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Possessions

It is a strange thing, when one comes to think of it, that though we bring nothing into the world with us, and certainly cannot take anything away with us when we die, yet we one and all make quite a business of accumulating possessions—large they may be, or small, according as our circumstances allow—we begin to amass and accumulate even while we are children. This is right and natural, and in so far as the selection is our own, shows the bent of our minds, and talents, and desires. We can almost read the characters of our friends and acquaintances by looking at their belongings, the way they keep their clothes, their houses and their gardens. But here, unfortunately, not only with our clothes, but even with our houses, there is but little originality—there are not even in this domain, which is quite our very own, sufficient original minds, or thinkers—too many houses, every dining-room and drawing-room is like its fellow; it is rarely one sees on entering a room a sort of combined, artistic, suitable arrangement, a reflex of the owner's personality as it were; but when we do, there is a restful feeling that takes possession of us on entering—we feel that we are in a home, not merely a house. Of course worldly possessions are necessary, we could not do without them—but very often they (or the wish for them if we have them not) are a snare to us. Greed of any kind is harmful. Pride in our possessions is most pernicious, and yet most frequently indulge in—and after all, what is there to be proud of? What does your wealth buy you, my moneyed friend, that I, who have none, cannot enjoy with equal pleasure? Is it your lovely home and fine estate? Can I not enjoy that too? Can I not revel in the beauty of the trees and woods and flowers as well as if they were my very own? Can I not admire the grandeur of the fine old building, with its beauties of architecture, of paintings, of tapestries and of carvings, just as much when I am permitted to go over your house on a show day—one of a crowd—as if I had bought it with my own money? Nay, perhaps even more, for I have not the worries the care of it entails; I repeat, I enjoy it as much as if it were my very own; and so, in a larger sense, it is mine to enjoy, mine to admire. In this sense the beggar has as much as the nobleman, viz., everything he can appreciate, and that is an empire that can enlarge its boundaries day by day, for once we have learned to appreciate things around us, and so to make them our own, our intellect and capacity grow continually, our horizon widens and expands with every step higher that we take, and we learn, through enjoyment of the beauties of house, river, tree and sky, to see the inner beauties of mind, intellect, heart, and God; we see the beautiful and the pure and the noble among the people who walk this earth. Awhile ago we groaned to see so much wickedness in this fair land, and truly it is still here, and we know it is, but now we do not dwell with it—we are like the bees now, who, go to what flower they may, find only honey. Have you never travelled with a companion who, where you saw a pleasant lane with flowers in the hedges, saw only a dusty road and a few wasps—who, where you saw some simple-minded, stalwart, honest sons of toil, saw only the dirt on their clothes, and their toil-grimed visages, and feared them as thieves and cut-throats? Thus it is we make our natural selection of things, and though we travel the same roads, see things only according to the light within us—and these things are our real possessions which death cannot take away from us. Therefore, how sad it is to see folks groveling mentally, seeing only faults, feeling only troubles, hearing only groans and sighs. Let us, then, see to it that our light burns pure within us, so that, always using our past (and passing) selves as stepping-stones to further heights, we may continually see a brighter vision, a clearer scene, till at last, rising on the wings of "purer eyes than to behold iniquity," we see nothing in the whole universe but God.

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