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How came the darkness? He had measured the desires of life against the call of duty; that is to say against his conscience. For him there were airy galleries from which smiled loves and graces, extraordinary gardens in which the fruits of life were hanging, the murmur of fountains of waters, the singing of many kinds of birds, these and all other pleasant things of life were his to enjoy. But the prostitution of women, the slavery of men, and endless night for the child had moved his heart to pity. Humanity was bleeding. He had been called to bind up the wounds of his country, and to do all the good that he could. He had repressed these noble sentiments which had come from the innermost depths of his soul. The instinct of self preservation, the desire to enjoy the delectable things of life had extinguished the bright light, an eclipse of the soul had taken place. But what was that voice which in the midst of the revelry had said, “think?” Conscience. What is Conscience? Consicence is the faculty, power, or inward principle which decides as to the character of one's actions, purposes, and affections, warning against and condemning that which is wrong, and approving and prompting to that which is right, the moral faculty passing judgment on one's self; the moral sense. Conscience is the reason employed about questions of right and wrong, and accompanied with sentiments of approbation and condemnation.— “Conviction of right or duty.”—Webster. Conscience is an infinity which every man bears within himself; it is intelligent, it loves, it thinks, it wills. Is there an infinity beyond us? Is that infinite there, inherent, per
manent; necessarily substantial, since it is infinite; and because if it lacked matter it would be bounded; necessarily intelligent, and because if it lacked intelligence it would end there. If the Infinite had no person, person would be without limit, it would not be infinite, in other words it would not exist. There is then an I above; that I of the infinite is God. The I below is the soul, man; the I on high is God. What a solemn thing is this infinity which every man bears within himself, which he measures with despair against the caprices of his brain and desires of his life. Thought is the medium by which the soul is brought in contact with God. The grandeur of democracy is to deny nothing to humanity; close to the right of man, beside it at least there exists the right of the soul. Monarchy denies this right, monarchy engenders ignorance, knowledge demolishes the monarchy, that is to say ignorance. Ignorance is the tyrant. The day will come when the splendid question of universal education will speak with the irresistible authority of absolute truth, and then there will be no more tyranny, for there will be no more ignorance. At the reception someone entered, unseen, the silence was unbroken at that word—“think.” That some one was God. Never had Monsieur Cammille engaged in so severe a struggle as that which followed in obedience to that voice. The eye of the spirit penetrating the innermost depths of a conscience engaged in reflection, beholds a spectacle more mysterious, more formidable and more grand than is portrayed in all creation, the ocean, the earth and the heavens. There beneath that silence battles of giants are in progress; there the dragon and the archangel are fiercely contending. As Monsieur Cammille reviewed the evidence which had convinced his mind, one thing engaged his attention in a special manner, at it he looked fixedly for a long time. It was the story of the contest for religious liberty in America and how it was won for that nation and for all mankind. Suddenly he arose; went to the room where Evadne was sleeping, here by the bed of his child, the object of his purest affections, he struggled; his emotions were simply indiscribable as he reflected that duty would separate them, he bent like a soldier before an assault, like an oak at the approach of a Storm. Eighteen hundred years before his day, one wild night under olive trees, dripping with the dews of night, One in whom is found all the virtues and all the sufferings of humanity, he also three times put aside the cup of sacrifice. The cup of human destiny trembled in the hand of one who was man, at the same time and God. By strength divine he took the cup and drank of it to the last bitter dregs. Monsieur Cammille disengaged himself from earth and sought strength elsewhere, from time to time he fixed his eyes upon a point on the wall, nothing was there, no work of cunning device was there. No crucifix was there. By the eye of faith he beheld the great High Priest within the veil in heaven. Streams of light from there poured upon him like unto the beauteous tongues of fire that rested upon Apostolic heads. He would do his duty now at any cost; commiting Evadne to the care of the Lord and Master of us all. That yawning precipice was still there, but now he descried heaven at the bottom of it.
March on, soldier of Democracy, priest of the Ideal, hero of the Absolute.
The priests explain the Bible badly, they are mistaken; those radiant portals of Eden are before us, not behind us.
The onward march of the human race requires that the heights around it should be ablaze with noble and enduring lessons of courage, deeds of daring dazzle history and form one of the guiding lights of men. To strive to brave all risks, to persist, to persevere, to be faithful to one's self, to grapple hand to hand with destiny, to surprise defeat by the little terror it inspires, at one time to confront unrighteous power, at another to defy intoxicated triumph, to hold fast, to hold hard—such is the example that nations need and the light that illumines them.
Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide,
right; And the choice goes by for ever twixt that darkness and that light. —James Russell Lowell.
Is true freedom but to break
No: true freedom is to share
They are slaves who fear to speak
—James Russell Lowell.