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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 194 pages of information about A Backward Glance at Eighty.

In considering ends of life we cannot ignore those who consider happiness as adequate.  Perhaps there are few who formulate this, but there are many who seem to give it practical assent.  They apparently conform their lives to this butterfly estimate, and, in the absence of any other purpose, rest satisfied.  Happiness is indeed a desirable condition, and in the highest sense, where it borders on blessedness, may be fairly termed “the end and aim of being.”  But on the lower stretches of the senses, where it becomes mere enjoyment or pleasure, largely concerned with amusement and self-indulgence of various sorts, it becomes parasitic, robbing life of its strength and flavor and preventing its development and full growth.  It is insidious in its deterioration and omnivorous in its appetite.  It tends to habits that undermine and to the appropriation of a preponderating share of the valueless things of life.  The danger is in the unrestrained appetite, in intemperance that becomes habit.  Pleasure is exhausting of both purse and mind.  We naturally crave pleasant experiences, and we need a certain amount of relaxation.  The danger is in overindulgence and indigestion resulting in spiritual invalidism.  Let us take life sanely, accepting pleasures gratefully but moderately.

But what is best in life?  Why, life itself.  Life is opportunity.  Here it is, around us, offered to us.  We are free to take what we can or what we like.  We have the great privilege of choice, and life’s ministry to us depends on what we take and what we leave.

We are providentially assigned our place, whatever it is, but in no fixed sense of its being final and unalterable.  The only obligation implied is that of acceptance until it can be bettered.

Our moral responsibility is limited to our opportunity, and the vital question is the use we make of it.  The great fact of life is that we are spiritual beings.  Religion has to do with soul existence and is the field of its development.  It is concerned primarily with being and secondly with doing.  It is righteousness inspired by love.  It is recognition of our responsibilities to do God’s will.

Hence the best life is that which accepts life as opportunity, and faithfully, happily seeks to make the most of it.  It seeks to follow the right, and to do the best it can, in any circumstances.  It accepts all that life offers, enjoying in moderation its varied gifts, but in restraint of self-indulgence, and with kindly consideration of others.  It subordinates its impulses to the apprehended will of God, bears trials with fortitude, and trusts eternal good.

OVERCOMING OBSTACLES

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