The rude grasp of that great impulse which drove them across the sea?
No I Before us gleam her camp-fires, we ourselves' must pilgrims he,
Launch our Mayflower and steer boldly through the desperate winter sea,
Nor attempt the Future's portal with the Past's blood-rusted key.
Freedom is an ideal which fascinates us, and yet it is a blessing for which most men are loath to pay the price, for it costs all there is of a man.
The Master once said, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."
Now the great question rises involuntarily to the lips: "What is Truth?" It is no wonder Pilate asked the question, when men of his day were divided into various schools each exalting some great man or creed, and these authorities—personal and creedal—representing such contradictory ideas. But is the matter any simpler to-day? When we search diligently into the various modern sects or study the thought of the great philosophers and seers we oftentimes become utterly confused and discouraged, so conflicting are the different systems of truth. In very desperation the earnest seeker is driven to look within his own soul for light, and, lo! the path is so plain that even the wayfaring man, though a fool, need not err therein.
It is not the acceptance of something received from any other man that is going to free us and give us life; but it is the obeying of the word of Love which shall yet free us from all limitation. Truth is ever the same, but man's comprehension of it is constantly enlarging.
Another's vision of truth can help us only by stirring us to action, and action in its turn opens our eyes to the heavenly vision. "He that doeth the will (of God) shall know of the doctrine."
The only truth that ever frees us is the truth that is lived out, to realize truth we must actualize it—that is, we must work it out concretely in this world.
The more I look into these matters, the more I appreciate the fact that material things are of value only as they express the life within us. A man may possess all earthly treasure and yet be only weakened and enslaved thereby; whereas another, who is freed from personal ambition and has renounced selfish activities, has all the wealth of the universe at his command.
He that willeth to do the will of universal Love is king indeed; nothing can hamper or hold him, for he is freed from the bondage of self and serves only Love.
The Jews placed all their dependence on what Abraham had been, or in what Moses said. Their question was always: "How is it written?" "What sayeth the law?" and so blind were they to the Word of God in their own souls that they actually could not see any incongruity in professing love to God while they devoured widows' houses; financially as well as ceremonially binding heavy burdens, grievous to be borne, on the children of God.
All the saints, apostles, and prophets cannot take the place to any man of the Word written in his own soul; indeed, the inspired men of old themselves were great only in proportion to this same listening to the inward voice. It is by faithful response to the soul's intuitions that the world has gradually been lifted to higher and higher standards.
As we climb the steep path of self-knowledge and self-unfolding, the things that used to seem so important—the little rules of the world, and all its conventionalities—dwindle into nothingness in the grand panorama of universal life that spreads out before us.
We soon come to see that it is only as we die to the things of the past and live earnestly and in the deepest sense to the things of the present that we enter to any degree into the fullness of life.
We must not allow the ideals and standards of the past to dominate us; we must walk in the new and living way, the way that is made plain only by our own fearless living out of all the truth we know.
No matter how much something has helped you in the past, if it does not stir you now into action it is not the Word of God for you. We do not like to clash with those around us, and so we shrink from working out boldly the new light that is breaking in upon us. We want to please the world as well as ourselves, and in the end we really please neither; for cowards are in the very gall of bitterness and can never satisfy themselves or the world.
Then is it not a great deal better to live in the strength of God, working out fearlessly every noble impulse we have, and leaving the responsibility with Him? Freedom may be any man's on the condition that he conform to truth instead of the changing, unstable standards of the world.
Jesus found this to be the only way. He saw that the personal man was helpless, and it was only as He died to personal ambition that he could become free and full of power. He declared openly that "Of mine own self I can do nothing," and He repudiated the idea that as a person He was any better than His brothers. "Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God."
Now it is on the personal plane of life that men worship some outside authority either of State or church. This obedience or response to great men is all right in its place; it certainly plays a part in the great work of development. So long as men abide on the low plane of self it is better that they revere and obey another than that each should, in all his selfishness, be a law unto himself.
But the moment one sees the higher life of impersonal service, that moment outward authority loses its hold. It can henceforth only obstruct and injure the seer.
We cannot unfold to the highest and best that is in us if we obey any outside dictum. Verily, "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature—old things have passed away; all things have become new." The very path he has to tread is a new one, for his life is a unique life. He is individual—there is no other soul like him in the universe, and to unfold freely all there is of himself he must necessarily live his own life.
This obeying of the inner self, because of our love to our fellow men, is the freedom with which Christ doth set us free.
Heretofore we have been in bondage to selfish desires, but when the desire for universal good possesses us we enter into the life of the universe; time and place have passed out of consciousness. "For one day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day."If men could only realize it, all that there ever can be of eternity is the present. To the soul that truly loves, the present includes all the past and future, for life is seen to be an undivided whole. To be one with God, united to Him in thought, aim, and activity, is to include all other lives, past, present, and future in our own. There is nothing partial about the God-life; it is all-inclusive, common. Love is not a respecter of persons, but serves the interest of all men, winning them gently to the recognition of God's great commonwealth, wherein all things are all men's.
Is it-not strange that the one thing men fear the most of all is to literally fall into the hands of the living God? The old conception that it is "a fearful thing" has probably done more to retard the world's progress than any other idea. Yet that is just what we must learn to let ourselves do: we must learn to let go of the personal, the earthly self, with all its false concepts of separate existence and separate interests, and let ourselves be carried out on the tide of our deepest instincts to rest forever on the bosom of God's infinite ocean of love, life and peace.
Men have thought of the religious life as a life of sacrifices. But wherein does the sacrifice consist, if, in giving up one plane of being, you enter into a still higher life which comprehends more and more the fullness of God?
There is, however, the element of crucifixion. In order to enter into the life of the Spirit we must actually crucify the old man with all the lusts thereof—the lust for power over others, the lust for personal gratification, the lust for safety—we must die to all these earthly ambitions and live to the higher one of all-inclusive love. And then, too, just as soon as we begin to do this in any telling way, the world will rise up in wrath at our presumption, "for the preaching of the Cross is to them that are perishing, foolishness." The genuine love-life is an affront to the personal man. The Christ mind differs from the mind of the world, and as long as the carnal mind obtains there must always be a clashing of personal and universal interests. The life of love is actually a sword cutting into the very heart of things and showing up the mean ambitions, the hypocrisies, the treasons of a self-seeking world; and as a result, the world turns on those who are serving mankind instead of men, and metes out all kinds of persecutions upon its saviors.
There is but one thing that stands between man and freedom, and that is personal will. Many people desire very much to be saved, they long for power, the physical, mental and spiritual health, but they want to be saved in their sins—not from them.
It is our divided minds that hold us down in weakness and disease. We want personal happiness, we desire earthly safety, ease, or fame, and we will not let go of ourselves; but this holding on is the very essence of slavery. To be dominated by the personal will is to be in bondage; it is to be the subject of the law of sin and death.
Man, by his false concept of separation, with all that that entails of strife among men, has actually made for himself a temporary law of sin and death. There is but one thing that can free him from it and that is the eternal law of the Spirit of Life. Only as we rise through meditation, concentration, and a free outpouring of inner wealth toward all men can we put all things under our feet.
Man is destined to have dominion in the very highest sense of the word, not by asserting himself against those who are weaker, but by bringing all things into subjection to the will of God.
Man is an epitome of the whole creation. Science is proving through its investigations in embryology that man actually is the summing up in abbreviated form of all the lower planes of development; and when he shall have learned to control himself in love, the ferocity of the animal kingdom will have been overcome. When the lion of self-will in man submits to the Love-Will" of the universe, the lion and the lamb of the outer world will lie down in peace.
The personal will, that will which seeks safety, ease, or pleasure at the cost of brother men, is responsible for the strife and sorrow in the outer world. Our disease, crime, poverty, are the fruits of selfishness; they are the natural outcome of the carnal mind.
In a very true sense this world of ours has a soul, a mind, and a body, and it is in the process of coming to itself; it is slowly awakening to self-consciousness.
The carnal mind—that temporary idea of physical mastery—has brought forth all our strife and atheistic control of men. But slowly this child of God, this world of ours, is awakening to its true nature; the soul of the world is stirring within, and when it has become fully conscious of its power of love, then will this earth begin to put on its garments of light. Then will freedom reign in the outward as well as the inner life, and the commonwealth of God be actualized on the earth.
More from Charles Brodie Patterson
- Canadian New Thought author
- Born in Nova Scotia in 1854 and died on June, 22nd 1917