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A Vision

After the fashion of John Bunyan, I had a dream, and, like his, it was of a Path. But in my dream there were many paths, which yet were only one. I seemed to be standing on the margin of what looked like a lake or sea, but which I discerned to be solid ground. Yet to place one’s foot upon it took some faith, so little able to bear one’s weight did it appear to be. Across this apparent sea lay a band of silver moonlight ending at my feet, but, after the manner of dreamers, it was given me to see that all along the shore were larger or smaller groups of men, with here and there a solitary man. Between each group was a gap, separating it from the next by about the space that a strong voice might carry. It came upon me to wander along the shore and see what the men were doing; and as I moved the Path went with me. The first assembly that I joined was a large and fashionably-dressed one, and a man was speaking in the midst. "See," he said, "the path of light is straight before us, leading to us alone. How favored and how honored are we! Look, and behold those other men yonder, that they are in darkness. My Brothers, let us set out upon the path of light, for by that path alone can we reach the glory beyond."

And I noticed that all his hearers applauded when he spoke of the darkness in which other men lay, and yet that few set out upon the journey, seeming to think it sufficient that an exclusive Path of Light was granted unto them. So I passed to other and smaller groups, and to solitary men—but in each case the same phenomena occurred, and the more fiercely their preachers declaimed about the exclusive privilege of light, the fewer of their hearers set out upon the heavenward way. And then I thought that in spirit I would join myself to those who had started. I could see them streaming out from every company, so that the sea was covered by them. But the travelers only saw the few companions walking in their own band of light, and wotted not of others. I noticed that the paths all seemed to converge into one place that I could but dimly see, but which seemed to be a place of heavenly beauty, and when in twos and threes they pressed along their way, towards the end of their journey they grew nearer to each other, and heard the voices of wayfarers traveling towards the same goal by other paths, and with joy began to understand how the way could be narrow and straight, and yet the goal be reached by a great multitude that no man could number. And then I thought I would return to one of the companies on the sea-shore, and here I found that something was happening: a man was in the midst who, like myself, had traveled from group to group, and caught a glimpse of the Path from many points of view. He had heard the declaiming voices hurling hard words at one another — "Calvinist" — "Ritualist" — "Papist" — "Sectarian" — "Pagan" — "Heathen" — he had seen the folly of it all, and now was facing the preacher and denying his exclusive privilege of Light. "Behold, O People," he said,” how foolish are you. You think that you only will reach that goal—but I tell you that when you reach it you will find many and many a one whom you never expected to see." Some of the people applauded him, and some sided with the preacher—but I noticed that, for all their knowledge, neither the new speaker nor his disciples set out upon the Path before them, and that, to their eyes, the glory at the end seemed less and less distinct. So I learned that to be "Broad" of view was not sufficient, and that it were better to start upon that Way as many did, believing themselves a little company, than with greater knowledge to linger on the brink.

Thus pondering, I joined a small band of men surrounding a teacher, wiser, gentler, humbler than the others, who, with all his hearers, was pursuing the heavenward way. Of this man I felt I could ask advice. "Teacher," said I, "I have learned much tonight—but tell me, as I ask in all seriousness the question Pilate asked in bitter jest, 'What is Truth’? Is there no Truth as demonstrable as a mathematical problem, alike for all? Above everything, is not faith in Him who called Himself ‘The Truth’ and ‘The Way,’ the only path to Heaven?"

"Yes, my child," he replied. "He is indeed the Way, and the only Way, for you, and for me. But the great multitude that no man can number, washed in His blood, will not all be so washed through conscious faith in Him. Those who have His spirit are the Redeemed of the Lord, though they may never have heard His name. Those only are heretics who do not love the Highest when they see it—there is no other heresy."

That which others do for us but encourages our own weakness. Neither spiritual, mental, or physical strength can be ours by the exertions that others make. Enduring happiness comes from earning our possessions, it cannot come by gift. All life evolves from within the entity. Gifts from the outside can, after all, only be dead things, like clothes, money, and other property. The "Kingdom of Heaven within you" can only come by self-growth.
—Lucy A. Mallory
Pick yourself up after any failure, forget it, and then press onwards as if nothing had happened.

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Charles N. Foyster

  • Personal friend of James Allen

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