Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/303

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A Study in Temptations.
287
 

Warbeck had all that longing of a strong nature to help some one—to feel that he was of some use in the world; and he would have undergone any suffering or hardship if he had once persuaded himself that his pain would promote another's peace. But to suffer to no purpose; to study for hours with no other desire than the accumulation of barren knowledge; to pour weak advice into unwilling ears; to offer dumb praise to a deaf God; to spend his time, as a witty philosopher has said, milking a he-goat into a sieve—these were things he could not do. He knew that he was considered promising by those friends whose judgment he could not choose but value, and his University career had more than fulfilled their expectations. Yet the self-distrust was there—a haunting thought lest, in the end, he would not only disappoint those who were dear to him on earth, but that possible God who had a way of asserting His authority in the form of a still, small conscience. Youth is naturally impatient, and is not content to remain blind for even three days like St. Paul, nor can young enthusiasm believe readily that those also serve who only stand and wait. The impulse is to rush into the fray, to kill or be killed, but both or either without loss of time or hindrance. Vanity, too, and ambition, no less than a zeal of serving the Almighty and humanity, may have something to do with the fierceness of this desire, so easy is it to flatter the soul that the glorification of self is all to the glory of God. These and similar thoughts, while they restrained Warbeck from any active participation in public affairs, were silently working for good, strengthening his judgment, and giving him some insight into his own heart and human perplexi