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Lastly, it appears to be tacitly recognized by all, that the absolute and
final court of appeal is not subjective but objective. It is therefore not
upon our instinctive convictions or fancies that we should lay most trust,
but we should observe the convictions and fancies of others as well as our
own, and assign no less trustworthiness to them. Especially should we test
the truth of all convictions whenever it is possible to do so, by appeal to
such facts as may admit of repetition, for the purpose of verification either
by ourselves or by others; experience showing that, in the long run, the
supremacy of such facts becomes universally acknowledged. Above all
things, we must be content to suspend our belief and maintain the freedom
of our mental attitude, wherever there is strong reason for doubt. When
there is stormy weather and no secure harbour, the sailors put out to sea; it
is not anchorage they then want, but sea-room.
There is nothing in any hesitation that may be felt as to the possibility
of receiving help and inspiration from an unseen world, to discredit the
practice that is dearly prized by most of us, of withdrawing from the
crowd and entering into quiet communion with our hearts, until the
agitations of the moment have calmed down, and the distorting mirage of
a worldly atmosphere has subsided and the greater objects and more
enduring affections of our life have reappeared in their due proportions.
We may then take comfort and find support in the sense of our forming
part of whatever has existed or will exist, and this need be the motive of
no idle reverie but of an active conviction that we possess an influence
which may be small but cannot be inappreciable, in defining the as yet
undetermined possibilities of an endless future. It may inspire a vigorous
resolve to use all the intelligence and perseverance we can command to
fulfil our part as members of one great family that strives as a whole
towards a fuller and a higher life.
Any attempt to appraise the relative effects of Nature and Nurture may
be objected to. It may be said that it is an imperfect and fallacious
proceeding to treat the actions of Man as if they were the results of no
other influences than may be comprehended under those heads, and that
the possibility of theocratic interference must not be overlooked, whether
it take place in response to prayer or independently of it. Such an
objection may be perfectly valid when the influences at work in any
individual case have to be considered, but it happily does not apply to Previous page Top Next page