Page:The World's Famous Orations Volume 5.djvu/212

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THE WORLD'S FAMOUS ORATIONS

emulation, and the weariness of despair. Is it not then, when all seems blank and lightless, when strength and courage flag, and when per- fection seems remote as a star, is it not then that imperfection helps us? When we see that the greatest and choicest images of God have had their weaknesses like ours, their temptations, their hour of darkness, their bloody sweat, are we not encouraged by their lapses and catas- trophes to find energy for one more effort, one more struggle? Where they failed, we feel it a less dishonor to fail ; their errors and sorrows make, as it were, an easier ascent from infinite imperfection to infinite perfection.

Man, after all, is not ripened by virtue alone. Were it so, this world were a paradise of angels. No. Like the growth of the earth, he is the fruit of all seasons, the accident of a thousand acci- dents, a living mystery moving through the seen to the unseen; he is sown in dishonor; he is matured under all the varieties of heat and cold, in mists and wrath, in snow and vapors, in the melancholy of autumn, in the torpor of winter as well as in the rapture and fragrance of sum- mer, or the balmy affluence of spring, its breath, its sunshine ; at the end he is reaped, the product not of one climate but of all, not of good alone but of sorrow, perhaps mellowed and ripened, perhaps stricken and- withered and sour. How, then, shall we judge anyone ? How, at any rate, shall we judge a giant, great in gifts and great in temptation; great in strength, and great in 182

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