In the gradual unfolding of the spirit in man towards light and truth, he becomes conscious, once and again, of a brilliant flash, which penetrates the misty vagueness of that part of himself, hitherto unknown and undiscovered. He has been climbing, wearily perhaps, the way of spiritual attainment, sometimes even doubting if he be rising at all, and suddenly he feels himself stand with firm footing on some level upland resting place of truth, amid the sliding and shifting insecurity of opinions and prejudices. Spirit becomes self-conscious, and the man realizes his oneness with his divine innermost principle. Never again can he return to his former ignorance; never again can his upward march be quite so toilsome and uncertain, for he feels this rock of truth beneath his feet, and henceforth his innate light burns with a steadier glow.
In these days, the progressive soul, freeing itself from the bonds of creeds, opinions, and prejudices, searches with ever-renewed zeal for something sure and steadfast, looking behind outward manifestations for causes, satisfied with nothing but law, or truth, which never changes; seeking, in fact, a rule without exceptions.
Such a penetrating flash of self-revelation, such a firm bedrock of truth, such a sure abiding place for the feet on the toilsome road of spiritual achievement, do we find in this law, "Love never fails," which negation may be otherwise expressed in the affirmation, "Love always wins." But where can we turn for proof of the truth of this assertion? Long years ago a wise man left an axiom for truth seekers in all time, viz., "Know thyself." Man is an epitome of all that is—a pocket edition of the book of the universe, and if any would aspire to wisdom and understanding, he must look within and study himself for the "Kingdom of Heaven is within." When he has found this inner spiritual kingdom, he identifies himself with the great universal Life, instead of with his weak and limited outward personality. He realizes himself as part of the One Great Self, therefore one with all other individual selves, and henceforth the universal law of Love or Life rules his being. Thus, feeling, that in his own nature, love is all-powerful, he knows that there is nothing in all the universe as powerful as love, and to him the law is established that "Love never fails."
We understand that any seeming failures in our own experience were due, not to the inspiration of love, but to the lack of it, for love gives strength, life, patience, and hope. It might be indeed that our gold was mixed with dross, and the purity of love dimmed, and its power weakened by unworthy motives. For in the love that succeeds there is nothing of self, but it is characterized by nobleness of aim, purity of motive, and strength of purpose. Love like this is absolutely invincible.
In this as in all else "it is more blessed to give than to receive," for the man who loves is never a failure in his own spiritual nature, and this apart from the particular object of his affections. It may be a person, it may be a cause, it may be an ideal, or simply truth which he loves, but the spiritual gain to himself depends not so much upon the nature of the object, as upon the purity and strength of his love. Let the lowest nature be inspired by love for something outside self, and it rises, slowly perhaps at first, but later by leaps and bounds, while a nobler nature under its inspiration becomes divinely great and good, real greatness and goodness being impossible apart from love. At the same time, a man's moral and spiritual development may be gauged by the nature of what he most loves, as there is always a certain affinity between the lover and the loved. Also the object loved reacts in a measure on the lover, and is found to be more or less ennobling according to its nature. For the connection is so close, that, as long as love lasts, we are joined to the thing we love by unbreakable bonds, and so love conquers time and space. "What we love that we have," and nothing in heaven or earth can deprive us of this possession. But although "love never fails" on the plane on which it acts, we find that he who loves Truth for its own sake, is thereby ennobled, raised, and enlightened in the highest part of his being more than by love for any other object. The more we love Truth, the more we give to her, and in proportion to our loving and giving is the return she makes.
But if Love must "blesses him that gives," it also "blesses him that takes." Pure love towards any person, cause or ideal, can never fail of its purpose. Like the great and glorious Sun, its visible symbol and manifestation in the physical world, it possesses the power of transmutation which acts on its own plane—the spiritual. Our love must burn with a strong, steady, and pure flame; and be the object ever so unworthy, it will in time—it must—begin to answer to these higher love-vibrations and be gradually changed and transmuted into something better and higher. Love must always win, when dealing with others, because it is stronger than hatred, fear, doubt, time, and space. In fact, where love dwells, these are found to be mere negations. They simply are not, in the sense that darkness is not, where light is. Do I doubt this? Then my love is not strong enough and pure enough. Its flame weakens and flickers when I lose faith in its power, and the results are unequal and unsatisfactory. Therefore, shine on, shine on, fair Star of Peace, from the inmost heart of me. Already thy bright beams are piercing through and breaking up the dark clouds of error, sorrow, doubt, and self-seeking!
But, again, love does not fail, because it asks for no reward—it "hopes for nothing again." For when there is no self-element in the motive, Love, to use a time-worn phrase, "does not know when it is beaten." There is no possibility of conquering Love like this. You cannot wear it out, you cannot disappoint it, you cannot defraud it, you cannot reward it. For why? "It hopes for nothing again." How difficult it is for us to eliminate the "personal" from our love. But once we do this it is all-powerful, nothing can stand against it. What is it we men and women of today want most to be and do? Each knows for himself or herself. I know my own highest aim, I do not know yours. But here is a watchword for all, under the inspiration of which we may march to victory: "Love never fails." For when we understand the spiritual significance of this, and our own spirits rise to the plane on which it works in its fullness, then we realize and act on our oneness with the universal Life and "all things are added."
Near as myself it is to me;
Mine to avail for every need,
In every path to guide and lead;
Always at hand, unvarying too—
O words most beautiful and true—
Love faileth never!