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MR. SAVAGE'S BOOKS.
SERMONS AND ESSAYS.
Christianity the Science of Manhood.
Four Great Questions concerning God. 86 pp.
The Evolution of Christianity. 178 pages. 1892
Light on the Cloud. 176 pages. 1876. Full gilt.
Sacred Songs for Public Worship. A Hymn and Tune
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Mr. Savage's weekly sermons are regularly printed in pamphlet form in "Unity Pulpit." Subscription price, for the season, $1.50; sing.e copy, 5 cents.
GEO. H. ELLIS, Publisher,
141 Franklin St., Boston, Mass.
FINDING ONE'S PLACE.
"Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"- ACTS ix. 6.
THESE Words, as doubtless you all remember, were those that fell from the lips of Saul, as the story is told us, on his way to Damascus. Starting to persecute the Christians, feeling that that was his life mission, he is met by this vision, which puts an end to what he had intended to accomplish; and, recognizing this for a higher authority, he asks, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"
If we could ask some competent authority and have a definite answer, it would make the problem of our lives comparatively easy; for I take it, if we were only sure that we were in our right places, if we were sure that there was any definite, right place for each of us,-in other words, that there was some divine plan touching our lives, of which our lives were a part,— then, I take it, we should be willing patiently to occupy those places, whether they were very humble or whether they answered the purpose of our ambitions. Certainly, if I could be sure that a great, wise, loving God had set me a task, and told me that that was the only thing he wanted me to do, whether it took me to the centre of European culture or into the midst of African barbarism, I think I could be content to stand there and fill that place. I think any of us could, if we were sure God meant that, and that the outcome was therefore to be the highest and best. Of course, we would be willing to fill any position.
"Something to do, some one to love, something to hope for," these, according to the great German, Immanuel Kant, are the three conditions of a successful and happy life.
The last two will not concern us this morning; but the first
- something to do, finding one's place in the world - is what we are seriously to consider.
I suppose that there are not many among us to-day who so interpret that Providence which oversees the affairs of men as to feel in any degree sure that God has given him his position, that God is desirous that he shall stay where he finds himself placed. This was an easy faith in the old times. It is a faith that finds itself still incorporated in the English Prayer Book. People are expected to be content in that place where Providence has put them. This is a very comfortable doctrine for the people who occupy the best places, and wish those who are out of them to be contented where they are. It is a comfortable doctrine for those who regard themselves as being in the higher classes in dealing with those whom they regard as the lower classes. But let us touch, first, this simple, straight question, Ought we to be contented in the place where we wake up and find ourselves, whatever that place may be? We must frequently answer, No, we ought not to be contented with anything short of the best. All our hopes of human growth, all our promise of human progress, are based on the supposition that people are not content. If a plant could be conscious and be content before it had got half its growth, there would be none of this restless yearning and striving, this ever reaching up after a fuller and completer development. We ought not, then, to be content. But this statement needs to be qualified, and qualified in a very serious manner. We ought not to be discontented in the sense that we are unhappy, that we are bitter, envious, or jealous, or in any way have the sweetness and the beauty taken out of our present life. I have said more than once in this place that the greatest happinesskiller of the world, even worse than the anticipation of evil or some overhanging calainity, is this kind of discontent that makes one perpetually thinking, When I get there, when I have accomplished this or that, when I have reached such and such a place, then I am going to be content, then I am
going to be happy, then I am going to lead an unselfish life, then I am going to do this or that or a thousand things for my fellow-men! I have talked often with business men who have set a figure beyond which they do not propose to save a dollar. They say, when they get so rich, they are going to begin to be generous; but I have never known a man to get to that point, when he had set it very much ahead of his present position. I never have hope of any man's generosity who is going to begin to be generous by and by. I have not hope of any man's unselfish love who is simply going to begin to be unselfish next week or next year. We ought not, then, I think, to be discontented with the place where we find ourselves in such a way as shall prevent us from looking round and finding all the happiness there is in that place, all the good there is, all the opportunities there are offered of making other people happy, all the chances of doing something for the rest of mankind.
And now we are face to face with the second question. Do men generally find the real place which belongs to them, which they ought to fill? I have not had time to read Mr. Mozoomdar's address of last Sunday; but I am told that he outlined the belief of the Hindu world in a destiny which rules and determines the lives of men. I do not think we are accustomed to believe in that kind of destiny here; and yet, now and then, you will hear people say of one who has failed, it was no fault of his condition, of his circumstances: there was some weakness in the man himself. I remember some years ago reading an address by the late President Garfield, I think, which was given before he became President. Referring to the difficulties and struggles of a great many men, and of the obstacles they have to overcome, he expressed to the young men who heard him the belief that, if there was anything in a man, it was sure to come out. In other words, personality was almost always mightier than condition, and, if a man had it in him to be great, he would be great; if he had it in him to be a poet, he would be a poet; if he had it in him to be a soldier, he would be