Outspoken Essays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 361 pages of information about Outspoken Essays.
long; while others, even when fortune smiles upon them, ’have a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better.’  But the longing for survival, and the anxious search for evidence which may satisfy it, have undoubtedly the effect of binding us to earth and earthly conditions; they come between us and faith in true immortality.  They cannot restore to us what death takes away.  They cannot lay the spectre which made Claudio a craven.

    ’Ay, but to die and go we know not where;
     To lie in cold obstruction and to rot;
     This sensible warm motion to become
     A kneaded clod; and the delighted spirit
     To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
     In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice;
     To be imprisoned in the viewless winds,
     And blown with restless violence round about
     The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
     Of those that lawless and uncertain thoughts
     Imagine howling! ’tis too horrible! 
     The weariest and most loathed earthly life
     That age, ache, penury, and imprisonment
     Can lay on nature, is a paradise
     To what we fear of death.’

We know now, if we did not know it three years ago, that the average man can face death, and does face it in the majority of cases, with a serenity which would be incomprehensible if he did not know in his heart of hearts that it does not matter much.  He may have no articulated faith in immortality, but, like Spinoza, he has ’felt and experienced that he is eternal.’  Perhaps he only says to himself, ’Who dies if England lives?’ But the England that lives is his own larger self, the life that is more his own life than the beating of his heart, which a bullet may still for ever.  And if the exaltation of noble patriotism can ‘abolish death, and bring life and immortality to light’ for almost any unthinking lad from our factories and hedgerows, should not religion be able to do as much for us all?  And may it not be that some touch of heroic self-abnegation is necessary before we can have a soul which death cannot touch?  When Christ said that those who are willing to lose their souls shall save them, is not this what He meant?  We must accustom ourselves to breathe the air of the eternal values, if we desire to live for ever.  And a strong faith is not curious about details.  ’Beloved, now are we sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be.  But we know that when He is made manifest we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.’


     [93] Quoted by Professor Pringle-Pattison from an article by
     me in the Times Literary Supplement.

     [94] Study of Religion, vol. i. 12.

     [95] Ennead, v. 8, 4.

     [96] From John Smith, the Cambridge Platonist.


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Outspoken Essays from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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