The term "higher law" implies the existence of other law which is relatively lower, either in quality, scope, or potency. Law, unqualified by any adjective, is defined by Webster as, "In general, a rule of being or of conduct, established by an authority able to enforce its will; a controlling regulation; the mode or order according to which an agent or a power acts." In a further elaboration, he says, "The power which makes a law, or a superior power, may annul or change it." While this is true in the subordinate sense, especially as employed in the realm of human enactment, it is obviously unfitting, if applied to the higher or divine law.
The definitions of law in the past, as a mode of operation, whether upon the physical, psychical or spiritual plane, almost uniformly have been given an objective interpretation. It consisted of the dominance of a Will, or Force, which was supposed to be operative from without. It bore the aspect of an arbitrary regulation, somewhat like the mandate of a powerful monarch. In government, it was the imposition of kingly or legislative fiat; in physics, simply a necessary uniformity of sequence; and, in the moral and spiritual domain, the objective "Will of God," expressed in external revealed regulation. Practically, the idea has widely prevailed that the divine government was arbitrary and subject to modification. But the higher inspiration of present thought measurably discovers in law some elasticity and even spontaneity. The present ideal of the moral order is therefore delightful and satisfying. To the human consciousness the former aspect of mechanical rigidity in law is dissolving. Not that there is any lack of perfect order in any corner of the cosmos or any doubt as to its reliability, availability and beneficence, but the arbitrary, unrelated and supernatural coloring of the universal order is fading under the clear light of the new philosophy of life.
Law is supremely natural. It is written not upon objective tablets, but in the nature of things. The rules to be observed by man are inscribed in his constitution. Law of any rank is unchangeable and immutable from the standpoint of its own plane. But the superior dominion of the higher law is now coming into recognition. The sap rises in the tree, not because gravitation is suspended, but because tree-life, in its order, outranks the earthy attraction. The forces of mind transcend mechanical and chemical powers, and therefore receive a deserved homage. It is eternally ordained that the higher shall dominate the lower, finer vibrations those which are more crude, and the unseen realm that of sense. In the three zones of man's nature the spiritual is primarily causative and obviously supreme. In the proportion that the conscious ego occupies that vantage-ground and vibrates from it as the recognized center, there will come organized power and harmony. Man grasps and utilizes the higher law when from the spiritual altitude of his own nature he cooperates with the divine order, and also reaches down with gentle but firm dominance through the various strata of his own organism.
That which is the higher law for one is not identically the same for another. In its general and abstract ultimate, no one at present is fully equipped for its perfect recognition. It is every man's relative higher law which differs in degree, scope and complexity from that of his fellows. To primeval man there was no moral law, and from the confines of the Adamic plane but little of the abstract law is intelligible. Law, to any man, provisionally includes that which he may now possibly recognize, but which still lies somewhat above his everyday consciousness. He should learn to cooperate with it without being in subjection to it. It is his to grasp and use. Step by step, as he mounts upward, new spiritual leverage is at hand from which lines of relationship radiate in every direction. As the railroad switchman, from his elevated tower of observation, governs the direction and destination of ponderous trains by the simple moving of a handle, so the normal mission of the unfolded ego is the orderly governance of things which are below. As before noted, the higher law for no two individuals is quite the same. But they are alike in the general fact that what any one may appropriate and employ today has more transcendent yet attainable accomplishments which stretch on in advance. As human ideals are pushed forward, they carry with them corresponding legal privileges and appurtenances. "To him that hath shall be given." He who can bring into his own soul a conscious oneness with the "Oversoul" will receive a divine equipment which he may wield with ever-increasing efficiency. This may be defined otherwise as intelligent identification with the subjective Christ. Only this will insure well-rounded and harmonious growth. In a deep sense we create the path upon which we are to walk. The leverage provided by every one's higher law reaches downward and outward. Seek ye first the kingdom of harmonious spiritual consciousness, and the lower planes and landscapes, dressed in living green will lie stretched out before you, each in its appropriate order and rank. But, by the law of growth, realization must be gradual.
The final interpretation of the higher law will be found in that universal attraction called Love. As it is developed, it will represent an ever-increasing lawfulness. Love in its subordinate forms is educational. Personal, paternal, filial, and even conjugal loves are the training schools of that broader, perfected, impersonal Law of Attraction. The higher law, which is not quite the same thing to differing individual consciousness, will finally be merged into that Higher Law the grand ideal of which is so charmingly voiced by Tennyson:—
And one far-off, divine event,
To which the whole creation moves.