“Be my friend while I live. Oh, give me some of your calm contentment, some of your strength!”
“I am your friend, Cornelia; I will always be such; but every soul must be sufficient for itself. Do not look to me; lean upon your own nature; it will suffice for all its needs.”
With the young teacher, pity was almost synonymous with contempt; and, as she looked at the joyless face of her companion, she could not avoid thinking her miserably weak.
Christmas Day was sunny and beautiful. The bending sky was as deeply blue as that which hung over Bethlehem eighteen hundred years before; God’s coloring had not faded. Happy children prattled as joyously as did the little Jew boys who clustered curiously about the manger to gaze upon the holy babe, the sleeping Jesus. Human nature had not altered one whit beneath the iron wheel of Time. Is there a man so sunk in infamy or steeped in misanthropy that he has not, at some period of his life, exclaimed, in view of earth’s fadeless beauty:
“’This world is very lovely.
O my God!
I thank Thee that I live.’”
Alas for the besotted soul who cannot bend the knee of humble adoration before nature’s altar, where sacrifices are offered to the Jehovah, pavilioned in invisibility. There is an ardent love of nature as far removed from gross materialism or subtle pantheism on the one hand as from stupid inappreciation on the other. There is such a thing as looking “through nature up to nature’s God,” notwithstanding the frightened denials of those who, shocked at the growing materialism of the age, would fain persuade this generation to walk blindfold through the superb temple a loving God has placed us in. While every sane and earnest mind must turn, disgusted and humiliated, from the senseless rant which resolves all divinity into materialistic elements, it may safely be proclaimed that genuine aesthetics is a mighty channel through which the love and adoration of Almighty God enters the human soul. It were an insult to the Creator to reject the influence which even the physical world exerts on contemplative natures. From bald, hoary mountains, and somber, solemn forests; from thundering waves and wayside violets; from gorgeous sunset clouds, from quiet stars and whispering winds, come unmistakable voices, hymning of the Eternal God—the God of Moses, of Isaac, and of Jacob. Extremes meet in every age, and in every department. Because one false philosophy would deify the universe, startled opponents tell us to close our ears to these musical utterances and shut our eyes to glorious nature, God’s handiwork. Oh! why has humanity so fierce a hatred of medium paths?