Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

ward path was never intended to be easy. The scriptural passages to this effect you can find all through the gospels and epistles, and I need not quote them to you. I will, however, tell you honestly that many are of the opinion that these passages are now obsolete, being applicable only to the first centuries, or to especially critical times in the history of the church. I cannot share that view, but, lest I seem too oldfashioned, will merely quote the ringing words of our own Dr. Hitchcock, that " no man ever enters heaven save on his shield." And allow me to quote in the same connection the testimony of that prince of scientists, Professor Huxley, in his lecture on "Evolution and Ethics: "

"If we may permit ourselves a larger hope of abatement of the essential evil of the world than was possible to those who, in the infancy of exact knowledge, faced the problem of existence more than a score of centuries ago, I deem it an essential condition of the realization of that hope that we should cast aside the notion that the escape from pain and sorrow is the proper object of life.

"We have long since emerged from the heroic childhood of our race, when good and evil could be met with the same 'frolic welcome;' the attempts to escape from evil, whether Indian or Greek, have ended in flight from the battle-field; it remains to us to throw aside the youthful over-confidence and the no less. youthful discouragement of nonage. We are grown men, and must play the man

"strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield,'

cherishing the good that falls in our way and bearing the evil in and around us, with stout heart set on diminishing it. So far we all may strive in one faith toward one hope:

"It may be that the gulfs will wash us down,
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles.

"but something ere the end, Some work of noble note may yet be done.'"

We must be strong and of a very good courage. While the avoidance of pain and discomfort, or even happiness, cannot be the proper end of life, it is not a world of misery or an essentially and hopelessly evil world. There is plenty of misery in the world, and we cannot deny it. Neither can we deny that God has put us in the world to relieve misery, and that until we have made every effort and strained every nerve as we have never yet done, we, and not God, are largely responsible for it. But behind misery stand selfishness and sin as its cause. And here we must not parley but fight. And the hosts of evil are organized and mighty. "The sons of this world are for their own generation. wiser than the sons of light." And we shall never overcome them by adopting their means. But we can and shall surely overcome. For he that is with us is more than they that be with them. "The skirmishes are frequently disastrous to us, but the great battles all go one way." And we long for the glory of "him that overcometh." But the victor's song can come only after the battle, and be sung only by those who have overcome. And we would not have it otherwise if we

could. The closing words of Dr. Hitchcock's last sermon are the following:

"It is one of the revelations of scripture that we are to judge the angels, sitting above them on the shining heights. It may well be so. Those angels are the imperial guard, doing easy duty at home. We are the tenth legion, marching in from the swamps and forests of the far-off frontier, scarred and battered, but victorious over death and sin."

CHAPTER X

PRESENT ASPECTS OF THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION

In all our study we have taken for granted the truth of the theory of evolution. If you are not already persuaded of this by the writings of Darwin, Wallace, and many others, no words or arguments of mine would convince you. We have used as the foundation of our argument only the fundamental propositions of Mr. Darwin's theory.

But while all evolutionists accept these propositions they differ more or less in the weight or efficiency which they assign to each. In a sum in multiplication you may gain the same product by using different factors; but if the product is to be constant, if you halve one factor, you must double another. Evolution is a product of many factors. One evolutionist lays more, another less, emphasis on natural selection, according as he assigns less or more efficiency to other forces or processes. Furthermore, evolutionists differ widely in questions of detail, and some of these subsidiary questions are of great practical importance and interest. It may be useful, therefore, to review these propositions in the light of the facts which we have gathered, and to see how they are interpreted, and what emphasis is laid on each by different thinkers.

The fundamental fact on which Mr. Darwin's theory rests is the "struggle for existence." Life is not

[ocr errors]

something to be idly enjoyed, but a prize to be won; the world is not a play-ground, but an arena. And the severity of the struggle can scarcely be overrated. Only one or two of a host of runners reach the goal, the others die along the course. Concerning this there can be no doubt, and there is little room for difference of interpretation.

The struggle may take the form of a literal battle between two individuals, or of the individual with inclemency of climate or other destructive agents. More usually it is a competition, no more noticeable and no less real than that between merchants or manufacturers in the same line of trade.

The weeds in our gardens compete with the flowers for food, light, and place, and crowd them out unless prevented by man. And when the weeds alone remain, they crowd on each other until only a few of the hardiest and most vigorous survive. And flowers, by their nectar, color, and odor, compete for the visits of insects, which insure cross-fertilization. And fruits are frequently or usually the inducements by which plants compete for the aid of animals in the dissemination of their seeds. So there is everywhere competition and struggle; many fail and perish, few succeed and survive.

In a foot-race it is often very difficult to name the winner. Muscle alone does not win, not even good heart and lungs. Good judgment, patience, coolness, courage, many mental and moral qualities, are essential to the successful athlete. So in the struggle for life. The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.

The total of "points" which wins this "grand

« IndietroContinua »