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Existing Conditions and the Divine Ideal

The Epoch
The Light of Reason

Founded by James Allen, 1902
Editor Mrs. James Allen

Vol. XX. January 1918 No. 1


Perhaps never before in the history of the world have existing conditions been further removed from the Divine Ideal. The Nations of the world who have professed to be the most Christian have laid aside Christianity as a practice, (though not as a profession), and are engaged in the most brutal and devilish war that has ever blackened the annals of civilization. Man, awakening to a sense of his inherent powers has turned all his natural potentialities to the invention of the most diabolical instruments of torture and destruction wherewith to destroy the earth and murder his fellow man, until the whole world literally lives in fear of "the terror by night and the arrow that flieth by day; of the pestilence that walketh in darkness and the destruction that wasteth at noontide." When Tennyson with the inspired pen of the poet wrote those verses in Locksley Hall, quoted below, we thought it was a mad dream of the poet, that with the march of progress and civilization, and the spread of so-called Christianity such things could not possibly be in the future, but how mistaken we were!

Men, my brothers, men the workers, ever reaping something new:
That which they have done but earnest of the things that they shall do;

For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;

Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rained a ghastly dew
From the Nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue.

Tennyson saw the future trend of science in the hands of unmoral men, and knew that as they became aware of their vast power they would, without the wisdom and moral force which alone could guide them, turn their inventive genius into the terrible condition of things existing today. But alas, as it ever has been in the past the world turned a deaf ear to the prophet, and listened to the priest.

Christianity as a moral force has utterly failed to save the world from rapine, greed, envy, malice, murder, bloodshed, war, and the utter darkness of misery and degradation. While professing to worship the God of Love, The Father of all men, and His Divine Representative The Christ, Christianity has in reality worshiped the ancient God of Battles, the God of War, of jealousy and revenge. That great Christian institution "The Church," allied to the State, has become in verity the servant of existing civil governments and the agent of temporal powers. Its voice for centuries has not been the voice of God but the voice of the State. Organized Christianity has had no choice but to Christianize whatever the strongest political party in the State, for the time being, set up as a standard for the national life, regardless of its relationship to the teaching of the Christ, and with no thought of the Divine Ideal. After two thousand years of Christian teaching and preaching the Sermon on the Mount has not been found practical by the Christian church, and is absolutely a dead letter. Had the Christian church been the true representative of God on earth, and had she been what she has ever professed to be, viz., the keeper of the Divine Precepts of Christ, instead of what she really has been the servant and slave of temporal powers; had she been allied to God and not to Emperors, Kaisers, and Kings, she would have protested with an uncensored voice, and with no uncertain powers against the growing hatred between the nations, and would have condemned and prevented, at its very beginning, the long preparation by the statesmen and military powers of the most professedly Christian nation in the world to cover the earth with violence and to shed blood like rivers of water, not only in Belgium and France, but all over Europe. No, the Church, bound by the will of the State, and divorced from the Law of God, actually had to the Nation arming itself to fight and kill and to defy all the laws of righteousness and morality, so proving that while she may be a powerful servant of the State she is very far removed from being a spiritual power in the world. But not alone is this condition of things found in the State Church, but Christianity as a whole, whether allied to the State or "free" has, in this respect, being weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Brotherhood has failed. And why? Because men did not realize that brotherhood is a practice and not a theory; a life and not the mere act of signing a paper and joining an organization. Brotherhoods were springing up like mushrooms, but for the greater part they were founded on theories, schemes, and propaganda, so, when the testing time arrived they tumbled down like a house of cards. The would-be brotherhood did not know that brotherhood means the complete cessation of all egotism, attack, ill-will, and the utter abandonment of self by the individual. Men could not, or would not realize that only in the practice of Good-will and Peace could Brotherhood be possible. Self-surrender and Good-will are inseparable from Brotherhood—they are its guardian angels, and within its habitation strife and division are unknown. So Brotherhood is still a something unknown and unpracticed in the world.

Commercialism, politics, society—where are they? What is the underlying force in all these conditions today? Self-aggrandizement, self-seeking, avarice, greed, and deepest deception. We are hearing and reading a great deal about the "profiteer." Who is he? What does "profiteering" mean? It means that after all our boasted superiority over the nations of the world, all our professions of Christianity, our church-going, our Brotherhoods, our Trades, and our Friendly Societies, there are those among us who are degraded enough to grow rich through the suffering and necessity of others; it means that men are ready, aye, eager to wade through the blood of our sons to line their pockets with gold; It means that no matter how others may suffer and degrade themselves "vested interests" must be considered, and dividends must be kept up. The many may perish—the few must prosper!

How much as a Church or State are we concerning ourselves about the morality of the Nation? Vice is rampant in our midst and thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of men and women are diseased and dying through moral filth. The tempter is allowed, without let or hindrance, to walk openly through our cities, over our highways, and in the byways of the land, and nothing, or next to nothing is being done to save the ignorant and tempted. "Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner." It can be said of vice today as never perhaps before, "it hunts for the precious life," and its victims, knowing not all it means, and the hell of consequences that must follow, "as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life." "Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death." Can nothing be done to stop this terrible condition of things? Well may the Mother’s heart break as she kisses her boy goodbye, not because she fears the death of a brave soldier, but because she fears that which is far worse than a thousand deaths—vice and its attendant disease and the consequences. What is being done, again I ask, to shield our boys from this "way to hell and to the chambers of death"?

Ah, well may it be said, "where there is no vision the people perish," for our hearts would break within us, and our eyes might well close in death if we could see no further than existing conditions. Blessed are the eyes that can look beyond the state of things existing today, and can see from the Watch Tower of Faith the vision of the Divine Ideal.

Out of the wars of creed and dogma; out of the confusion of sects and tongues there shall arise at last a true Religion—the religion of the human heart in its relation to God and the universe. The Church shall no longer be allied to political parties, nor bound by the laws of man, neither shall she be tom by schism within and without, for the Church of the future will be the true church of the Christ Within and will be found in the heart of man. The Prophet Isaiah saw this when he said, "And behold the time shall come when no man shall say, ‘know ye the Lord’ for all shall know him from the least unto the greatest." It is the Divine Ideal. John saw it when an exile in the Isle of Patmos, and he said, "I saw no temple therein for the Lord God and the Lamb are the Temple of it." Creeds must give place to Unity, and Dogma will die in the greater light of Action; separation and condemnation will no longer be known among men calling themselves by the name of Christian, for "they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion." So, with our eyes fixed upon the Divine Ideal we can bear with existing conditions in the world of Christiandom, knowing that they are the gropings of the blind seeking to lead the blind until the True Light shall shine within the heart of man. And in that day no man will dare to say he loves God if he loves not his brother. Then Religion, pure and simple, will be the root of all endeavor, the incentive to all action, and the inspiration of all life.

Brotherhood will come. It is the Divine Ideal for man. It has been the vision of the saints and sages throughout all the Ages. Poets have sung of it and painters have portrayed it; the prophets have foretold it, and the teachers of the Race have ever pointed to it, telling man of its beauty and blessedness. It has been the vision of it, albeit but dimly perceived and imperfectly understood, that has caused men to make effort after effort to establish it in their midst by such means as Trade Unions, Clubs, Societies, and Brotherhoods. They have all failed, and did we look no further than existing conditions we might be tempted to imagine that Brotherhood is a mad and impossible dream. But again we see, far off it may be, but sure and certain, the Divine Ideal, and we say with Burns'

"Yet man to man the whole world o’er 
Shall brothers be for a’ that."

And do we not give expression to it every day when we bow our heads and say Our Father! So we take courage to our hearts, and we look away beyond the strife and bloodshed, the horror and agony of existing conditions to where the Divine Ideal of the Brotherhood of man awaits us.

For long now the hearts of men everywhere, even in the most military of all nations, and the most aggressive, have longed for peace. We say after every war, “his war must be the last," but alas, again and again we have been plunged into the apparently inevitable. I say apparently for I am not sure that all this sickening bloodshed might not have been prevented. But one thing we do know, that in all time the prophet has seen a day when wars shall cease. And did man not know that the vision of the prophet is a real one he would never make the efforts and sacrifices that have been made, and that are being made, to make this terrible war the last war. Ever the vision of the prophet is our vision, and ever in a future time we see the men of war beating their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, and we know that the time will come when the nations will learn war no more. It is the Divine Ideal. They shall neither hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord of Hosts!

The poet saw the day of the Divine Ideal beyond the terrible day of the "ghastly dew from the Nations airy navies" for he points out to us a time when those very same instruments of death and destruction will be used for the blessing and benefits of mankind,

"Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails, 
Pilots of the purple twilight dropping down with costly bales,"

and again his vision gives to us the picture of the future day when, war shall be no more,—

"Till the war-drum throbbed no longer, and the battle flags were furled 
In the Parliament of men, the Federation of the world."

Greed and grasping, covetousness and profiteering shall be no more when men see that what they grasp with unclean and unholy hands today will be wrenched from them tomorrow. There is a Law in the Universe which cannot be outdone nor hoodwinked. "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." "With what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again." Had the "profiteer" been taught the ways of God he would not do as he is doing, but he has forgotten, if he ever knew, that though

"The mills of God grind slowly, 
They grind exceeding small."

Out of the hell of vice and the horror of its attendant consequences; through the terror and suffering of death and the grave, men and women will at last come to purity and peace. Were this life the only life well might we despair, but we know that that is not so; yet we know that the full price must be paid, and we think with sadness of all it means, of the remorse and the agony, the suffering and the despair of those who have lost their purity, and forsaken the pathway of virtue. It is an awful thought, but somewhere, sometime it must end, the purgatory of the soul will at last cease, and they shall come through much suffering to life again.

It is the Divine Ideal. When our hearts are heaviest and our eyes are filled with the bitterest tears over the fallen, then we lift up our eyes and we see the blessed vision afar off, and we are comforted.

When we think of the weeping mothers and wives, when we hear the wail of anguish ascending to heaven from the hearts of the bereft who have seen their best beloved go from them never to return, were it not for the Divine Ideal, surely the heart would cease to hope, and like Job’s wife we would say, "let us curse God and die." But consciously, or subconsciously, we see the Divine Ideal, and we know that death is but a passing phase of life, and we know that our beloved sons "dead, are safest of all." There is no death, there is but transition, and the Word declares "the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."

In conclusion let me urge all who may read these words to meditate often and deeply upon the Divine Ideal. When the thought of existing conditions comes over us, ready to overwhelm us, let us put it far from us, and let us concentrate upon the Divine Ideal. Thus shall we hasten the day of its coming. Thought is the greatest power in the universe. The more we think of existing conditions as realities, the stronger do we make them; but if we turn our thoughts upon the Divine Ideal, and keeping them fixed there, we steadfastly and bravely do our part, we shall day by day cause the powers underneath existing conditions to weaken and fail, and we shall hasten the Dawn of Enlightenment and Peace. So let our life, our every thought and action, be the constant prayer,—

Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth.


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Lily L. Allen

  • Born on December 30th, 1867 at Burrishoole, Eire
  • Wife of author James Allen
  • Wrote many books of her own
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