One of the underlying ideas in all religious systems is that of sacrifice. When primitive man began to observe the natural phenomena around him, and to perceive the wonderful order and sequence in the realm of nature, he, in his limitation, assigned the results noticed to the action of spirits and gods.
When his crops failed, and the storms of winter swept over the land with desolation violence, he naturally attributed it to anger on the part of his deity, and in the early dawn of intelligence having found that the giving of some gift to his fellow-men often appeased their anger, he conceived the idea that by a similar method he could appease the wrath of his special god. This probably took the form of some trivial gift, nut with the advance of his intellect it took a much larger share of his possessions, until at last his flocks and herds were sacrificed to his god. But not there did stop; his imagination, unrestrained by reason, ran riot, and disregarding the sacredness of human life, human victims were immolated upon the altars of religion, and it was not until man conceived the daring idea of sacrificing God himself, that he reached the limits of his wild imaginings.
But underlying this growth was one grand idea which the world's Great Teachers have ever inculcated. These mental phenomena that took such strange and wild forms were the efforts of the human mind to attain some ideal, which had not yet dawned upon humanity. But at last out of the blood and mystery and smoke of sacrificial fires came an angel of light, who shed beams of rosy brilliance across the path of man, who pointed out the way of righteousness and peace, and showed to humanity that not by sacrificing flocks and herds, not human victims, was the road to purity and love, but by Self-Sacrifice.
All the strivings, and all the inhumanities that led up to this were echoes of this divine principle, which, through the ignorance of man, was perverted, and not until the standard was reached where Truth could be revealed did the revelation come.
And now the great doctrine of brotherhood is being taught, and men are listening with eager longing, and there are heart-searchings and questionings in many minds. After the long toilsome ascent from barbarity and ignorance the portal of being is gradually opening, and men are gaining glimpses of the higher life. Selfishness must be overcome, and although the road may yet be long and the work arduous, yet with prophetic vision we see the triumph of right over wrong, and the realization of brotherhood in the world.
There can be no service without sacrifice, and in all the varied reforms and thoughts which are permeating the work today, we see the idea of self-sacrifice gaining ground. Truth makes men free, and not only free, but stimulates to action, and there can be no action in the world of truth without self-sacrifice. But the mind clings to the things of the world, and the whispers of the still small voice die away into fain murmurings of reproach, and men turn away from the light, and live in the shadow of self. But still, the fact that the higher life has claimed a passing thought from many is good to contemplate, and peace cannot be known until men turn and listen to the higher promptings which are ever striving to emerge into the sunlight of Love.
When we realize the beauty of self-sacrifice, how beautiful does life become. Then we know that the pathway of life is by doing to others as we would be done by.
Not by mere thinking or talking can this be attained, but only by resolute effort and by determination in goodness. To get peace one must love, and to find Truth one must sacrifice self on the altar of devotion to right and duty. This is the way, the law, walk ye in it and find Peace!
To others happiness impart;
The happiness that we bestow
Returns to dwell within our heart.