The Goal of Life, by Hiram Butler, , at sacred-texts.com
The foregoing presentation of an idea of God within reach of the reasonable conception of the human mind, should bring to us a joy in the realization that God is not a myth, an incomprehensible something, or the mere life-principle, or even the spirit of mind, as many are now coming to believe, which is a vagary that, at best, can bring but little comfort, and certainly cannot produce the faith requisite to command zeal of action. The childish feeling of wonder at the incomprehensibility of God has been such in the past as to cause an actual fear of spirit and spirit-manifestation. This wonder and fear have not been confined to the ignorant.
According to late newspaper reports, a prominent minister of England, upon witnessing a phenomenon attendant upon a woman engaged in a "religious revival," was actually frightened at the manifestation of light, because it was supposed to be a manifestation of Spirit. We believe that fear causes much of the materialism and skepticism as to God and Spirit and the power of his angels to appear to men and guide their lives as in Bible
times. Much skepticism also arises from the vagueness of the popular conception of God and his angels.
The Lord Christ, who spoke with the authority of Yahveh Elohim, pointed forward to the present time when he said, "The hour cometh, when I shall no more speak to you in proverbs, but shall tell you plainly of the Father," and if the Spirit through the instrumentality of this volume has told you plainly of the Father, you should not allow the realistic conception of God to lower the greatness and sublimity of the ideal conception. The natural inclination of man is to lose interest in a thing and to lower his estimate of it as soon as he begins to comprehend it; but we assure you that were it possible for you to have a glimpse of the realities of the existence of that wondrous Brotherhood, Yahveh Elohim, the Creators of the world, you would find their real nature and character so far transcending your former conception of God that your mind would sink beneath its effort to comprehend the wonders of that Deific Mind. Yet God in his love, wisdom, and goodness has so constructed us in his image and has led us so far into his likeness that we can now begin to apprehend something of the realities of his own great nature.
If what has been said enables you, the true child of God, to look up with a realistic conception and exclaim in the language of the Master, "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy
kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on, earth," then you will begin to comprehend the reason for the opening words of this prayer; for the soul recognizes the Father not as a myth, not as something far beyond the possibility of our perception, but as a real, tangible Existence, as an intelligent Being that is able to sympathize, through knowledge gained by experience, with all the weaknesses, all the vicissitudes of the human family, and yet loves us with a love transcending the love of the mother for the child in her arms, or the love of a husband for his bride.
This is a realization that will bring us nearer to God and bring God nearer to us; and in the order of the heavens, established by the great wisdom and goodness of God, we are brought in direct touch with his mind, his will, his loving sympathy, and his all-pervading mentality.
As to how we are brought in touch with God's great nature, we have not been left to speculate, for every great truth has been recorded in some form in that wondrous book, the Bible. The apostle in his letter to the Hebrews said:
"But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable hosts of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant."
Here the apostle, either by vision or by revelation, is given to understand the order of the heavens and announces it by speaking of "just men made perfect," and of the "church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven."
It has been given us to knowand reason substantiates the factthat according to the grade of development is the nearness of the soul to the throne of the everlasting Father, so that there are in the spirit-world at the present time not only the wondrous body of Yahveh Elohim, but there are angel-spirits ranking in gradatory order from the highest sphere down to the border-land between the mundane and the spiritual.
Therefore when Yahveh Elohim has a message to send to the sons of earth, it is sent through the angel messengers, through "the spirits of just men made perfect;" and we have reason to believe that it is sent from one to another until a messenger is reached whose potentiality enables him to meet the capacity of man who is to receive the message, for there are angels so highly developed that their words would be to man a consuming fire. Therefore the word of Yahveh Elohim must be passed down through the mind-organs of those who are nearer to man in order that he may be enabled to receive it without injury. The Lord Jesus said, "In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you." (John xiv. 2.)
In Jacob's vision
"He dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, Yahveh stood above it." (Gen. xxviii. 12, 13.)
Thus this gradation is, as it were, a ladder set up on the earth (man), whose top reaches to heaven, Yahveh being at the head of the ladder, and each rung of the ladder from Yahveh down to man a stage of unfoldment, of spirit-life, and all the angels upon these varied planes are, as the Apostle Paul said, "ministering spirits, sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation." These ministering spirits minister to man according to his unfoldment.
The ministering spiritsministering to those among men who are sufficiently developed to receive heavenly truths and to put them into practicehave overcome, and entered the realm of immortality; in other words, they are souls that are not bound to the earth-sphere but live from the heavens. There are, however, multitudes of souls that are earth-bound, that know nothing of the realities of a spirit-existence; these are they that spiritualistsso-calledare dealing with, and among these earth-bound souls there are as many malignant, evil-designed personalities, as there are in the physical body among menyea, more.
For when we come to deal with souls that are earth-bound, we come in contact with that quality
of human consciousness that is no longer restrained by culture or society; we are in touch with the impulses and passions that arise from the lower nature or a lower organism. Because of this, these earth-bound souls were called by the Lord Christ "demons," devils, for, as it is written, "the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be." These earth-bound souls are at enmity with the law of God, and when a person enters into covenant relation with God to seek God and righteousness with all his heart, and has decided to overcome generation and to live henceforth in the regeneration that he may attain immortality, these souls at once become to him pestiferous enemies to hinder, to deceive, to mislead and to destroy.
Thus we find ourselves on the earth-plane surrounded by dark and malignant spirits; yet these dark forces have no power at all except what is derived from the spirit of the mundane or the earthly spirit. And so far as the children of God ally themselves to the Spirit of God in covenant relation, and place their hand, as it were, in the hand of God's angel, overcoming fear and following the leadings of that divine messenger wholly, to that degree they are safe.
But if one desires power, honor, wealth, the gratification of the lower nature, or any of the things that attract the men of the world, and attempts to gain
them through unity with these mundane souls, the angel of God will leave him at once to the unmerciful influences of the dark world, who will promise and in part fulfil their promise to gratify the desires of the person and to give him the condition on earth that he desires; but with every benefit derived from that source will come many, many evils, sorrows and perplexities, until the soul is hopelessly bound and drawn out of the body to become an associate of the dark and malignant forces to which it has yielded itself.
This is a dark picture, but this fact is the cause of the old idea of a tempting Devil. Remember, however, that God rules the universe and that there is no power but that which is derived from the name Yahveh, or from Universal Mind and Will. Because of this it is said, "The name Yahveh is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it, and is safe."
While we bring to light this dark side of the picture, we hope that you will not dwell upon it. We know that the world is full of darkness, temptation, deception, and all that is evilevil because antagonistic to our hope and desire to be one with the Father; but it remains for us to hold closely to the original Christian principles, that is, consecration of our life to God and confiding trust in him, like the trust of a little child in the arms of its parent. It is this condition of mind that has preserved the church, notwithstanding its errors,
its false doctrines. These principles have preserved its people through all the centuries down to the present. Because of their failure to maintain these principles the angel in the Revelation said to God's people:
"But I have this against thee, that thou didst leave thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent." (Rev. ii. 4.)
Here we meet, not new doctrine, not new theories, but are brought back to the "rock of ages," to the foundation laid by the Christ 1900 years ago; "For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." (I. Cor. iii. 11.) He is the only door. On the contrary, instead of presenting new doctrine, we are obeying the injunction of the Spirit by the apostle: "Wherefore let us cease to speak of the first principles of Christ, and press on unto perfection." For, as the Christ said, "I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now."
As the fulness of times has come and the souls of men have ripened and matured, the period when men are to come into the image and the likeness of God is at hand, and in order to bring about this image and likeness an advance in knowledge is necessary.
To be told "plainly of the Father" and of his
sonof the object of his coming and the methods by which we may come into unity, oneness, harmony, with himis an absolute prerequisite. It is also just as necessary to expunge the errors from our thought and to realize that we have a loving, merciful and kind Father, who is our Father by virtue of creation, by virtue of regeneration and by virtue of having been begotten from above, so that it is possible for us to enter that bosom of love and to become partakers of that mind, wisdom, knowledge and power. Being partakers of him, of his great nature, our souls are fed with immortal food, and by that food they grow, unfold; and the consciousness of God the Father, daily becomes more vivid, the realization more perfect, which enables the soul to look up as a little child into the face of its loving mother or father, and to say, '"Our Father." If this work enables you to do this with a more vivid realization, it will have accomplished much.
To leave the thought here, however, may leave an open door for some dear souls to be misled for a time, for, from the picture that we have presented, as the mind takes hold of the great truth that God's angels are not a separate creation, but, as the apostle Paul declared, are "souls of just men made perfect," some may imagine in some vague way that these souls occupy certain spaces, one above another, as if in suspension in the heavens, from
the abode of the Elohim to the earth; but the facts are these:
Spirit consciousness is consciousness of him who is the "fulness that filleth all things," for Yahveh is Spirit and interpervades all space. To the soul that is awakened to a spiritual consciousness, there is no sense of distance; that is to say, time and space are virtually obliterated and the soul is conscious only of the presence of the center of that quality that it has come in touch with; so that if we should attempt to locate spirit-heavens, it would be only relative to the sphere of consciousness of the soul and would have no relation to distance or to locality.
Yahveh, the God of the universe, embodies all qualities that exist, and the beginning of spirit-consciousness is an awakening to certain qualities. The higher the soul, the more comprehensive its ability to grasp the multifarious qualities existing in Divinity, and the lower the soul in degree of unfoldment, the more restricted is its comprehension of various qualities.
Swedenborg had a vague and imperfect idea regarding the spiritual heavens. He claimed that he visited many heavens of souls in their different degrees of unfoldment. Be that as it may, one thing is certainthere are centers, so to speak, where souls of like development are gathered together, all the way from the child-spirit that is highly unfolded but still a child, up to the pure
love-sphere of innocence and purity and so on up into the realm of mind; and each of these centersor heavensis approachable by certain means which the person will apply during the progress of his development.
Therefore, unless forewarned, there is liability of the soul's coming into touch with, let us say for illustration, the childlike innocence and pure life-element that occupies a certain center, a heaven, and if the soul knows no better, it may think that it has reached the highest heaven, the ultimate, and go no further. By another mental state, arising from the application of certain laws, it may reach that heaven that is bright, loving, pure, active in every good word and work, and may think that it has reached the heaven that is to be imparted to earth when man has come into the image and likeness of God; or it may, through another method, reach a heaven that is characterized by certain knowledge; for there are many heavens, and all these centers may be touched by applying certain laws in the process of walking the "narrow way."
The danger is that when man has touched a center, or heaven, he at once ceases to reach out to God and settles down satisfied in the sphere that he has touched, and thus his progress ceases. In some cases not only will the progress cease, but there is a liability of his being deceived by dark
intelligences, thrown out of the path and led down into darkness.
But keep in mind the one thought, that Yahveh Elohim, the God of the solar system, is your ultimate, is the end that you seek; keep in mind the highest that you can conceive and pray daily and earnestly to know the truth that you may live in harmony with it; and if you become conscious of one of the lesser heavens, learn from it, but do no desire to remain there. Remember the object of creation, and therefore the work before us, the sons of God, is to unite our consciousness with the great Nature that created this system and through it to bring upon earth a like organism, which, under the guiding intelligence of Yahveh Elohim, will become the perfect expression of his Mind and Will, and will become, as was revealed to John, a king and priest unto God and "reign on the earth."
The thought that in the past has occupied the mind of the Christian worldthat of dying and going to heaven, as the ultimate object of our creationis an error, for the Lord Christ's teaching was of immortality, not of the soul only, but immortality of the entire man; and the purpose as announced in the beginning was that man should have "dominion over the earth." The purpose was also revealed to John on Patmos when the angel said, "The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ [anointed]."
When we take into consideration the facts presented in the early part of this work, the "Immensity of the Universe," the infinity of space filled with worlds and universes, and think reasonably of these things, our mind is turned away from the childish thought that has occupied it in the pastthat of some far-off world to which we must go when we leave this earthand we awaken to the truth that the whole tenor of Revelation is to prepare man to become a king and a priest unto God and to reign on this earth. This thought is necessary in order to understand the following chapters on the image and the likeness of God.