The Discipline of Life
Job 12:8
Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach you: and the fishes of the sea shall declare to you.

Speak to the earth, and it will teach thee of God; of order; of man; of thyself. It cannot teach thee more. Consult the higher Teacher. Two kinds of agency enter into the discipline of life. There are first the elements that constitute the matter of life itself. These elements are such as make the inward and outward history of the individual being: parentage, education, examples, tendencies and temperaments. The matter which makes the history of life continues always to be an influence of life. The course of our studies, the activity of our business, the nature of our opinions, and of our friendships, the force of our affections, our health and sickness, our success or failure, our poverty or wealth, or ideas of poverty and wealth — all, in fact, that makes the sum of our being, physical, social, moral, and spiritual. The second kind of agency is that which we exercise of ourselves, and upon ourselves. A man is thus both the object and the agent of his own discipline. This kind of discipline cannot be too early begun, it cannot be too late continued. It may be too long deferred. It is by this agency of ourselves that we turn all things to account, that we make them our true property. But what is this discipline to act on? What is any education to act on, but on the human being, on the soul and its manifestations, on thought, on feeling, on habit, on conduct? It requires some discipline to think, in the true sense, at all. Whenever a real thought is born, it first meets with resistance, but when accepted, soon becomes a tradition. Feeling not under the guidance of thought is but blind impulse, and habits growing out of such impulse, even if blameless, become only mechanical routine. What is life for? The end of discipline is to make life that for which it is given. By deciding what that is, we determine at once the purpose of life, and the direction of its culture — moral and spiritual. Life, then, is for action, for work; for action and for work in the order of duty and of goodness.

(Henry Giles.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.

WEB: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach you. The fish of the sea shall declare to you.

Man and Nature
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