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   Chapter 3 SACRIFICE

Religion And Health By James J. Walsh Characters: 36262

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04

The essence of religion is sacrifice. St. Paul summed it up in his own inimitable fashion when he said, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." The supreme exercise of religious feeling is the readiness to make sacrifices because one feels that it is the will of the Deity that they should be made. The "Century Dictionary's" definition of sacrifice, "the giving up of some prized or desirable thing in behalf of a higher object", represents the state of mind that one must have if one is desirous of practicing religion sincerely. The tendency to make sacrifices seems almost to be ingrained in humanity and to be a sort of instinct. It is one of these precious manifestations of nature so difficult to understand and yet representing some great basic principle of humanity. The feeling of satisfaction that comes with it represents that compensation for the exercise of a natural function which so often accompanies natural processes and is sometimes supposed to be a feature only of the physical yet is so invariably found also in the moral order.

From the very earliest times men have made sacrifices in the spirit of religion. Now that the story of the cave man is known not by inference but by actual discovery {60} of his remains in the caves of western France and northern Spain, we find that he was an artist who invented oil colors, grinding the oxides of manganese and of iron in mortars and mixing them with the rendered fat of animals and painting some of the most vivid pictures of animals that have ever been made on the walls of his cave in order to make his home beautiful. Instead of being just a little better than the beasts, he was an artist, and an artist is at all times the flower of our civilization, ahead of and not behind the rest of the race. In the tombs of the cave men finely made tools have been found buried with the bodies, demonstrating the belief in a hereafter and the readiness of those who were left behind to make sacrifices for their dead. For these tools had been produced at the cost of no little labor, and in the values of the time were precious. In order that their dead friend might be happy in another world they were quite willing to make these sacrifices and to devote other efforts to securing happiness for him. They devoted a good deal of care to the disposal of the body and even buried red coloring matter with the remains so that their dead friend might not look too pale in the next world and perhaps be the subject of remark, because of that. We rouge our corpses in our time again, but with the idea of making them presentable for this world.

This state of mind which prompts man to make a sacrifice is, almost needless to say, extremely valuable for health and for happiness, because it makes people ready to offer up their feelings in case of disappointment and even to be ready to accept trials that may come to them-and life is sure to have them-as representing opportunities for the making of sacrifices. If one has set one's heart on something and has devoted great efforts to getting it {61} and then finds that owing to circumstances it cannot be secured, nothing is so effective as the deep religious feeling of sacrifice to aid in keeping the disappointment from affecting health and strength.

We need it at the present time sadly, and its eclipse through decadence of religion has been a great misfortune. Modern life has been very much disturbed by the fact that insanity and suicides are both on the increase to an almost alarming extent and that, sad to say, the average age at which they occur is steadily becoming earlier. Suicide happens at ever younger years just in proportion, it would seem, to the spread of popular education and the lessening of the influence of religion, while at the same time the necessity for restraint for insanity and of internments in asylums is also coming at a younger age. People used to go through with some of the very hard things of life before they were ready to give up struggling or broke down in mind, but now some of the minor trials of early life-a petty setback in school examinations or disappointment in a youthful love affair-may bring about a very serious breakdown in physical or mental health and may even lead to suicide.

We need ever so much more training in the discipline of sacrifice even from very earliest youth, but almost needless to say this can come practically only from religion, and religious influences are waning for a great many people. All young folks must be trained to give things up voluntarily so that when disappointment comes they are ready for it. They must be taught to stand some of the disagreeable things in life so that they may have the will power to endure even the hardest ones, if they should be called upon to do so. Such discipline, instead of being cruel, is really kind, for constituted as life is and with {62} hardships and trials inevitable to the great majority of people, it is all-important that we should be prepared for them. It is the role of religion particularly to do this. It can accomplish it without producing unfortunate reactions, but on the contrary with personal satisfaction to the individual who has to be trained in endurance because of the feeling that the sacrifices have a worth beyond that of the merely material.

Whole-hearted sacrifice will lift a character up to heights of heroism that are supremely admirable and make life exemplary, though the failure to take the opportunities for sacrifice may lead to crushing of the spirit entirely. Almost inevitably this brings about disturbance of health as well as deterioration of character. The loss of children by death, particularly when there are but one or two children in a family, as is so frequent in modern times, often brings on a state of mental perturbation in which the health of mind and body, especially of women, may suffer severely. Religion, with its development of the spirit of sacrifice, whenever it is taken seriously, is the best possible sheet anchor in such cases, and the gradual diminution of religious feelings and abandonment of religious practice during the present generation have greatly multiplied the tendency to such severe breakdowns.

A distinguished scientist. Professor Whittaker, the Royal Astronomer of Ireland, dwelt on the scientific aspect of sacrifice for high purpose in a way that is illuminating and serves to make our generation understand better the enduring nature of sacrifice in creation and the place that it has in the up-building of what is best in life.

"Surrender to the will of God generally means the giving up of some of the delights of the world. Like the {63} coral island built up on the accumulations of its own past life, the perfected kingdom is to be reached only by the sacrifice of countless generations of its own up-builders. But-and this is the greatest of all evidence of the divine life within humanity-in all ages men have left the pleasures of their former life to obey the inward call. The long procession that leads to the distant goal is reunited afresh in every generation: and to-day millions have found the joy of a life centered round the words of the Master, 'Repent', 'Follow Me.'"

A distinguished mathematician who is at the same time a very well-known physical scientist declared not long since that the formula for happiness may be expressed as follows:

h = g/w

In this, h stands for the amount of individual happiness and is equal to what the individual has got, g, divided by w, what he wants. If a man has a great deal but wants ever so much more, his fraction of happiness may be comparatively small. If he has got even a little but does not want much more, his fraction of happiness may approach an integer. If he has got anything in the world and does not want anything more, according to the terms of the formula, he is infinitely happy, for one divided by zero equals infinity (1/0=infinity). What is important for men for their happiness then is not so much to try to increase the numerator by adding to or even multiplying their possessions, but to decrease the denominator by lessening their wants and by decreasing the number of things without which they feel that they cannot be happy.


Almost needless to say the one element above all in life which enables men to reduce their wants and to live in satisfaction with few things is religion. A great many men in the history of the race have for religious motives assumed the obligations of voluntary poverty and have greatly increased satisfaction in life and have found happiness thereby. The multiplication of material wants which after a time become needs that actually cannot be dispensed with without a feeling of serious deprivation leads to such preoccupation with mere bodily concerns that no time is left to live the life of the spirit and really to enjoy the things of the mind and the heart and the soul with the supreme satisfaction which their experience gives to us. The old pagan poet, Horace, suggested long ago that he hated the apparatus of luxury because it took away so much of the simple enjoyment of life and consumed so much time in idle concerns. Nothing is so helpful in enabling men to simplify life as religious motives. They learn to make the sacrifice of certain inclinations and feelings that would tempt them to rival other men and to be satisfied with a little for the sake of the lessened allurements to luxury that are thus secured for themselves and their children. Health comes as a by-product of this simplification of life as it is not likely to come under any other circumstances.

To all men there comes, sooner or later in life, the realization that the getting of things cannot bring happiness. Oscar Wilde said in one of his well-known caustic epigrams, "There are two tragedies in life; the one is not getting what you want and the other is getting it; and of the two the latter is the worse." Quite apart from the pessimism and the exaggeration of the apothegm which constitutes only part of the humor, there is a great deal of {65} truth in the expression, as all men learn eventually. What Faust said to Mephistopheles was that "if ever a time shall come when I shall be willing to say to the passing moment 'stay you with me, for I shall be satisfied with you forever' then you may have my soul." All that the devil had to do was to make him happy, but that is impossible, for "man never is, but to be blessed." There is no lasting satisfaction in getting, for men increase their desires with everything they get.

Men come to realize, if they gather wisdom with the years, that the fruit of striving and the quest after anything in the world, be it riches or knowledge or honor or power, is of itself but dust and ashes in the mouth once the goal has been reached, for it is the quest and not the attainment, the hunt and not the capture that counts in life, and the only thing that can possibly give any genuine satisfaction to man is the cultivation of the spirit of sacrifice. Sacrifices made for a higher power give life a meaning that it would otherwise have lost. For those who have reached the years beyond middle life, the blessedness of giving rather than receiving, of making sacrifices rather than seeking satisfaction, means the renewal of life's hopes and aspirations.

It is making a virtue of necessity to cultivate the spirit of sacrifice, but then it was a great philosopher who said that "the only virtue worth while talking about is the virtue that is made out of necessity." Most of the things in life that are really worth while we have to do whether we want to or not, and it is the spirit in which they are done that lifts them out of the rut of common-place, sordid, everyday actions into the realm of spiritual significance, because they are done for a great purpose. Each act of sacrifice may thus be made an act of worship {66} of the Deity and have almost an infinite value. This makes even the minor acts of life produce a satisfaction not otherwise possible and gives a new significance to life when the novelty of living has worn off and when the taedium vitae, the tiredness with life that comes to every one after a while, if mere human motives prevail, steals over us.

There is a passage in the Scriptures, the truth of which a good many people seem to doubt in the modern time, though the experience of centuries has confirmed it. "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Those who have experienced the delightful satisfaction of giving whole-heartedly, even when they did not have much to give, realize the truth of this. By comparison, the poor are the great givers among men, giving ever so much more in proportion to their means than do the rich, almost without exception, and it is to them particularly that these divine words have come home. They are ready to make all sorts of personal sacrifices to help those around them, almost as a rule, and they know the blessedness of giving. If the rich gave to others in anything like the proportion to what the poor so commonly do, there would be no suffering from poverty.

The sacrifices which they make bring with them a satisfaction that is eminently conducive to health. There is nothing like the sleep that comes with the consciousness of good accomplished for others, and the poor enjoy that just in proportion to the sacrifice that their doing of good has entailed. Giving up has often meant much for others, but it usually means more for oneself. The consciousness of having relieved the necessities of others is probably the best appetizer and somnifacient that we have. We talk of "sleeping the sleep of the just", and {67} the just man is above all the one who thinks of others. Feelings of depression and melancholy, when not actually the consequence of organic disease or hereditary impairment of mentality, are probably better relieved by the consciousness of doing good to others than in any other way. This is particularly true when the doing of good entails some special sacrifice on the doer of it. Nervousness, in the broad general sense of that word, is at bottom very often a manifestation of selfishness, that is, oversolicitude about oneself and one's affairs, and nothing so serves to neutralize it as personal sacrifices made for others.

Sacrifice, moreover, is the fundamental element in most of the practices of religion. It represents the underlying factor of charity and fasting and mortification, for personal sacrifices have to be made of time and money and often of inclination and immediate personal satisfaction in order to accomplish these. As they are treated in separate chapters, they need only be mentioned here as representing component elements in that readiness to make sacrifices for the sake of others and oneself which Providence seems to demand.

Nothing requires so much sacrifice from men and women, even to the giving up of life itself, as war, and yet when whole-heartedly entered into, it becomes a magnificent discipline of humanity, affording satisfactions that are supreme and leaving memories that are the most precious for the race. Above all, men learn in time of war that there are things in life that are worth more than life itself, and there is no knowledge in the world that is so precious for mankind as this.

How much war's sacrifices may mean for the development of character Professor William James has {68} emphasized in his essay on the "Moral Equivalent of War." He confesses the paradox, but he says:

"Ask all our millions, north and south, whether they would vote now (were such a thing possible) to have our war for the Union expunged from history, and the record of a peaceful transition to the present time substituted for that of its marches and battles, and probably hardly a handful of eccentrics would say yes. Those ancestors, those efforts, those memories and legends, are the most ideal part of what we now own together, a sacred spiritual possession worth more than all the blood poured out. Yet ask those same people whether they would be willing in cold blood to start another civil war now to gain another similar possession, and not one man or woman would vote for the proposition."

It must not be forgotten that strengthening of character, war's invariable effect on the man of moral aims, always diminishes the dreads of life. They mean ever so much not only for the development of the psychoneuroses and the whole domain of neurotic symptoms so common in our time, but also for the exaggeration of the symptoms of real physical disease which makes patients so uncomfortable, or full of complaints, and has led to so many useless operations in our generation.

Professor James even ventured to suggest that "the dread hammer (of war) is the welder of men into cohesive states, and nowhere but in such states can human nature adequately develop its capacity. The only alternative is degeneration." He adds that "the martial type of character can be bred without war", but only under very special circumstances and where men have been willing to give themselves up to a great cause. "Priests and medical men are in a fashion educated to it, {69} and we should all feel some degree of it imperative if we were conscious of our work as an obligatory service to the State. We should be owned, as soldiers are by the army, and our pride would arise accordingly. We could be poor then without humiliation, as army officers now are."

Mr. H. G. Wells, in one of his paradoxical moods, has dwelt on how far the sacrifices needed for military life have lifted the life of the soldier above that of the civilian, in so far as its social value is concerned. "When the contemporary man steps from the street of clamorous insincere advertisement, push, adulteration, underselling and intermittent employment into the barrack-year, he steps on to a higher social plane, into an atmosphere of service and cooperation and of infinitely

more honorable emulations. Here at least men are not flung out of employment to degenerate because there is no immediate work for them to do. They are fed and drilled and trained for better services. Here at least a man is supposed to win promotion by self-forgetfulness and not by self-seeking."

The war spirit with its necessary sacrifices serves to lift men above the dreads that wear away other lives and makes it very clear what the spirit of whole-hearted sacrifice can accomplish in keeping life from being disturbed by fear thoughts of many kinds. It might possibly be thought that the supreme call made upon nature's power to overcome such dreads, when combined with the extreme physical efforts that war often calls for and the draft upon nature's resources that the healing of wounds demands, would surely shorten the lives of military men, and that soldiers and officers, but above all these latter, would have on the average much less expectancy of life than the rest of mankind. Apart from actual fatal {70} wounds, this is not true, however, but on the contrary men who have suffered severely from wounds, who have been placed under heavy burdens of responsibility and have gone through trials that would seem calculated to exhaust nature's powers, have lived far beyond the average length of life and even long beyond the vast majority of men. Lord Roberts, wounded over and over again, once shot almost to pieces, getting his Victoria Cross for bravery of the highest type, lived, still active, well past eighty and died from pneumonia behind the lines in the Great War quite as any man of the generation after his might have done. Sir Evelyn Wood is another typical instance of this living well beyond eighty in the enjoyment of health and strength and power to be of use to his country.

The spirit of sacrifice for a great patriotic purpose is like the spirit of sacrifice from religious motives which blesses while it furnishes the highest satisfactions that can come to a man. If men and women could be brought to exercise from religious motives in time of peace as much of the spirit of sacrifice as they do for war and patriotism, the world would be a very wonderful place in which to live. As it is, there are a great many who do so and whose lives have become veritable blessings for others and yet sources of supreme satisfaction to themselves. Their thoroughgoing faith and trust are examples to others that make life not only ever so much easier in the midst of hardships, but that give a new depth to the belief in immortality, because these others whose lives are so admirable have such a supreme faith in it that they direct all their actions to its reflection. As Professor Osler said in delivering the Ingersoll lecture on immortality at Harvard, a great many of us believe {71} because there are around us persons, often those whom we love dearly, whose lives and faith mean so much to us that their confidence in immortality is imparted to us.

Religion is above all the motive of sacrifice that makes life more efficient and is productive of the healthy mind in the healthy body. It has quite equaled war in this regard, and the lives of missionaries, when lived under the most difficult circumstances, have often lasted long beyond even the Psalmist's limit of three-score years and ten. I have in mind as I write a dear old missionary who is still with us who spent twenty years with the Nez Percés Indians in the distant West, sharing all the hardships of the tribe and yet accomplishing very little in the matter of winning them to Christianity until at the end of that long time his leg was broken by a fall. The manly, uncomplaining courage with which he bore the accident won the hearts of the warriors, and they were ready to become Christians and to follow whole-heartedly the principles of religion which could make a white man so completely a man in every sense of the word as they had found their missionary. His health in the midst of all this had been excellent, and he is now in Alaska, past eighty, standing the climate and the trials of that country.

It is surprising how weak women, in the spirit of religious sacrifice, accomplish what seems almost the impossible and actually live healthier lives after they have given up everything and there is nothing more for them to dread. We have all heard of the story of Father Damien who so bravely went to Molokai in order to care for the lepers, but how many know that religious women have offered themselves for similar purposes, and not only at Molokai but at Tracadie in Canada and in {72} Louisiana have given themselves up for life to the care of lepers? I know from records that some of these women, after having made the supreme sacrifice, were actually better in health living among the lepers than they had been when apparently living under much more favorable circumstances in their city homes. Some of them have lived to be very old, and none of them have contracted the disease. The story of such a striking personal sacrifice as that of Father Damien among the lepers at Molokai, crowned by years of suffering and death, attracts sensational attention, but it must not be forgotten that he is only one of many who have given up all in similar spirit. There were many like him, though utterly unknown to the world, who in China, in distant India, in Central Africa, or among the Indians in our own country, have sacrificed everything that the world deems most satisfying just to give themselves to the care of their savage brothers. I shall never forget dropping off years ago one day in the West at the then little station of Missoula in Montana to meet an old teacher of mine who had been famous for his knowledge of Greek and of the Aristotelian philosophy and who was then engaged in taking care of Indians, where none of these special intellectual acquirements were of any service, but where his hearty good cheer made him the best of missionaries. He had made his sacrifice; he said there were plenty of others who could do the teaching of Greek and philosophy, and he felt the call to do something for others who needed his personal services. He was in better health than he had been in years and in better spirits, and there was a look about him which indicated that some of the hundred-fold promised to those who give to the Lord was already coming back to him.


Many a man and woman in this country and in England has been lifted out of the depths, even out of the very "slough of despond" where dreads abound and a healthy mind in a healthy body is almost impossible of attainment, by reading about the work of Doctor Wilfred Grenfell, who has so nobly given himself and his professional services to the care of the poor fishermen on the Labrador coast. Their sufferings are often so severe as to be almost unbearable, especially during the winter time, and yet they cling to their little homes on the rugged coast, ready to bear through successive winters the vicissitudes of a climate and the bitter struggle for existence which seem almost beyond the endurance of human nature and where they need so much the sympathy and kindliness which have been extended to them by Doctor Grenfell. Any one who has come in contact with him personally learns that this spirit of sacrifice so finely exemplified and exercised to high achievement has made him a charmingly sympathetic man whom everybody who comes to know is sure to like, and who exhibits the best traits of the race in some of their highest forms of expression. Withal he is a very practical, common-sense individual grafted on the lofty idealist. His sacrifices have done him good, and the example of them has stimulated and helped an immense number of other people besides the special objects of his devotion on the Labrador coast.

What marvelous examples men can give in this way, examples which fairly quicken life in other and weaker brethren and set them at their tasks whole-heartedly to accomplish whatever they can when otherwise they would have been discouraged and downcast and apt to find excuses in poor health or weakness, is well illustrated {74} by Doctor Grenfell's life and also by that of many others in our own day. I count it as one of the privileges of life to have been a close friend for some precious years of the man of whom one of those who came in contact with him has told the story which I shall quote. His example was all the more striking because it had for background that flagrant exhibition of the selfishness of men which a rush to new gold fields always presents. He was engaged in quite a different quest that for him seemed much more important, and he went on with his work in the midst of the excitement as calmly as if men all around him were not exhausting all their natural powers to the limit for a fancied prize which they were sure would make them happy.

"All of us can remember the mad rush for gold to the Klondyke, out on the northern edge of the world. Nature has pushed her ice barriers far to the south of it and fringed them for leagues with impenetrable forest and towering mountain and treacherous river, as though to guard her treasure. Men, lured by the golden gleams, essayed to break through. In tens of thousands they plunged into the unknown wilderness, pushing in frenzied haste through forest and ca?on and river.

"By thousands they fell and died, and but a remnant crept out on the deadly Yukon plain, every step on which was a fight for life.

"Some of the first of these hardy adventurers were making their way across the frozen Alaskan waste when they saw ahead something moving that stood out black against the blinding white of the snow. Stumbling through snowdrifts, waist-deep in ice hollows, jumping treacherous crevasses, they pushed on, and the dark spot gradually took shape. It was a loaded dog-sledge, and {75} in front, hauling laboriously, were a man and a dog. He was alone, and they stared in wonder at him, as if to ask what manner of man was this, so contentedly traveling in this land of dreadful silence,-a land that seemed to be the tomb of all living things that ventured into it. He gave them cheery greeting as they passed by, stopping not, for here the race was to the swift and strong, and wished them good fortune. Their guide knew him, and they learned with astonishment that it was not love of gold that had made him risk his life on that frozen tundra. That gray-haired man with the kindly face, buffeted by the icy wind that cut like a whiplash, and bent low under the sledge rope, was the best-known man in the Klondyke. His sledge was loaded with medicine and food for poor sick miners, 'his boys', as he called them, whom he kindly cared for in a hospital that with his own hands he had helped to build in the town in the valley of gold. They saw him next day, as he came down the street, still harnessed to the sledge; they saw the crowds that rushed from the canvas buildings on either side and pressed forward to shake his hand, and laughingly take the sledge from him, and swing along the street, filling it from side to side, to where at the far end stood his hospital; they saw him enter, and when they heard the shout of joy that burst forth from the inmates, at the sight of the only man that stood between them and death, tears sprang to their eyes, and they too pressed forward to exchange a word with and press the hand of a hero. Too soon there came a day when the axe and the sledge rope fell from the once strong hands, and he lay, dead, among the boys whom he loved. They buried him In the frozen earth between his hospital and his church."

The making of sacrifices for religious motives, that is, {76} from a religious sense of duty, is often followed by some of the most satisfying rewards of life. Physicians frequently have this brought home to them when they encounter people who, because of unwillingness to make what seemed to be sacrifices in their earlier years, have to go through some rather serious conditions later on in life. The woman who, having had opportunities to marry, has refused them because she fears the cares of family life and dreads the dangers of maternity, will very often suffer ever so much more during the years of involution and obsolescence in the second half of life as the result of the loneliness that will come to her and the lack of any heart interest in life which will leave her without the resources and satisfaction which come to the woman whose children are around her and whose grandchildren bless her. The man who has remained a bachelor will very often, unless, perhaps, some of his brothers and sisters have married and taken the trouble and had the joy of raising children, be even more pitiable in his solitary old age. This may not seem to mean much for health and happiness, and there may appear more sentimentality than reality in it, but the statistics of suicide and insanity among the unmarried, which are ever so much higher than among the married, demonstrate how much of hopeless discouragement and mental discomfort comes to those who have given no hostages to fortune and no pledges for the future, by the sacrifice of some of the passing pleasures and selfish satisfactions of youth.

Nearly the same thing is true of the married folk who have only a child or two in the family. The children are almost inevitably spoiled. A careful study of the single child in the family has shown very clearly how nervous and selfish the solitary child is likely to be and how {77} much unhappiness the mother prepares for her child by refusing to give it the normal companionship of brothers and sisters. The real kindergarten of life should be the family of five [Footnote 4] or six children raised together and learning to bear with each other and yield to each other and take care of each other as the highest kind of training in unselfishness. Even when there are two children in the family, especially if these are of opposite sexes, the boy and girl are likely to grow up with entirely wrong notions as regards their importance in life. The whole household is centered around them, and they learn how to impose on father and mother. Nearly always the parents prepare unhappiness for themselves as well as their children, though there is usually the excuse that they will be better able to provide for fewer children, afford them a better education, and bring them up so as to secure for them more opportunities in life.

[Footnote 4: Dr. Karl Pearson, of London, the well-known authority on eugenics, has investigated rather carefully the health of children in large and small families, and has demonstrated that children are healthiest when there are five to eight children in the family. On the average, first and second children are not as healthy as those who come later in the family, and those who are in the best condition physically and mentally for life come after the fourth. The early children in the family are more liable to epilepsy and certain serious nervous diseases, and are often of unstable nervous equilibrium, while the later children are more gifted and are likely to live longer.]

The sacrifices of social pleasures and of passing ease and comfort in order to bear and raise four or more children in the family are, as a rule of nature, amply rewarded in the health and strength of both the children and the mother. In my book on "Health through Will Power", in the chapter on Feminine Ills and the Will, I have pointed out that in spite of the tradition which assumes that a woman's health is hurt if she has more than {78} two or three children, the women of the older time, when families were larger, were healthier on the average than they are now, in spite of all the progress that medicine and surgery have since made in relieving serious ills. Above all, it was typically the mother of numerous children who lived long and in good health to be a blessing to those around her, and not the old maids or the childless wives, for longevity is not a special trait of these latter classes of women. The modern dread of deterioration of vitality as the result of frequent child-bearing is quite without foundation in the realities of human experience. Some rather carefully made statistics demonstrate that the old tradition in the matter is not merely an impression but a veritable truth as to human nature's reaction to a great natural call. While the mothers of large families born in the slums, with all the handicaps of poverty as well as hard work against them, die on the average much younger than the generality of women in the population, careful study of the admirable vital statistics of New South Wales shows that the mothers who lived longest were those who under reasonably good conditions bore from five to seven children. Here in America, a study of more favored families shows that the healthiest children come from the large families, and it is in the small families particularly that the delicate, neurotic and generally weakly children are found. Alexander Graham Bell, in his investigation of the Hyde family here in America, discovered that the greatest longevity occurred in the families of ten or more children. So far from mothers being exhausted by the number of children that were born, and thus endowing their children with less vitality than if they had fewer children, it was to the numerous offspring that the highest vitality {79} and physical fitness were given. One special consequence of these is longevity.

The spirit of sacrifice brings its own reward. The realization from a religious standpoint that it is better to give than to receive is one of the greatest blessings that a man can have. Nothing is so disturbing to health and happiness-and real happiness always reacts on health-as selfishness, the contradiction of the spirit of sacrifice. All the great writers on the spiritual life have emphasized the fact that nervousness is at bottom selfishness. Conceit is the root of a great deal of unhappiness and consequent disturbance of the health of mind and body.


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