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Battles of spiritual victory.

I witnessed that wonderful sight as tried by all the past, four years of battles, which stand forth as scenes of a transfiguration; wherein as the war strain grew more tense, the warrior grew more noble— [293] battles which were images of spiritual growth and spiritual victory, wherein each in turn registered one more ascendancy of man's higher nature, wherein his ignobility was trampled by his nobility under foot, so that as rank by rank mortality was thinned the ranks of the immortals were recruited. For here soldiers presented themselves like disciples as a living sacrifice on the altar of all they revered. On God's great altar their lives were laid. Their battles were the litanies of heroes. Their valor was consecrated not under fame, but under duty. Their welcome to the foe as day by day he gained on them in numbers, but not renown, stands out for me as the most illustrious portrait of man's spiritual wrestle, wherein he greets a world in arms against him as his appointed angel, the true arena to which his sponsors in baptism devoted him. They steadily ascended on their ladder of pain. It was like the struggle of a strong will in a weak body. As in Angelo's figure, the soul grew as the body wasted. When the only way in which the victorious cause could commend itself to the ‘consent of the governed’ was to ‘wear out by attrition’ all who failed to perceive its beauty; when such a warfare ‘did like pestilence maintain its hold and wasted down by glorious death that race of natural heroes.’

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