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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/262

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

bitterness then common. It was a time of travail—of throes and whirlwinds. Men at length began to yearn for peace and unity, and out of the embroilment was slowly consolidated that great organization, the Church of Rome. The Church of Rome had its precursor in the Church at Rome. But Rome was then the capital of the world; and, in the end, that great city gave the Christian Church established in her midst such a decided preponderance that it eventually laid claim to the proud title of "Mother and Matrix of all other Churches."

With jolts and oscillations, resulting at times in overthrow, the religious life of the world has spun down the "the ringing grooves of change." A smoother route may have been undiscoverable. At all events, it was undiscovered. Many years ago I found myself in discussion with a friend who entertained the notion that the general tendency of things in this world is toward an equilibrium of peace and blessedness to the human race. My notion was, that equilibrium meant not peace and blessedness, but death. No motive power is to be got from heat, save during its fall from a higher to a lower temperature, as no power is to be got from water save during its descent from a higher to a lower level. Thus also life consists, not in equilibrium but in the passage toward equilibrium. In man it is the leap from the potential, through the actual, to repose. The passage often involves a fight. Every natural growth is more or less of a struggle with other growths, in which, in the long run, the fittest survives. Some are, and must be, wiser than the rest; and the enunciation of a thought in advance of the moment provokes dissent and thus promotes action. The thought may be unwise; but it is only by discussion, checked by experience, that its value can be determined. Discussion, therefore, is one of the motive powers of life, and, as such, is not to be deprecated. Still one can hardly look without despair on the passions excited and the energies wasted over questions which, after ages of strife, are shown to be mere foolishness. Thus the theses which shook the world during the first centuries of the Christian era have, for the most part, shrunk into nothingness. It may, however, be that the human mind could not become fitted to pronounce judgment on a controversy otherwise than by wading through it. We get clear of the jungle by traversing it. Thus even the errors, conflicts, and sufferings of bygone times may have been necessary factors in the education of the world. Let nobody, however, say that it has not been a hard education. The yoke of religion has not always been easy, nor its burden light—a result arising, in part, from the ignorance of the world at large, but more especially from the mistakes of those who had the charge and guidance of a great spiritual force, and who guided it blindly. Looking over the literature of the Sabbath question, as catalogued and illustrated in the laborious, able, and temperate work of the late Mr. Robert Cox, we can hardly repress a sigh in thinking of the gifts and labors of intellect which this question has