The soul is raised over passion;
It seeth identity and eternal causation;
It is a perceiving that Truth and Right are.
Hence it becomes a tranquility out of the knowing that all
things go well. —Emerson
We find many in middle life who are positively bankrupt in the emotions. They have lived on the emotional plane rather than the spiritual. They have mistaken feeling for principle, and indulged it to exhaustion. Their natures are barren and stagnant in consequence.
The spiritual pulse should be as regular as the heart-beat. It is only the fevered and abnormal condition that produces an irregular pulsation. It is a sign of disease, and not of health. Ecstasy is hysteria and catalepsy. It is often mistaken for spiritual exaltation. The sufferer secretly prides himself upon his sensitiveness, and his "deeply religious nature."
If we live in the sunlight we are not depressed by every cloud that floats across the sky. If we live in the light of truth we are not disturbed by the shadows of error, nor surprised and excited by the progress of righteousness. In these we recognize the steady course of evolution as plainly as the movements of the planets in their orbits. We are confident and calm.
Emotion is a will-o'-the-wisp. It leads us into the lowlands and mires us in the swamps of feeling. It is purely sensual, and lacks spiritual principle. It alternates between elation and depression.
We should distrust all religious influence or sentiment that has no basis of real knowledge,— that which says: "I don't know why I believe, but I feel that I am right." True faith must be built upon foundations of knowledge and experience.
We cannot have faith in any person without a reason proceeding from the person himself. It is only as we know God that we can believe in God, but the revelation comes to us from within and without in all the life about us.
Apathy and ecstasy are alike untrue. We do not go into hysteria over the sun,—do not applaud its rising or weep at its setting. We know that night and day will surely alternate, and that they are alike good. Let us have equal confidence in being. Let us be sure of every moment of existence, knowing that all is well, whether to our eyes there be twilight or sunlight, black darkness or perfect day.
We need not mistake our ideality for complete truth, but must beware of emotion and distrust feeling. Doubtless, most of the religions of the world appeal more powerfully to the emotions than to reason, which is, perhaps, the explanation of the fact that their following is so largely among the emotional sex.
Hysteria with men manifests itself in business, in their booms and panics, and political conventions. We talk of "emotional insanity;" there is also abundant evidence of emotional dishonesty.
Let us put our emotions into the crucible of truth,—try them by its fires, and dare to examine the analysis. We may be sure there is no foundation for any "belief" we hold which we have not courage to submit to the most critical investigation, or cannot state in honest language.
No true man can preach or accept a faith which appeals only to the emotions. Much of the work of the pulpit and platform is mere hypnotism.
If we are governed by our feelings, we are befogged in the realms of the unreal.
We look too far afield for God. We do not need to take a telescope or microscope for what is closer than the nearest fellow creature,—nearer than the air we breathe, or the food we eat; for we live in good.