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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody

XLIV HE THAT OVERCOMETH

Revelation xxi.7.

In each one of these letters to the churches there is repeated like a refrain, a sort of motif which announces the character of all, -- this final phrase: |He that overcometh.| He is to receive the promise, he is to inherit these things, he is to be the stone in the temple of God. The reward and blessing are to be not for the shirks or runaways or easy-going of the world, but for those who, taking life just as it is with all its hardness, overcome it. It is the manly summons from the soft theory of life to the principle which one may call that of progress through overcoming resistance.

A great many lives are spoiled by the soft theory of life. They expect to get out of life a comfort which is not in it to give. They go about looking, so to speak, for a |soft course| in the curriculum of life, hoping to enroll in it and be free from trouble. They ask of their religion that it shall make life easy and safe and clear. But the trouble is {111} that the elective pamphlet of life does not announce a single soft course. The people who try thus to live are simply courting disaster and despair. Some day, perhaps in some tragic moment, every man has to learn that life is not an easy thing, but that it is at times fearfully and solemnly hard. Nothing is more plainly written on the facts of life than this, -- that life was meant to be hard. Trouble and disaster, and the inevitable blows of experience, are absolutely certain to teach this truth sooner or later, and the sooner one learns it the better for his soul. And if life was not meant to be easy, what was it meant for? It was meant to be overcome. It stands before one like the friction of the world of nature, which is always seeming to retard one's motion, but which makes really the only condition under which we move at all. If there is to be any motion through life, then it must be by overcoming its friction. If life was meant just to stand still, then it might stagnate in a soft place; but life was meant to move, and the only way of motion is by overcoming friction, and the hardness of the world becomes the very condition of spiritual progress. What we call the rub of life is {112} then what makes living possible. What we call the burdens of life are the discipline of its power. Not to him who meets no resistance, nor to him whose shoulder is chafed by no cross, but to him who overcometh is the promise given that God will be his God, and that he shall be God's son.

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