What is environment? Is it the material horizon that bounds us? If so, where does it end? Our first environment is a crib, a room, our mother’s eyes. Sensations of hunger, heat, and motion beat upon the baby-brain; there is a vague murmur of sound in the baby-ears. Yet it is this babe who, in after days, has all the universe for his soul’s demesne! His environment stretches out to towns and rivers, shore and sea. Looking upward into space, he can view a star whose distance is a thousand times ten thousand miles. Beyond the path of his feet or of his sight, there is the path of thought, which leads him into new countries, new climes, new years! His meditations are upon ages gone; his work competes with that of the dead. In his reveries and imaginings, he can transport himself anywhither, and can commune with any friend or god. Hence to be master of one’s environment is really to have the universe within one’s grasp.
We are too much afraid of customs and traditions. We are put into our times, not that the times may mould us, but that we may mould the times! Ways? Customs? They exist to be changed! The tempora and the mores should be plastic to our touch. The times are never level with our best. Our souls are higher than the Zeitgeist. Why should we cringe before an inferior essence or command? But society seals our lips: we walk about with frozen tongues.
Each asks himself at some time: How shall I become one of the Victors of the race? Is it in me? Mankind is weighted by every previous sin. Where am I free? How am I free? Can I do as I choose? Or are there bourns of conduct beyond which I can never go? Am I foreordained to sin? Do the stars in their courses lay limitations on free will?
There are in man two forces working: a human longing after God, and, in response, God inly working in the soul. The Victor is he who, in his own life, unites these two things: a great longing after the god-like, which makes him yearn for virtue,—and the divine power within him, through which and by which he is triumphant over time and death and sin.
Whatever our trials, sorrows, or temptations, joy and courage are ever meant to be in the ascendant; life, however it may break in storms upon us, is not meant to beat down our souls. Unless we are triumphant, we are not wholly useful or well trained. Will and heart together work for victory.
As there flashes and thrills through all nature a subtle electric vibration which is the supreme form of physical energy, so there runs through the history of mankind a current of spiritual inspiration and power. To possess this magnetism of soul, this heroism of life, this flame-like flower of character, is to be Victor in the great combats of the race. It is the spirit of courage, energy, and love. Nothing is too hard for it, nothing too distasteful, nothing too insignificant. Through all the course of duty it spurs one to do one’s best. Its essence is to overcome. This is the indwelling Holy Spirit, wherein is freedom, power, and rest. To its final triumph all things are accessory. To joy, all powers converge.