Agassiz used to illustrate progress by the three stages of growth: first, the seed stage, which is the slowest of all; then the blade, which is faster; then the fruit, which is the fastest stage of all.
In the blessings of our society today we see the flowering of a seed that was planted centuries ago and had to wait long in the cold and darkness of the earth before even the blade began to appear, and still more centuries before the fruit. As for other regenerative forces, we may be living only in their seed stage. It will be long generations before the fruit will appear to bless the children of mankind. God is never in a hurry. One day with him is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
A plane is made to go forward and upward. Between an airplane and every other form of locomotion and transportation there is one great contrast. The horse and wagon, the automobile, the bicycle, the locomotive, the speedboat, and the great battleship—all can come to a standstill without danger, and they can all reverse their engines, or their power, and back. But there is no reverse about the engine of an airplane. It cannot back. It dare not stand still. If it loses its momentum and forward drive, then it crashes. The only safety for the
airplane is in its forward and upward motion.
What a parable that is of the Christian life! The only safe direction for the Christian to take is forward and upward. If he stops, or if he begins to slip and go backward, that moment he is in danger.
The great French entomologist Fabre writes: "To what an ideal height will this process of evolution lead mankind? To no very magnificent height, it is to be feared. We are afflicted with an indelible taint, a sort of original sin. We are made after a pattern, and we can do nothing to change ourselves. We are marked with the mark of the beast, the taint of the belly, the inexhaustible source of bestiality."
That, then, is what science sees through its glass. It beholds progress of a kind, but no victory of good over evil. The idea of a natural, inevitable, unstoppable progress, culminating in the abolition of wrong and the victory of right, is contrary not only to revelation but also to reason and experience and common sense. Prolong life as it may, can science stop men from dying? Can progress restrain men from sinning? Can knowledge heal the broken heart or wipe away the tear? A few simple questions such as these, and this gorgeous phantasmagoria of a natural and inevitable progress and evolution fades and vanishes; and we are left on the dusty plains where we stood before, and the pompous human eloquence which has accompanied this theory of the world movement is exposed as tinkling cymbal and sounding brass.
Once the newspapers had much to say about a dog who happened to come into a room of experimentation at Schenectady and bark into the microphone with which its master was experimenting. In three seconds the bark of the dog, which had gone to Australia and clear around the world, was distinctly recorded on the loud speaker in the room.
But who cares whether a dog heard its own bark carried clear around the world in three seconds? Or who cares whether or not man's bark is heard around the world? What occasion for jubilee is there in that? Much of our celebrating and self-congratulation and boasting is like the commotion that was made over a dog's barking clear around the world. Our great skyscrapers, our engines of destruction and locomotion, our mighty bridges, our enormous factories—all this development of the external and the mechanical and materialistic side of life is in reality no occasion for boasting or for celebration. All these are far from God's idea of memorable events.
But when a soul turns from its pride and self-love, when it gets up from among the swine where it has been lying and says, "I will arise and go to my father" (Luke 15:18); whenever love conquers hate; whenever pity subdues anger; whenever faith conquers despair; whenever a soul gives itself in penitence and love to its Redeemer—that, says Jesus, is something worth celebrating.
If we could have made as much progress these last 50 years with people as we have with things, what a world this would now be!—Wheeler McMillen, Farm Journal
Fear of change is always a brake on progress.—Editorial, Wisconsin Journal of Education
Oscar Wilde said, "Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation." If you analyze the lives of great men, this appears to be the spirit they all have in common. No matter how much success they may have had, they always are looking ahead to the next goal. They always have new worlds to conquer. There are various degrees of greatness and success. But each of us, in our own way, can profit from this point of view.—A. H. Kulikowski, publisher in editorial "Are You Satisfied?", Salesman's Opportunity
The art of wheel-spinning is an activity without progress ... and many of us do a lot of it.—Irwin Cochran, Director, Bureau of Business Management, U. of I.
"The millennium is at hand. Man has invented everything that can be invented. He has done all he can do." These words were spoken by a bishop at a church gathering in 1870. They were challenged by the presiding officer, who suggested that a great invention would be made within the next fifty years.
The bishop asked him to name such an invention.
The reply: "I think man will learn to fly."
The bishop replied that this was blasphemy. "Don't you know that flight is reserved for angels?"
The bishop was Milton Wright, father of Orville and Wilbur.—From address of the Reverend Walton Cole at Seth Biennial Council, Phi Delta Kappa
On a dark night a very small boy was given a lantern by his father, who asked him to go out to the woodshed and bring to the house an armful of wood.
The boy said, "Daddy, I can't see."
The father then queried, "How far can you see?"
"Only three steps."
"Take them," said his father. "How far can you see now, son?"
"Three more steps."
Finally, by going forward three steps at a time, the boy reached the woodshed and brought in the wood.—Sunshine Magazine
The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.—Alfred N. Whitehead