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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8

Devotion is not a Mistake

Devotion is not a Mistake.

Be assured, all visible greatness of mind grows in looking at an invisible that is greater. And since it is inconceivable that what is most sublime in humanity should spring from vision of a thing that is not, that what is most real and commanding with us should come of stretching the soul into the unreal and empty, that historic durability should be the gift of spectral fancies, we must hold these devout natures to be at one with everlasting Fact,—to feel truly that the august forms of Justice and Holiness are at home in heaven, the object there of clearer insight and more perfect veneration. There are those who please themselves with the idea that the world will outgrow its habits of worship; that the newspaper will supersede the preacher and prophet; that the apprehension of scientific laws will replace the fervor of moral inspirations; that this sphere of being will then be perfectly administered when no reference to another distracts attention. But, for my own part, I am persuaded, that life would soon become intolerable on earth, were it copied from nothing in the heavens; that its deeper affections would pine away and its lights of purest thought grow pale, if it lay shrouded in no Holy Spirit, but only in the wilderness of space. The most sagacious secular voice leaves, after all, a chord untouched in the human heart: listening too long to its didactic monotone, we begin to sigh for the rich music of hope and faith. The dry glare of noonday knowledge hurts the eye by plying it for use and denying it beauty; and we long to be screened behind a cloud or two of moisture and mystery, that shall mellow the glory and cool the air. Never can the world be less to us, than when we make it all in all.—James Martineau.