gather inspiration and help; but no man, and no body of men, can relieve you and me, they cannot share in the responsibility for our moral choices and our moral actions. He who would not recognize these things can never fulfil the Divine purpose. Such a man may have many of the requisites of good conduct, but he is not making real progress in goodness; he is simply marking time, not marching.

In this matter of developing in goodness there is no possibility of division of labor. We are so prone to shirk our secular affairs. I can practically hand over my health to my doctor and say, "Look after me, keep me in good health"; I can hand over my business affairs, for their legal arrangement, to my lawyer, and say, "Please take care of these things for me"; but we cannot' hand over the matter of making ourselves good men to any one. Seeing the duty and doing it, in recognizing the Divine requirements in all duty, and trying your best to fulfil them, no man can relieve you of that responsibility. There is no division of labor here. You and I have a distinct and separate work, so far as growth in goodness is concerned, and we must carry it on to the the end, each man for himself. It is that region or territory that knows no division. Your own consciousness was given into your keeping, something you are responsible for. You are your own first problem. Find out the qualities and dispositions which need cultivation, and concerning those which need, perhaps, to be torn out by the roots. It is your work and it is my work.

Again see the importance of this great truth: the realization that we have an individual work in the world. We are, then, as I say, not repetitions one of the other. God has made you and me different from all others; and therefore there is provided for us a field and a work to do.

The fact that we have an individuality points to that great obligation, that we must find out and as truly follow up our real duty in life. The program of life reminds me of the score of a great opera or oratorio; you not only play your part, but you must first find your part and then play it; and it is hardly an exaggeration to say that one half of your duty is finding out what your duty is.

I recall an incident in the life of Carlyle, when he was introduced to a young man who said, "I have read everything you have written, and would ask one question. What ought I to do in life?" Carlyle lowered his great brows and said, "Young man, that is the very thing God Almighty sent you into the world to find out for yourself. You are the one to discover it. Discover it and then do it."

In that parable of the talents, where one man had five talents, another two, and yet another one, besides other great lessons, there is the great lesson of universal service. Have you ever reflected why is it that it was the man with only the one talent, instead of the man with five or two talents, who comes short? How much more dramatic, how impressive it might have been, if the one with the five talents had come short of his duty. I think there is a great lesson for us just there. If we are people of command and power, if we have perhaps great means or wealth, if we have position which is influential, we need to feel the pressure from without, the duties which will be required of us. But if we are a one-talent man, how easy it is for us to excuse ourselves. How easy it is for us to say, "What does it matter, whether I give or not? My powers are so limited, it will not count for so very much." How easy it is for Society to excuse him also. It looks upon him and says, "Poor man, he cannot do much, even if he tries. We had better let him alone."

My friends, there is no human being on the face of the earth into whose care God has not commended some part of the great on-going work of this world, to the bringing about of the Kingdom of God. We may not be able to do anything conspicuous, but if we honestly and earnestly endeavor to do something in this world for God, and carry it out, you are just as much an object of necessity in the eyes of the great God, the Father of us all, as though you were doing something that resounded through the world.

As God looks down on the labors, on the common life of the world, no doubt He sees what we often fail to see. He can see through the deepest desires, and of motives the greatest array.

One may be conspicuous in good works for the church and in Society, and yet deep in his heart there may be a selfish motive; simply a round in the ladder that he may rise higher and higher in power and estimation and respect.

Again, it may be the housewife, going about her lowly duties, fulfilling them, recognizing, perhaps in a dim way, that the lowliest of these duties shines somewhat with the lustre of the Divine nature. He who recognizes that God has a work for him to do, and honestly and earnestly seeks to do that work, he is fulfilling the Divine purpose; he is turning his work into a Divine fulfilment.

As we so strive to learn our duty, no matter how humble or complex their requirements, if we are working in that spirit, we shall realize in ourselves the truth of these words: "I am the Light of the world, and they that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of Life."

( Originally Published 1914 )

The Heritage of the Commonwealth:
Essays - Bacon—shakespeare

Essays - 'the Lords Of Creation'

Essays - Japan

Essays - 'koheleth,' Or 'ecclesiastes'

Sermons - Baccalaureate Sermon

Sermons

Brief Sermons By Doctor Converse

Brief Sermons By Doctor Converse

Brief Sermons By Doctor Converse

Brief Sermons By Doctor Converse Part 2

Read More Articles About: The Heritage of the Commonwealth



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