Every action and thing has its laws. If you pinch your finger it is a law that it hurts. It is a good law. Were it otherwise you would grow careless, and pinching might finally leave you without any fingers at all.
Perhaps the greatest discovery of recent times is the truth that we live in an orderly universe. Nothing happens. There is no such thing as chance. Everything has its cause, and in turn it becomes the cause of something else.
Were it not for the fact that we have the power to reform, and in a deep sense to recreate, we should be the helpless victims of fate. The revolving cogwheels of law would bind and make us slaves. But we have power and may be victors. We use law, and it becomes our efficient helper. A man may lift a few hundred pounds, but by calling to his aid the law of the screw or the windlass, he will raise tons.
The law in the nature of things is not at all like any arbitrary or legislative rule or regulation. The former acts from within, and is constant and reliable; while the latter is uncertain in action and unreliable in application. The law within things is divinely constituted method.
It is our high privilege to find out the lines of orderly action and to make them serve us. Knowledge of their nature gives wonderful reinforcement in every direction. But we must do things in their way.
Steam has certain laws or methods of action. We study them and work in harmony with their habit, and the result is a splendid steam engine of sufficient power to drive a great modern liner across the ocean. But if we work against their peculiar ways, the same steam may either go to waste or exercise its explosive power, and thus punish us for our lack of knowledge. It is able to multiply our capability if we let it help us in its own way.
All forces are beneficent when properly employed. But the good thing when misdirected becomes what is commonly called evil.
We are constantly gaining new knowledge of the laws of life. They gradually make themselves known to those who earnestly search for truth for its own sake. We must be plastic learners, and not try to impose our own views, much less our prejudices.
Every natural power within us is helpful and recuperative, and when unobstructed is always working for our salvation. Were it not for some violation of the laws of health we should never be ill. Disorder never is sent upon us from the outside. The conditions for its manifestation are always self-made.
Perhaps there is an epidemic of colds or grip. The prevalence of the condition only furnishes an easy occasion for us to become victims, but it is never the cause. That is always within, and is sometimes called susceptibility. Unless invited it can never touch us, but if we are carrying about a lot of grip kindling it may be set ablaze from the outside. Suppose that through high thinking, together with a reasonable observance of the laws of hygiene, our bodies are pure and not clogged or overloaded, the grip sparks from the outside will find nothing to ignite. So with disorder in general.
Every natural force in the world, within or without, will work in our behalf if we give it free cooperation. Our unwitting obstruction causes the friction which is so universal. God and nature and all things are friendly—yes, still more, loving—but we cannot realize that great truth until we vibrate with them.
It is our mental attitude which furnishes us with all our enemies. The scriptural injunction "Love your enemies" applies not only to persons but to things and circumstances. The moment our love goes out toward them they cease to be enemies. There is a new relation, and in the highest sense they are conquered. The law of nonresistance which Jesus taught has been signally misunderstood and unappreciated. It is not a weak surrender, but the scientific way of overcoming. To the ordinary mind, whose only idea of mastery is through force and antagonism, this law seems like a paradox. To "Love your enemies" is looked upon as a kind of goody-goody, impractical and impossible abstraction, obtainable only in some far-off millennium. It is rather a scientific overcoming force, available here and now, and its power is found in the fact that it is in accord with the laws of our own constitution, including mind and body. In regard to physical health alone, there is nothing so healing as universal love and good-will, and nothing so harmful and disorderly as envy and antagonism. Pride lays the blame everywhere else, and tries to get rid of the natural effect by medication.
Let us make a concrete illustration. If you awaken tomorrow morning with a fever, do not say or think: "An enemy has taken hold upon me; it is a calamity; I am so unfortunate; I am afraid it will be too much for me; what a heat I am in!" Such feelings will only tighten its grasp and aggravate the pain. You thereby make yourself its subject and victim. It then becomes a positive force and you the unwilling negative recipient. Instead of this: "Love your enemies."
Suggest to yourself: "This experience has a good side. I have broken some laws, and this friendly messenger comes to call my attention to that fact. I will not fight mere symptoms, but interpret them and divine their cause. The feverish condition is nature's quickened effort to throw off obstructions. I will aid and not repress this effort. Under just these circumstances, I am thankful for this teacher. Its sensations are not agreeable, but these are merely upon the surface. I am undergoing purification, and despite its pains am thankful. I will not try to dodge this corrective penalty through the use of semi-paralyzing compounds, for they will not cure, and while they seem to relieve temporarily, they really will increase the friction. Rather I will come into reconciliation with this inner judgment."
When such self-suggestions are firmly and deeply held, the main purpose is accomplished, and the body soon will fall into line; and the messenger, which at first seemed so hostile, will bow himself out with his former scowling features smiling, for he goes as a friend.
The above hints must not be misunderstood. The fever in itself is not a good thing, and should not have been invited. Suffering and friction are not to be sought as a means of grace, but they never come except to purify, and when we need purification they are good. Their pains come to teach us not to get into the same condition again, and no less severe experience would thoroughly bring home the lesson.
If one will get angry, or if he will eat a large quantity of hearty food before retiring for the night for the momentary gratification of his palate, nothing less than some rather marked or severe disturbance will keep him from doing so again. Under such circumstances the disturbance was a kindly affair.
When people find that all sins, spiritual, mental, ethical, and physical, are debts bearing compound interest, they will be more careful about committing them. Every violation of law has within it the seeds of its own punishment, and they develop as a natural consequence. The judgment is through an inner tribunal, and it is not vindictive but beneficent. It comes to save people from themselves, and is more friendly to their own welfare than they can imagine.
We make our own conditions. In proportion as you regard everything as your friend it will lend you its aid.
But this, like every other general principle, cannot be hastily carried to an extreme. Take the weather for illustration. It is the cultivated and permanent mental attitude that will gradually make all kinds friendly. We cannot momentarily love a rain storm and thereby get the benefit of the thought. To realize the normal goodness of all kinds of weather, a settled principle in that direction must have been developed through affirmation and a working capacity.
As we give the laws of life, both mental and physical, free course through us they yield a rich blessing in strength and harmony. Through a non-resistant attitude toward all things we lubricate life, dismiss friction, and thereby make existence a privilege and delight.