Lost Blessings

Psalms 137:1.---'By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.'

How often when a man should be at his best, if training and experience go for anything, do we find him silent, depressed, and perhaps morose in the home; with these characteristics, so far as it is safe to indulge them, in his other relationships to the world generally. This may be the outcome of many things; frequently enough it resolves itself into one. Few men can do their best, most men find it terribly hard to escape their worst, when the fluid of the greater possibilities has hardened while yet unused, and the possibilities are no more. Much of the gray existence many of us have to endure, much of the eclipse of our hopes, is the truth in a greater or less degree---we are by the rivers of the Babylon of our own making; we are in the ranks of those who remember only to regret.

When a man has thrown away his chances, which, used, would have put money to his credit, and incense into his realized ambitions; that he should hear himself called a fool and should know himself to be what he is called---we mostly understand that. It has to do with loss in the things seen and actual. But there is a river of Babylon with a deeper source and a deadlier flow. What about the things neglected, the trust betrayed, and the day of grace slighted in the sphere of the Unseen and Eternal? We realize what it means to lose our world; do we even try to realize what it means to lose our life?

It is sad to have failed in good that can never be recovered; but it is sadder still to lose the living in the folly of mourning a dead past. Jesus taught an irreparable past, but never without reminding us of the available present. He said, 'Let the dead bury their dead'; and He said, 'Follow thou me.' We can, if we will, strengthen the things that remain; we can do more, we can change them into the nature of a sacrament, and round them as with the finish and calm of a Holy benediction. The song which the redeemed sing in heaven is not the song of Eden, it is 'a new song.' Out of the experience of our folly, our failure, and our sin---with it all behind us, we must move on to our better future.

And we can. Our failures are failures only when we accept them for what they seem. He only is beaten who has settled it with himself that he does not intend to try again. If we are sincere in our repentance over a wasted past, and in earnest to lay hold of the present, then we enter a Divine economy where even failures can be utilized. This is where Christianity enters with the word of authority, and places against the fact of our failure the power to use it as a spur and incentive towards higher things. The Apostle Paul would never have written the Epistle to the Galatians---that Magna Charta of the souls liberty in Christ---had he not once been a proud and persecuting ecclesiastic.

In his Confessions St. Augustine has left record in literature of a profligate and shameful past, of a deep repentance and flight to God for succor, and of a grand recovery alike to moral obedience and to splendid service. The profligate of Carthage becomes in Rome the first of the four great Latin Fathers of the Church, exercising an influence on Christian thought and life second only to that of the Apostle Paul. In this case, as in many others which might be recorded, the springs of action were not lamed by the memory of a mournful past, but rather quickened into finer intensity and more strenuous endeavor.

Let us not sit too long by the rivers of Babylon remembering our Zions. While we have life and moral responsibility there is always something we can do. It would be foolish to ignore the sterner aspect of life, but we are not asked to accept it as despotic. It is a sad thing to say of a day wasted, it is too late to mend it; and how much more awful to say it of a life. Let us begin, then, not from a past to which we can never go back, or from an imaginary future which we have not reached. Let us begin from the present with its treasury of good---yes, and its accumulation of evil; and keeping the pathway unbroken from the past, through the present to the future, press on in answer to the call of the great good God whose word is ever onward and upward.

The child of God does not look backward to gain fresh energy. His energy is the energy of hope, and not of retrospection. He presses forward; his glance is ever onward.

In Christ, timothy. Our Lord Comes