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Thought

Thought means life, since those who do not think do not live in any high and real sense. Thinking makes the man.
—Alcott

If the above be true, then it is impossible to write too much in The Epoch on the subjects of thoughts and thinking. lf not to think is not to live in any high and real sense, then it is high time we gave a little more space to this tremendously important subject, and, if the majority will not give ear to us, we must keep on telling them until they do. As a nation we have been very busy training our young people in all the arts and sciences; we have been training men to be good soldiers, and a thousand other things, but have we been as keen about making them good thinkers? Take Germany as an example. The land of philosophy, and science, and music, the land of Schools and Colleges. We sent our daughters over to Germany to complete their education! It’s true they also sent their daughters and sons to England to complete their education. I wish they had done more of it. Again and again a German officer has saved an English officer or Tommy because he had a chum in England, or because he took his degrees at Oxford, or because he had visited in England and had received great kindnesses. l know a young man who, badly wounded and crawling back to the shelter of the English lines, fell into an old trench and was sinking rapidly in the mud when five German officers came along. He hailed them, they drew him out, gave him first aid, and cast lots as to who should take him back to the English, although he told them that he must hand over the one who accompanied him as a prisoner. The one on whom the lot fell said goodbye to his comrades and supported the wounded Tommy back to his own people,—and was made a prisoner! Surely in such men alone lies any hope for Germany! Why are not all the Germans like those five men, or the man we read of in one of our Daily Papers this week, who gave all the assistance he could to two brave Scotch laddies trying to save their officer—because he had a friend in London! Why are they not all like the Oxford Graduate who prayed not to be sent to the Western Front declaring he would not shoot an Englishman? I imagine those few great and brave men had done some thinking of the right sort. It was not the education, nor the science, nor the philosophy of Germany that made them such fine souls, but because they had done some thinking. If Germany had been as keen to make thinkers as she has been to make scholars, this war would never have stained the annals of civilization. If Prussia had been as zealous in making men of high and ideal thought, as she has been in making men of war, then never could she possibly have plunged the whole world in blood, tears and death. Emerson said,—"There is no thought in any mind, but it quickly tends to convert itself into a power, and organizes a huge instrumentality of means." Germany, whilst she taught the arts and sciences; whilst she busied herself with invention and philosophy; whilst she claimed to be one of the most Christian of all nations, whilst she was saying and doing all these things she was thinking war. Beranger, the greatest song writer of France said in 1857, "Our century is a brutal thinker," so no wonder that, out of this "quick forge and working house of thought" came this terrible war. Said Buffon, "Man thinks, and at once becomes the master of the beings that do not think." So even in this war we see the result of thought—the outcome of the dominating thought of Germany. Then if the dominating thought of Germany resulted in War, wherein shall we find that which will put an end to wars in the future? In a right thinking, as humane thinking, a clean thinking, and a brotherhood thinking people. But it must be in Right Thinking. If, as Daniel Webster said:—"Mind is the great lever of all things; human thought is the process by which human ends are alternately answered," then how necessary that we should learn to use this terrific force—the human mind—rightly. "Bad thoughts quickly ripen into bad actions." said Bishop Porteous, and Dr. Johnson said, "He who would govern his actions by the laws of virtue must regulate his thoughts by those of reason.

Now if, as Bovee said, "the greatest events of an age are its best thoughts," is it not the most important thing in the world, and in life, that we study the laws governing thought—that we seek to know the full force and power of thought—that we begin to teach the young the vast importance of thinking?

"Our growing thought makes growing revelation" and when we seriously as a people, begin to think deeply on the importance of thought, and the inevitable issue, then will revelation after revelation be given unto us, and we shall understand that until we have learned how to think we have not learned how to live. When Herder, the German Philosopher and Poet lay dying, he said to his son—"Give me a great thought, that I may quicken myself with it,"—and well might we all pray that our thoughts may become great that we may be quickened by them into Life—a new life that we have hitherto missed through the want of great thoughts. We all know, if we will but give it two minutes thought that "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he, or as the Roman Thinker said, 83 B.C.,—"Our dispositions will be suitable to that which we most frequently think on; for the soul is, as it were, tinged with the color and complexion of its own thoughts," and the same man said, "The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts; therefore guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature."

I am astonished that we have heard so little about the power of thought and the importance of right thinking from our pulpits, and have read so little of it in our religious books and papers. As I try to make time to keep the company of the great and good of all ages, in their immortal writings, l am impressed again and again at the many things those men and women said about the Force of Thought. How is it the teaching has been so neglected? Why was it lost sight of and buried beneath a great heap of doctrines, dogmas, rituals, ceremonies, and religious observances for so long? Why have these things been put forward as the most important, and the power of thought, and the force of thought, and the effect of thought, been forgotten? Did not Milton say,—

He that hath light within his own clear breast,
May sit i’ th' centre and enjoy bright day;
But he that hides a dark soul, and foul thoughts,
Benighted walks under the midday sun.

The Buddha said,—

All that we are is the result of thought; it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. lf a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him as the wheel follows the foot of him who draws the carriage.

Pestalozzi, the great educational reformer, and Swiss author said,—

Thinking leads men to knowledge. He may see and hear, and read and learn as much as he please, he will never know any of it except that which he has thought over, that which by thinking he has made the property of his mind. Is it then saying too much if I say, that man by thinking only becomes truly man? Take away thought from man’s life, and what remains?

Emerson said,—

Thoughts rule the world.

I might quote many more such passages which go to show that this great subject has exercised the minds of many of the world’s greatest writers, and that to them it was a well known Law, and they did not hide their knowledge from the public, nor place their light under a bushel, but gave it out faithfully, that "thoughts rule the world." How then should we think to bring about a different condition of things in the future than that which exists today? How should we begin to order our minds so that we may become more humane, stronger, purer, greater, in the true meaning of greatness. How can Germany free herself that she may no more be enslaved by the men who think war, and ambition, and terror, and horror, and death? It lies in her own power as a nation to be free from these things in the future by becoming thinkers. Remember, whether a man or a nation thinks good thoughts or bad thoughts that man or nation becomes the master of the men and nation that do no thinking for themselves, but are lead, willy-nilly, by men in power. Let one nation think strongly on war and bend all its energies in that direction; and let another do very little thinking at all in any direction, then the nation who thought will become the master of the nation who did not think, even though the thoughts were evil, and inhuman, and vile. We know it. Then let us become a THINKING people; let us take heed to the POWER OF THOUGHT; let us begin to train our young people in the art of thinking. First, how to think, Second, what to think; and let us impress it upon them that they are THINKING INTO BEING THE ENGLAND THAT IS TO BE.

We should round every day of stirring action with an evening of thought. We learn nothing of our experience except we muse upon it.
—Christian Nestell Bovee
Good thoughts are blessed guests, and should be heartily welcomed, well fed and much sought after. Like rose leaves they give out a sweet smell if laid up in the jar of memory.
—Charles Spurgeon

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