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shall give thee the desires of thine heart." It is not for man to choose happiness as the end of lifebut God to delight in God, and then none of his desires shall fail. As they are all laid up in God, so he has them all fulfilled. If it be good for him to be happy, he shall have happiness; if not, it is happiness to him to lack what God in love withholds.
But God would have all men happy. As He has no pleasure in the death of a sinner, so has He none in his sadness. He would have you to be happy, but not in your way. The time and the manner He reserves in His own power. Happiness is not a thing inherited by the rich alone-the poorest may better have it; nor is it only for them that have many and dear friends about them-the loneliest may have it in a deeper though a severer measure; for happiness is an inward boon: it is shed abroad secretly in the heart by the love of Christ. They that have chosen Him above all others, have chosen well. He is enough, though they hardly feel it; though their affections crave about, like a flickering flame, for nearer and palpable things. Therefore let us choose boldly. Some choice you must have. Even the most wavering have a preference, which to them is equal to a choice. A thousand other forms beckon to us with promises
1 Psalm xxxvii. 4.
of rest; but only He can give it. Choose rather to sit at His feet than to be at ease, or rich, or high, or prosperous, or full of bright earthly hopes. Yea, choose rather to sit in loneliness before Him, than to dwell in the happiest throng, where He holds the second place. Life is very short; and the world to come already dawns upon us. Brethren, choose boldly a life devoted to Christ. Be His only. Hear the Church saying, My Beloved is mine, and I am His." The world holds you but by a thread; you may snap it in twain, and in the settled though hidden purpose of your soul take on you His yoke for ever.
And having chosen boldly, make good your choice with perseverance. Many a time your heart will hanker for what it once promised itself to posMany a time you will almost fear to walk alone in the way "which is desert." It will seem
strange, singular, and solitary. It may be you will
have seasons of a faint will-at times all but consent to revoke your choice, and unbind your resolution. But this is not your trial only. It is common to all who devote themselves greatly. Only be stedfast, and you shall breathe more freely, and poise yourselves more steadily on the heaving flood of this unstable world. The more devoted you are to Him, the more absolutely free shall you be from all perturbations-the safer, the stronger,
the happier. True, a devoted life is a severe one. But there is a severity in the perfection of bliss. It is severe because perfect, as God is awful in His perfection. Fear not to give up what the world counts dearest, that you may wear His yoke in secret. Live in lowly well-doing; in works of alms and prayer, of charity and spiritual mercy. Better to be so under a vow to Him, than to be free to choose this world's alluring hopes. Brethren, are you happy now? If not, why not? Why, but because you are hankering after something on a lower level of devotion. Something below Christ You are restless because you have not reached it; or now that you have it in your hands, you find it cannot satisfy your heart.
your aim in life.
"Martha, Martha, thou art careful and cumbered about many things. But one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from her."1
"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was."
ST. JAMES is here warning the great body of the Church against a very common and subtle temptation; that is, the substituting of Christian knowledge for Christian obedience.
The Gospel had in it such an overwhelming power of speculative and moral truth, as to subdue a mixed multitude of men to a sort of professed allegiance to the mysteries of God. It came into the world as a veiled light of transcendent brightness, revealing the mystery of the Godhead, and the condition of mankind; resolving the doubts of the wise, and unravelling the perplexities of the unlearned; it laid open the secrets of the unseen
world, and put a continuous meaning into the great movements of the world we see; it made man to know and to feel that he is a fallen and sinful being, and that God, of His great love, has pledged to him the forgiveness of his sins. And thus, as it declared the character of God, and the standing of man before Him, and the mysteries of life and death, and hell and heaven, it silenced the disputations of contending schools, and won men to itself by the yearnings of their hearts, and the convictions of their understanding, and the judgments of conscience, and a miraculous consent of will; it held up each man to himself, as in a mirror of supernatural truth, revealing depths of evil which men knew not before: and thus there was gathered round the Gospel a mixed and numberless multitude of all kinds and character of life, from the holiest to the least purified, from the man who is sanctified beyond the measure of his knowledge, to the man whose knowledge was as full as his life was unholy.
Now this is the sin and the danger against which St. James warns them; against the sin, that is, of having knowledge without obedience, and the danger of hearing without doing the word of God. He tells them that all such knowledge is in vain, nay worse than in vain. And this is what we will more fully consider.
1. In the first place, then, remember that this