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About 700 B. C. the Lord spoke to Isaiah the prophet in a vision, and said, "I will punish the world for their evil,...I will make a man more precious than fine gold" (Isa. 13:11, 12). It's perfectly natural and easy to live, but it's more difficult to live well. The secret of a happy and useful life is wrapped up in the human will. Individual life that's beautiful in reputation and character, is beaten out like gold, or brass. There's a law in the universe, in the visible and material and the moral and spiritual, whether mind or matter, that all things useful must show the marks of labor. By no bribery or stratagem can we escape the universal law of labor. The unchiseled stone is left behind, and the uncultivated fruit is left untasted.

"It matters not how wide the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll---
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul."

Our human self, at the outset, is simply a plain piece of rock, without figure or flower, and in our comely forms we await the engraver's touch. We're ever acting; but to be usefully employed every act should have the thought of usefulness, or after the years shall have passed our life will end as meaningless as it began. It's God's design and our allotted work to add import to our existence by making it deeply with labor. The marks of the hammer must show. Too many in life have no purpose in particular, but are like fishes, birds, and animals in our zoological gardens, asleep and stupid until the keeper's footsteps are heard, and then they wait impatiently for food, aroused from a sensation that's without. Man is different from a beast; for he possesses within himself capabilities of happiness and usefulness not dependent entirely upon the outside. Man may be attracted and amused by the pageant of this vain and deceitful world; but he's not satisfied or complete until he's in touch with two worlds, the physical and the spiritual.

The Eden Within...

One may be surprised when the statement is made that there are capabilities of universal joy and peace stored away in every human heart. There comes before me the life of a certain lady who by awful calamity lost her husband, family and home. The shock was so great it almost reduced her to helplessness; yet a joy came streaming out of her soul in the face of calamity and poverty---a joy not shining like the reflected light of the moon, but like the sun in its own outpourings.

There's an undeveloped Eden in the soul of every living man and woman. The inner life must be explored and developed before we can find the real riches that are without. Man's so constituted that he may be happy wearing wooden shoes in the outskirts of civilization, or wearing purple robes upon a throne. A person may be almost entirely cut off from the outside world by being deaf, dumb, and blind, and even paralyzed, and yet be able to be happy and contented, and to build a character that will shine on when the most distant star shall have become a burnt-out ember. Until one has discovered himself, and the real objectives in life---the true worth and power of his inner self---he's loosing more than half of his personal estate. Within every human mind and soul there awaits a wealth of pure gold ready for the beating of the hammer, and by a touch of the divine hand there may spring forth a Luther, Wesley, or Warner.

History records the story of an astronomer who was always smiling and happy. Some friends, in apologizing for their own lack, rather chided the godly man. They said they were limited in learning and in implements, and suggested that if they possessed his advantages, they, too, should be happy. They were surprized when he informed them that the secret of his happiness came from another source. He said he received a truer and deeper meaning of the value of time and life within his closet upon his kness than he did with his telescope sweeping the skies.

From these truths we conclude that the keenest pleasures the heart can know and the greatest services we can give come by the unfolding of our own inner self as inspired by the Spirit of God. The pursuits of this vain world won't satisfy. They only entice us away from the pure gold within to the coarser gold that's without, and possibly beyond our reach.

The Triumph of Character...

God not only made the man, but he'll stand by him as long as man is right. Right will prevail. The universal law that merit will stand and demerit will fail, and that love will outlive hate, keeps the world of mankind from suicide. No one expects to win who's deceitful. He can't compel his inner self to so believe. Only the utterly depraved can really believe that truth will ever be dethroned. We're in a world where the question of final success is always a question of true merit. Character and true worth are slow in their development, and in seeking a shorter route many are tempted, yea, resort to artifice, pretense, and imitation. Fraud may yeild quicker results than honest endeavor, but the loss far exceeds the gain in the end.

"The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not obtained by sudden flight,
But they while their companions slept
Were toiling upward through the night."

It pays to be true and honest in every act, for when the balance is struck at the end of the day, or of life, true merit will win against that competitor of pretense and sham. To attempt to gain in a single day what 's supposed to take months to obtain is an insult against the slower processes of nature, and penalties are following close behind. Character is formed within the inner self, and woven upon that noiseless, unseen loom of our choices. Like as a photographer develops the negative in a dark room, so character is formed by our own decisions within the darkness of our own self-life.

External vs. Internal Beauty...

Even our sisters join in insurrection against the laws of the universe when they believe and act as though the years of their own personal worth were those years covered by their personal beauty. Personal beauty is only one of the charms the Lord has seen fit to bestow upon the daughters of earth; for there are many admirable qualities in her that may never be noticed until after the wild rose bloom has left her cheeks forever. We should remember that merit and true worth never desert the soul, and thus the loss of personal beauty will be made up in loveliness of some other form. God made no mistakes in the departments of human life. "Pretty is as pretty does" is a maxim that's true in childhood, middle life, and in old age. When physical beauty is made the objective, it pays the penalty of a shorter life. Merit stands ready to beautify its possessor at every age and in every department of human endeavor. Merit stands ready to open every legitimate door in life, and by it alone can the door be kept open indefinitely. Honesty is more than a single honest act; it's a lifetime of honest acts. There's no question outside of salvation that'll ever surpass that of true worth. It's not a matter of quality of years that merit desires, but the quality of life's acts. Sometimes when we see so much fraud, graft, the getting of things together in haste, diplomas won in a year, exalted position given to the unfitted, men leaping suddenly into prominence by virtue of a pull, we wonder if that law of growth and the functioning of merit have been revoked and annulled. But we need wait only a short season, for all such subterfuges will come to naught. Earthly minds may trifle with beauty, riches, fame, and power; but merit comprehends true worth, and it gathers up from time to time only that excellence which no years or ages can efface.

At the Crossroads...

Man is indeed a strange combination, a wonderful assemblage of peculiar attributes---taste, reason, love, faith, hope, moral sense, power of choice, etc. A creature like man, having so many passions, interests, fears, and hopes, possessing enormous powers, doesn't contain all the problems of his life in the question of his coming into the world; his staying here and the choices he makes contain their share of his life's problems. If man came simply from the dust and will return to dust, then he's simply a beast; but if he comes from God and will return to God, then he must choose the right at the crossroads. When a gold coin comes from the mint (I've watched the process), it's carefully weighed, and if it doesn't move the balances in the proper manner it's degraded, and is sent back to be remelted and made over again. There's only two paths across the world---a path of right, and a path of infinite wrong. Man's a compound being---in touch with two worlds. This duality declares a duality of destiny. One stream of water starts northward and empties into the North Sea, and another starts south and empties into a sea which for ages has received its floods, and yet isn't full. Standing upon the great moral divide, we can behold two great streams of human souls going in opposite directions. One moves toward the celestial skes, to a perpetual and eternal day. In the opposite direction, a stream moves onward toward the hell of a neglected life. Both the Bible and logic teach us that heaven and hell have their beginning for us here, and this beginning is formed by our choices. There's a divine something within us that warns us, and we don't travel the wrong pathway far until our feet will bleed, and become sore. We're in a world of choice. Before us are the two pathways, one leading upward and the other leading downward. We may select from the garden of earth the deadly intoxicant that dulls the mind and destroys the noblest part of our being; or from the same garden we may choose that which gives health, clearness of mind, and purity of heart, and which will make for a better life and the better eternity.

The Results of Choice...

If it were possible for me to stand upon the mountain-top on that day when the balance of life is struck, the sight I should see would beggar description. I see sweeping through the skies a long procession of whitewinged souls, and oh, how peaceful, happy, and contented! I ask, "Who are these, and whence came they?" The answer comes, "These are the faithful ones who believed and worshiped God before the flood," and they pass on. Still another long procession comes on apace. I ask, "Who are these, and whence came they?" The answer is, "These are the faithful ones who lived and worshiped God during the law period," and so with bright faces and with songs of joy they pass on to their great reward.

Another long procession now comes sweeping through the sky. Oh, how happy they appear! They're dressed in white robes and holy palms in their hands. How beautiful! how expectant! They're flying high, and I can see in the distance the great doors of that heavenly country standing ajar. I ask of the angel who stands by my side, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and whence came they?" And he answers me, "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes (Re. 7:14, 16, 17).

Reader, if you choose the right at the crossroads, you'll join this last procession of souls, those who accepted Christ in this last great day of mercy---the gospel day---and the doors of that long-sought country will swing wide open for you, and with the redeemed and bloodwashed you may enjoy the grandeur of that heavenly country forevermore. If we could only stop here and close this chapter without doing injustice to truth, we'd be so glad; but there's another scene before our eyes.

Another long procession of souls comes sweeping along, they're dejected, and are flying low. I ask: "Who are these, and whence came they?" I'm told, "These are they who chose the wrong path in the days before the flood," and on they go to impending doom. I'm amazed. Soon another longer procession comes into view and are hours in passing. How sad they look. No hope is ahead for them. They chose the valley during life and now they go down, down, down. I ask, "Who are these poor wretched souls?" "These are they who rejected God during the law period," I'm told, and they disappear below and are lost in the darkness down beside the river of eternal death. I think, My God! how can I endure the sight?

Suddenly another procession comes into view. The angel informs me that this is the closing scene---the final act in the drama of human life. As they draw nearer I'm surprised beyond expression, for I recognize among that saddened throng, familiar faces. There's a young man with whom I labored in San Francisco---lost. Another I recognize is an uncle of mine who died without Christ. My God! there's my only brother, and there---is that my own son? No! no! Thank God! Oh, how sad they look! Most of them are weeping. They just said good-by to the loved ones of earth, for they were assembled at the judgment and sentenced a few moments ago. The angel doesn't need to tell me who they were, or from whence they came, for I know too well. They're of the earth. They'd lived in the grandest age of mercy ever known to the world, and had of their own will chosen the wrong road. The day of mercy is past, and they go on out into a night that has no stars, to a country where no friend shall ever greet them, while eternal ages roll on and on. Lost! lost! LOST!

Sinner of a Christian country, it would be more tolerable for you in the judgment day had you been born in distant India, and had been fed to a crocodile in the Anges river, than for you to go out from this land of Bibles and opportunities unprepared to meet thy God. You may be at the crossroads now. If so, choose life...and begin to work for God and humanity today.

The End of Death...

On yonder hillside where I look today,
Loom high great monuments of stone;
Deep shadows lengthen, and they seem to say,
"This is the place where Death has made his home."

In awe I gaze upon these sculptured forms,
With all the pomp and splendor art can give,
And wonder if Time's hoary hand will harm,
Or will their pride through enless ages live?

Methinks of pyramids on Egypt's plain,
Where granite rocks so boldly lift their head;
Shall these crumble back to the earth again,
And lie as level as the millions dead?

O tell me! marble slabs, tell me, I pray,
Must I return to cold and lifeless dust?
Must I be wrapped in folds of putrid clay?
They answer back: "O man of earth, thou must."

When God shall speak from out the fiery clouds,
And Gabriel's trump shall shake this frail earth,
The millions wrapped today in mortal shrouds
Shall rise to shame and woe and endless mirth.

Know thou proud Death, thy reign shall have an end;
The barriers thou hast built be rent in twain.
Yea, thou shalt bow before a mightier hand,
And we, instead of thee shall ever reign.




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