So use your eyes and your intellect, your senses and your brains, and learn what God is trying to teach you continually by them. I do not mean that you must stop there, and learn nothing more. Anything but that. There are things which neither your senses nor your brains can tell you; and they are not only more glorious, but actually more true and more real than any things which you can see or touch. But you must begin at the beginning in order to end at the end, and sow the seed if you wish to gather the fruit. God has ordained that you, and every child which comes into the world, should begin by learning something of the world about him by his senses and his brain; and the better you learn what they can teach you, the more fit you will be to learn what they cannot teach you. The more you try now to understand things, the more you will be able hereafter to understand men, and That which is above men. You began to find out that truly Divine mystery, that you had a mother on earth, simply by lying soft and warm upon her bosom; and so (as Our Lord told the Jews of old) it is by watching the common natural things around you, and considering the lilies of the field, how they grow, that you will begin at least to learn that far Diviner mystery, that you have a Father in Heaven. And so you will be delivered (if you will) out of the tyranny of darkness, and distrust, and fear, into God’s free kingdom of light, and faith, and love; and will be safe from the venom of that tree which is more deadly than the fabled upas of the East. Who planted that tree I know not, it was planted so long ago: but surely it is none of God’s planting, neither of the Son of God: yet it grows in all lands and in all climes, and sends its hidden suckers far and wide, even (unless we be watchful) into your hearts and mine. And its name is the Tree of Unreason, whose roots are conceit and ignorance, and its juices folly and death. It drops its venom into the finest brains; and makes them call sense, nonsense; and nonsense, sense; fact, fiction; and fiction, fact. It drops its venom into the tenderest hearts, alas! and makes them call wrong, right; and right, wrong; love, cruelty; and cruelty, love. Some say that the axe is laid to the root of it just now, and that it is already tottering to its fall: while others say that it is growing stronger than ever, and ready to spread its upas-shade over the whole earth. For my part, I know not, save that all shall be as God wills. The tree has been cut down already again and again; and yet has always thrown out fresh shoots and dropped fresh poison from its boughs. But this at least I know: that any little child, who will use the faculties God has given him, may find an antidote to all its poison in the meanest herb beneath his feet.
There, you do not understand me, my boys; and the best prayer I can offer for you is, perhaps, that you should never need to understand me: but if that sore need should come, and that poison should begin to spread its mist over your brains and hearts, then you will be proof against it; just in proportion as you have used the eyes and the common sense which God has given you, and have considered the lilies of the field, how they grow.