The Chief End of Man
320 Pages
English

The Chief End of Man

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Chief End of Man, by George S. Merriam
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it,
give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at
www.gutenberg.net
Title: The Chief End of Man
Author: George S. Merriam
Release Date: August 22, 2007 [EBook #22371]
Language: English
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE CHIEF END OF MAN ***
Produced by Al Haines
THE CHIEF END OF MAN
BY
GEORGE S. MERRIAM BOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
The Riverside Press, Cambridge
1897
Copyright, 1897,
BY GEORGE S. MERRIAM.
All rights reserved.
The chief end of man,—to define it anew, and cite the witness of the ages, may seem an audacious attempt, likely to
issue in failure or in commonplace. By the scholar this work must often be judged as crude, to the churchman it will
sometimes seem mischievous, and to the man of science it may appear to lack solidity of demonstration. But its
essential purpose is to utter afresh, though it be with stammering tongue, the message with which the universe has
answered the soul of man whenever he listened most closely and obeyed most faithfully.
It is the assurance that Fidelity, Truth-seeking, Courage, and Love are the rightful lords of human life, and its sufficient
guides and interpreters. It is the knowledge that as man is true to his best self he finds the universe his ...

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Published 08 December 2010
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Chief End of
Man, by George S. Merriam
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at
no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.
You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the
terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
Title: The Chief End of Man
Author: George S. Merriam
Release Date: August 22, 2007 [EBook #22371]
Language: English
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG
EBOOK THE CHIEF END OF MAN ***
Produced by Al HainesTHE CHIEF END OF
MAN
BY
GEORGE S. MERRIAMBOSTON AND NEW YORK
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
The Riverside Press, Cambridge
1897
Copyright, 1897,
BY GEORGE S. MERRIAM.
All rights reserved.
The chief end of man,—to define it anew, and cite
the witness of the ages, may seem an audacious
attempt, likely to issue in failure or in
commonplace. By the scholar this work must often
be judged as crude, to the churchman it will
sometimes seem mischievous, and to the man of
science it may appear to lack solidity of
demonstration. But its essential purpose is to utter
afresh, though it be with stammering tongue, the
message with which the universe has answered
the soul of man whenever he listened most closelyand obeyed most faithfully.
It is the assurance that Fidelity, Truth-seeking,
Courage, and Love are the rightful lords of human
life, and its sufficient guides and interpreters. It is
the knowledge that as man is true to his best self
he finds the universe his friend.
That message the seeing eye reads in the face of
earth, and the listening ear hears it in the song of
the morning stars. The will finds it as answer to its
loyal endeavor. The heart wins it through rapture
and through anguish. It is our dearest inheritance,
it is our most arduous achievement. It is the sword
with which each man must conquer his destiny. It
is the smile with which Beatrice welcomes her lover
to Paradise.CONTENTS
PROLOGUE
I. OUR SPIRITUAL ANCESTRY
II. THE IDEAL OF TO-DAY
III. A TRAVELER'S NOTE-BOOK
IV. GLIMPSES
V. DAILY BREADTHE CHIEF END OF MAN
PROLOGUE
It sometimes happens that a man is confronted by
a perplexing crisis, before which he is quite at a
loss how to direct his course. His familiar rules and
habits seem to fail him, and his perplexity
approaches dismay. At such a time, if his previous
life has been guided by purpose and consideration,
he may perhaps help himself by looking attentively
back at the steps by which he has hitherto
advanced. He recalls other crises, he sees how
they were met, and light, it may be, breaks on the
path before him, or at least he takes fresh heart
and hope.
Some such crisis confronts the thoughtful mind of
the world to-day, in the disappearance of the old
sanctions of religion. When the idea of an
authoritative revelation of divine truth has been
finally dislodged, there are moments when moral
chaos seems to impend. We are still upheld by old
habits and associations, we are borne along by
forces mightier than our creeds or negations, and
the loyal spirit catches at moments the "deeper
voice across the storm," even though the voice be
inarticulate. But it is felt that we need to somehow
define anew the rule of life. By what road shall man
attain his supreme desire,—how can he be good,
and how can he be happy?As the individual seeks help in looking back over
his course, so it may help us if we look back a little
over some of the significant passages in the
movement of mankind. History is to the race what
memory is to the individual. One's best treasure is
the memory of his happy and heroic hours. The
best treasure of humanity is the story of its happy
and heroic souls. Let us call before us some of
these, and see how they answered the questions
we ask.
Following this clew, we run back along the line of
what may be called "our spiritual ancestry." Turning
naturally to our own next of kin, a child of New
England, going back from the teaching of his youth
to his fathers and to their fathers, soon finds
before him the Puritan. When we study the Puritan
it appears that he was a most composite product,
and that just behind him, and essential to the
understanding of him, is the great mediaeval
church. Studying the church, there is nothing for it
but to go back to its foundation, and ponder well
the one from whose person and teaching it grew.
And to know at all the mind of Jesus we must know
something of the mind of Judaism, of which he was
the child. Indeed, the popular religion of to-day
bases itself directly on the Old and New
Testaments; so that our lineage must clearly be
traced from this as one of its origins. Another
ancient line attracts us, by a history which blends
with Judaism at the birth of Christianity, and by a
literature which is rich in moral treasures. We must
glance at some of the landmarks of the Greek and
Roman story.And here our present study may define its bounds.
We will not go back to the progress from the
animal up to man, nor survey the prehistoric man;
nor will we turn aside to the religions of Egypt,
Arabia, and the East; and we can but lightly glance
at the early Teutonic people from whom we are
descended after the flesh. It will sufficiently serve
our purpose if we touch a few salient points among
our more direct progenitors in the life of the spirit.
And, after all, our richest search will be in the years
nearest ourselves.
But no version of history simply as history gives an
adequate basis for the higher life. That life must be
worked out by each for himself, equipped as he
finds himself by inheritance and circumstance, and
guided largely by the sure and simple laws of
conduct which he drew in with his mother's milk.
Study and thought may help a little, and so such
essays as the present are offered for whatever
they may afford. Of all human studies, history, at
its best,—the knowledge of whatever of worthiest
the past of mankind affords,—such history is of all
studies most delightful and inspiring, for it is the
contact through books with noble souls—and the
touch of a great soul is a natural sacrament. Such
history has significance mainly as its events and
characters find parallels in the mind that reads.
The soul of to-day, catching from the past the
voices of prophets and leaders, thrills with a sense
of kinship. The story of American independence
means most when the reader has fought his own
Bunker Hill, and wintered at Valley Forge, andtriumphed at Yorktown. The death of Socrates has
small significance unless something in the reader's
heart answers to his affirmation that "nothing evil
can happen to a good man, in living or dying." The
life of Jesus and the story of Christianity are most
fully understood when life's experience has brought
the Mount of Vision and the Garden of
Gethsemane, the cross and passion, the
resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit.
The interest of the present study is in the
illustration of certain great spiritual laws. These are
laws of which every man may make proof for
himself. He may find instances of their working in
any close observation of his nearest neighbor, or in
reading his newspaper. He may find the clearest
exemplification of them in studying the noblest men
and women he has known, or, if his life has been
worth living, in recalling the most critical and
significant passages of his own experience. The
reading of these laws is the latest and finest result
of the experience of the race. In their substance,
they are acknowledged by all good men. No wholly
new path to goodness and happiness is likely to be
suddenly discovered; certainly no essentially new
ideal of what kind of goodness and happiness we
are to seek. The saints and heroes are all of one
fellowship, though they do not all speak the same
language. In a word, there are certain traits of
character which all men whose opinion we value
now recognize as supremely worthy of cultivation.
To seek to know things as they really are; to fit our
actions to our best knowledge; to conform in word
and act to the truth as we see it; to seek the good