At some period or other of our life there must come a time when we feel an intense longing to come to the bottom of things, to sift them through and do away with the dross. We have, that is, the majority of us, been brought up in some form or other of the Christian faith, we have been taught all the doctrines of that faith, we have learnt to believe in it all as absolute—inevitable, and we have accepted it all as truth; but a time comes, sooner or later, when we begin to wonder, to question. We learnt first perhaps of the Creation, the Garden of Eden, the fall of Adam, the lives of Abraham, Moses, David and others, which gave rise to a misty conception of a God Who ordered these things. He takes the form of a great King, of whom we are afraid, and yet feel very grateful to having created the world in which we live, we accept it all as it is taught us, seeing no injustice in the fact that every man should be stained with sin on account of the first man's sin. Day by day, as we advance in life, nature becomes more and more revealed to us, each day fresh beauties are seen and each day the Creator is more loved. The child mind is filled with worship and love for the great and beautiful world, and hence for the Creator of the beautiful. Then when the whole little soul is filled with love and reverence and awe, comes the Life of Christ. Who could read the story of the Gospels without feeling a great admiration for the main character? At all times of our life we are more or less given to hero worship, but at no time so much as during childhood and the intermediate state between childhood and manhood. Christ is an ideal character, and He is presented to us in our early years as God; we are naturally filled with a great reverence and love for Him, and an intense desire to imitate Him, to cast all evil and wrong from us, and become "Holy even as He is Holy." Then, later, though we are still filled with love and admiration, comes a time when we question: Was this sacrifice of Christ's right? Was "God just in permitting it? Then another doubt comes—Is it just that every man should start life with a dirty page? "The sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation." "What!" we cry, "are these the words of God? God Who made this world, God Who made us and loves us." The soul is filled with an agony of doubt, God, its ideal, is unjust, cruel. His own words make Him guilty of what the average human mother would not perform. "Is it possible?" the soul asks in its anguish, "Is it possible?" then after a few minutes silence comes the answer: "No, it is not possible, God cannot be unjust, He is justice itself!" The whole soul is in a tumult; dare we attribute to God things we would not perform ourselves? Dare we impute to ourselves better motives than His? Question after question arises which must be answered before the soul can rest in peace; either it must drown the voice of Reason and Conscience, and accept passively the dogmas of some creed, or it must search and search until it finds Truth, which is never far distant, though it may be hidden behind a thick cloud of conventionality, but this cloud will rapidly fade away when it is examined carefully. We have but to look around and everywhere we see evidence of a loving God, to whom it is impossible to attribute aught but loving and just actions; so we look to ourselves and can but come to the conclusion that we are unjustly judging God; are we not imputing to Him actions we would scorn to perform? Yet we have His words spoken on Mount Sinai: "I, the Lord, thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me." Yes, but who is the Father and who are the children? Cannot we all look upon ourselves as both the Father and the children? Every man is father of himself to be. He makes himself now by his actions what he is to be in the future; what he is now is the result of what he was in the past. "The sins of the fathers shall be visited upon the children;" that is, the sins of a man shall be visited upon himself from life to life, as he passes onward, ever onward to the final goal Perfection—HEAVEN. Every detail thus has its cause and effect, we get absolute justice, and there is no need to lose our faith in God, He is ever present, ruling supreme, and yet leaving us free to shape our own lives, to carve our own future; we have but to mould on and on, at times making a wrong curve which at sometime or other has to be rectified, till at last the model is perfected; then when Perfection has been reached, we know that human life is over and eternal life has begun, that is to say, Heaven, attained through merit, not through the intervention of another.
"Christ," you say, "what of Him? He is our model, our ideal, He must never be allowed to fall from the pedestal on which we set Him during our childish days; He is the Perfect Life manifested, the ideal to which we must all attain before we can expect freedom from mortal life. Christ was a spark of the living God, as we too are sparks; we are all endued with something divine, for we are thoughts of the Divine and are endowed by the Divine with will, which enables us to attain to the divine state. If we make Christ our ideal, if we follow Him, we cannot go wrong, and life will hold out to us a vast possibility, it will be more than worth the living when we keep the goal "perfection" in view.