The Light of Reason
Edited by James Allen
Vol. VI. September 1st, 1904 No. 3
The Editor's new book, Byways of Blessedness, is now well in hand, and the printer has promised to have it ready for publication somewhere between the 1st and 14th of the present month, so that readers may send in their orders at once. The book contains fourteen chapters, or sections, each of which deals with a fundamental law or principle of human action which, if well practiced and applied, leads to the elimination, from life, of some form of suffering, and the acquisition of deeper blessedness. The work is written in such a form as to be adapted to the needs of both of the strenuous disciple of Truth, and the lay reader who requires some practical guidance in the ordinary events and simple duties of life, and especially those who are more or less involved in doubts and cares and difficulties will doubtless find in its pages both instruction and comfort. Particulars of the book will be found in our advertisement pages.
In his article on "Reason" in our present issue, Mr. Raymond pointedly and lucidly brings to our notice the broad inclusiveness which is embraced by the word Reason. Large numbers of people are possessed of the strange delusion that reason is somehow intimately connected with the denial of the existence of God. This is probably due to the fact that those who try to prove that there is no God usually profess to take their stand upon reason, while those who try to prove the reverse generally profess to take their stand on faith. Such argumentative combatants, however, are frequently governed more by prejudice than either reason or faith, their object being not to find truth, but to defend and confirm a preconceived opinion.
Reason is concerned, not with ephemeral opinions, but with the established truth of things, and he who is possessed of the faculty of reason in its purity and excellence, can never be enslaved by prejudice, and will put from him all preconceived opinions as worthless. He will neither attempt to prove or disprove, but after balancing all extremes and bringing together all apparent contradictions, he will carefully and dispassionately it weigh and consider them, and so arrive at the truth.
Reason is, in reality, associated with all that is pure and gentle, moderate and just. It is said of a violent man that he is "unreasonable," of a kind and considerate man that he is "reasonable," of an insane man that he has "lost his reason." Thus it is seen that the word is used, even to a great extent unconsciously, though none the les truly, in a very comprehensive sense, and though reason is not actually love and thoughtfulness and gentleness and sanity, it leads to and is intimately connected with is these divine qualities, and cannot, except for purposes of analysis, be dissociated from them.
Reason represents all that is high and noble in man. It distinguishes him from the brute which blindly follows its animal inclinations, and just in the degree that man disobeys the voice of reason and follows his inclinations does he become brutish. As Milton says:—
Immediately inordinate desires
And upstart passions catch the government
From reason, and to servitude reduce
Man till then free.
The following definition of "reason" from Nuttall's Dictionary will give some idea of the comprehensiveness of the word:—"The cause, ground, principle or motive of anything said or done; efficient cause; final cause; the faculty of intelligence in man; specially the faculty by which we arrive at necessary truth."
It will thus be seen that "reason" is a term, the breadth of which is almost sufficient to embrace even Truth itself and Archbishop Trench tells us in his celebrated work "On the Study of Words" that the terms Reason and Word "are indeed so essentially one and the same that the Greek language has one word for them both," so that the Word of God is the Reason of God; and one of the renderings of Lao-Tze's "Tao" is Reason, so that in the Chinese translation of our New Testament, St. John's Gospel runs—"In the beginning was the Tao."
To the undeveloped and uncharitable mind all words have narrow applications, but as a man enlarges his sympathies and broadens his intelligence, words become filled with rich meanings and assume comprehensive proportions. Let us therefore cease from foolish quarrellings about words, and, like reasonable beings, search for principles, and practice those things which make for unity and peace.
Avoid faction, which maketh thee judge of all men as they agree or disagree with thine opinions, or thy side or party.
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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.