lf life is to be real it must be emancipated from every sort of slavery to self and evil, and if the multitude of outward things are not what they seem, how shall we escape from the chains which bind us to the unreal and the untrue? Divine Wisdom says: “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness," and all needful things shall be added. And herein lies the great secret of Reality. This Kingdom within——this Kingdom of God—is the one real thing in the wide universe, the one real thing in the life-history of our race. Under all the stages of growth or decadence in the life of mankind we have evidence of the vanity and valuelessness of mere self-seeking as a permanent possession for the soul; from the time of the ancient Kings who “came, and saw, and conquered," and then passed away, even as the races they subjugated also passed, down to the time when the parable of the “rich fool" was spoken, the everlasting law has been clearly manifested, by which selfishness has been shown to lead only to failure and disappointment, and the only reality has been found with the self-sacrificing souls who in their devotion to duty and obedience to the highest they knew, have laid down their lives rather than claim their material rights. The first requirement of anyone who will live for the Kingdom of Heaven is a solemn conviction that it is here and therefore to be lived for.
In relation to this Kingdom, then, we are in precisely the same position as in relation to material nature around us. We cannot create a drop of dew, or rain, or a solitary sunbeam. We can do no more than utilize the divine influences and energies that are placed at our disposal. But how much is involved in that never strikes us until we compare the uncultivated waste with the rich luxuriance of skilled cultivation. Even then we are not aware of the enormous amount of unused influences that await a higher condition of intelligence, and of patient, faithful skill. If to this one would add the consideration that the spiritual influences as much exceed in power the material as the spirit is more exalted than the body, our poor doubts would turn to confidence that the things that seem impossible among men are more than possible the moment we are conscious of divine powers. Two principles are constantly taught us by which to mould our conduct: first, that the Kingdom must come through our individual actions guided by love; and second, that wherever love is cherished it has a divinely expansive power in itself. There are also these two essential conditions to further guide us. First, that we can work for the Kingdom of Heaven only as we are in sympathy with it—that is, are ourselves heavenly—and second, we can only obtain the heavenly sympathy by striving for it. “We become good by true efforts to do good; that is, love can only exist and grow by exercise and operation.” So wrote one of the most self-sacrificing men ever known to the present writer, and one who had a clearer view of the great realities of life and being than any man intimately known to him during a long life. Therefore if we would escape from the thralldom of the unreal and the passing material life, we must strenuously set ourselves to work and live for the highest we know. And then from every stage of advance we may make, we shall see at pathway into still greater and more beautiful "worlds of light and truth and peace soon, as Bunyan's pilgrims saw the gates of the celestial city from the tops of the delectable mountains.
To souls who have had such at vision, the allurements of Demas and the silver mine, and the sensual delights of vanity fair offer no attraction; and even the valley of the shadow of death has no terrors.
So, for those who aspire to live in a real world, beyond the power of carking care and the maxims of the worldly-wise, there is an ever-widening prospect of goodness and truth, an ever-growing power of faith and love and patience; a way into newness of life and perfect peace such as is spoken of by a modern singer, who says:
"Their's is the song that never dies,
Of love, and joy, and trust;
Immortal still while temples rise,
And crumble into dust.“
We see, therefore, that not only may "temples rise and crumble," but that the most ambitious schemes of men and nations may fail and pass and be forgotten, but a life like that of any of the great and wise who lived amidst the eternal realities, becomes eternal in its influence, and progressively benevolent in its action upon all who are able to absorb the same principles, and obey the same truth, and live in the same spirit of love. For life is real and earnest as we learn that man was made not merely to lead a sensual life, and to mourn and die, but to overcome, and become a very king in the realms of freedom and holiness, where shams have no power and the falsehoods of the senses no longer rule, because the Kingdom of Heaven is the Great Reality, and, as that Kingdom rules over us, the lesser things of life recede, and righteousness alone is loved and rejoiced in. lf, therefore, we would live in a world of reality, we cannot do better than follow the advice of the Philosopher Kant, and “Act according to that maxim only which you can wish at the same time to become a universal law." This carried out would make life faultless and blessed.