Although the general purpose of this book is unitary, in the broad sense, its various studies and interpretations are quite unlike. They touch upon different aspects of life, and their mutual relation is mainly below the surface. The particular order in which they receive attention is therefore of no consequence. A few of them, subject to considerable revision, have appeared in various magazines.
The underlying motif of the author is constructive and not iconoclastic. It is by the positive light of Truth that the shades of error are to be dissipated. There is a deep spiritual hunger among men, the nature of which is often not clearly discerned, and this is the real cause of a universal restlessness. This craving cannot be satisfied upon the plane where the search is most generally made. The higher nature must receive proper sustenance, and failing in that, no physical, intellectual or ethical redundancy can make good such a radical incompleteness. There is a general though mainly a blind quest for the normal divine counterpart which alone can round out the vital necessities of the human constitution. Such a demand is a positive prophecy of supply.
At the beginning of the twentieth century a general evolutionary reconciliation of the higher order is apparent. Everything there is has some fitting place and legitimate office. In the great scheme of the Whole, each church, sect, system and institution, however imperfect, which is striving to uplift men contains the most good for its own particular section of the human family, and its very existence is a witness of such adaptation. As rapidly as its utility is outgrown, in the natural order it will be replaced by one more fitting, and this may be without any overt antagonism or criticism. If one finds his normal hunger more fully met in some new institution, that which previously has been regnant will drop away of itself, and no one need try to strip it away.
That which is truly liberal will not denounce that which is conservative, nor even that which is "narrow." The higher evolution silently relegates everything to its "own place," arbitrary outside judgments to the contrary notwithstanding. Simply bear aloft the truth, or your highest ideal of it, and let it deal with error as the rising sun deals with darkness. If the shadows are to be sternly fought let the light do the work. Its spontaneous weapons are more effective than those of human forging, be they never so well fashioned.
The authority of the inner Light—which is God in the human soul—may gently replace dictation from without. Truth is impersonal and a mirror-like subjective response to its presentation is the final test of genuineness for every man. The writer of these pages will welcome the application of this touchstone to his own utterances.
Cambridge, Mass., 1901.