When a man turns from the sin and folly of the past, and is determined upon nothing short of a new life, a life of righteousness and truth, he soon becomes intensely eager that others should join with him in the Divine quest. This feeling is natural and praiseworthy, but nothing is more certain than this, unless he has a clear understanding of the true relation between the Divine on the one hand and humanity on the other, he will be destitute of the Great Peace. Should he have money he may spend it lavishly; he may feed swarms of starving men and women; he may pull down streets of wretched tenements, replacing these with comfortable dwellings.
Determined upon the suppression of crime, he may devote all his time, energy, and money in lighting the monster in the slums of our great cities. He may do all these things and still be disheartened and distressed beyond measure. He discovers that much of his wealth has gone hopelessly, and with a result he but little expected; he has not really helped the people, he has pauperized them. He is like a man fighting flames that may not be extinguished, and after heroic struggles is forced to sit on one side watching the devouring fire he could not quench.
In the case assumed, the man may be satisfied with his own efforts, apart altogether from their actual results; he may be well aware that he is making real spiritual progress; he may find self-conquest become easier; but, no sooner does satisfaction arise in his mind over his own advancement, and he thinks with complacency of the work he has actually done, than there stands before him the appalling condition of the people. In his efforts that have socially been most successful he finds vice less coarse and brutal, but vice still. Acting on a wrong understanding of the relationship between the Divine and the man, he imagines an angry, jealous and impatient God on the one hand, who must be propitiated, and that "right away"; and on the other, man "born in sin, and shapen in iniquity," with only this short life in which to reform, in which to conquer unfavorable environment, or obtain victory over conditions of evil. With such views—and this is the low earthly view, alas! all too common—how can the worker be other than discouraged? How can he help despondency? Is he not face to face with the spectacle of thousands dying daily in sin, misery, and crime? How then can the Great Peace be such a man's portion?
Briefly let me sketch some lines of thought regarding the Divine and Man that, if realized, will most certainly permit the Great Peace to dwell in the heart. Try and regard it as a reasonable hypothesis that the soul is a growing, an evolving entity. There are very few learned or well-read people who now deny the evolution of form. And we can boldly say, that there is no argument in favor of the evolution of form that does not equally apply to the evolution of soul. Think how mind has evolved from what it must have been amongst the cave-dwellers of prehistoric times to what it is now. The forward march of mentality is the forward march of the soul. Accept this as reasonable, and one then sees that not one life but many is man's destiny; and keeping a watchful eye on the history of humanity in the past, even as we know it, we find progression, not retrogression. Boys go to school, but never did one term complete any lad's education. Neither can one short life do more than help us along one stage of the journey.
Having arrived at the status of man as an evolving soul, try now to realize the Divine as infinite in Love, Resource and Patience. How can that which is infinite Love be angry or jealous?
Think of Time as being swallowed up in eternity; and then stand with me for a moment where the "Angels stand," and let us look again upon this earth with all its gloom and throes of agony. The clouds, that were dark and forbidding from the other point of view, behold now, how glorious in coloring! How exquisite in form! And who are those emerging with shouts of gladness from out this splendid envelope that covers all the earth? They are perfected souls, made whole through discipline and suffering. Sorrow, the fruit of all sin and desire, has purified their minds, experience has taught them; they have turned from their wickedness, selfishness and folly, and now LIVE.
Here we have the two points of view: the one from the earth, influenced by ignorance and misconception; the other from outside the earth plane, influenced by the knowledge of the evolving character of the soul, and the absolute perfection of Divine and Natural Law.
As we realize the ultimate "restitution of all things," universal salvation, the Patience and Infinite Love and Wisdom that never forsakes humanity, we recognize that the discipline of the universe is perfect, and needs no amendment. We see that All is well, and that our previous undue anxieties were based on ignorance, not knowledge. Our faith changes into certitude, and the Great Peace that may never be shaken or destroyed settles down upon us and abides in us. We learn that humanity is not dying as we once thought, but is growing ever and marching on to the perfect glory of the Eternal Light.
The Soul, the star beyond it in the deep
Of Nature's calm.
More in this issue« On the Eternity of Goodness and How to Grow Good | Life's Music (Poem) »
- Born on May 21st, 1843 in Echunga, South Australia and died on February 27th, 1923
- Australian artist, traveller, and lecturer.
- Baptist pastor