Part 2 out of 3
And in a measure this impulse to flight can be understood. I can
understand that common-sense men should be cold toward the Caucasian
God, and that they should even renounce and denounce him. I will go so
far as to say that I can more easily understand the atheist than I can
many of my own friends who pathetically try to love and adore their
capricious un-Christlike Deity. To my certain knowledge many of them are
doing it against their own natural and better instincts, because they
dare not forsake the tradition in which they have been dyed. "I try to
love God and I can't," has been said to me many a time by conscientious
people who felt that the fault must lie in themselves. There was no
fault in themselves. If their God could have been loved they would have
I come here to a point of no small importance to the conquest of fear,
the courage to release oneself from the tether of tradition. Few people
have it, in the sense of rejecting old theories because of having worked
out to new spiritual knowledge. When it comes to the eternal verities
many of us are cowardly; nearly all of us are timid. The immense
majority of us prefer a God at second or third hand. We will accept what
somebody else has learned, rather than incur the trouble or the
responsibility of learning anything for ourselves. We take our knowledge
of God as we take our doses of medicine, from a prescription which one
man has written down, and another has "put up," and still another
administers. By the time this traditional, handed-on knowledge of God
has reached ourselves it is diluted by all kinds of outside opinions and
personalities. It is not strange that when we have swallowed the dose it
does little to effect a cure. I do not deny that a second or third hand
knowledge of God may do something. I only deny that it can do much. To
support my denial I need only point to what the world has become in a
second and third hand Christendom. The illustration is enough.
It should be plain, I think, that no one will ever be released from fear
by clinging to the teachings which have inspired fear. We are fearless
in proportion as we grow independent enough to know for ourselves. I
cannot but stress this point to some extent, for the reason that I
myself suffered so long from inability to let the traditional go. It
seemed to me to have a sanctity just because it was traditional. The
fact that other people had accepted certain ideas had weight in making
me feel that I should accept them too. To go off on a line of my own
seemed dangerous. I might make mistakes. I might go far wrong. Safety
was spelled by hanging with the crowd.
It was the chance remark of an old acquaintance which dislodged me from
this position. In the lobby of a hotel we had met by chance, after not
having seen each other for a good many years. The conversation, having
touched on one theme and another, drifted to subjects akin to that which
I am now discussing. I ventured to disclose some of my own "seeking God,
if perhaps I could grope for Him and find Him."
 Acts of the Apostles.
My friend straightened himself and squared his shoulders. "I stand
exactly where I did thirty years ago."
There was a pride in the statement with regard to which my first feeling
was a pang of envy. A rapid calculation told me that thirty years ago he
had been about twenty; and the superiority of a man who at twenty had
attained to so much spiritual insight that he had not needed to learn
anything more in the interim was evident. I was two or three days
turning this incident over in my mind before the exclamation came to me,
"How terrible!" To have lived through the thirty years of the richest
experience the ordinary man ever knows and still have remained on
precisely the same spot as to spiritual things struck me then as a
I beg to say here that I am not talking of external and official
religious connections. I am trying to avoid the subject of external and
official religion altogether. I am speaking not of religion but of God.
To my mind the two have no more than the relation of the words of a song
and the music of its setting. You may use them together or you may
consider them apart. I am considering them apart, and confining myself
wholly to the words of the song. What is known as church-affiliation,
the music of the setting, I am not concerned with. My only topic is the
way in which the meaning of the words gets over to the average inner
man, and the effect upon him mentally.
I revert, therefore, to the statement that to make the kind of spiritual
progress which will overcome fear it will be often necessary to let go
the thing we have outlived. Often the thing we have outlived will be
something dear to us, because there was once a time when it served our
turn. But our turn to-day may need something different from the turn of
yesterday, and the refusal to follow new light simply because it is new
leads in the end to mental paralysis. I was once asked to sign a
petition to the mayor of a city praying that, on the ground of its
novelty, electric lighting might be excluded from the street in which I
lived. Exactly this same reluctance often keeps us from making changes
of another sort, even when we feel that the light which hitherto was
enough for us has been outgrown and outclassed.
The danger of the lone quest leading a man astray can be easily
exaggerated. It is not as if God were difficult to find. "The soul
cannot move, wake, or open the eyes, without perceiving God." "For this
commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee,
neither is it far off. It is not in heaven that thou shouldest say, Who
shall go up for us to heaven and bring it down unto us that we may hear
it and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea that thou shouldest say, Who
shall go over the sea for us and bring it unto us that we may hear it
and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth and in thy
heart." No motion toward the Universal can miss the Universal. I
cannot escape from the Ever-Present; the Ever-Present cannot escape from
me. Intellectually I may make mistakes in deduction, but spiritually I
cannot but find God. The little I learn of God for myself is to me
worth more than all the second and third hand knowledge I can gather
from the saints.
 The Book of Deuteronomy.
It is the more necessary to dwell on this for the reason that whatever
_Metanoia_, or new orientation, is to be brought about must be on the
part of individuals. There is no hope for large numbers acting together,
or for any kind of group-impulse. Group-impulse among Caucasians is
nearly always frightened, conservative, reactionary, or derisive of the
forward step. There is hardly an exception to this in the whole history
of Caucasian ideas.
Otherwise it would be a pleasant dream to imagine what might now be
happening on the great international stage. Let us suppose that the
leaders of the so-called Christian countries were all convinced of the
three main lines of God's direction I have already tried to sketch. Let
us think of such men as Lloyd George, Clemenceau, Sforza, President
Harding, and the heads of government in Belgium, Russia, Germany, and
all other countries affected by the present war of moves and
counter-moves--let us think of them as agreed on the principles:
1. That each knows himself and his country as an agent in the hand of
God, directed surely toward a good end;
2. That each knows each of his colleagues and his country as equally an
agent in the hand of God, directed surely toward a similar good end;
3. That each knows that between God's agents there can be neither
conflicting interests nor clash of wills, and that suspicion and
counter-suspicion must be out of place, since under God's direction no
double-crossing is possible.
The picture is almost comic in its incongruity with what actually is.
The mere thought of these protagonists of the century working in harmony
to one great purpose, without distrust of each other's motives, and with
no necessity for anyone's dodging political foul play, summons the smile
of irony. Mutual trust was never so much a suggestion to laugh down.
The mere hint that it might be possible would make one a target for the
wit of the experienced.
In what we call the practical world of to-day there is no appeal from
the God of Fear but _to_ the God of Fear. The great mass of Caucasians
will not have it otherwise. And it requires no prophetic vision to
foresee the results of the efforts to bring about international harmony
while all are obeying the decrees of the Goddess of Discord. Nearly
three years after the signing of the armistice the world is in a more
hopeless situation than it was when at war. Up to the present each new
move only makes matters worse. There are those who believe that our
phase of civilisation is staggering into the abyss and that nothing, as
far as can now be descried, will save it from the deluge.
Possibly! Fear tends always to produce the thing it is afraid of. I
mention this dark outlook only for the reason that even if the
cataclysm were to come the individual can escape from it.
Cataclysms are not new in the history of our race. The rise and fall of
civilisations may be called mankind's lessons in "how not to do it." Of
these lessons there are no such records as those which we find in the
Old Testament; and in these records it is unfailingly pointed out that
whatever the calamity which overtakes the world at large the individual
has, if he chooses, a way of safety. The innocent are not overwhelmed
with the guilty, except when the innocent deliberately shut their eyes
to the opening toward the _Soteria_--the Safe Return. But that,
unhappily, the innocent do so shut their eyes is one of the commonest
facts in life.
Back in that twilight of history of which the later tale could be told
only by some symbol, some legendary hieroglyph, there was already an
"Ark" by which the faithful few could be saved from the "Flood." The
symbol became permanent. The Ark of the Covenant--the sign of a great
spiritual understanding--remained as a token to man that in God he had
a sure refuge. It was laid up in his Holy of Holies, a mystic,
consecrated pledge, till the ruthless Caucasian came and rifled it.
But no rifling could deprive mankind of its significance. That endures.
To bring it home to the desolate and oppressed was a large part of the
mission of psalmists and prophets. The Ark of the Covenant--of the Great
Understanding--meant as much to those who sought God in the ancient
world as the Cross does to Christendom. It meant that whatever the
collapse, national or general, through siege or sack or famine, those
who would escape could escape by the simple process of mentally taking
refuge in God. The Ark of God would bear them safely when all material
Among the themes which run through the Old Testament this is of
paramount importance. It is impossible to do more than refer to the many
times the spiritually minded were implored to seek this protection. It
was needful to implore them since they found the assurance so difficult
to believe. No matter how often it was proved to them they still
doubted it. Saved by this method once they would reject it when it came
to danger the second time. Saved the second time they rejected it the
third. "Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on
thee, because he trusteth in thee," is the declaration of Jeremiah, who
perhaps more than any other was a prophet of disaster. Similar
statements are scattered through the Old Testament by the score, by the
hundred. It was a point on which leaders, seers, and teachers insisted
with a passionate insistence. They knew. They had tested the truth for
themselves. Disaster was a common feature in their history. During the
three thousand years and more which their experiences cover these
Israelites had seen more than one invasion sweep across their land, more
than one civilisation come and go. All that Belgium knew in the Great
War they knew time and time again. Between Egypt and Assyria, the France
and Germany of that special epoch, theirs was a kind of buffer state
over which every new anguish rolled. "Let it roll," was the cry of
their prophets. "The Lord will fight for you. Stand still and see what
he will do. His arm is not shortened neither his strength diminished. It
is of the Lord to save whether by many or by few. Trust in the Lord and
be doing good, so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be
fed. Oh, how great is thy goodness which thou hast wrought for them that
trust in thee before the sons of men. I said in my haste, I am cut off!
Nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplication when I cried
unto thee. Be of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye
that hope in the Lord."
 Various Old Testament Sources.
In many ways this is the burden of the more ancient Scriptures--the
protection which surrounds those who know that protection is God. It was
a gospel that had to be preached with tears and beseechings from one
generation to another. No generation accepted it. The belief in
material power was always too dense. It is still too dense. In the Ark
of the Great Understanding the Caucasian has practically never seen more
than a symbol that has gone out of date. Lost materially in the Tiber
mud it was, for him, lost forever. But not so. Its significance remains
as vital to mankind as when, veiled and venerated, it stood between
The time may be close at hand when we shall need this assurance as we
need nothing else. However optimistic we try to keep ourselves, no
thinking man or woman can be free, at this crisis in world-history, from
deep foreboding. For the memory to go back ten years is, even for us in
the New World, like returning to a Golden Age; while for the Old World
mere recollection must be poignant.
The possibility that all countries in both hemispheres may find
themselves in some such agony as that of the Russia of to-day is not too
extravagant to be entertained. This is not saying that they are likely
so to find themselves; it means only that in the world as it is the
safest is not very safe. My point is that whether catastrophe
overwhelms us or not, he who chooses not to fear can be free from fear.
There is a refuge for him, a defence, a safeguard which no material
attack can break down. "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most
High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the
Lord, He is my refuge--my fortress--my God. In Him will I trust."
There is this Ark for me, this Ark of the Great Understanding, and I can
retire into it. I can also have this further assurance: "Because thou
hast made the Lord which is my refuge--even the Most High--thy
habitation, there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague
come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee to
keep thee in all thy ways."
 The Book of Psalms.
 The Book of Psalms.
This is the eternal agreement, but an agreement of which we find it
difficult to accept the terms. To the material alone we are in the habit
of ascribing power. Though we repeat a thousand times in the course of
a year, "For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory," we do not
believe it. To few of us is it more than a sonorous phrase.
I remember the impression of this which one received at the great
thanksgiving for peace in St. Paul's Cathedral in London some twenty
years ago. The Boer War had ended in an English victory, and while the
thanksgiving was not precisely for this, it did express the relief of an
anxious nation that peace was again restored. It was what is generally
known as a most impressive service. All that a great spectacle can offer
to God it offered. King, queen, princes, princesses, ambassadors,
ministers, clergy, admirals, generals, and a vast assembly of citizens
filled the choir and nave with colour and life, while the music was of
that passionless beauty of which the English cathedral choirs guard
But the detail I remember best was the way in which the repetition of
the Lord's Prayer rolled from the lips of the assembly like the sound
of the surging of the sea. It was the emotional effect of a strongly
emotional moment. One felt tense. It was hard to restrain tears. As far
as crowd-sympathy has any spiritual value it was there. The Caucasian
God was taken out of His pigeon-hole and publicly recognised.
Then He was put back.
I take this service merely as an instance of what happens in all the
so-called Christian capitals in moments of national stress. Outwardly it
happens less in the United States than it does elsewhere, for the reason
that this country has no one representative spiritual expression; but it
does happen here in diffused and general effect. As a Christian nation
we ascribe in common with other Christian nations the kingdom, the
power, and the glory to God--on occasions. We do it with the pious
gesture and the sonorous phrase. Then we forget it. The habit of
material trust is too strong for us. Kings, queens, presidents, princes,
prime ministers, congresses, parliaments, and all other representatives
of material strength, may repeat for formal use the conventional clause;
but there is always what we flippantly know as a "joker" in the
lip-recitation. "Kingdom, power, and glory," we can hear ourselves
saying in a heart-aside, "lie in money, guns, commerce, and police. God
is not sufficiently a force in the affairs of this world for us to give
Him more than the consideration of an act of courtesy."
Practically that is all we ever get from group-impulse--an act of
courtesy. I repeat and repeat again that whatever is done toward the
conquest of fear must be done by the individual. _I_ must do what I can
to conquer fear in myself, regardless of the attitude or opinions of men
To men in general the appeal to spiritual force to bring to naught
material force is little short of fanatical. It has never been otherwise
as yet; it will probably not be otherwise for long generations to come.
Meanwhile it is much for the individual to know that he can act on his
own initiative, and that when it comes to making God his refuge he can
go into that refuge alone. He needs no nation, or government, or
society, or companions before him or behind him. He needs neither leader
nor guide nor friend. In the fortress of God he is free to enter merely
as himself, and there know that he is safe amid a world in agony.
This is not theory; it is not doctrine; it is not opinion. It is what
the great pioneers of truth have first deduced from what they understood
to be the essential beneficence of God, and then proved by actual
demonstration. Anyone else can demonstrate it who chooses to make the
experiment. My own weakness is such that I have made the experiment but
partially; but partial experiment convinces me beyond all further
questioning that the witness of the great pioneers is true.
Nor is this conviction to be classed as idealism, or ecclesiasticism, or
mysticism, or anything else to which we can put a tag. It is not
sectarian; it is not peculiarly Christian. It is the general possession
of mankind. True, it is easier for the Christian than for any other to
enter on this heritage, since his spiritual descent is more directly
from the pioneers of truth who first discovered God to be His children's
safety; but the Universal is the Universal, the property of all.
Discovery gives no one an exclusive hold on it. Anyone with a
consciousness of Almighty, Ever-Present Intelligence must have some
degree of access to it, though his access may not be to the fullest or
the easiest. It is not possible that the Universal Father should be the
special property of the Christian or of anyone else. The Christian view
of the Father is undoubtedly the truest; but every view is true in
proportion to its grasp of truth. No one will deny that the Buddhist,
the Mahometan, the Confucianist, have their grasp of truth. Even the
primitive idolater has some faint gleam of it, distorted though it may
have become. Very well, then; the faintest gleam of such knowledge will
not go without its recompense.
Exclusiveness is too much our Caucasian habit of mind. It is linked with
our instinct for ownership. Because through Jesus Christ we have a
clearer view of a greater segment of the Universal, if I may so express
myself, than the Buddhist can have through Buddha or the Mahometan
through Mahomet, our tendency is to think that we know the whole of the
Universal, and have it to give away. Any other view of the Universal is
to us so false as to merit not merely condemnation but extirpation.
Extirpation has been the watchword with which Caucasian Christianity has
gone about the world. We have taken toward other views of truth no such
sympathetic stand as St. Paul to that which he found in Greece, and
which is worth recalling:
"Men of Athens, I perceive that you are in every respect remarkably
religious. For as I passed along and observed the things you worship, I
found also an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. The
Being, therefore, whom you, without knowing it, revere, Him I now
proclaim to you. God who made the universe and everything in it--He
being Lord of heaven and earth--does not dwell in sanctuaries built by
men. Nor is He administered to by human hands as though He needed
anything--but He Himself gives to all men life and breath and all
things. He caused to spring from one forefather people of every race,
for them to live on the whole surface of the earth, and marked for them
an appointed span of life, and the boundaries of their homes; that they
might seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him. Yes,
though He is not far from any one of us. For it is in closest union with
Him that we live and move and have our being; as in fact some of the
poets in repute among yourselves have said, 'For we are also His
 Acts of the Apostles.
To the conquest of fear this splendid universalism is another
essential. God being "not far from any one of us" cannot be far from me.
He who gives to all men life and breath and all things will not possibly
deny me the things I require most urgently. Our whole civilisation may
go to pieces; the job by which I earn a living may cease to be a job;
the money I have invested may become of no more value than Russian
bonds; the children whom I hoped I had provided for may have to face
life empty-handed; all my accustomed landmarks may be removed, and my
social moorings swept away; nevertheless, the Universal cannot fail me.
"Although the figtree shall not blossom nor fruit be in the vines;
though the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields yield no meat;
though the flocks be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the
stalls; yet I will rejoice in God, I will joy in the God of my
salvation." It is safe to say that this confidence on the part of
Habakkuk was not due to mere grim forcing of the will. It was the fruit
of experience, of knowledge, of demonstration. In spite of the dangers
national and personal he saw threatening, his certainty of God must
have been spontaneous.
Anyone, in any country, in any epoch, and of any creed or no creed, who
has shared this experience shares also this assurance. To the Christian
it comes easiest; but that it does not come easy even to the Christian
is a matter of common observation. It can only come easily when some
demonstration has been made for oneself, after which there is no more
Nor is it a question of morals or morality.
I must venture here on delicate ground and say what I should hesitate to
say were the contrary not so strongly underscored. I mean that God, from
what we understand to be His nature, could not accord us His protection
by weighing the good and the evil in our conduct, and giving or
withholding help according to our worthiness. The Universal is too great
to be measured and doled in that way. Nothing but our own pinchbeck
ideas could ascribe to Him this pettiness. As it is the kind of sliding
scale we ourselves adopt, we limit the Divine Generosity by our own
Not so was the understanding of Jesus Christ. That we should be kind to
the so-called evil as we are to the so-called good was a point on which
He dwelt in the Sermon on the Mount. To discriminate between them when
it comes to the possibility of conferring benefits is in His opinion
small. "You have heard that it was said, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor,
and hate thine enemy.' But I command you all, Love your enemies, and
pray for your persecutors; that so you may become true sons of your
Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the wicked as well as
on the good, and sends rain upon those who do right and those who do
 St. Matthew.
In other words, we are not to feel ourselves turned out of our
"habitation" in God by a sense of our moral lapses. Moral lapses are to
be regretted, of course; but they do not vitiate our status as the Sons
of God. It is possible that no one believes they do; but much of the
loose statement current among those who lay emphasis on morals would
give that impression. There is a whole vernacular in vogue in which
souls are "lost" or "saved" according to the degree to which they
conform or do not conform to other people's views as to what they ought
to do. Much of our pietism is to the effect that God is at the bestowal
not merely of a sect, but of some section of a sect, and cannot be found
through any other source.
This brings me to the distinction between morals and righteousness,
which is one for the mind of to-day to keep as clearly as possible
before it. I have said that the refuge in God is not a question of
morals; but it is one of righteousness. Between righteousness and morals
the difference is important.
Morals stand for a code of observances; righteousness for a direction of
Morals represent just what the word implies, the customs of an age, a
country, or a phase in civilisation. They have no absolute standard. The
morals of one century are not those of another. The morals of one race
are not those of another even in the same century. In many respects the
morals of the Oriental differ radically from those of the Occidental,
age-long usage being behind each. It is as hard to convince either that
his are the inferior as it would be to make him think so of his
mother-tongue. I once asked a cultivated Chinaman, a graduate of one of
the great American universities and a Christian of the third generation,
in what main respect he thought China superior to the United States. "In
morals," he replied, promptly; but even as a Christian educated in
America his theory of morals was different from ours.
Among ourselves in the United States the essence of morals is by no
means a subject of unanimous agreement. You might say that a standard of
morals is entirely a matter of opinion. There are millions of people who
think it immoral to play cards, to go to the theatre, to dance, or to
drink wine. There are millions of other people who hold all these acts
to be consistent with the highest moral conduct.
Moreover, wherever the emphasis is thrown on morals as distinct from
righteousness there is a tendency to put the weight on two or three
points in which nations or individuals excel, and to ignore the rest.
For example, not to go outside ourselves, the American people may be
fairly said to exemplify two of the great virtues: On the whole they
are, first, sober; secondly, continent. As a result we accentuate morals
in these respects, but not in any others.
For instance, the current expression, "an immoral man," is almost
certain to apply only under the two headings cited above, and probably
only under one. All other morals and immoralities go by the board. We
should not class a dishonest man as an immoral man, nor an untruthful
man, nor a profane, or spiteful, or ungenial, or bad-tempered, man. Our
notion of morals hardly ever rises above the average custom of the
community in which we happen to live. Except in the rarest instances we
never pause to reflect as to whether the customs of that community are
or are not well founded. The consequence is that our cities, villages,
countrysides, and social groupings are filled with men and women moral
enough as far as the custom of the country goes, but quite noticeably
It is also a fact that where you find one or two virtues singled out for
observance and the rest obscured there you find, too, throngs of
outwardly "moral" people with corroded hearts. Villages, churches, and
all the quieter communities are notorious for this, the peculiarity
having formed for a hundred and fifty years the stock-in-trade of
novelists. Sobriety and continence being more or less in evidence the
assumption is that all the requirements have been fulfilled. The
community is "moral" notwithstanding the back-bitings, heart-burnings,
slanders, cheatings, envies, hatreds, and bitternesses that may permeate
it through and through. As I write, the cramped, venomous, unlovely life
of the American small town is the favourite theme of our authors and
readers of fiction. Since a number of the works now on the market have
met with national approval one must assume that the pictures they paint
are accurate. The conditions are appalling, but, according to the custom
of the country, they are "moral." The shadow of insobriety and
incontinence doesn't touch the characters who move across these pages,
and yet the level of the life is pictured as debased, and habits
With morals in this accepted American sense righteousness has little to
do. The two are different in origin. Morals imply the compulsion of men,
and are never more binding than the customs of men render them. They are
thus imposed from without, while righteousness springs from within. The
essence of righteousness lies in the turning of the individual
I think it safe to say that righteousness is expressed more accurately
in attitude than in conduct. It is expressed in conduct, of course; but
conduct may fail while the attitude can remain constant. It is worthy of
remark that some of the great examples of righteousness cited in the
Bible were conspicuously sinners. That is to say, they were men of
strong human impulses against which they were not always sufficiently on
guard, but who turned towards God in spite of everything. In the long
line spanning the centuries between Noah and Abraham and Peter and
Paul--from the almost prehistoric out into the light of day--not one is
put before us except in his weakness as well as in his strength. Some of
them commit gross sins; but apparently even gross sins do not debar them
from their privileges in God's love. This principle was expressed in the
words of Samuel: "Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness; yet turn
not aside from following the Lord.... For the Lord will not forsake his
people for his great name's sake." That the Universal who has all the
blessings of creation to bestow should deprive me of anything just
because in my folly or weakness I have committed sins is not consistent
with "his great name's sake." It would not be causing His sun to rise on
the wicked as well as on the good nor sending rain on those who do right
and those who do wrong. I am too small for His immensity to crush with
its punishments, but not too small to be the object of His entire love.
I hope it is plain that I say this not to make little of doing wrong but
to put the love and fulness of God in the dominating place. I must make
it clear to myself that He does not shut me out of His heart because I
am guilty of sins. I may shut myself out of His heart, unless I direct
my mind rightly; but He is always there, unchanged, unchangeable, the
ever-loving, ever-welcoming Father. Whatever I have done I can return to
Him with the knowledge that He will take me back. Far from sure of
myself, I can always be sure of Him.
There are those who would warn me against saying this through fear lest
it should be interpreted as, "Don't be afraid to sin so long as you keep
mentally close to God." I prefer to run that risk. The dread figure of
"an angry God" has been so worked to terrorise men that large numbers of
us have been terrorised. But experience shows us every day that being
terrorised never produces the results at which it aims. It does not win
us; it drives us away.
Much of the alienation from God in the mind of to-day is due to
rebellion on the part of our sense of justice. We are sinners, of
course; but not such sinners as to merit the revenge which an outraged
deity is described as planning against us. That the All-loving and
All-mighty should smite us in our dearest aims or our sweetest
affections just because we have not conformed to the lop-sided morality
of men is revolting to our instincts. We are repulsed by the God of Fear
when we are drawn, comforted, strengthened, and changed by Him who is
never anything toward us but "the Father."
I have no hesitation, therefore, in throwing the emphasis in what I
have to say on the fact that He is "a place to hide me in"--the Ark of
the Great Understanding--always open to my approach--into which,
whatever I have done, I can go boldly.
THE MIND OF TO-DAY AND THE WORLD AS IT IS
Much of what I have written will seem inconsistent with the fact that in
the world as it is there are undeniable and inevitable hardships. True!
I do not escape them more than any other man, the relative relief from
fear saving me from only some of them.
I have not meant to say that even with one's refuge in God there is
nothing left to struggle with. My point is that whatever there may be to
struggle with there is nothing to be afraid of. Freedom from struggle
would profit us not at all. On the contrary, it would render us
nerveless, flabby, flaccid, and inert.
But fear, as a rule, being connected with our struggles, it is
important, I think, to be as clear as we can concerning the purport of
those struggles, and their source. We have already seen that fear is
diminished in proportion as we understand that our trials are not
motiveless, and perhaps this is the point at which to consider briefly
what the motives are.
Struggle we may define as the act of wrestling with trial, so as to come
out of it victoriously. It is a constant element in every human life.
Furthermore, I am inclined to think that, taking trial as an average,
the amount which enters into one life differs little from that which
enters into another.
There was a time when I did not think so. Some lives struck me as
singled out for trouble; others were left comparatively immune from it.
One would have said that destinies had been mapped with a strange
disregard for justice. Those who didn't deserve it suffered; those whom
suffering might have purified went scot free. Some were rich, others
were poor; some had high positions, others humble ones; some had the
respect of the world from the day they were born, others crept along
from birth to death in restriction and obscurity. The contrasts were so
cruel that they scorched the eyes of the soul.
This is true, of course; and I am not saying that in the testing to
which everyone is subjected all have an equal share of the opportunities
for triumphing. I am speaking for the moment only of the degree to which
the testing comes. As to that, I am inclined to feel that there is
little to choose between one life and another, since each of us seems to
be tried for all that he can bear.
One is impressed with that in one's reading of biography. Only the lives
of what we may call the favoured few get into print, and of those few it
is chiefly the external events that are given us. Glimpses of the inner
experience may be obtained from time to time, but they are rarely more
than glimpses. Of what the man or the woman has endured in the secret
fastnesses of the inner life practically nothing can be told. And yet
even with the little that finds its way into words how much there is of
desperate fighting. To this there is never an exception. The great
statesman, the great poet, the great priest, the great scientist, the
great explorer, the great painter, the great novelist--not one but
suffers as anyone suffers, and of not one would the reader, as a rule,
put himself in the place.
I bring up this fact because we so often feel that the other man has an
easier task than ourselves. The very thing I lack is that with which he
is blessed. I see him smiling and debonair at the minute when I am in a
ferment. While I hardly know how to make both ends meet he is building a
big house or buying a new motor-car. While I am burying hope or love he
is in the full enjoyment of all that makes for happiness and prosperity.
We are always prone to contrast our darker minutes with our friends'
brighter ones. We forget, or perhaps we never know, that they do the
same with us. At times we are as much the object of their envy as they
ever are of ours.
I say this not on the principle that misery loves company, but in order
to do away with the heathen suspicion lingering in many minds that God
singles _me_ out for trial, heaping benefits on others who deserve them
no more than I do.
God singles no one out for trial. When trials come they spring, as
nearly as I can observe, from one or all of the three following sources.
A. The trials which come from a world of matter;
B. The trials which come from a world of men;
C. The trials we bring on ourselves.
A. The minute we speak of matter we speak of a medium which the mind of
to-day is just beginning to understand. The mind of other days did not
understand it at all. Few phases of modern advance seem to me more
significant of a closer approach to the understanding of spiritual
things than that which has been made along these lines.
To all the generations before our own matter was a sheer and positive
density. Its hardness, solidity, and actuality could not be gainsaid.
Earth was earth; iron was iron; wood was wood. Blood was blood; flesh
was flesh; bone was bone. A man was a material being attached to a
material planet, as a sponge is attached to the bottom of the sea. All
that he touched and ate and wore and used was of the same material
Absolute. As to the spiritual there could be a question; as to the
material there could be none. The speculation of occasional
philosophers, that matter might not after all be more than a mental
phenomenon, was invariably hooted down. "I know that matter is matter by
standing on it," are in substance the words attributed to even so
spiritually-minded a man as the great Dr. Johnson. On this point, as
perhaps on some others, he may be taken as a spokesman for the Caucasian
portion of our race.
And now comes modern physical science reducing matter to a tenuousness
only one remove from the purely spiritual, if it is as much as that.
Gone is the mass of the mountains, the stoniness of rocks, the hard
solidity of iron. The human body, as someone puts it, is no more than a
few pails of water and a handful of ash. Ash and water are alike
dissipated into gases, and gases into elements more subtle still.
Keeping strictly to the material modern science has reached the confines
of materiality. Where it will lead us next no man knows.
But the inference is not unfair that the world of matter is to a
considerable degree, and perhaps altogether, a world of man's own
creation. That is to say, while God is doing one thing with it, the
human mind understands another. For the human point of view to develop
and develop and develop till it becomes identical with God's is perhaps
the whole purpose of existence.
To me personally it was no small help in overcoming fear when I saw the
purpose of existence as expressed in the single word, Growth. That, at
least, is a legitimate inference to draw from the history of life on
this planet. Assuming that the universe contains an intelligible design
of any sort, and that life on this planet is part of it, a vast
development going on eternally toward complete understanding of Infinite
Right and Happiness would give us some explanation of the mystery of our
being here. Beginning, for reasons at which we can only guess, far away
from that understanding, we are forever approaching it, with forever the
joy of something new to master or to learn. New perceptions, new
comprehensions, new insights gained, new victories, even little
victories, won, constitute, I think, our treasures laid up in that
heaven where neither moth nor wear-and-tear destroys, and where thieves
do not break in and steal. Where this treasure is, there, naturally
enough, our hearts will be also. Looking back over the ages since the
life-principle first glided into our planet waters--how it did so is as
yet part of our unsolved mystery--what we chiefly see is a great
surging of the living thing upward and upward toward that Highest
Universal to which we give the name of God.
That is a point which we do not sufficiently seize--that God is not
revealed to us by one avenue of truth alone, but by all the avenues of
truth working together. With our tendency to keep the Universal in a
special compartment of life we see Him as making Himself known through a
line of teachers culminating in a Church or a complex of churches; and
we rarely think of Him as making Himself known in any other way. To
change the figure, He trickles to us like a brook instead of bathing us
round and round like light or air.
But all good things must express the Universal; and all discovery of
truth, whether by religion, science, philosophy, or imaginative art,
must be discovery in God. The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the
Mount are discoveries in God, but so are the advances in knowledge made
by Plato, Aristotle, Roger Bacon, and Thomas Edison. He shows Himself
through Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, and St. Paul, but also through Homer,
Shakespeare, Michael Angelo, Beethoven, Darwin, George Eliot, William
James, and Henry Irving. I take the names at random as illustrating
different branches of endeavour, and if I use only great ones it is not
that the lesser are excluded. No one department of human effort is
specially His, or is His special expression. The Church cannot be so
more than the stage, or music more than philosophy. His Holy Spirit can
be no more outpoured on the bishop or the elder for his work than on the
inventor or the scientist for his work. I say so not to minimise the
outpouring on the bishop or the elder, but to magnify that on everyone
working for progress. This, I take it, is what St. John means when he
says, "God does not give the Spirit with limitations." He who always
gives all to all His children cannot give more.
When our Lord restores sight to a blind man, or Peter and John cause a
lame man to walk, we see manifestations of God; but we see equal
manifestations of God when one man gives us the telephone, another the
motor-car, and another wireless telegraphy. Whatever declares His power
declares Him; and whatever declares Him is a means by which we press
upward to the perception of His loving almightiness. The advance may be
irregular but it is advance; and all advance is advance toward Him.
That is to say, we are rising above a conception of life in which matter
is our master; and yet we are rising above it slowly. This is my chief
point here, because by understanding it we see why we still suffer from
material afflictions. We have overcome some of them, but only some of
them. It is a question of racial development. As we glance backward we
see how much of the way we have covered; as we look round on our
present conditions we see how much there is still to be achieved.
To diminish fear we should have it, I think, clearly before us that the
human race has done as yet only part of its work, and put us in
possession of only part of the resources which will one day belong to
us. If we could compare ourselves with our ancestors in the days, let us
say, of Christopher Columbus or William the Conqueror we should seem in
relation to them like children of a higher phase of creation. If we
could compare ourselves with our descendants of five hundred or a
thousand years hence we should probably be amazed at our present
futility and grossness. Our ancestors in the Middle Ages could do
certain great things, as we, too, can do certain great things; but in
general access to the Universal Storehouse which is God we have made
progress in ways unknown to them, as our children will make such
progress after us.
But we have made only the progress we have made. We have its advantages,
but there are advantages to which we have not yet attained. We might
liken ourselves to people who have reached the fourth or fifth step of a
stairway in which there are twenty or thirty. We have climbed to a
certain height, but we are far from having reached the plane to which we
It is worth noting this for the reason that we are so likely to think of
ourselves as the climax to which the ages have worked up, and after
which there is no beyond. We are the final word, or as the French
express it, the last cry, _le dernier cri_. All that can be felt we have
felt, all that can be known we have experienced. For the most part this
stand is taken by the intellectuals in all modern countries. In us of
to-day, of this very hour, the wave of Eternity has broken, throwing
nothing at our feet but froth. The literature of the past ten years is
soaked in the pessimism of those who regret that this should be all that
the travail of Time could produce for us.
In view of this moan from so many of the writers who have the public
ear, especially in Europe, it is the more important to keep before us
the fact that we are children of a race but partially developed at best.
Compared with what will one day be within human scope our actual reach
is only a little beyond impotence. I say this not merely at a venture,
but on the strength of what has happened in the past. We are not a
people which has accomplished much, but one on the way to
accomplishment. The achievements of which we can boast are relatively
like those of a child of five who boasts that he can count. Our whole
world-condition shows us to be racially incompetent, and able to produce
no more than incompetent leaders. That is our present high-water mark,
and with our high-water mark we must learn to be satisfied.
Escaping from matter we are still within the grasp of matter, and shall
probably so continue for generations to come. Our struggles must
therefore be largely with matter, till little by little we achieve its
domination. In proportion as the individual does so now he reaps the
reward of his victory; and in proportion as he reaps that reward fear is
overcome. Our primary fear being fear of matter, much is gained by
grasping the fact which modern science for the past ten or fifteen years
has been carefully putting before us--vainly as far as most of us are
concerned--that what we call matter is a force subject to the control of
mind, while the directing of mind rests wholly with ourselves. Since we
have controlled matter to make it in so many ways a hostile force, it
ought to be within our power to turn it in our favour.
Which is, I suppose, the trend we are following, even if we follow it
unconsciously. For the turning of the matter in our favour we have
fortunately some notable examples. Our race has produced one perfectly
normal man to whom all of us sub-normals can look as the type of what we
are one day to become.
I think it a pity that so much of our thought of Him makes Him an
exception to human possibilities. In speaking of Him as the Son of God
we fancy Him as being in another category from ourselves. We forget that
we, too, are sons of God--"heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ." It
is true that He realised that Sonship to a degree which we do not; but
it is also true that we ourselves realise it to some degree. In the
detail of the mastery of matter to which we shall attain it is fair, I
think, to take Him as our standard.
 Epistle to the Romans.
Taking Him as our standard we shall work out, I venture to think, to the
following points of progress.
a. The control of matter in furnishing ourselves with food and drink, by
means more direct than at present employed, as He turned water into wine
and fed the multitudes with the loaves and fishes.
b. The control of matter by putting away from ourselves, by methods more
sure and less roundabout than those of to-day, sickness, blindness,
infirmity, and deformity.
c. The control of matter by regulating our atmospheric conditions as He
stilled the tempest.
d. The control of matter by restoring to this phase of existence those
who have passed out of it before their time, or who can ill be spared
from it, as He "raised" three young people from "the dead" and Peter and
Paul followed His example.
e. The control of matter in putting it off and on at will, as He in His
death and resurrection.
f. The control of matter in passing altogether out of it, as He in what
we call His Ascension into Heaven.
It will be observed that I take as historic records the statements of
the Bible. This I do in face of the efforts of many of the clergy in a
number of the churches to make me see in the Old Testament chiefly a
collection of myths, and in the New a series of compilations by
irresponsible hands, of doubtful date and authority, leaving, in the
case of our Lord, only a substratum which can be relied on as
As an instance of what I mean I quote the following: A few weeks ago I
happened to mention to the distinguished head of one of the most
important theological schools of one of the largest denominations in the
country, our Lord's turning the water into wine. "I've no idea that He
ever did anything of the kind," were the words with which he dismissed
the subject, which I did not take up again. I am not arguing here
against his point of view. I merely state that I do not share it, and
for these two main reasons:
First, because the so-called Higher Criticism on which it is based is a
purely evanescent phase of man's learning, likely to be rejected
to-morrow by those who accept it to-day, as has been the case with other
Secondly, because I feel sure that, with the mastery of matter to which
we have already attained, the future development of our race will
justify these seeming "miracles," and make them as natural and
commonplace as telegraphy and telephony.
I speak only for myself when I say that the more I can feel round me the
atmosphere of omnipotence the less I am aware of fear. It is a matter of
course that the one should exclude the other. The sense of being myself,
in a measure, the inheritor of omnipotence, as an heir of God and a
co-heir with Christ, becomes, therefore, one to cultivate. This I can do
only in proportion as I see that my Standard and Example cultivated it
before me. In my capacity as a son of God I take as applying to myself
the words reported by St. John: "In most solemn truth I tell you that
the Son can do nothing of Himself--He can only do what He sees the
Father doing; for whatever He does, that the Son does in like manner."
While sayings like these, of which there are many in the New Testament,
apply doubtless, in the first place, to Him who best exemplifies the
Sonship of God, they must apply, in the second place, I suppose, to all
who exemplify that Sonship to any degree whatever. Man is the Son of
God; and it is worth noting that He who is specially termed the Son of
God is also specially termed the Son of Man. "Dear friends," St. John
writes, elsewhere, "we are now God's children, but what we are to be in
the future has not been fully revealed to us." I take it, therefore, as
no presumption on my part to emphasise in my daily thought my place as a
co-heir with Christ, feeling that not only is God's almightiness
exercised on my behalf, but that as much of it as I know how to use is
placed in my hands.
This last, of course, is very little. Even that little I use doubtfully,
timidly, tremblingly. That is the utmost reach to which present
race-development and personal development have brought me. With regard
to the opportunities all round me I am as if I stood beside an airship
in which I could fly if I knew how to work its engines, which I do not.
Other conveniences besides airships would be of no good at all to me if
someone more skilful than I didn't come to my aid. There is probably no
person living of whom the same is not true. Large portions of
omnipotence are placed within hands which are too busy grasping other
things to seize all that they could hold.
I remember the encouragement it was to me when I understood that to hold
anything at all was so much to the good as a starting-point. I had been
in the habit of dwelling on the much I had missed rather than on the
little I had apprehended. But the little I had apprehended was, after
all, my real possession, and one I could increase. It is like the few
dollars a man has in a savings bank. That at least is his,
notwithstanding the millions he might have possessed if he had only
known how to acquire them. There are many instances of a few dollars in
the savings bank becoming the seedling of millions before the span of a
man's life is passed.
To be glad of what we can do while knowing it is only a portion of what
will one day be done is to me a helpful point of view. "There may be
truth in all this," is the observation of a young lady who has scanned
what I have written, "and yet I don't believe that we shall ever conquer
fear." That, it seems to me, is to tie chains and iron weights about
one's feet when starting on a race. If we are to keep in the race at
all, to say nothing of winning it, the spirit must be free. One must add
the courage which springs from a partial knowledge of the truth to the
patience one gets from the understanding that as yet our knowledge of
the truth is but partial.
I often think that if the churches could come to this last admission it
would be a help to themselves and to all of us. As already hinted I am
anxious to keep away from the subject of churches through a natural
dread of bitterness; but this much I feel at liberty to say, saying it
as I do in deep respect for the bodies which have kept alive the glimmer
of Divine Light in a world which would have blown it out. In a
partially developed race the churches can have no more than a partially
developed grasp of truth. A partially developed grasp of truth is
much--it is pricelessly much--but it is not a knowledge of the whole
truth. Not being a knowledge of the whole truth it should be humble,
tolerant, and eager to expand.
The weakness of the ecclesiastical system strikes me as lying in the
assumption, or practical assumption, on the part of each sect that _it_
is the sole repository of truth, and of all the truth. There is no sect
which does not claim more than all mankind can claim. Moreover, there is
no sect which does not make its claims exclusively, asserting not only
that these claims are right, but that all other claims are wrong. To the
best of my knowledge, the sect has not yet risen which would make more
than shadowy concessions to any other sect.
True, it must not be forgotten that no sect bases its teaching on what
it has worked out for itself, but on the revelation made to it in Jesus
Christ. Every sect would admit that its own view of truth might have
been partial were it not for the fact that in Jesus Christ it has
everything. Where the theories of men might be inadequate His immense
knowledge comes in as supplementary.
This might be so had He Himself undertaken to give more than a partial
view of truth. But He says expressly that He does not. He gives what His
hearers might be assumed to be able to assimilate; but that is all. "I
have much more to say to you, but you are unable at present to bear the
burden of it." It being an axiom in teaching to give the pupil only
what he can receive, this is the utmost that our Lord attempts.
 St. John.
He goes on, however, to add these words, which are significant: "But
when He has come--the Spirit of Truth--He will guide you into all the
truth." No doubt that process is even now going on, and will continue
to go on in proportion as our race develops. We are being guided into
all the truth, through all kinds of channels, spiritual, literary,
scientific, philosophical. The naïve supposition that this promise was
kept on the Day of Pentecost, when a sudden access of knowledge
committed all truth to the apostles and through them to the Church
forevermore, is contradicted by the facts. The apostles had no such
knowledge and made no claims to its possession. The Church has never had
it, either. "All truth" covers much more ground than do questions of
ecclesiastical forms of government or of the nature of the sacraments.
"All truth" must go as far as the Universal goes, leaving nothing
outside its range. "All truth" must surely be such self-evident truth as
to admit of no further dissensions.
 St. John.
Taking truth as a circle, the symbol of perfection, we may assume that
our Lord disclosed a view of a very large arc in its circumference. But
of the arc which He disclosed no one group of His followers has as yet
perceived the whole. At the same time it is probable that each group has
perceived some arc of that arc, and an arc perceived by no other group.
"All truth" being too large for any one group to grasp, the Baptist sees
his segment, the Catholic his, the Methodist his, the Anglican his, the
Congregationalist his, until the vision of Christ is made up. I name
only the groups with which we are commonly most familiar, though we
might go through the hundreds of Christian sects and agree that each has
its angle from which it sees what is visible from no other. Though there
is likely to be error in all such perceptions a considerable portion of
truth must be there, or the sect in question would not survive. It is
safe to say that no sect comes into existence, thrives, and endures,
unless it is to supply that which has been missed elsewhere.
What place is there then for intersectarian or ecclesiastical arrogance?
The question is far from foreign to my subject. Fear is what arrogance
feeds upon; fear is what arrogance produces; and arrogance is the
special immorality of churches. To my mind the churches are almost
precluded from combating fear, for the reason that arrogance is to so
marked a degree their outstanding vice.
The Catholic is arrogant toward the Protestant; the Protestant is
arrogant toward the Catholic; the Anglican is arrogant to him whom he
calls a Dissenter in England, and merely "unchurches" in America; the
Unitarian is arrogant to those whom he thinks less intellectual than
himself; those who believe in the Trinity are arrogant toward the
Unitarian. All other Christian bodies have their own shades of
arrogance, entirely permitted by their codes, like scorn of the weak to
the knights of Arthur's court. An active, recognised, and mutual
arrogance all round is the reason why it is so rare to see any two or
three or half a dozen Christian sects work for any cause in harmony.
Arrogance begets fear as surely and prolifically as certain of the
rodents beget offspring.
Much has been written during the past fifty years on the beautiful theme
of the reunion of Christendom. Rarely does any great synod or
convention or council meet without some scheme or some aspiration toward
this end. Every now and then a programme is put forth, now by this body,
now by that, with yearning and good intentions. And in every such
programme the same grim humour is to be read behind the brotherly
invitation. "We can all unite--if others will think as we do." Is it any
wonder that nothing ever comes of these efforts? And yet, I am
persuaded, a day will dawn when something will.
"When he has come--the Spirit of Truth--he will guide you into all the
truth." That will be in the course of our race-development. As step is
added to step, as milestone is passed after milestone, as we see more
clearly what counts and what doesn't count, as we outgrow childishness,
as we come more nearly to what St. Paul calls "mature manhood, the
stature of full-grown men in Christ," we shall do many things that
now seem impossible. Among them I think we shall view intersectarian
arrogance as a mark of enfeebled intelligence. There will come an era of
ecclesiastical climbing down. We shall see more distinctly our own
segment of the arc which our Lord has revealed, and because of that we
shall know that another man sees what we have missed. The Methodist will
then acknowledge that he has much to learn from the Catholic; the
Catholic will know the same of the Baptist; the Anglican of the
Presbyterian; the Unitarian of the Anglican; and a co-operative universe
be reflected in a co-operative Church. Each will lose something of his
present cocksureness and exclusiveness. God will be seen as too big for
any sect, while all the sects together will sink out of sight in God.
 Epistle to the Ephesians.
In the meantime we are only working toward that end, but toward it we
are working. Every man who believes in a church is doing something to
bring that end about when he gives a kindly thought to any other church.
I say this the more sincerely owing to the fact that I myself am
naturally bigoted, and such kindly thought does not come to me easily.
There are sects I dislike so much that my eyes jump from the very
paragraphs in the newspapers which mention them. And yet when I curb
myself, when I force myself to read them, when I force myself to read
them sympathetically and with a good wish in my heart, my mental
atmosphere grows wider and I am in a stronger, surer, steadier, and more
Much criticism has been levelled at the Church within the past few
years; but it should be remembered that the Church no more than
government, no more than business, no more than education, can be ahead
of the only partially developed race of which she is one of the
expressions. She is not yet out of the world of matter, though she is
emerging. In proportion as her concepts, hopes, and aims remain material
she will be as incompetent as any other body with the same handicaps and
limitations. In proportion as she learns to "overthrow arrogant
reckonings and every stronghold that towers high in defiance of the
knowledge of God," she will become the leader of the world, and our
great deliverer from fear.
 Second Epistle to the Corinthians.
B. Of the trials brought upon us by a world of men perhaps our chief
resentment springs from their unreasonableness. They are not necessary;
they might be avoided; at their worst they could be tempered. For this
reason, too, they take us by surprise. Those who bring them on us seem
captious, thoughtless, cruel. When they could so easily offer us a
helping hand they obstruct us for the mere sport of doing so. People
toward whom we have never had an unkindly thought will often go out of
their way to do us a bad turn.
I shall not enlarge on this, since most of us are in a position to
enlarge on it for ourselves. There is scarcely an individual for whom
the way, hard enough at any time, has not been made harder by the barbed
wire entanglements which other people throw across his path. Almost
anything we plan we plan in the teeth of someone's opposition; almost
anything with which we try to associate ourselves is fraught with
discords and irritations that often inspire disgust. The worlds in which
co-operation is essential, from that of governmental politics to that of
offices and homes, are centres of animosities and suspicions, and
therefore breeding-grounds of fear.
I suppose most grown-up people can recall the wounded amazement with
which they first found themselves attacked by someone to whom they were
not conscious of ever having given cause. Some are sensitive to this
sort of thing; some grow callous to it; some are indifferent; and some
are said to enjoy it. In the main I think we are sensitive and remain
sensitive. I have been told by a relative of one of the three or four
greatest living writers of English that the unfavourable comment of a
child would affect him so that he would be depressed for hours.
Statesmen and politicians, I understand, suffer far more deeply in the
inner self than the outer self ever gives a sign of. The fact that our
own weakness or folly or recklessness or wrong-doing lays us open to a
blow is not much consolation when it falls.
For myself all this became more tolerable when I had fully grasped the
fact that we are still to a considerable degree a race of savages. From
savages one cannot expect too much, not even from oneself. We have
advanced beyond the stage at which one naturally attacked a stranger
simply because he was a stranger, but we have not advanced very far. The
instinct to do one another harm is still strong in us. We do one another
harm when it would be just as easy, perhaps easier, to do one another
good. Just as the Ashanti hiding in the bush will hurl his assegai at a
passer-by for no other reason than that he is passing, so our love of
doing harm will spit itself out on people just because we know
Personally I find myself often doing it. I could on the spur of the
moment write as many as twenty names of people of whom I am accustomed
to speak ill without really knowing much about them. I make it an excuse
that they are in the public eye, that I don't like their politics, or
their social opinions, or their literary output, or the things they do
on the stage. Anything will serve so long as it gives me the opportunity
to hurl my assegai as I see them pass. One does it instinctively,
viciously, because like other semi-savages one is undeveloped mentally,
and it is to be expected.
By expecting it from others half our resentment is forestalled. Knowing
that from a race such as ours we shall not get anything else we learn to
take it philosophically. If I hurl my assegai at another, another hurls
his assegai at me, and in a measure we are quits. Even if, trying to
rise above my inborn savagery, I withhold my assegai, it is no sign that
another will withhold his, and I may be wounded even in the effort to do
my best. Very well; that, too, is to be expected and must be
The learning to take it manfully is what as individuals we get out of
it. For the most part we are soft at heart, soft, I mean, not in the
sense of being tender, but in that of being flabby.
On myself this was borne in less than a year ago. I had for some months
been working hard at a picture-play which when put before the public was
largely misunderstood. While some of the papers praised it others
criticised it severely, but whether they praised or blamed I was seen as
"teaching a lesson," a presumption from which I shrink. It is not that
there is any harm in teaching a lesson if a man is qualified, but I no
longer consider myself qualified. Sharing ideas is one thing, and the
highest pleasure of the reason; but the assumption that because you
suggest an idea you seek to convert is quite another thing. If I failed
to make it plain that in this present book I was merely offering ideas
for inspection, and in the hope of getting others in return, I should
put it in the fire.
My picture-play once handed over to the public I experienced an intense
reaction of depression. To figure through the country, wherever there
are screens, as "teaching a lesson" seemed more than I could bear. It
_was_ more than I could bear, till it flashed on me that I couldn't bear
it merely because I was inwardly flabby. I was not taking the experience
manfully. I was not standing up to it, nor getting from it that
toughening of the inner fibre which it had to yield. As usual in my
case, owing to an acquaintance with the Bible imparted to me in
childhood, a suggestion from the Bible was that which righted me again
toward cheerfulness. It came, as such things always do, without any
seeking, or other operation beyond that of the subconscious self.
_Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ._
 St Paul's Second Epistle to Timothy.
It was exactly what I needed to do--to endure hardness--to take it--to
bear it--to be more of a man for it. Moreover, the idea was a new
suggestion. I had not understood before that to the conquest of fear the
hardening of the inner man is an auxiliary. My object had been to ward
off fear so that it shouldn't touch me; but to let it strike and rebound
because it could make no impact was an enlarging of the principle.
Viewing the experience as a strengthening process enabled me not only to
go through it but to do so with serenity.
This, I imagine, is the main thing we are to get out of the struggle
brought on us through living in a world of men such as men are to-day.
It is a pity they are not better, but being no better than they are we
can get that much from the fact--the inner hardening. When, justly or
unjustly, others attack or hurt or worry or anger or annoy me, the
knowledge that through the very trial I am toughening within, where so
often I am without moral muscle, can be a perceptible support.
C. Of the two main trials we bring on ourselves I suppose it would be
only right to put sickness first.
Under sickness I include everything that makes for age, decay, and the
conditions commonly classed as "breaking up." It is becoming more and
more recognised, I think, that physical collapse has generally behind it
a mental cause, or a long series of mental causes too subtle for
I shall not dwell on this, for the reason that during the past fifty
years so much has been written on the subject. A number of movements for
human betterment have kept the whole idea in the forefront of the public
mind. It is an idea only partially accepted as yet, arousing as much
opposition among the conservative as hope on the part of the
progressive. Since, however, science and religion are both, in their
different ways, working on it together, some principle which can no
longer be questioned is likely to be worked out within the next few
All I shall attempt to do now is to re-state what seems to me the
fact--stated by others with knowledge and authority--that God, rightly
understood, is the cure of disease and not the cause of it. There is
something repugnant in the thought of Universal Intelligence
propagating harmful bacteria, and selecting the crises at which we shall
succumb to their effects. The belief that God sends sickness upon us
amounts to neither less nor more than that. The bacilli which we try to
destroy He uses His almighty power to cultivate, so that even our
efforts to protect ourselves become defiances of His Will.
Surely the following incident, which gives our Lord's attitude toward
disease, affords a reasonable basis for our own.
"Once He was teaching on the Sabbath in one of the synagogues where a
woman was present who for eighteen years had been a confirmed invalid;
she was bent double, and was unable to lift herself to her full height.
But Jesus saw her, and calling to her, He said to her, 'Woman, you are
free from your weakness.' And He put His hands on her, and she
immediately stood upright and began to give glory to God. Then the
Warden of the Synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured her on the
Sabbath day, said to the crowd, 'There are six days in the week on
which people ought to work. On those days therefore come and get
yourselves cured, and not on the Sabbath day.' But the Lord's reply to
him was, 'Hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath day untie his
bullock or his ass from the stall and lead him to water? And this woman,
daughter of Abraham as she is, _whom Satan had bound_ for no less than
eighteen years, was she not to be loosed from this chain because it is
the Sabbath day?' When He had said this all His opponents were ashamed,
while the whole multitude was delighted at the many glorious things
continually done by Him."
 St. Luke.
It was not God, in His opinion, who had afflicted this woman; it was
Satan, the personification of all evil. But in order that such
references should not be misunderstood He had said of Satan, only a
short time before, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven."
 St. Luke.
Heaven, I take it, is creation as its Creator sees it. "God saw
everything that he had made, and behold it was very good." And from
this creation, with the rapidity of the quickest thing we know anything
about, a flash of lightning, our Lord saw the personification of evil
blotted out. What thought had formed thought could destroy. The spectre
which misunderstanding of God had raised in a life in which everything
was _very good_ became nothing at the instant when God was understood.
 The Book of Genesis.
The occasion of His speaking the words I have quoted is worth noting as
bearing on the subject.
A little earlier He had sent out seventy of His disciples to be the
heralds of the Kingdom. "Cure the sick in that town, and tell them the
Kingdom of God is now at your door." By this time the seventy had
returned, exclaiming joyfully, "Master, even the demons submit to us
when we utter your name." It was apparently the use of this word
_demons_ which called forth from Him that explanation, "I beheld Satan
as lightning fall from heaven." In other words, Satan is the creation of
wrong thought; the demons are the creations of wrong thought. Where the
Universal Good is all there can be no place for evil or evil spirits.
Banish the concept and you banish the thing. The action is as quick as
thought, and thought is as quick as lightning. "I have given you power,"
He goes on to add, "to tread serpents and scorpions underfoot, and to
trample on all the power of the Enemy; and in no case shall anything do
 St. Luke.
 St. Luke.
 St. Luke.
This was no special gift bestowed on them and only on them. God has
never, as far as we can see, dealt in special and temporary gifts. He
helps us to see those we possess already. What our Lord seems anxious to
make clear is the power over evil with which the human being is always
endowed. It is probably to be one of our great future discoveries that
in no case shall anything do us harm. As yet we scarcely believe it.
Only an individual here and there sees that freedom and domination must
belong to us. But, if I read the signs of the times aright, the rest of
us are slowly coming to the same conclusion. We are less scornful of
spiritual power than we were even a few years ago. The cocksure
scientific which in its time was not a whit less arrogant than the
cocksure ecclesiastical is giving place to a consciousness that man is
the master of many things of which he was once supposed to be the slave.
In proportion as the wiser among us are able to corroborate that which
we simpler ones feel by a sixth or seventh sense, a long step will be
taken toward the immunity from suffering which our Lord knew to be
ideally our inheritance.
Sickness, age, decay, with all the horrors with which we invest our exit
from this phase of existence, I take to be a misreading of God's
intentions. We shall learn to read better by and by, and have already
begun to do so. To this beginning I attribute the improvement which in
one way or another has taken place in our general health--an
improvement in which science and religion have worked together, often
without perceiving the association--and in the prolonging of youth which
in countries like the British Empire and the United States is, within
thirty or forty years, to be noted easily.
Misreading of God's intentions I might compare to that misreading of his
parent's intentions which goes on in the mind of every child of six or
seven. He sees the happenings in the household, but sees them in a light
of his own. Years afterwards, when their real significance comes to him,
he smiles at his childish distortions of the obvious.
In comparison with what St. Paul calls "mature manhood, the stature of
full-grown men in Christ," our present rating might be that of a child
of this age. It is no higher. Misreading is all that we are equal to,
but it is something to be able to misread. It is a step on the way to
reading correctly. Though our impulse to learn works feebly it works
restlessly; and a day will surely come when we shall be able to
interpret God aright.
Next to sickness I should place poverty as the second of the two great
trials we bring upon ourselves.
Under poverty I class all sense of restriction, limitation, and material
helplessness. As the subject will be taken up more in detail elsewhere I
wish for the minute to say no more than this: that, in an existence of
which Growth seems to be the purpose, God could not intend that any of
us should be without full power of expansion.
What we are worth to him we must be worth as individuals; and what we
are worth as individuals must depend on the peculiar combination of
qualities which goes to make up each one of us. _I_, poor creature that
I sometimes seem to others and always to myself, am so composed that God
never before had anything exactly like me in the whole round of His
creation. My value lies in a special blend of potentialities. Of the
billions and trillions of human beings who have passed across this
planet not one could ever have done what I can do, or have filled my
place toward God and His designs.
Among the billions and trillions I may seem trivial--to men. I may even
seem trivial to myself. To such numbers as these I can add so little
when I come, and take away so little from them when I go, that I am not
worth counting. Quite so--to all human reckoning. But my value is not my
value to men; it is not even my value to myself; it is my value to God.
He alone knows my use, and the peculiar beauty I bring to the ages in
making my contribution. It is no presumptuous thing to say that He could
no more spare me than any other father of a normal and loving family
could spare one of the children of his flesh and blood.
Now, my value to God is my first reckoning. We commonly make it the
last, if we ever make it at all; but it is the first and the ruling one.
What I am to my family, my country, myself, is all secondary. They
determine only the secondary results. The first results come from my
first relationship, and my first relationship is to God. As the child of
my parents, as a citizen of my country, as a denizen of this planet, my
place is a temporary one. As the son of God I am from everlasting to
everlasting, a splendid being with the universe as my home.
Now this, it seems to me, is my point of departure for the estimate of
my possible resources. I cannot expect less of the good things of the
universe than God would naturally bestow on His son. To expect less is
to get less, since it is to dwarf my own power of receiving. If I close
the opening through which abundance flows it cannot be strange if I shut
And that is precisely what we find throughout the human race, millions
upon millions of lives tightly shut against His generosity. The most
generous treatment for which the majority of us look is man's. The only
standard by which the majority of us appraise our work is man's. You
have a job; you get your twenty or thirty or fifty or a hundred dollars
a week for it; and by those dollars you judge your earning capacity and
allow it to be judged. You hardly ever pause to remember that there is
an estimate of earning capacity which measures industry and good will
and integrity and devotion, and puts them above all tricks of trade _and
rewards them_--rewards them, I mean, not merely in mystical blessings in
eons far off, possibly the highest blessings we shall ever know, but
rewards them in a way that will satisfy you now.
"He satisfieth the empty soul," writes the psalmist, in one of the
sublimest lyrics ever penned, "and filleth the hungry soul with
"Yes, of course," says the Caucasian. "When you have crushed out all
your present cravings and forgotten them, He will give you joys of which
now you have no conception."
But are not my present cravings those which count for me? and do they
not make up precisely that character which renders me unique? True, my
longings now may have to the longings I shall one day entertain only the
relation of your little boy's craving for an alphabetic picture-book to
the course in philosophy he will take when he is twenty-five; but so
long as the picture-book is the thing he can appreciate you give it to
him. Is not this common sense? And can we expect the Father of us all to
act in other than common-sense ways?
It is because we do so expect--because we do so almost universally--that
we have blocked the channels of His blessings. The world is crowded with
men and women working their fingers to the bone, and even so just
squeaking along betwixt life and death and dragging their children after
them. They are the great problem of mankind; they rend the heart with
pity. They rend the heart with pity all the more for the reason that
there is no sense in their poverty. There is no need of it. God never
willed it, and what God never willed can go out of life with the speed
of Satan out of Heaven. We have only to fulfil certain conditions,
certain conditions quite _easy_ to fulfil, to find the stores of the
Universal laid as a matter of course at the feet of the sons of God.
"Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts," are the striking words
of the prophet Malachi, "if I will not open you the windows of heaven
and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to
receive it.... And all nations shall call you blessed, for ye shall be a
But it is the old story: we do not believe it. It is too good to be
true, so we put it away from us. In a world where the material is so
pressing we use only material measures, and bow only to material force.
So be it! That is apparently as far as our race-development takes us. It
takes us into suffering, but not out of it. Individuals have come into
it and worked their way out again; but most of us can go no faster than
the crowd. In that case we must suffer. In a terrible crisis in his
history, and after many sins, David was able to write these words: "I
sought the Lord ... and He delivered me out of all my fears." It is the
royal avenue, and it is open to anyone. And yet if we do not take it, it
still does not follow that all is lost.
Of the world as it is the outstanding fact is the necessity for
struggle. Struggle may conceivably enter into every other world. There
is something in us which requires it, which craves for it. A static
heaven in which all is won and there is nothing forevermore but to enjoy
has never made much appeal to us. If eternal life means eternal growth
we shall always have something with which to strive, since growth means
While sorry, then, that we have not released ourselves to a greater
degree than we have, we may take heart of grace from what we have
achieved. We must simply struggle on. Struggle will continue to make and
shape us. Whether our problems spring from a world of matter, from a
world of men, or from ourselves, their solving brings us a fuller grasp
of truth. The progress may be slow but it is progress. Hardship by
hardship, task by task, failure by failure, conquest by conquest, we
pull ourselves up a little higher in the scale. Some day we shall see in
the Universal all that we have been looking for, and be delivered out of
all our fears.
THE WORLD AS IT IS AND THE FALSE GOD OF FEAR
Of all fears the most dogging and haunting are those connected with
money. Everyone knows them, even the rich. For many years I was their
victim, and will now try to tell how I got rid of them so effectively
that I may call it entirely.
Having a good many responsibilities I lived in terror of not being able
to keep pace with their demands. The dread was like a malign invisible
presence, never leaving me. With much in the way of travel, friendship,
and variety of experience, which I could have enjoyed, the evil thing
was forever at my side. "This is all very well," it would whisper in
moments of pleasure, "but it will be over in an hour or two, and then
you'll be alone with me as before."
I can recall minutes when the delight in landscape, or art, or social
intercourse, became alien to me, something to be thrust away. Once in
driving through rich, lush, storied Warwickshire on the way to
Stratford-on-Avon--once in a great Parisian restaurant where the
refinement, brilliancy, and luxury of the world seemed crushed into
epitome--once at a stupendous performance of _Götterdämmerung_ at
Munich--once while standing on the shores of a lovely New Hampshire lake
looking up at a mountain round which, as Emerson says, the Spirit of
Mystery hovers and broods--but these are only remembered high points of
a constant dread of not being able to meet my needs and undertakings.
There used to be an hour in the very early morning--"the coward hour
before the dawn," it is called by a poet-friend of my own--when I was in
the habit of waking, only to hear the sleepless thing saying, as my
senses struggled back into play, "My God, can you be sleeping
peacefully, with possible ruin just ahead of you?" After that further
sleep would become impossible for an hour or two, such wakings
occurring, in periods of stress, as often as two and three times a week.
It was the spiritually minded man whom I have already quoted as giving
me the three great points as to God's direction who first helped me to
see that, on the part of anyone working hard and trying on the whole to
do right, the fear of being left without means amounts in effect to
denial of God. Thinking this over for myself during the course of some
years, this fear has come to seem to me of the nature of blasphemy. It
is like the "Curse God and die," of the wife of Job. I shall not
hesitate to speak strongly on the subject, because so few are speaking
on it strongly--while the urgency is pressing.
I have already said that it does not seem reasonable that the Father
should put us into His universe to expand, and then deny us the power
of expanding. The power of expanding is not wrapped up in money, but in
the world as it is the independence of the one of the other is not very
great. "One of the hardest things I ever had to do," a mother said to
me, not long ago, "was to tell my little girl that her father and I
could not afford to send her to college." That is what I mean. To most
of us "expanding" and "affording" amount to the same thing.
True, there are natures which transcend the limitations of "affording,"
and by innate strength do what others resign themselves to not doing.
For instance, there are men and women who "put themselves" through
college, doing similar things which bring out the best in their
characters. These are the exceptions; and they are the exceptions
precisely for the reason that, whether they know it or not, they are
nearer than their fellows to the divine working principle. It is not
necessary for us to be conscious of that principle in order to get much
of its result, though consciousness enables us to get more of it. The
strong are strong because of harmony with God, at least to some extent.
They may misuse their strength, as we can misuse anything; but the mere
fact of possessing it shows a certain degree of touch with the
Universal. But I am speaking chiefly of the weak, of those who think
first of all in terms of restriction rather than in those of privilege
to come and go and be and do.
I repeat that though this privilege is not dependent on money, money
expresses it to the average mind.
And what is money after all? It is only a counter for what we call
goods. Goods is the word with which, according to our Anglo-Saxon genius
for the right phrase, we sum up the good things with which the Father
blesses His children. The root connection between good, goods, and God
is worth everyone's attention, A hundred dollars is simply a standard of
measurement for so much of God's good things. A thousand dollars
represents so much more; a million dollars so much more again. But it is
important to note that this is not God's standard of measurement; it is
man's, and adopted only for man's convenience.
As for God's standard of measurement it is inconceivable that the
Universal Father should give to one of His children far more of His
"goods" than he can use, while denying to another that which he is in
absolute need of. The Universal Father could surely not do otherwise
than bless all alike. With His command of resources He must bless all
alike, not by depriving anyone, but by enriching everyone. If everyone
does not enjoy plenty it must be because of the bringing in of some
principle of distribution which could never have been His.
The right and the wrong principles of distribution are indirectly placed
before us by our Lord in one of the most beautiful passages which ever
fell from human lips. Familiar as it is, I venture to quote it at
length, for the reason that the modern translation makes some of the
points clearer than they are in the King James version which most of us
"No man can be the bondservant of two masters; for either he will
dislike one and like the other, or he will attach himself to one and
think slightingly of the other. You cannot be the bondservants both of
God and of gold. For this reason I charge you not to be over-anxious
about your lives, inquiring what you are to eat or what you are to
drink, nor yet about your bodies, inquiring what clothes you are to put
on. Is not the life more precious than its food, and the body than its
clothing? Look at the birds which fly in the air; they do not sow or
reap or store up in barns, but your Heavenly Father feeds them; are you
not of much greater value than they? Which of you by being over-anxious
can add a single foot to his height? And why be anxious about clothing?
Learn a lesson of the wild lilies. Watch their growth. They neither toil
nor spin, and yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his
magnificence could array himself like one of these. And yet if God so
clothes the wild herbage which to-day flourishes and to-morrow is cast
into the oven, is it not much more certain that he will clothe you, you
men of little faith? Do not even begin to be anxious, therefore, saying,
'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'
For all these are questions that Gentiles are always asking; but your
Heavenly Father knows that you need these things--all of them. But make
His Kingdom and righteousness your chief aim, and then these things
shall be given you in addition. Do not be over-anxious, therefore, about
to-morrow, for to-morrow will bring its own cares. Enough for each day
are its own troubles."
In this passage there are two points, each of which may merit a few
words as a means of eliminating fear.
The first point is the reference to what we are to make our "chief
aim"--the Kingdom of God and righteousness.
I feel sure we generally miss the force of these words through our
Caucasian sanctimoniousness. We can think of God's Kingdom and
righteousness only in the light of the pietistic. The minute they are
mentioned we strike what I have already called our artificial pose, our
funereal frame of mind. I am not flippant when I say that in the mind of
the Caucasian the first step toward seeking the Kingdom of God and
righteousness is in pulling a long face. We can hardly think of
righteousness except as dressed in our Sunday clothes, and looking and
feeling wobegone. To most of us the seeking of righteousness suggests at
once an increase in attending church services, or going to
prayer-meetings, or making missionary efforts--excellent practices in
themselves--according to the form of pietism we are most familiar with.
Those of us who have no form of pietism feel cut off from making the
attempt at all.
Oh, to be simple!--to be natural!--to be spontaneous!--to be free from
the concept of a God shut up within the four walls of a building and
whose chief interests are the sermon and the number of parishioners!
The Kingdom of God is the Universal Kingdom, including everyone and
everything--all interests, all commerce, all government, all invention,
all art, all amusement, all the staid pursuits of the old and all the
ardour of the young, all sport, all laughter, all that makes for
gladness. It is the Kingdom of the bird and the flower and the horse and
the motor-car and the motion-picture house and the office and the
theatre and the ballroom and the school and the college and everything
else that man has evolved for himself. He has evolved these things
wrongly because nine times out of ten he has seen them as outside God's
Kingdom, instead as being God's own undertakings because they are ours.
All that we have to do to seek His Kingdom is to do what we are doing
every day, with energy and fun, but to do it knowing we are His agents
and co-workers. As a matter of fact, most of us are, to some extent,
doing that already, getting food, shelter, clothing, and all other
necessary things as our reward. What we do not get is relief from fear,
because we do not understand that fear above all things is what He
would take away from us.
The second point is a curious one, and all the more emphatic for being
curious. Our Lord invents a false god. He names the false god of fear,
who was never named before. Mammon is the word which the modern
translator gives as gold. As Mammon it is translated in the Authorised
Version, whence we get the familiar phrase, "Ye cannot serve God
But Mammon was never the name of an idol or other form of false deity.
The word, which is Syriac, means money. Our Lord, apparently, made it
the name of a false god in order to set before us, and make vivid to us,
a false principle.
That false principle is in the belief that the material essentials for
living and expanding are dependent on man's economic laws.
This is a point of vast importance to the individual who desires to
strike out beyond the crowd, not only getting what he needs, but
ridding himself of fear.
The law of supply and demand is the most practical which the human race
in its present stage has been able to evolve. That it is not an ideal
law is obvious. There are ways in which it works, and ways in which it
does not. When the Christians began to act for themselves they
established a community of goods, such as had obtained among the little
band who gathered round our Lord. Almost at once it was given up,
presumably as being too advanced for the existing world of men. I
suppose we might say the same of the various systems of Socialism and
Communism urged on us at the present day. However good they may be, we
are not ready to put them into practice. That, I judge--without
positively knowing--is the reason why certain great Christian bodies
oppose both. These bodies, I assume, are not hostile to equal
distribution in itself, but only to equal distribution before men are
developed to a stage at which it would be wise.
But my point is independent of all men's theories, and rests simply on
the fact that, whatever the law of man, God is not bound by it.
If we can believe the Old and New Testaments--which, of course, some of
us do not--He has shown on many, many occasions that He is far from
being bound by it. Time after time He comes to the individual's relief
according to His own law. We reject these occurrences as mythical on the
ground that the laws of supply and demand--and some other laws as law is
understood by us--do not support them; and yet it is in the power of the
individual to test the truth for himself.
That is one of the burdens of both Testaments. The individual is
implored to see the only real system for the distribution of "goods" as
God's. It is not expressed in that way, but that is what it comes to.
God owns and disposes of everything. He has not put us into His Universe
and left us to fend for ourselves. He follows us. He cares for us. Not
one is forgotten or overlooked by Him. It is personal watching and
brooding and defence. He is our Father, not merely for the purpose of
hearing us sing hymns, and forgiving our sins when we stop committing
them, but for all our aims and objects. Nothing that concerns us is so
small but that His Infinite Intelligence follows it; no need of ours is
so large but that His All-Ownership can meet it. "Do not two sparrows
sell for a half-penny?" is our Lord's illustration on this point, "yet
not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's leave. But
as for you," He reasons, in order that we may understand the
infinitesimal nature of God's care, "the very hairs on your heads are
all numbered. Away then with fear!"
 St Matthew.
Away then with fear, because our first and over-ruling and
all-determining relationship is to Him.
In eliminating money-fears from my own life that was the fact which
helped me most. I had not only to seize it intellectually, but to get
what William James calls the "feeling" of it, the apprehension of it in
my subconsciousness. It was like acquiring a new instinct. The
_Metanoia_, the re-directing of my thought, was a thorough and
It meant getting up in the morning with a new conception as to why I was
working and for whom. I had taken it for granted hitherto that I was
working for such and such a firm, for as much money as they would pay
me. As much money as they would pay me was the limit of my expectation.
Beyond the law of supply and demand I had no vision; and whenever the
demand fell short fear was the result.
The change in my base was in seeing that working for such and such a
firm, for as much money as they would pay me, was merely incidental. It
was secondary. It was not what determined my position. It was not what
determined my reward. It was a small way of looking at a situation which
was big. It was a small way of looking at a situation which was big,
merely to confine my objective to such selling and buying as goes on in
the planet called the Earth. I was working for the Master of the
Universe, who had all the resources of the universe with which to pay me
for what I was worth _to Him_.
It is this last fact, as I have hinted already, which fixes my true
value. To the firm for which I am working I am worth so many dollars and
cents, and if for any reason I am unable to do their work they will get
someone else who can. I am not essential to them in any way, however
essential they may be to me. It is my part to "keep my job," since if I
don't I may find it hard to get another. If I do get another it will be
on the same principle, of being paid what I can be made to work for, and
not a penny more.
But in working for the Master of the Universe I am working for One to
whom I am essential. My "job" could not be "swung" by anyone else, since
everyone else is essential to the swinging of his own. I am not "taken
on" to do what anyone else could do as well; I am positively needed for
this thing and for no other thing.
The nature of "this thing" for which I am needed may be seen in the
obvious duties of my situation--as regards my family, my employers, and
my surroundings, which sum up my responsibilities toward men in general.
No explanation of myself can be independent of men in general, since my
work is for them in its final aim. If I forget them I forget God, God
expressing Himself to me through men in general, as through my family
and my employers in particular.
Incidentally, then, I work for men, but essentially and consciously I
work for God, and look to God for my recompense.
Now God is the most generous of all paymasters. It is natural enough
that He should be so. He who delights in the grace of a bird or the
colour of a flower must delight in a man in proportion to a man's higher
place in the creative scale. As our Lord points out, that is no more
than common sense. And, delighting in us as He does, God could not
possibly stint us in what we earn from Him. Merely to suppose so is to
dishonour Him. A large part of His joy must be in our joy.
The simplest way in which I can express it is that in consciously trying
to work with God, not man, as our employer, things happen to us which,
to the best of our foresight, would not have happened otherwise. Often
they seem accidental, and possibly we ascribe them to accident till the
coincidences become too numerous to explain by coincidence and nothing
more. It constantly happens to myself, for instance, to find the whole
solution of some tangled financial problem hanging on the chance turning
of my steps to someone's office, and the chance turning of the
conversation to some specific observation. Chance is the explanation
which comes to me first, till I reflect on the finespun chain which
brought me to that particular spot and those particular words. Leading
is what I see then; and seeing it once I am more confident of being led
the next time. The next time, therefore, I am the less afraid, having
the definite experience to support me.
There are millions of men and women to whom life brings no more than the
monotony of a treadmill round, year in and year out, with a cramping of
mind, spirit, and ambition, who might have been free had they measured
themselves by God's standards and not by men's. It is simply the taking
of a point of view, and adjusting the life to it. In doing one's work
primarily for God, the fear of undue restriction is put, sooner or
later, out of the question. He pays me and He pays me well. He pays me
and He will not fail to pay me. He pays me not merely for the rule of
thumb task which is all that men recognise, but for everything else I
bring to my job in the way of industry, good intention, and
cheerfulness. If the Lord loveth a cheerful giver, as St Paul says, we
may depend upon it that He loveth a cheerful worker; and where we can
cleave the way to His love there we find His endless generosity.
In my own case this generosity has most frequently been shown in
opening doors for me where I saw nothing but blank walls. He has made
favourable things happen. It may be said that they would have happened
anyhow; but when they have happened on my looking to Him, and have not
happened when I did not look to Him, it is only fair to draw the
conclusion that He was behind the event.
It may also be urged that if there was really a God who delighted in us
He would make favourable things happen to us whether we looked to Him or