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The Scottish Reformers
by [?]

What then? Shall we, in view of these things, call back young, generous spirits just entering upon the perilous pathway? God forbid! Welcome, thrice welcome, rather. Let them go forward, not unwarned of the dangers nor unreminded of the pleasures which belong to the service of humanity. Great is the consciousness of right. Sweet is the answer of a good conscience. He who pays his whole-hearted homage to truth and duty, who swears his lifelong fealty on their altars, and rises up a Nazarite consecrated to their holy service, is not without his solace and enjoyment when, to the eyes of others, he seems the most lonely and miserable. He breathes an atmosphere which the multitude know not of; “a serene heaven which they cannot discern rests over him, glorious in its purity and stillness.” Nor is he altogether without kindly human sympathies. All generous and earnest hearts which are brought in contact with his own beat evenly with it. All that is good, and truthful, and lovely in man, whenever and wherever it truly recognizes him, must sooner or later acknowledge his claim to love and reverence. His faith overcomes all things. The future unrolls itself before him, with its waving harvest-fields springing up from the seed he is scattering; and he looks forward to the close of life with the calm confidence of one who feels that he has not lived idle and useless, but with hopeful heart and strong arm has labored with God and Nature for the best.

And not in vain. In the economy of God, no effort, however small, put forth for the right cause, fails of its effect. No voice, however feeble, lifted up for truth, ever dies amidst the confused noises of time. Through discords of sin and sorrow, pain and wrong, it rises a deathless melody, whose notes of wailing are hereafter to be changed to those of triumph as they blend with the great harmony of a reconciled universe. The language of a transatlantic reformer to his friends is then as true as it is hopeful and cheering: “Triumph is certain. We have espoused no losing cause. In the body we may not join our shout with the victors; but in spirit we may even now. There is but an interval of time between us and the success at which we aim. In all other respects the links of the chain are complete. Identifying ourselves with immortal and immutable principles, we share both their immortality and immutability. The vow which unites us with truth makes futurity present with us. Our being resolves itself into an everlasting now. It is not so correct to say that we shall be victorious as that we are so. When we will in unison with the supreme Mind, the characteristics of His will become, in some sort, those of ours. What He has willed is virtually done. It may take ages to unfold itself; but the germ of its whole history is wrapped up in His determination. When we make His will ours, which we do when we aim at truth, that upon which we are resolved is done, decided, born. Life is in it. It is; and the future is but the development of its being. Ours, therefore, is a perpetual triumph. Our deeds are, all of them, component elements of success.” [Miall’s Essays; Nonconformist, Vol. iv.]