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science and art, for the discovery of which our ancestors would have thought it ridiculous to hope even in their wildest dreams! And the impossible itself need no longer be regarded as a bugbear. In spite of the hindrances and difficulties and limits which may have been in the path of the Creator at the beginning, the world has been created and progress is being achieved. The impossible has not prevented happiness, does not prevent an everincreasing happiness, and there is no reason to suppose that in the end it will prevent anything except that which is contradictory, irrational and absurd.
Who then, I ask, can wish for a world of sensuous repose? Is not satisfaction that degraded and degrading form of contentment which only a low nature can feel? Is not unsatisfaction that true and inspiring form of discontent which no noble nature can ever be without? Is not the possibility of endless progress the highest endowment which an intelligent being can possess? And does not the fact that we realise this power in ourselves go far to prove that we are living, not in the worst, but rather in the best possible, world.
"Nothing resting in its own completeness
Spring's real glory dwells not in the meaning,
Life is only bright when it proceedeth
Dare not to blame God's gifts for incompleteness
True and False Discontent.
T POINTED out in the last sermon (<7) that the J- pessimistic ideal of life is an ideal of reform rather than of progress. But not only so. They assert (D) that during the course of evolution no progress has been made, or only a progress in pain. They represent to us the history of the universe pretty much as follows. In the beginning, millions of millions of years ago, matter existed as a diffused mass of incandescent vapour, which was in a state of rotatory motion. As it revolved portions of it became detached. Every such portion broken off from the primitive nebula was the beginning of a sidereal system, from which again other masses became detached and formed planets; and from these in like manner during their rotation there were still further disruptions, which led to the formation of moons. The whole of our solar system therefore once existed as a single mass of vapour, and the earth was formed, like the other planets, by disruption from a central mass. Even when it had become detached the earth was for a long time in a state of incandescence; but after myriads of years of radiation the surface cooled into the solid state, and the vapours that surrounded it condensed into the primeval ocean. After another long lapse of time there was formed at the bottom of the ocean that curious compound of carbon called protoplasm, which is the physical basis of life. And with life came waste. At first there was only vegetable life. The beds of the oceans and the surface of the earth teemed with it; but the luxuriance and grandeur of the primeval flora was all thrown away; there was no eye to see it, no sentient creature to derive the slightest benefit from it. By-and-by however, after still further changes in the atmosphere and the temperature, animal life began, and with it came pain. The old waste continued. Thousands of germs perished for every living creature that came into existence; those who did actually come to life were liable to accident and to disease; and if they were specially weak, they were as a rule devoured by the strong. With every rise in the zoological scale, organisms become more delicate, and the capacity for pain increases till it reaches its climax in man. The whole creation groans.
And so the pessimists sometimes turn round upon us and inquire, How about your old argument from design? We admit, they say, that the world cannot be altogether the work of chance; there is too much definite, awful, relentless regularity about it for that. But whatever design there may be in it, is an evil design; if any intelligence has been at work upon nature, it is a devilish intelligence; if the Creator had a purpose in creation it was none other than the evolution of pain.
Now you see the pessimists here assume that nothing has emerged in the course of evolution but pain, or at any rate nothing worth speaking of in comparison with pain, nothing certainly which is of sufficient value at all to compensate for pain. A strange assumption for men of education and refinement. Have they never heard of Love? We can trace its dim beginning as far back as the dawn of sentient life. At first it was but a blind instinct; but by degrees it was carried, even amongst what we are accustomed to call brutes, to the point of virtue, to the point of heroism; as when a bird