We will learn one day that our own orbit is all our task, and we need not assist the administration of the universe. —Emerson
God is sufficient to all mankind. No one is ever dependent for his highest good or happiness upon a fellow mortal. Each and every life is truly independent, whatever may be its seeming. The highest duty of each is self-development, through service, but not "sacrifice." We can trust our children and friends to God, and unfold our own lives to their highest possibilities, following the laws of growth and being we see in tree and flower.
"Love is the fulfilling of the law." What is the law? Emphasize God and you easily lose sight of the mortal. Emphasize the mortal and you are apt to lose sight of God. Do not flatter yourself that you are the only agent for God's special work. He has a thousand in reserve; and if you fail to appreciate the privilege of the service, his work will not fail, only it will be your loss of opportunity, not God's or that of others. The law of all true service is self-development, and can never hinder, or cripple, or obstruct. You are never called to service that brings such results as these, and should refuse and deny any "duty" or environment that has this tendency. God's service never requires loss of spiritual enjoyment, or sacrifice of self-development. Do not be afraid of "self-seeking" on the highest lines, for when you have found self you have found God, and fulfilled the very highest law of being. It is only when in harmony with this law that we are really "useful." God's service is too often thought to be a matter of bustling endeavor and material "doing" or "denying" on the material plane. The flower fulfills its highest mission in perfecting its fragrance, and leaves it to God's winds to scatter its odors. Even the scents, colors, and honey of flowers, which we have somewhat ostentatiously assumed were provided for the delight of mankind, appear now to be primarily evolved from the plant for its own distinct benefit, and for the purpose of attracting those insects which would best accomplish its fertilization.
We do not realize, as Emerson says, that "character teaches above our will," that if we would listen we could often hear the voice of nature saying to us in our burdened hours of artificial responsibilities, "So hot, my little sir!" When we remember God we wait and listen, and are confident in the love that notes the fall of every sparrow. We know that Divine intelligence is never blind, that Divine power has no moments of weakness, and that Divine love is the mainspring of the universe. If we believe that God governs our own lives, why cannot we believe that he governs equally those of our friends and children, however they may appear to us for the moment? Why should we disturb ourselves? Let us honestly admit that no distress can vibrate in a mind that is filled with God's harmonies, a mind that is persuaded that God is neither blind, nor deaf, nor powerless, nor failing in love.
Let us, then, attend more carefully to our own flower beds, and not intrude so often into those of our neighbor, even though that neighbor be a member of our family, and we see that he is neglecting his borders, and that his plants are wilting for want of proper culture. He, too, is a chancery ward, like ourselves, of the Universal courts, and his estates will not be wasted. He, too, is a pupil of the Universal Gardener, and freedom to do wrong is just as essential in nature's school as the freedom to do right. The world suffers much today, especially in its family and church life, from the despotism of mistaken kindness, insisting upon the use of its own methods, and secretly applauding itself for its foolish anxieties concerning the welfare of others. This is "Christian atheism," and it has many disciples who suffer from a daily bondage to mistaken duty, and oppress their loved ones through an undiscerning sympathy which forgets that God is still at the head of the universe, and insists upon tyrannizing and worrying themselves and others "in his name." We forget the eternal equities. No life can become a "victim" to another, else God does not govern absolutely. Yet we claim the supreme government is universal, and extends to all worlds and all times. Indeed, if we cannot believe that God governs in this world and at the present time in every life, what assurance have we of such government elsewhere, or at any future time? Let us be reasonable and accept all logical issues. If God governs, we may be strong and confident in that knowledge, whether we interpret God as a person or law. If such government cannot be demonstrated, let us at least be consistent and honest in our atheism, and not masquerade as "Christians" with the beliefs of "Atheists."
Another very common form of atheism is a distrust of self, a want of confidence in the inner voice of one's own intelligence—which is God within—and in one's own forces, which are but the expression of the Infinite. If God is without, he is equally within, else he does not fill all being. To doubt the God outside of one's self has been always called "atheism," and self-distrust has been considered a virtue. Yet how illogical is this position. "Self-trust is the essence of heroism," says Emerson. It is also the essence of theism. Jesus says, "Enter into thy closet and shut the door." How strangely is this explained by our latest discovery in science! When we wish to communicate with friends by the telephone we enter into the closet and shut the door, and operate from our centers, without effort, and the voice goes afar to illimitable distances. Yet we might stand outside and cry ourselves hoarse; our voices never would be heard. Let us find God within ourselves, and we can then discern him in all outer life. Let us trust our own intelligence to guide us, and our powers to fulfill our purpose, knowing that in these is the law of the universal manifested to just that extent to which we open our minds for illumination and let the Divine work through us.
The test of courage can be made only in the presence of danger. Muscular strength and agility are developed in the gymnasium through weighting the pulleys and raising the vaulting-bars, thus providing gradually severer conditions of resistance which must be overcome. Spiritual forces follow the same law and require real difficulties for their development, —difficulties in which we are deprived of usual supports and material resources. Otherwise there could be no danger to test our courage and principles; no conditions affording opportunity for the highest development of spiritual faculties. Why, then, should we moan and whine over every uncomfortable situation that life brings to us? Why not recognize it as the necessary problem of the hour, which shows not the neglect, but the careful thoughtfulness of the God in whom we have claimed to put our trust, and who has made provision for every requirement in the spiritual gymnasium of life?