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ledge which it took centuries of labour to discover. Make yourselves acquainted with these little books, if you have not done so already. You might perhaps begin with the one on astronomy by Lockyer, or that on geology by Geikie. Then there are other books, a little more expensive but equally simple and even more interesting, which will carry you further in your scientific studies, such as Professor Tyndall's ' Fragments of Science,' or Professor Huxley's 'Lay Sermons.' And with regard to religious knowledge, you have such books as 'Ecce Homo' and Caird's 'Philosophy of Eeligion,' containing more thought and more inspiration than whole librariesfull of bygone theology. I commend these lastmentioned books especially to your notice, if you want to make progress in religious knowledge. And I hope you do. I hope you do not think you know all that can be known, all that needs to be known, about the Deity. I told you last week that a finite mind could never completely fathom the mysteries involved in a single particle of matter. How much more difficult must it be to understand the mind and heart of God! But there is one thing which may encourage us. Though personality is the greatest mystery in the universe, yet it is easier to know a person than a thing, because here sympathy and communion may come to our aid. In religion, living and learning are identical. To live a really religious life, is to grow in religious knowledge. "He that will do His will," said Christ, "shall know of the doctrine." To think of God, to pray to God, to love God, to do the work of God,— all this is helping us to know God.
'' For meek obedience, that is light,
Once more let me urge upon you to cultivate discontent. Eemember what Carlyle says, "That a man should die ignorant who had the capacity for knowledge, this I call a tragedy, even if it happens twenty times in a minute." Think of what there is to learn, think of how little you at present know, think of the value and the glory of knowledge, till you become discontented and inspired, discontented with the present and inspired for the future. You will need all the inspiration you can get.
"The heights, by great men won and kept,
True and False Discontent.
FALSE DISCONTENT WITH THE WOKLD AS A WHOLE —PESSIMISM.
A— THE PLEASURES OF LIFE.
TVISCONTENT, so far as it regards personal circumstances and the limitations of knowledge, we have already considered. Let us now proceed to look at it in relation to the world as a whole. There is a false discontent, we have seen, which will lead one man to grumble at his circumstances, even at those which are unalterable; and there is a true discontent which will prompt another to struggle for the improvement of his circumstances, so far as they are capable of being changed. Similarly in regard to knowledge, some men are always repining that they do not know everything; while with others the consciousness of ignorance serves only as a stimulus, making them the more determined to know all they can. And the same difference may be noticed in men's attitude towards the world as a whole. Some distinguish themselves chiefly by calling attention to the wretchedness of life; while others are remarkable for their successful endeavours to increase its happiness. There is a right and a wrong way of being discontented with the world. Let us begin with the wrong, with that false discontent at the limitation of human happiness, which in its extreme and dogmatic form is called pessimism. This doctrine of despair asserts that life even at the best is not worth living; that upon the whole pain predominates over pleasure; and that it would have been better for the world and for men never to have been called out of nothingness.
Now I should like you to notice that pessimism is a state of mind which can only exist in thoughtful, and indeed in somewhat sympathetic, persons. Sully says: "From the point of view of what is called a healthy common-sense, all inquiries into the worth of human life doubtless seem unnecessary and even ridiculous. The bulk of mankind pursue their various ends as a matter of course, and never raise the question whether the result will compensate for the toil. . . . The object of pursuit shines afar, drawing to itself fond regard, and inspiring them with the assurance of an attainable good. The world presents itself to very many as fair and rich in treasure, and they rejoice in the fancied security of permanent sources of gladness. They do not care to measure the exact range of the golden rays of happiness. They are only conscious that the earth abounds in well-springs of delight, that beauty and love make the air about them sunny and warm." It is seldom, however, that this feeling lasts uninterruptedly, even with the most sanguine. "The intrusion of unsuspected pain, of a sense of weariness in pursuit, of sharp blows of disappointment, sooner or later disturbs the happy dreamer with a rude shock, and forces on him the impression of discordant evil." But most men recover from the shock, and go on again hoping, as they say, for better luck next time. And even when they feel supremely wretched, they are not tempted to generalise about the wretchedness of the race; they are too busy thinking of their own trouble. So far from believing that others are equally miserable, they are as a rule inclined to suppose that they themselves are exceptionally unfortunate. But in some cases, owing to temperament and environment, men become so morbidly