On The Art of Reading eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 241 pages of information about On The Art of Reading.

  That all spirit is mutually attractive, as all matter is
  mutually attractive, is an ultimate fact....  Spirit to spirit—­
  as in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.

Yes and, all spirit being mutually attractive, far more than this!  I preach to you that, through help of eyes that are dim, of ears that are dull, by instinct of something yet undefined—­call it soul—­it wants no less a name—­Man has a native impulse and attraction and yearning to merge himself in that harmony and be one with it:  a spirit of adoption (as St Paul says) whereby we cry Abba, Father!

And because ye are Sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father.

That is to say, we know we have something within us correspondent to the harmony, and (I make bold to say) unless we have deadened it with low desires, worthy to join in it.  Even in his common daily life Man is for ever seeking after harmony, in avoidance of chaos:  he cultivates habits by the clock, he forms committees, governments, hierarchies, laws, constitutions, by which (as he hopes) a system of society will work in tune.  But these are childish imitations, underplay on the great motive: 

     The Kingdom of God is within you.

Quid aliud est anima quam Deus in corpore humano hospitans?


Gentlemen, you may be thinking that I have brought you a long way round, that the hour is wearing late, and that we are yet far from the prey we first hunted on the line of common-sense.  But be patient for a minute or two, for almost we have our hand on the animal.

If the Kingdom of God, or anything correspondent to it, be within us, even in such specks of dust as we separately are, why that, and that only, can be the light by which you or I may hope to read the Universal:  that, and that only, deserves the name of ‘What Is.’  Nay, I can convince you in a moment.  Let me recall a passage of Emerson quoted by me on the morning I first had the honour to address an audience in Cambridge: 

It is remarkable (says he) that involuntarily we always read as superior beings.  Universal history, the poets, the romancers, do not in their stateliest pictures ... anywhere make us feel that we intrude, that this is for better men; but rather is it true that in their grandest strokes we feel most at home.  All that Shakespeare says of the king, yonder slip of a boy that reads in the corner feels to be true of himself.

It is remarkable, as Emerson says; and yet, as we now see, quite simple.  A learned man may patronise a less learned one:  but the Kingdom of God cannot patronise the Kingdom of God, the larger the smaller.  There are large and small.  Between these two mysteries of a harmonious universe and the inward soul are granted to live among us certain men whose minds and souls throw out filaments more delicate

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On The Art of Reading from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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