A modern writer has said that "There is nothing so strikes men with fear as the saying that they are all the Sons of God." If this remark contains any truth, the fear must arise from immature thoughts of the Divine, or from ignoble ideas of man and his destiny. There is a lower side of man and a higher, the ape and the angel struggle in him for mastery. The serpent and the tiger typify the animal side of human nature, but all the noble souls who have achieved victory over self and sin, have conquered the animal and the base, and have thereby become, in a real sense, masters of their own destiny. It is true also that if men fashion to themselves a Divinity of a low type, who lives only for "His own glory" and needs only abject slaves to worship Him, then none would dare to claim sonship with such a Being, or feel happy at the thought of such a relationship being possible.
The doctrine that the common life is divine is not a popular doctrine in our present stage of development, but whatever may be the complete truth about the great central Power of wisdom and goodness, which seems to be beyond the highest thought of man, it is plainly manifest in human history that mankind has been working out a purpose quite beyond the aims of any individual life, and through much tribulation, accomplishing a destiny greater than any of the sons of men have foreseen.
Great things have been done by men who were acting quite unconsciously as Sons of God—the lowly, and the meek, and the merciful have always been manifesting the power of the Divine in the human, however insignificant, or unknown their lives and labors may have been. The souls who have hungered and thirsted for righteousness, and gladly laid down their lives for truth, have been moved by the deep inner impulse of the Divine and have lived and died Sons of God, perhaps without knowing it. But all the greatest and holiest have been conscious and active Sons of God, and when it is recorded of Jesus that he said, "I and my Father are one," a stage of spiritual life and power is reached which in the earlier and darker ages was impossible.
But as time passes, this conscious and active spirit of sonship will be more generally accepted as a common inheritance, and all that energy and force which at present is, much of it, so misdirected and therefore impotent or injurious, will become useful and available for the highest ends, and under such a changed outlook, the growth of moral and spiritual power will greatly increase; above all, the complete unity of the great human family will be joyfully recognized, and as men look in each other's faces with love, and the desire to help forward the whole for the holiest ends, most, if not all the present discords of earth must pass away. All that which now leads to envy, hatred, and malice, must melt before the glow of gentleness and grace. All the evils which arise from pride of birth, or of position, or authority usurped over the bodies or the souls of men will be no longer possible, the Divine will overcome the base, and a common sonship in the highest will cast out all that has hitherto divided and degraded mankind. With the growth of the spiritual, the materialistic methods which now tyrannize over men and nations will become forever impossible; and poverty and sorrow will be swept away.
Sonship with the Divine is not presumptuous, as some have declared, but simply means the lowliest spirit of submission to that which is best and highest; and when an apostle says, "Now are we the Sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be," he seems to lead us to anticipate a growth in wisdom and goodness of which we all feel the deep inner need; and this should teach us to look forward to a period when our race as a whole shall be willing to leave behind all that which now so much perplexes us and hinders the majority from attaining inner peace and outer comfort.
We live in a beautiful world, well fitted to be the habitation of the Sons of God. All we need is to be alive to our high calling, to awake from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, and to put off the old man of selfishness, and put on the new man of holiness, and to realize the Divine Sonship of all we meet, then all strife and division and personal antagonism shall pass away, and become exchanged for deeds of mutual helpfulness and love. The old spirit of superstition and fear, which so dominated men as to lead them to crucify him who claimed to be the Son of God, will no longer be possible when once we recognize that every man has in him the germ of the Divine, and that all things are possible to those who believe it.
And iron grates obstruct the prisoner's gaze,
And massive bolts may baffle his design,
And vigilant keepers watch his devious ways;
Yet scorns th' immortal Mind this base control!
No chains can bind it, and no cell enclose;
Swifter than light, it flies from pole to pole,
And, in a flash, from earth to heaven it goes!
It leaps from mount to mount—from vale to vale
It wanders, plucking honeyed fruits and flowers;
It visits home, to hear the fireside tale,
Or in sweet converse pass the joyous hours;
'Tis up before the sun, roaming afar,
And, in its watches, wearies every star!
—William Lloyd Garrison