Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/65

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SERMON BY F. D. MAURICE

have time to think what a nationality is, that it should be worth so much. I feel that it is worth everything. I suppose every nation has a separate work to do, which would be left undone were it extinct. I think a nation can never perish till it has so far neglected its mission that its existence has no more meaning. If it has fulfilled its work it will be given more to do; so with the Jews; they had borne witness to a living Ruler, a King of the people; they had had glimpses that the King would be more fully revealed; they believed that it was He who had brought them out of captivity, had strengthened them in battle. They had forgotten Him, and asked for a visible king like the other nations, when their glory was to be different from them, those other nations. The king was given; the prophet saw that there was a divine meaning in the cry for one; but Saul was the representative of the people, he was a mere general. He was wrecked; and yet there was a meaning in the offer. The earthly king might set himself up, might tyrannize over the people; but he was the continual witness of a power, which he might recognize and bow before; life was as nothing to the Israelites, nationality everything. And they did not fall because they thought so little of life; they thought too much of it, if you look upon life as merely the breath. But if life is the light of men, we have no evidence, we can have none, that it is in the power of man to take it away. They did not give it, and they cannot destroy it. If in Him was the life, in Him it is, and ever will be; we may surely trust to Him those whom He has made. The light which shined in the darkness was surely that which has been in our soldiers, in the long suffering they have had; their breath, their bodies man can destroy; but that which