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spiration. For better or for worse, we have already made our choice. But there are those near and dear to us whose hearts are singing still the song of youth,—

"All before us lies the way."

And some of these, perhaps, may find some meaning in my words. Some of us may try to bring it home to them with strong appeal; and all of us, in one way or another, can make ourselves ministers of the eternal goodness to some little child or boy or girl or youth or maid, and, if we may not satisfy them with that mercy which shall rejoice and gladden them all their days, add to their stock something which in both memory and character shall work for blessing and for peace. If we can do but little, let us not on that account withhold our hand. The whole round world is

made of atoms that no eye can see. Take rather on your lips and to your hearts this music of a rude and strange and yet most wondrous singer in the choir of God:

"If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain.

If I can ease one life from aching

Or cool one pain

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Or help one fainting robin

Into his nest again,

I shall not live in vain."

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I HAVE read to you this morning the story of the transfiguration, as it appears in the Gospel according to Luke; and I was strongly tempted to read you the same story as it appears in Matthew and Mark, just for the sake of a little incidental lesson in New Testament criticism. In the story, as I read it, you will remember that it was the overshadowing cloud that caused the fear of the disciples. But in Matthew it is the voice proceeding out of the cloud that causes their alarm; while in Mark it is neither the cloud nor the voice, but the apparitions of Moses and Elias. It is a matter of no practical importance, but it affords an interesting comment on the doctrine of Biblical infallibility and a more interesting one on the mutual relations of the Gospels. It is evident from these differences that no one of them slavishly copied another of the three, and quite as evident that they were not all derived from a single primitive writing. There are scores of such discrepancies between the first three Gospels (the fourth is one grand discrepancy with all three of them together), and they point unmistakably to a variety of documents back of the Gospels or to a variable oral tradition. Where the Gospels are best agreed among themselves, there is most likelihood of contact with the earliest tradition and with the actual facts concerning Jesus' life and teachings. It is interesting to observe that within the range of their agreement there is no miraculous birth or definite resurrection, and that the number and portentousness of the miracles is very much reduced. Sometimes we can see the legend growing, as it were, before our eyes. Thus in one Gospel, as originally written, we have no details of the resurrection and no ascension whatever; in another, a visionary

appearance after death; in a third, the resurrection followed by a physical ascension on the same day; next, and strangely enough by the same writer in Acts, a period of forty days elapses between the resurrection and ascension. How can the superstitious blame the rational thinker for preferring the least exorbitant of these accounts or even for imagining that the legend had stages antecedent to those which have survived in the New Testament? And how can any one who is not wholly blind to the significance of these considerations presume to dogmatize upon the strength of any word ascribed to Jesus or any event associated with his name? For this negative conclusion has been established, if nothing else,- that we can have no perfect certainty concerning anything that Jesus said or did.

So much for my incidental lesson in New Testament criticism; and now I come back to the story of the transfiguration and to the particular text which I have chosen as the starting-point of my discourse. "They feared when they entered into the cloud." I have no present care as to what actually happened in that far-off time to give rise to such a story. This is the harder to make out because the working of our minds in many ways is different from that of people living then. Nor have I any present care to make out which reading is the best, that of Matthew, which makes the voice out of the cloud the fearful thing, or that of Mark, which makes it the apparition of Moses and Elias, or that of Luke, who says it was the overshadowing cloud. I take the last because it is the one I want for my immediate purpose. For life has its overshadowing clouds; and, when they gather in about us, fear is the natural emotion of our hearts. Sometimes, indeed, we cannot fear too much. There is the cloud of sorrow, so enshrouding us that some dear friend, it may be


a nearer one still and a dearer one yet than all others," is no longer visible to us. We grope for him in the darkness, but we cannot find the hand whose strength supported us in many difficult and trying hours. What do we fear? Not that some harm has come to the loved one, nor so much,

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either, that in the boundless heavens, "where the skyey roadways part," we may not find the one that leads to his embrace; but whether we shall find our life worth living with so much that helped to make it so taken away from us; whether, unshared, the daily burdens will not press us down. and crush us with their weight; whether we can solve alone the painful questions that are sure to rise in every soul that is confronted with life's awful mystery. And, sometimes, alas! the fearful heart finds, as the days go by, it has not feared too much; while there are others who are a wonder to themselves, where so much has been taken so much still abides; so much the recollected goodness, wisdom, cheerfulness, avail to lift up the hands that hang down and confirm the feeble knees.

And, then, there is the cloud of business anxiety. There are many in these times who have had sore experience of this. What smiling faces have concealed from us what tragedies of sleepless nights and days of miserable futility and hopeless gloom! If the strong man had only himself to care for, he would snap his fingers in the face of fortune. But there are those to whom he has given bonds of service and protection, whom he has spoiled perhaps for hardship with his soft indulgence; and there are the good causes he would so gladly help, and the old strugglers to whom he would extend no empty hand. My observation may have been at fault; but, so far as it has extended, the impression I have got in these hard times has been one of brave endurance, of quiet heroism, under the grinding pressure of those terrible anxieties which the commercial situation has entailed. We often speak of the industrial age as if it had no opportunities for heroism equal to those afforded by the military age, of which, with monstrous unreality, we speak as something past and gone. And, certainly, its opportunities are different; but I have sometimes thought that they demand a firmer courage and a nerve of stronger iron. As between sudden death within the foeman's lines and fortune's utter wreck, how many, think you, would not choose the former as the better

part? But how many have borne the latter quietly, doing their best to keep the cloud enwrapping them from chilling other hearts! And I have not lived for thirty years upon a shore where the great waves of business prosperity alternate rise and fall, without learning well enough that with loss of money there is often gain of character,— that, as between prosperity and adversity, the former, quite as often as the latter, is too heavy to be borne. I have seen men whose self-respect was so implicated in their bonds and mortgages that, losing these, the other also went; and I have seen those who with increasing wealth have come to measure all things by a gold standard, their only question henceforth what their investment will pay, be it in railroads or electrics or politics or marriage or religion! And be tween such diversities of moral wreck there is not much to choose. A man's life is not in the abundance of the things that he possesses; and not a few, both in the possession of material wealth and in the loss of it, have found that this is so.

And now I pass to the particular application of my text, which is to me peculiarly impressive. "I was born free," said the apostle; and many of us here could doubtless say as much. I mean that we have never had to undergo the anxiety and strain which are inseparable from the transition from the traditional faith of Christendom, intensely realized, to the free mind of science and the order of ideas and beliefs which goes along with this. But this transition is immensely characteristic of the present time; and I have seen too much of the sufferings which it entails to wonder that anybody should be smitten through and through with fear when the cloud of intellectual doubt first broods with overshadowing wing over their minds, dimming the outlines of those traditional dogmas which have always been so firm and hard, and at the same time revealing, like a phantom ship seen through the mist of dawn, the ghostly mystery of the new order of beliefs, lowering portentous, vague, obscure, "a grief without a pang, void, dark, and drear," for some, for others meaning poignant misery.

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