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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWeighed And Wanting - Chapter 5. Truly The Light Is Sweet
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Weighed And Wanting - Chapter 5. Truly The Light Is Sweet Post by :KeisEnt Category :Long Stories Author :George Macdonald Date :May 2012 Read :647

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Weighed And Wanting - Chapter 5. Truly The Light Is Sweet

CHAPTER V. TRULY THE LIGHT IS SWEET

The cry of the human heart in all ages and in every moment is, "Where is God and how shall I find him?"--No, friend, I will not accept your testimony to the contrary--not though you may be as well fitted as ever one of eight hundred millions to come forward with it. You take it for granted that you know your own heart because you call it yours, but I say that your heart is a far deeper thing than you know or are capable of knowing. Its very nature is hid from you. I use but a poor figure when I say that the roots of your heart go down beyond your knowledge--whole eternities beyond it--into the heart of God. If you have never yet made one discovery in your heart, your testimony concerning it is not worth a tuft of flue; and if you have made discoveries in it, does not the fact reveal that it is but little known to you, and that there must be discoveries innumerable yet to be made in it? To him who has been making discoveries in it for fifty years, the depths of his heart are yet a mystery--a mystery, however, peopled with loveliest hopes. I repeat whether the man knows it or not, his heart in its depths is ever crying out for God.

Where the man does not know it, it is because the unfaithful Self, a would-be monarch, has usurped the consciousness; the demon-man is uppermost, not Christ-man; he is down in the crying heart, and the demon-man--that is the self that worships itself--is trampling on the heart and smothering it up in the rubbish of ambitions, lusts, and cares. If ever its cry reaches that Self, it calls it childish folly, and tramples the harder. It does not know that a child crying on God is mightier than a warrior dwelling in steel.

If we had none but fine weather, the demon-Self would be too much for the divine-Self, and would always keep it down; but bad weather, misfortune, ill-luck, adversity, or whatever name but punishment or the love of God men may call it, sides with the Christ-self down below, and helps to make its voice heard. On the other hand if we had nothing but bad weather, the hope of those in whom the divine Self is slowly rising would grow too faint; while those in whom the bad weather had not yet begun to work good would settle down into weak, hopeless rebellion. Without hope can any man repent?

To the people at Burcliff came at length a lovely morning, with sky and air like the face of a repentant child--a child who has repented so thoroughly that the sin has passed from him, and he is no longer even ashamed. The water seemed dancing in the joy of a new birth, and the wind, coming and going in gentle conscious organ-like swells, was at it with them, while the sun kept looking merrily down on the glad commotion his presence caused.

"Ah," thought the mother, as she looked from her windows ere she began to dress for this new live day, "how would it be if the Light at the heart of the sun were shining thus on the worlds made in his image!"

She was thinking of her boy, whom perhaps, in all the world, she only was able to love heartily--there was so little in the personal being of the lad, that is, in the thing he was to himself, and was making of himself, to help anyone to love him! But in the absolute mere existence is reason for love, and upon that God does love--so love, that he will suffer and cause suffering for the development of that existence into a thing in its own full nature lovable, namely, an existence in its own will one with the perfect love whence it issued; and the mother's heart more than any other God has made is like him in power of loving. Alas that she is so seldom like him in wisdom--so often thwarting the work of God, and rendering more severe his measures with her child by her attempts to shield him from His law, and save him from saving sorrow. How often from his very infancy--if she does not, like the very nurse she employs, actively teach him to be selfish--does she get between him and the right consequences of his conduct, as if with her one feeble loving hand, she would stay the fly-wheel of the holy universe. It is the law that the man who does evil shall suffer; it is the only hope for him, and a hope for the neighbor he wrongs. When he forsakes his evil, one by one the dogs of suffering will halt and drop away from his track; and he will find at last they have but hounded him into the land of his nativity, into the home of his Father in heaven.

As soon as breakfast was over, the whole family set out for a walk. Mr. Raymount seldom left the house till after lunch, but even he, who cared comparatively little for the open air, had grown eager after it. Streets, hills and sands were swarming with human beings, all drawn out by the sun.

"I sometimes wonder," he said, "that so many people require so little to make them happy. Let but the sun break through the clouds, and he sets them all going like ants in an ant-hill!"

"Yes," returned his wife, "but then see how little on the other hand is required to make them miserable! Let the sun hide his head for a day, and they grumble!"

Making the remark, the good woman never thought of her son Cornelius, the one of her family whose conduct illustrated it. At the moment she saw him cheerful, and her love looked upon him as good. She was one of the best of women herself: whatever hour she was called, her lamp was sure to have oil in it; and yet all the time since first he lay in her arms, I doubt if she had ever done anything to help the youth to conquer himself. Now it was too late, even had she known what could be done. But the others had so far turned out well: why should not this one also? The moment his bad humors were over, she looked on him as reformed; and when he uttered worldliness, she persuaded herself he was but jesting. But alas! she had no adequate notion--not a shadow of one--of the selfishness of the man-child she had given to the world. This matter of the black sheep in the white flock is one of the most mysterious of the facts of spiritual generation.

Sometimes, indeed, the sheep is by no means so black as to the whiter ones he seems; perhaps neither are they so much whiter as their friends and they themselves think; for to be altogether respectable is not to be clean; and the black sheep may be all the better than some of the rest that he looks what he is, and does not dye his wool. But on the other hand he may be a great deal worse than some of his own family think him.

"Then," said Hester, after a longish pause, "those that need more to make them happy, are less easily made unhappy?"

To this question rather than remark, she received no reply. Her father and mother both felt it not altogether an easy one to answer: it suggested points requiring consideration. To Cornelius, it was a mere girl's speech, not worth heeding where the girl was his sister. He turned up at it a mental nose, the merest of snubs; and well he might, for he had not the least notion of what it meant or involved.

As little notion had his father that his son Cornelius was a black sheep. He was not what the world would have called a black sheep, but his father, could he have seen into him, would have counted him a very black sheep indeed--and none the whiter that he recognized in the blackness certain shades that were of paternal origin. It was, however, only to the rest of the family that Cornelius showed his blackness: of his father he was afraid; and that father, being proud of his children, would have found it hard to believe anything bad of them: like his faults they were his own! His faith in his children was in no small measure conceit of that which was his, and blinded him to their faults as it blinded him to some of his own. The discovery of any serious fault in one of them would be a sore wound to his vanity, a destruction of his self-content.

The co-existence of good and evil in the same person is perhaps the most puzzling of all facts. What a shock it gives one to hear a woman who loves God, and spends both time and money on the betterment of her kind, call a pauper child a _brat_, and see her turn with disgust from the idea of treating any strange child, more especially one of low birth, as her own. "O Christ!" cries the heart, "is this one of the women that follows thee?" And she _is one of the women that follow him--only she needs such a lesson as he gave his disciples through the Syrophenician woman.

Mr. Raymount had such an opinion of himself, that while he never obtruded his opinions upon others, he never imagined them disregarded in his own family. It never entered his mind that any member of it might in this or that think differently from himself. But both his wife and Hester were able to think, and did think for themselves, as they were bound in the truth of things to do; and there were considerable divergements of the paths in which they walked from that he had trodden. He had indeed always taken too much for granted, and ought to have used more pains to have his notions understood by them, if he laid so much on their intellectual sympathy. He supposed all the three read what he wrote; and his wife and daughter did read the most of it; but what would he think when he came to know that his son not only read next to nothing of it, but read that little with a contempt not altogether unconscious--for no other reason than that it was his father who wrote it? Nor was the youth quite without justification--for was he not himself a production of his father? But then he looked upon the latter as one of altogether superior quality! It is indeed strange how vulgar minds despise the things they have looked upon and their hands have handled, just because they have looked upon them and their hands have handled them; is there not in the fact a humiliating lesson, which yet they are unable to read, of the degrading power of their own presence upon themselves and their judgments? Whether a man is a hero to his valet or the opposite, depends as much on the valet as on the man: The bond, then, between the father and the son, was by no means so strong as the father thought it. Indeed the selfishness of Cornelius made him almost look upon his father as his enemy, because of his intentions with regard to the division of his property. And selfishness rarely fails of good arguments. Nor can anything destroy it but such a turning of things upside down as only he that made them can work.

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