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Sick or well, blind or seeing, bond or free, we are here for a purpose and however we are situated, we please God better with useful deeds than with many prayers or pious resignation. The temple or church is empty unless the good of life fills it... holy if only... we offer the only sacrifices ever commanded-the love that is stronger than hate and the faith that overcometh doubt.
Let us guard against saying that there are laws in nature. There are merely necessities: there is no one who commands, no one whoobeys, no one who transgresses. Once you understand that there are no purposes, then you also understand that nothing is accidental: for it is only in a world of purposes that the word "accident" makes sense.
Certainly I believe that God gave us life for happiness, not misery. Humanity, I am sure, will never be made lazy or indifferent by an excess of happiness. Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose. Happiness should be a means of accomplishment, like health, not an end in itself.
Treason and murder ever kept together, As two yoke-devils sworn to either's purpose, Working so grossly in a natural cause That admiration did not whoop at them; But thou, 'gainst all proportion, didst bring in Wonder to wait on treason and on murder; And whatsoever cunning fiend it was That wrought upon thee so preposterously Hath got the voice in hell for excellence.
When we do not know the truth of a thing, it is good that there should exist a common error which determines the mind of man, as, for example, the moon, to which is attributed the change of seasons, the progress of diseases, etc. For the chief malady of man is a restless curiosity about things which he cannot understand; and it is not so bad for him to be in error as to be curious to no purpose.
I do not remember anything which Confucius has said directly respecting man's "origin, purpose, and destiny." He was more practical than that. He is full of wisdom applied to human relations,--to the private life,--the family,--government, etc. It is remarkable that, according to his own account, the sum and substance of his teaching is, as you know, to do as you would be done by.
Wood burns because it has the proper stuff for that purpose in it; and a man becomes renowned because he has the necessary stuff in him. Renown is not to be sought, and all pursuit of it is vain. A person may, indeed, by skillful conduct and various artificial means, make a sort of name for himself; but if the inner jewel is wanting, all is vanity, and will not last a day.
At the beginning of the war, and for some time, the use of colored troops was not contemplated; and how the change of purpose was wrought, I will not now take time to explain. Upon a clear conviction of duty I resolved to turn that element of strength to account; and I am responsible for it to the American people, to the christian world, to history, and on my final account to God.