A. E. W.—Your desire to help your "brother man" is good and noble, but you can only help others in so far as you have purified and uplifted yourself. You cannot lead men beyond where you yourself have travelled, therefore do not cease to reach out toward the eternally good and true, and as you become purer, nobler, holier, you will serve your fellow-men with the service of Truth. And now for your questions :
First: "Are people saved by trusting in Christ, or is He a savior in the sense that all good men are"—Yes, people are saved by trusting in Christ, that is, by trusting His word or precepts. When a man trusts Christ he carries out the precepts of his beloved Master, and rises above all sin. People who say they trust and believe in Christ, and continue all their life to break His commands, neither trust Him nor believe in Him; they are self-deceived, and they do not rise above their sins. There is a natural goodness which is mixed with evil; there is a divine goodness which is free from all evil. Jesus was divinely good, and He is a savior in the same sense that all divinely good or holy men are.
Second: "What do you think of prayer"—If a man prays for purity, for higher knowledge, for love, peace, compassion, for a broader, deeper mind, and for a holier and tenderer heart, he does well, and he will become victorious over sin; but if a man asks God to grant him pleasures and benefits and blessings for his own personal happiness either here or hereafter, he is governed by self and will remain in sin. Therefore a man should never cease to purify his heart, so that he may know how to rightly pray.
Third: "Are the Churches doing what they should in reference to dealing with social conditions"—They are doing what they think best. If we see a better way, let us walk it, and condemn no man and no Church.
There is no need to trouble as to what the Churches or other men are doing. There is every need to trouble as to what we are doing ourselves.
Fourth: "Do you believe in Socialism"— We believe in Righteousness and Truth, in a clean heart and an enlightened and well-governed mind. Socialism, like every "ism" and every creed, is an effort to realize Righteousness. When Righteousness is realized, creeds and "isms" cease.
A. B.—A truth is first perceived, and afterwards realized. The perception may be instantaneous, the realization is almost invariably a process of gradual unfoldment. You have perceived that the Divine Power is within you, and that the Life of Love embraces all Truth, and when you say you "find it difficult to love," and that you "cannot get at " the Divine Power, you express the early experience of all who have trodden the Way of Truth. You will have to learn to love, regarding yourself as a child, and as you make progress in learning, the Divine will unfold within you. You can only learn to love by constantly meditating upon Love as a divine principle, and by adjusting, day by day, all your thoughts and words and acts to it. Watch yourself closely, and when you think or say or do anything which is not born of pure and unselfish love, resolve that you will henceforth guard yourself in that direction. By so doing, you will every day grow purer, tenderer, holier, and soon you will find it easy to love, and will realize the Divine within you.
Jesus was not "the first in the order of spiritual evolution." There were many saviors before Him, and many will come after Him; neither can the Supreme be an earthly personality. A perfect personality is a manifestation of the Supreme.
The "only begotten" refers to the Christ, or Love, Principle which is universal and is hidden in every heart. "He that hath Love hath both the Father and the Son." When Love is perfected and revealed in the heart, Christ is known, the Father is comprehended, and the mystery of life is solved. The reason why (though continually wasting and rebuilding physically) we continue to remake our bodies on practically "the same plan," is because every visible form is built upon a definitely individualized plan which cannot be materially altered unless the structure be destroyed. A house is built upon a plan; that house can be improved and beautified, or be allowed to fall out of repair, but the plan remains the same. It is the same with every house of flesh; it can be repaired with good thoughts and beautified with holy words and deeds, or it can be blasted with the storms of passion, and left unprotected from the rains of grief, disease, and disappointment until it becomes a neglected and undesirable habitation. We rebuild our body; we cannot replan it.
The body being the instrument of the soul, people "approximate in look, tone, voice and appearance to that of parent or other ancestor" only when the physical instrument is built upon a similar plan to that of an ancestor. When the plan is different there is no such similarity to ancestors.
You have broken away from the "old moorings" of certain false ideas by which you were bound. There are other moorings of thought, word, and habit from which you will have to break, and this will be done as you continue to watch and examine yourself, and to rectify and purify your daily conduct.
W. T. S.—You criticize us in the right spirit, without attacking, and with freedom from assumption. You, however, fail to see that, were we to take up the subjects mentioned by you, the character and mission of our Journal would be destroyed. There are innumerable works and a large number of Journals dealing exhaustively with those questions, so that no man need be at a loss to study them, if he feels it to be his duty to do so. Our mission is to show that outward conditions are effects, and can never be causes, that the causes are within, in the human heart, and as that is purified all outward evils will fall away.
No, there is not, in our Journal, "a tendency to uphold material gain as a reason for living a truly spiritual life," for we know that a man cannot live such a life whilst material gain is the object of his desire. Nevertheless we do not walk with those who condemn material gain as sinful in itself. There is no sin in the mere possession of riches. It is the lust for riches that is sinful. We uphold Righteousness and Truth as being the source of all true blessedness, both material and spiritual.
Amber Clarionette—The reason that so many men, although possessed of "inconceivable possibilities' fall into bestiality is because they are ignorant of their own divine origin and nature, believing the animal within them to be their real self, and so living in and loving animal gratifications. They are wandering prodigals, and much suffering will at last bring them back to the Father's Mansion. As far as we can see, the Church is making great efforts to save such men; but after all, every man will have to save himself
A. C. M.—We are glad to know how highly you value and appreciate The Light of Reason, and that it has been put to such good use in your work. We cannot give you better advice than to tell you to continue the readings, talking over what you have read; for in this manner each will be mutually helped, and the intellectual and spiritual energies will be stimulated and intensified. The readings may be varied to any extent to suit all minds, the world being flooded with good literature. We would also suggest that each should be encouraged to write their thoughts in the form of essays or short sketches, and afterwards to read them aloud for mutual edification.
J. M. O. (Brockley, S.E.)—Your letter is both kind and reasonable, but you are preeminently a critic, and though you do not see with us in all things, we appreciate your thoughtful earnestness and thirst for Truth.
More from James Allen
James Allen was a little-known philosophical writer and poet. He is best recognized for his book, As a Man Thinketh. Allen wrote about complex subjects such as faith, destiny, love, patience, and religion but had the unique ability of explaining these subjects clearly and in a way that is easy to understand. He often wrote about cause and effect, sowing and reaping, as well as overcoming sadness, sorrow, and grief. For more information on the life of James Allen, click here.