Strength of body then grows and increases in proportion to our use of it.
So, too, does strength of mind. Here is a boy, born with good abilities and with an intelligent mind. Take that child, and shut him off from every possibility of using his mind; never teach him anything, never allow him to look at a book or a picture, keep him shut off from everything that might tend to open his mind, tell him nothing, bring him up as a mere animal, and soon he will lose all his powers of mind, and become an imbecile. But, on the other hand, teach him, train him, educate him, let his mind have full scope and exercise, and his mental powers will grow and increase a hundred-fold, for strength of mind, like strength of body, grows with the using.
Just so is it with strength of soul. Every temptation you overcome makes you stronger, every lust you subdue, every battle of soul you fight, every inclination to evil you resist, makes you stronger.
‘From strength to strength’ is the motto of the Christian.
So let us press forward.
’Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man’ (or as R.V. has it, a full-grown man) ‘unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.’
Now we are but children in spiritual strength, then we shall be giants in power, full-grown men, with full powers and energy and strength, ready to work for the Master through eternity.
The Eighty-four Seals.
Merrily the Christmas bells were chiming in the old city of York, on Christmas morning in the year 1890, speaking gaily and joyfully of the Christmas feast, when suddenly there came a change. The merry peal ceased, and was followed by the quiet sorrowful sound which always speaks of mourning and death, a muffled peal. News had reached the ringers that the Archbishop of York, who had been known and respected in the city for more than twenty-eight years, had gone home to God.
And as we ate our Christmas dinner that day, as we gathered round the table to eat the fat and drink the sweet, the solemn voice of Old Peter, the great minster bell, was heard tolling for the departed soul.
Truly in the midst of life we are in death, in the midst of joy there comes sorrow, in the midst of festivity we are plunged into mourning.
’Shadow and shine is
life, little Annie,
Flower and thorn.’
So the poet makes the old grandmother sum up her life’s story.
And it is just the same in our religious life. One day the joy of the Lord makes us strong, the next the sense of sin weighs us to the ground; one moment we are ready to overflow with thanksgiving, the next we are down in the dust mourning and weeping.
Just such a change as this, a change from the gay to the solemn, from joy to mourning, from feasting to fasting, comes before us in the Book of Nehemiah.