Signs of the Times

[From "The Glass of Fashion," by "A Gentleman with a Duster"]

Out of these propositions, reminding myself of all the goodness and sweetness that exist in England, I develop the concluding proposition, forced upon me by the state of public morality, that goodness is not enough. This idea is not new. Aristotle made a vital distinction between the excelence of conduct and the higher excellence of intelligence. But Aristotle did not develop his thesis to its revolutionary conclusion. That work was accomplished some four centuries later in the hills of Galilee, accomplished, but afterwards, except for a few, hidden away out of the knowledge of men for nearly two thousand years. We have forgotten that morality is not enough, altogether forgotten that Christ proclaimed his theory of existence as good news for mankind, himself as the Light of the World.

When it is perceived that goodness is not enough, a revolution takes place in the human mind. It flashes upon us that it is an altogether different thing from merely being good to love excellence. No longer do we think of death as an end, or the "Last Day" as an examination. We understand how it is that some perfectly good people do not inspire our affections or are even positively tiresome. We see how it is that life is so provincial and dull. Goodness is not enough. There is something beyond morality. Love of God; how different from obedience to the Mosaic Law! We feel ourselves flying, through the eternity which now visibly surrounds us on every side, as birds fly in a summer sky. Joy takes a new meaning. Power clamors for a new definition. We are not in a rut; we are not shut down in a pit. We are children of God, and, if children, then heirs of eternal life . . . "the reason always attentive, but always satisfied." This, I think, is the natural consequence of discovering our context in eternity. We enter on a new birth, a birth of joy and thanksgiving. I am coming to believe that we may now be moving toward another and far greater renaissance than that which ended the long drowse of the Middle Ages. I feel that this present darkness has become so stifling, and this present confusion so inextricable that we may expect humanity to rescue itself from a reversion to barbarism by one of those great forward movements which at long intervals in history have saved evolution from a fatal halt or a destructive recession.

Enjoy 1 free Sentinel article or audio program each month, including content from 1898 to today.

October 29, 1921

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.