There are also Victors in the great Quests of the world,—the Argonauts, Helena in search of the Holy Rood, the Knights of the Holy Grail, the Pilgrim Fathers. There are the Victors in the intellectual wrestlings of the world,—the thinkers, poets, sages; the Victors in great sorrows, who conquer the savage pain of heart and desolation of spirit which arise from heroic human grief,—Oedipus and Antigone, Iphigenia, Perseus, Prometheus, King Lear, Samson Agonistes, Job, and David in his penitential psalm. And there are the Victors in the yet deeper strivings of the soul—in its inner battles and spiritual conquests—Milton’s Adam, Paracelsus, Dante, the soul in The Palace of Art, Abt Vogler, Isaiah, Teufelsdroeckh, Paul. To read of such men and women is to be thrilled by the Titanic possibilities of the soul of man!
The world has come into other and greater battle-days. This is an era of great spiritual conflicts, and of great triumphs. To-day faith calls the soul of man to arms. It is a clarion to awake, to put on strength, and to go forth to Holy War. If there were no fighting work in the Christian life, much of the intense energy and interest of the race would be unaroused. There are apathetic natures who do not want to undertake the difficult,—sluggish souls who would rather not stir from their present position. And there are cowards who run to cover. But there is in all strong natures the primitive combative instinct,—the let-us-see-which-is-the-stronger, which delights in contests, which is undismayed by opposition, and which grows firmer through the warfare of the soul.
It is this phase of the Christian life which is most needed to-day,—the warrior-spirit, the all-conquering soul. In entering the Christian life, one must put out of his heart the expectation that it is to be an easy life, or one removed from toil and danger. It is preeminently the adventurous life of the world,—that in which the most happens, as well as that in which the spiritual possibilities are the greatest. It is a life full of splendor, of excitement, of trial, of tests of courage and endurance, and is meant to appeal to those who are the very bravest and the best.
There are two forms of conquest to which the soul of man is called—the inner and the outer. The inner is the conquest of the evil within his own nature; the outer is the struggle against the evil forces of the world—the constructive task of building up, under warring conditions, the spiritual kingdom of God.
The real world is far more subtle than we as yet understand. When we dive down into the deep, sky and air and houses disappear. We enter a new world—the under-world of water, and things that glide and swim; of sea-grasses and currents; of flowing waves that lap about the body with a cool chill; of palpitating color, that, at great depths, becomes a sort of darkness; of sea-beds of shell and sand, and bits of scattered wreckage; of ooze and tangled sea-plants, dusky shapes, and fan-like fins.