The Goal of Life, by Hiram Butler, , at sacred-texts.com
p. 270 p. 271
Our Lord Jesus said, "Narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few be they that find it." No doubt since the time of Christ, these words have brought a shock to many a devout soul; but we are inclined to believe that the words, "few be they that find it," were intended more especially to apply to the age of generation and death intervening between the time of Christ and the present, for, as has been herein stated, it is the attainment through this "narrow way" that was the ultimate purpose in the mind of the Creator in creating man. This purpose is the end to which all men must attain some time, but at this time, at the end of this age, there will be comparatively few that will attain.
We repeat here what has been said before, that all who have the will to attain, may attain, for
the fact that they have the will to live the life requisite to attain, is an absolute proof that they have the ability within themselves.
Again, it was said by the apostle, "Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ;" for not only has he given the world the quality that is planted in the earth-life of man, the substance of Divinity, but his teachings have been left on record, which, if followed faithfully, will lead man to the final goalimmortality. But there are some things about the history of the church in the past that repel many intelligent, highly developed people of our day from seeking what used to be called "religion," or "conversion." This repulsion is mainly due to a peculiar emotionalism that has followed the church.
This emotional devotion has had its use, not that the Elohim are influenced by that emotional zeal, for it is the office and desire of God and his angels to lead his people in the way of true intelligence. But emotional devotion has served the purpose of breaking down and suppressing the animal sense desires, and has caused the inner consciousness to centralize on the idea of God. This has enabled God's people in the church to inspire, to draw in, so to speak, from the Universal Soul a new and higher quality of life, and it has produced sufficient effect upon many to cause them to continue striving to live a better lifestriving to be the
expression of that higher life that has been drawn into the organism.
But now that we have come to know the truthfor the Lord Christ said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free"we have endeavored to set forth the great truths of the Gospel of Christ and if these facts are fully grasped by the intelligence they will have an important influence on the soul-consciousness, because they are truth.
While heretofore suggestions have been given that cover the subject of this chapter and those following, yet, as they are associated with thoughts of greater or less magnitude, new to the majority of thinkers, they may have been overlooked.
If we were going to ascend a ladder we should place one foot upon the first rung and then the other foot upon the next rung, and so on; we could not begin at the middle, try as we would. So in all that we do, we must begin at the beginning and work up gradually.
There are many in the world who began at the beginning and they began well, but through the deceitfulness of the world, through lack of knowledge on the part of the teachers, through many doctrines being thrown upon the world, they are lost, bewildered, and do not know what to do in order to attain this divine ultimate.
First of all it is necessary that we be rational. The doctrines set forth in this work are destined
to bring our minds out of the old mythical idealsthe dream-condition of the pastand to place us upon a solid foundation of knowledge and understanding, that we may obtain the power designed for us in the beginning.
In the past, prayer has been a vague ideal. Men have prayed. Prayed to whom? to what? They have been, as Jesus said, like the Gentiles who "think that they shall be heard for their much speaking." Ministers stand in the pulpit and pray for everything; but if they really believed that one-half of what they asked for would be granted them, they would be frightened. When the Lord Jesus said, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find," he referred to something just as practical, as direct and positive, as if you were going out into the business world to transact affairs of the material life. You could not be induced to ask a favor of any one in the material interests of this world, unless you really felt the need of that favor, and then you would think over the matter wisely and well and consider who would be most likely to grant the favor, and when you asked you would have confidence, reasonable belief, that you would receive that which you asked for; in other words, you would have faith that you would receive that which you asked for. And if you go to God, the Cause and Source of all things, in the same way, you will find that the word of
the Lord Christ is a great truth: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find."
In this work two phases of the God manifestation have been brought to your mind: (1) Yahveh, the universal and all-pervading Mind and Will of the universae, and (2) the manifestation of Yahveh in Elohim. We have to do directly with Yahveh the Universal Mind, the Fountain of Life, from which we were organized, the Fountain of Life from which all things come. In that Fountain of Life is everything that is. What did the apostle mean when he said:
"But the righteousness which is of faith saith thus, Say not in thy heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down:) or, Who shall descend into the abyss? (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is the word of faith which we preach." (Rom. x. 6-8.)
There are many at the present time who are looking for that same Jesus to come in the clouds of heaven with power and great material glory; but, we are told, that Christ will come as a thief in the night. How can we harmonize these two passages of Scripture?In this way: We see from the foregoing quotation, the Christ "is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart;" if you have faith in God and in that divine sonship that we have herein set forth, you will be a partaker of
that passover lamb that was all eaten, that paschal lamb that enters into and finds expression in the inner life of the partaker, and causes you to become a member of the Body of the Christ. When the Body is organized in harmony with the Divine Purpose, then this Body of the Christ, referred to in the chapter "The Image and the Likeness," will be manifest to the world with great power and glory.
Therefore cease to say in your heart, "Who shall ascend into heaven to bring Christ down from above?" but remember it is the word of faith, not blind, unreasoning faith, but a faith that is born of knowledge and of experience by the indwelling Spirit. And how is this experience to be obtained?This is the all-important question.
Remember first that prayer is the sincere desire of the heart. Have you a sincere and earnest desire to be like the Christ? He is the great Door and Head of that Eternal Brotherhood on earth; who by his teachings and by the light of truth that he left to the world has shown the path that leads directly from ignorance, sickness, sorrow and death, and who was manifested that he might bring life and immortality to light. If you have this sincere desire you will reach out for that spirit which was manifested in the Christ, desiring that that spirit be in you and that it manifest through your life and character.
As to methods to be applied in order that that
divine sonship may be manifested in you, turn to that wonderful Sermon on the Mountthe fifth, sixth and seventh chapters of the Gospel according to Matthewread it carefully; read it with an outreaching to God, the Source of life, light and knowledge, that you may know, that you may have the understanding that the Spirit intended you should have, and not only the understanding, but the power to apply it in your life. And as you desire that power, remember the Master said, "Believe that you have it and you shall have it."
Therefore, as you read over that wonderful sermon, decide that you will follow the teachings absolutely and believefor you have reason for believingthat you have the power from God to live the life therein taught and to live it perfectly. At this point it will be necessary to realize the importance of the suggestion to be rational, for unless you take hold of these teachings of the Christ with a reasonable mind, you will be inclined to go to extremes, to become irrational in your application of the truth. For instance, the Lord said, "Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." The irrational one therefore says: I will take no thought; I will be just like the birds; I will sit down and do nothing and the Lord will feed me. The irrational side of this is very apparent,
not only from the world's point of view, but from a spiritual standard. How does God feed the birds? Do they not have to work for their living, to hunt their food wherever they can find it? Sometimes it is difficult for them to find sufficient, but they go right on faithfully doing their best. So must you do your best, but do not be anxious, is the word of the Lord.
This will be a suggestion to you of what we mean by being rational in following the teachings of the Lord Christ. Remember this, God, the everlasting Father, or Elohim and his angels, never do anything for us that we can do for ourselves. Bear in mind that God's original purpose was to make man in his Image and Likeness and to give man the ability to do and to accomplish and to obtain that which is absolutely necessary to him.
Therefore, in order that you may develop into his Likeness, it is necessary that you should be left to use your own power and knowledge to gain all that is necessary for your attainment and for the proper support of your body.
As we said before, Yahveh is the all-pervading Spirit in whom is everything and out of which came everything, therefore everything that you need is in the ether around you. Remember, when it was in order the Christ brought out of the invisible sufficient bread and meat to feed 5000, and Elijah caused the cruse of oil and the meal of the widow to replenish themselves during the famine. This
was a demonstration of the fact that everything that is necessary for you is around you and that you have only to take it by faith.
But this suggests something that has puzzled the world for agesfaith. What is faith? You who are sitting and reading these words can lay this book down, rise and walk across the floor. How do you do it? by what power?You do it by faith. If some one of your associates should say to you: "You cannot lay down that book; you cannot rise from your chair," you would smile at the suggestions and lay down the book and rise and walk. But if a mind possessing similar power to that of the Christ should speak to your soul-consciousness and say: "You cannot lay your book down," or, "You cannot rise from your chair," your faith in your ability to move would be overpowered and under the influence you could not move.
Then we give this definition: Faith is belief without a doubt in the inner consciousness. You have the consciousness within yourself that you can move the body, that you can do about as you please, and so you can, but that faith that you can get up and walk around the room may be counteracted and in the absence of faith you would be powerless.
Now we ask you to lay this book down and to think about this condition that enables you to move your hand, and when you realize what the influence is and discover the condition of mind that enables
you to move your body, you have found the key to the whole situation, you have found the key to the words of the Christ when he said, "All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye have received them, and ye shall have them." Everything that you can imagine is all around you, and it is just as much a material substance as those things with which you are familiar. Therefore faith means belief that you have that which you desire, and as you read over the teachings of the Master in his wonderful sermon, believe that you have the power to live up to the requirements and refuse to allow doubts and fears to enter into your mind. Know that God is and that in him is all power. You can believe but you can do it, however, only by refusing to disbelieve. With this thought carefully considered and worked out for yourselffor no man can make you know how to move your handyou will discover the secret of faith.
That faith is a mental effort you may prove for yourself, for instance, by taking a weight of ten, twenty or thirty pounds in your hand and while holding it try to think quietly and deeply upon some difficult subject. You will at once discover that in order to hold the weight you have to keep your mind on itthe holding demands the thought.
We are here brought to consider faith and the powers embodied in the workings of the mind. Remember the words, "Without faith is sin." We ask you then to work out from the little suggestion
that we have given you, this great problem of faith, and then have faith in God, and all things are yours.
But in the midst of all this you may ask the question: Are we left alone to work this out for ourselves?No, emphatically no. Yahveh Elohim through his angels is watching over you with more than a mother's care, which God expressed in the thought that he gave in the preparatory message before the delivery of the ten commandments: "If ye will obey my voice indeed and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people." Then hold this thought: I am a special treasure, beloved of Yahveh Elohim above all people, because I desire above all things to know and to do the right.
If you have some special treasure, special because it is the treasure above all other treasures, how carefully you guard it, how closely you watch it. If you see anything that is coming to injure it or to detract from it, how quickly you will rescue it from danger. So as soon as you decide firmly and fully to seek God with all your heart, to go right on day by day doing the things required in the teachings of the Christ, not by idealizing them and dreaming about them, but by following his teachings with the same rational, practical thought that you would exercise in any business venture, then Yahveh Elohim through his angels will watch over you and protect you from every harm and will
illuminate your mind that you may know how to do and what to do. The Lord Christ had reference to this same rational following of his teachings when he said:
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matt. vii. 21-23.)
The old idea of saying "I believe," and thinking that will save you is a deception of the evil one, for if the Lord Jesus taught anything emphatically it was, "If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching." Again, in his last message through his angel to John he said, "He that overcometh shall inherit these things."
Therefore, in the rational teachings of the Christ we meet first faith then works, and through the works of obedience you will obtain the guidance of the Spirit, who will not come to you as one man comes to another man and tell you what to do and what not to do, but the angel of Elohim will come near to you and will cause his knowledge and understanding to be reflected upon your consciousness, then will you know as he knows and you will be left free to act as you please in relation to it. Thus, after you have decided to do the best you
know, the angel of Elohim will cause you to know, then the responsibility rests upon yourself.
As you go on doing the best you can, you will see before you many obstacles that will appear insurmountable, but if you are determined to live the life as far as it is possible to you, you will find that the obstacles will gradually move out of your path as you press forward. You may see an insurmountable wall before you, but do not stop, go as far as you can, and when you have gone as far as you can, lo, there will be an opening through solid rock, if need be, that you may pass through, and you will soon be brought to the realization of that glorious fact that you have friends, loving, faithful friends, so pure, so unselfish, that you cannot for a moment doubt their fidelity, and you will realize that these friends that love you more dearly than any earthly parent, possess all power in heaven and in earth.
The knowledge of these facts will be given to you if you follow the instructions of the Lord Christ wholly, fearlessly; because, "ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." Here you are brought face to face with the beginning of overcoming, and the first step on the road after your firm decision to follow the teachings of the Christ, is to conquer fear.
We have said that the angels of Elohim will be sent to you to reflect upon your consciousness the
knowledge that you need. This needs some explanation which we shall give, so that when you have the experience you will not let it pass unheeded and thus lose the instruction intended for you:
As we have said, the angels do not come to you as one man comes to another, you are not conscious of the angel's presence at all, you are conscious only that your mind is illuminated and for the time being you feel such an exaltation, such a peace, joy and elevation of life and character that you are confident that this condition will remain with you always; and because of that feeling that it will continue, you are liable to fail to impress upon your mental consciousness the thought that was reflected upon you.
No doubt some of you who read these wordsand we are prepared to say that the following is true of all who have sought to do the will of the Lord whollyhave had times when your mind suddenly became luminous and bright and you would be so happy and exalted that you would feel as if that condition must continue always; but in a little while it was gone and you were let down to where you were before. Why is this?
It was a time that the angel of the Elohim saw that it was necessary to impress your mind with that which would encourage, strengthen and establish you in faith, or to impress your mind with certain things that you should do or that you
should not do, and when the impression was made, the angel withdrew from you and you were again conscious of your own self.
Do not then be anxious and imagine that you did that which you should not have done, and therefore you lost your exalted feeling; but give your attention to the recalling and to the impressing upon your consciousness all that the angel impressed upon it in the moment of exaltation, that you may hold that knowledge and profit by it; for to that end, the angel of the Lord was sent to you. Know this, that though you seem to be let down into the old darkness, the old obscurity, you are not left alone, yet you are alonea paradoxbecause if the angel of the Lord overcame for you the angel would be the overcomer and would attain the results and not you, for the promise is, "He that overcometh shall inherit these things."
Therefore, it is you that is to be the overcomer and it is for you to go to work with a quiet, reasonable, logical attitude of mind to examine self, to analyze your mentality and to study how you may do and accomplish; and when in the course of your efforts to do the right and to know the truth, you reach a point where it is absolutely essential for you to know, that knowledge will be reflected upon your mind. It will not always produce exaltation, joy and elevation, but sometimes the same angelic mind will reflect upon your consciousness the realization of failure, of error.
At this point it will be necessary to avoid self-condemnation, for self-condemnation is evil, but when you are caused to see the error, then think over the error carefully and make your decision firmly that that error shall not occur again. Then dismiss it from your mind and continue to do the best you know; for here is an open door for the adversary to come in to torment you and cause you to worry and to feel that you have failed and that there is no use in your trying to overcome, et cetera. But know that this is the adversary, the dark influences that you are beginning to meetthe temptations of the devil, as the church expresses it, and as Christ said through his angel (Rev. xii. 10) it is "the accuser of our brethren . . . . that accuseth them before our God day and night." Yes, there is an old accuser that you have to overcome; he will come to you and accuse you of this, that and the other, when in reality you have done no wrong. How can you overcome this accuser? If you claim righteousness when you are not righteous, then you come under condemnation. If you justify yourself in doing wrong, then you come under condemnation. How then can you overcome this most deceptive adversary?Thus:
Know that the Lord's angel never accuses you. He may reflect upon your consciousness the fact of your error; but when you have weighed and balanced the matter carefully and know wherein you
made the error, then decide firmly that you will never allow it to occur again and dismiss the matter from your mind.
If the condemnation continues to recur to you, repel it, refuse to be condemned and open your love toward God and reach out for the consciousness of your acceptance, and if you repel the accuser, you will obtain the consciousness of your acceptance.
You here meet a law in God's great nature that is hard to understand. If you condemn yourself you stand condemned before God. Therefore, we urge upon you the necessity of settling the matter, according to the directions of Christ:
"If therefore thou art offering thy gift at the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."
This is to say, after you have become reconciled, after you have made reparation for wrong that you have done, then come and offer your gift, your self-sacrifice to the Lord, and you will be accepted. You have reconciled the matter of error when you have properly weighed and balanced the matter and have reached a clear understanding and have made a firm decision not to allow such error to occur again. Then you are free to go forward in your attainment of a new and higher consciousness of the Divine Life.
When you have thoroughly enlisted in the work, you will find that there is a consciousness within you which the church calls "conscience," which will justify or condemn you in all that you do. But as we have heretofore set forth, this conscience justifies you if you live up to what you believe to be right, and it will condemn you if you do that which you believe to be wrong, whether or not it be right or wrong in reality. Therefore, it is necessary that you should know the truth, that the truth may make you free from false beliefs.
We have here made only a suggestion for you to think about, for the field is too large to write fully on the subject, but you who would attain oneness with the Body of the Christ must think often on the subject and must desire to know the truth. The more thoroughly the mind can be illuminated, and the greater the mental activity that can be attained, the more clearly will you be able to discern the truth.
Here again the church has been deceived. The apostle said, "The mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the spirit is life and peace: because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God." The mind of the flesh is the intellect whose office is to think of the necessities of the body. Is that evil?Not unless you worry about it. If you become anxious and worried about providing for the body, then such worrying is evil; or if your whole
time is occupied in providing for the body, it is evil. Remember, Christ said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
You will not go far in the way that we have marked out, before you will realize that you have a double consciousness, that your mind may be busy with the things of the world, with the duties of life, and the soul at the same time will be centered upon God, and even be busy in the world of spirit, so that when you have finished the material duties, you find that there is active within you a loving unity with Divinity, and that the soul had been carrying on the thought of the Spirit.
But here again you may be deceived. It is the office of the soul, or inner consciousness, to bring to your external consciousness or reasoning mind, the great truths, a few of which we have endeavored in this work to bring to your understanding. Your external consciousness is manifest by virtue of your reasoning brain. When the reasoning brain has been illuminated by the soul and you are able to think, to reason and to understand the truth, then you feel the redeeming power of that truth in the body as well as in the soul; this is what is meant by being spiritually minded.