Growth is a law of life.
Nothing stands still, and indeed nothing goes backward, but everything evolves, enlarges, and expands; and this is true of the growth of the soul as much as the body. In these days when there are so many new views to the fore, I think it is well we should study the matter, each for ourselves; and we see on looking around us, in every phase of life, be it that of plant, tree, insect, bird, animal, or human being, that all proceed in an orderly and gradual way, from the elementary, or infantile stage, to the fully grown or perfectly evolved one. And just as we see an infant grow to a little child, and the child to a youth, and the youth to an adult age, so, though we may not notice so easily its evolution, the growth of the inner life goes on just the same, and becomes fuller and more perfect with gradual, and possibly slow, but always advancing steps. And the reason that we cannot see the growth of the inner life so easily as the outer, is partly because it is so gradual, and takes so many ages to accomplish.
But the fact is we never do see growth, even in our plants, animals, or children;—what we see, is the result of that growth, we see the increased size and beauty of the stature of the soul.
Some people, though they see growth in the material and visible world, deny its existence in the real and invisible one; but the law we see in operation here, is not a partial one, and indeed obtains here in the outer world, only because it does in the inner; for this is the world of things made manifest; and therefore if there is improvement here, it is evident that the spiritual condition of the inhabitants is higher now than formerly.
The result of Growth is the increase of Light; this is manifested in a variety of ways; the ever-increasing knowledge of sanitation and cleanliness in our more perfect dwellings for the people shows it; also it is clearly shown by the methods now employed in lighting our towns and cities; for until comparatively recent years our streets were unlighted, and of late years there has been a wonderful advance in that respect; and also in lighting our houses. It is not very far back in our history when the rush-light and the wax candle were the only lights for the house; then came lamps then gas, and lastly electric light; and though this seems to us, and is indeed, a very fine light, who would dare say that it, in its turn, may not be superseded later on by something even better? But what I wish to point out is this, that these methods of lighting have improved with the increase of Spiritual Light that has flooded the world; indeed it could not be otherwise. Jesus said "I am the Light of the world"—and He was identifying Himself with His Father—the Universal Light; and the more we have of that true Light within us, the more will it be shown forth in the ways of the world. Of course there is growth of a sort in darkness; if we imprison a plant in a cellar, it may grow for a time, but its leaves will lack color and strength; then of course we know that some insects of a lower order live in the darkness—underground, or in cellars where little light can penetrate—these are akin to the people who dwell in the darkness and shadow of illusions and ignorance, and who through dwelling there are unable to see in the Light; in fact their dimness of vision does not permit them to face it—not because they are a lower order of beings, but because they are as yet undeveloped, they are only infant souls—it is as if they were enclosed in veils or wrappings— and so they are—veils of illusion and ignorance, and when gradually the veils become removed or worn away by the experiences of life, their vision will be gradually strengthened thereby; and so more light will be admitted into their lives, and they will learn that there is here, in this life, happiness and joy, and peace, for those who live in kindness and sympathy with their fellow-men. Those who are willing to live to help others, and who do not expect material rewards—they do get their rewards, in seeing others the happier for their efforts, but to work for the sake of reward is not the kind of work which will lead one to live a happier, higher, nobler life. We are all—or most of us—still wrapped, to a large extent, in the folds of illusion and ignorance; we may be able to see more clearly than some, but there is still much to be learnt, and think we should all be careful not to take any dogmatic position, in short, we should always be willing to give up our present ideas if we see that others are better; or rather, we should be willing to see that ours may be wrong, and to alter them as we advance in knowledge and wisdom.
But of course, we all do not see the same amount of light, for since we can only see with our own eyes, our vision is necessarily limited to the view that our sight can accomplish, and so the measure of light within becomes for us the standard of that without and around us; and so we judge our neighbors, and it comes to pass that if "the light within us be darkness" we think the world is a place full of sin, and woe, and trouble, and that every man's hand is against us, and we feel that we are hardly done by, and that we deserve a better fate—but by degrees, we emerge from our spiritual darkness, and gradually by the increasing growth and light within, we begin to have truer and nobler thoughts about our fellow—men, and "behold! it (all) is very good"; and whereas we had before looked around and seen nothing but darkness covering the land and enveloping the people, now all is full of light—the Light of God's continual presence; wherever we turn our eyes, we see the world bathed in His beautiful sunshine—streaming through rocks, and penetrating to the bottom of deep waters and glancing right into and through the hearts of men. So, with growth comes light, and with light clearer vision; and hatred and in justice, and cruelty vanish from out the heart; and the purified soul is no longer dejected, or fearful, or even unsatisfied, but content, and happy, fearless and serene, for he knows that those who abide in God lack nothing; and that when he finally awakes in the same likeness his every desire will be satisfied.