The Goal of Life, by Hiram Butler, , at sacred-texts.com
In the chapter on "The Image and the Likeness" we have portrayed the high plane designed by the Divine Purpose for the people at the closing cycle of the Christian era. Many after reading this work will say in themselves: This is too far beyond me. I can never attain it. Then why was it written?For the same reason that God caused to be written in the very beginning of our Bible, the account of the garden of Eden where man walked and talked with God as with a friend.
It is always necessary that there be an object and an ultimate set before the mind of man to strive for, and when the object is well defined, then there may be also well-defined methods for attaining that object. Even though that object be very high, yet who can limit the power of the human mind, much less, who can limit the power of God to lead and to help man to high attainments?
It will be seen in the Everlasting Covenantthe
[paragraph continues] Ten Commandmentsthat God pledges his name to be our power, and if we have God's power to help us, is there anything impossible to us?Certainly not. The only thing that will hinder any one from attaining this ultimate is lack of faith in God. But you may ask: Who can have that perfect faith in God? As these apparent obstacles rise up before you, an absolute criterion to enable you to judge whether or not you can attain is required. There is such a criterion, and it is this:
After reading these thoughts, if you have an earnest desire to attain this ultimate, then by Divine Authority we say that you can attain it, but if you have not this desire, then you do not belong to the first ripe fruit of the earth, for the words of our Great Master are, "He that will, let him take the water of life freely." If we look at these words from the standpoint of human experience, we shall say, then everybody can attain. But this is not so. It is only those who will. Who are those who are able to will?Jesus answered this question by saying, "For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath." That there is an interior meaning to these words is evident on the face; for how can that be taken away from a man which he has not? The interior meaning or, if you please, the law of psychology governing here is this:
No man can have the will to do that which is not in him to do. In other words, man is possessed of a physical nature and of a spiritual nature. The ripening of the human ego, called the "ripe fruit," means the maturing of the spiritual ego to where it is able to take control of the body and to cause the body to obey the will of this spiritual ego.
Many there are who, when these thoughts are brought before them, will find within them an active desire to attain the ultimate, but they will also find another desire stronger than their desire for this attainment, which will so fully overwhelm their desire for this attainment that their desire will not amount to a decision in favor of a higher life, but on the contrary the decision will be to continue living in the old channels and relations.
This is to say, when these divine truths are brought to the consciousness of the individual "he that hath"developed the spiritual qualities to where they have gained the predominance, the ascendencywill have the will to do and to decide that he will live this life and will strive to attain this high ultimate. On the other hand, there will be those who will say: It would be very nice to attain it, but we are of the earth and we have too many interests to leave them. Thus they will not have enough of the spiritual qualities to cause them to will to make the effort to attain. For it must be borne in mind that will is that function of the
mind that executes the decisions after all has been weighed and balanced. Then the office of the will is executivedoing and accomplishing, but guided by the intellect. Therefore it is plain that to will is to be practical. It means not merely to believe or to desire, but to do something.
Thus we understand the parable of our Lord, "Whosoever hath [enough of spirit to control his actions], to him shall be given, and he shall have abundant: but whosoever hath not [enough to cause him to decide in favor of the spiritual life], from him shall be taken away even that which he hath," namely, all spiritual desire and spiritual consciousness.
Therefore this fact is presented to you: That whoever desires to attain and can make the decision to do the very best he knows and leave the rest with God, can attain and will attainprovided that decision is not afterward reversed.
During the centuries that the Christian religion has been the religion of the Occident, "conversion" has been the line between the Christian and the non-Christian. We find from reading the experiences of the apostles given in Acts, Romans and Corinthians, that in their time conversion was called "receiving the Holy Ghost."
In modern times revivalists have found in order that a man be converted he must accept Jesus as his Savior; he must in a way enter into covenant with God, make a solemn promise that he will
thenceforth live the Christian life as far as he is able. As soon as the soul within him unites with the intellect in this covenant, he receives the Holy Spirit that gives him a consciousness of his acceptance with God.
We wish to emphasize the thought, that the reception of the Holy Spiritthe consciousness of the acceptance with Godis dependent upon man's covenant with God, which is simply man's promise that thereafter he will make it the chief object of his life to "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness."
Every converted soul that has made this covenant has been illuminated by the Spirit, perhaps but for a short time. But just so far as the person keeps his part of the covenant and follows carefully the leading of the Spirit, doing as nearly right as he knows (for it is the office of the Spirit to cause him to know what is right and what is not), so far will he be led, given knowledge, his mind illuminated on various subjects and, as Jesus promised, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, will lead him into all truth and show him things to come.
If the one receiving this Holy Spirit that is received at the time of conversion, is absolutely obedient to it, it will lead him into a complete and perfect knowledge of the truth. Here the question arises: How is it that so much error has crept into the church in regard to the general beliefs of the people?The answer to this question is: Instead of
following the leadings of the Spirit, the people have accepted leaders among men and have followed their dictum, even to the crushing out of the higher and holier impressions given by the Spirit. True, many thought that they were doing right and, therefore, they have not been condemned, only so far as they have jeopardized themselves by error and by an imperfect life, and have shut the door against God's Spirit so that it could not illuminate the mind and fulfil its missionto lead them into all truth.
Why has this been permitted?There are two reasons: First, as we have hitherto shown, it is in the line of the Divine Purpose that man shall have freedom of choice, within the limits of his own qualities and inherent ability, in order that he may grow into the Divine Likeness. Second, it is in the order of the Divine Purpose that generation, labor, sorrow, and death shall continue until man can grow and develop to a state where he is able to overcome generation and to enter into life. The Lord Christ said, "He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." Who is able?The first ripe fruit of the earth; they that have developed to where they have a desire sufficient to make the decision, a will to seek first and all the time "the kingdom of God and his righteousness," and to make every other consideration of every name and nature subject to this one purposethese, and these only are able to receive it.
There is at the present time a great Body of people who have received the Holy Spirit, who have been begotten from above, but who have been misled through the education of our age, and as we look into the churches and among men, probably we feel as did Elijah, for after he had brought down fire to consume the sacrifice and even the water that was poured upon .it, and he thought that he had restored the true worship to Israel, he was forced to flee for his life, and he made complaint to God and said: "The children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only am left; and they seek my life to take it away," but God assured him that there were still seven thousand in Israel, "All the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him." And at this time, according to the Revelation made to John, God has reserved not seven thousand, but 144,000, yea, 288,000 souls. Are you one of that company?You may be if you will.
Some years ago after long years of isolation from the world and continued devotion to know and to do the will of the Father, we felt an earnest desire to give the truths that the Lord had given us to his people; but every effort to give the truth to the so-called advanced thinkers was rejected, and after one of those rebuffs our soul exclaimed: O God, where are thy people?Instantly the answer came.
[paragraph continues] The Lord gave us a vision of the world on which the sunlight was shining. The people were rushing hither and thither, each one intent on his own interests; but in the midst of the sunlight there appeared dark, obscure places; and as the Spirit bade us peer into those places, we saw there hidden away a few souls upon whom shone a whiter light than the sunlight, and the Lord said: These are my people.
At another time it was shown us that God's people as a Body were still in the church, for what the Lord begins to do, he will certainly accomplish. You who have been begotten of the Spirit, have that in you which can will to follow the Lord wholly. You can, if you will, now make a new covenant with God, for, in the language of Jeremiah xxxi. 31, the time has come for the Lord to make a new covenant with you and with the house of Israel. Will you take that covenant? Will you now promise to do God's will just as nearly as you know? Remember God's part of the covenant is to be your power, and if God is your power, as we said before, nothing can thwart you. Remember too that that power is not a physical power, but God by mind created the world, and the manifestation of God's power is in the mind.
Therefore it is God's part of the covenant to make you know the right, and if you are faithful to do the will as perfectly as you know, then you certainly will be led by that Divine Consciousness.
[paragraph continues] In other words, if you make this covenant with God, Yahveh Elohim, who loves you with a love transcending your imagination, will send to you an angel from his holy presence, whose business it will be to be with you and to watch over you, to instruct and to lead and to help you to do and to accomplish.
But says one: "I have made that covenant, but I am not conscious of the angels of God; true, sometimes I feel an illumination and a peace and a joy, but I do not know of any angel-guidance." No, truly you do not know. And if you knew for a surety that there is a conscious personality with you, whose business it is to lead and to guide you, it would be very human for you at once to cease to use your own mind, to cease to make efforts from yourself and to expect this angel to do all your work for you. And if you have any overcoming of the appetites, passions or of the dark forces, you will be indolent, and expect this angel to overcome for you.
Remember that the words of God are, "He that overcometh shall inherit all these things." Therefore when God's angel is sent to guide and to help you, he will not make himself known to you, but he will illuminate your mind and cause you to know the right; and there will be times when the angel will stimulate your will to do and to accomplish, and then you must use all the powers within you to do and to accomplishto be the overcomer.
The difference between the manifestation of the angels of God that are sent to his people, and the manifestation of the spirits of darkness that come to the spiritualistic medium is very marked. The spirits of darkness demand absolute obedience, they demand the surrender of your highest intellect, of your mental conclusions; they demand absolute obedience regardless of your own ideas of morality and right; they also make themselves known and many times claim to be a beloved relative that has passed over; whoever you love most they will personify. They try to make you believe that they are the angels of God sent to guide you, but they are lying spirits.
Remember God's angels cannot be called upon to do this or that for you. Your mind must be centered on God, on the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, Yahveh Elohim, and as your mind is centered on Godthe highest that you can imagineif you want help, you do not call upon the angel that is sent to guide you, but you call upon God and as the angel is God's messenger, if you have confidence in God and you are doing all in your power, then it is the angel's office to add sufficient power to you to enable you to accomplish. In other words, in place of coming to you as a personality, God's angel will even prevent you from seeing him or from knowing of his presence, but many times he will draw so near to you that he will simply unite his consciousness, his mental power,
to yours and for the moment you know as he knows, you feel as he feels, you perceive the situation as clearly as he perceives it.
Mark you, the angel does not tell you that thus and so is trueonly the dark spirits tell you such things. The angel of God causes you to know for yourself, then he leaves you and you feel as if you had been dropped from a high pinnacle; but you have the knowledge that he has imparted to you, and it is for you, yourself, to use that knowledge to do and to accomplish and to discriminate between right and wrong, good and evil, truth and error. You will then realize that good is that which aids you to work in accordance with the Divine Purpose, and evil is that which hinders you from working in accordance with that purpose.
The standards of good and evil that have been set up in the world by men must be carefully examined and perhaps some of them laid aside, for, as we have shown in the first part of this work, we are judged according to our beliefs and our own soul condemns or justifies us in the proportion that we act in accordance with our beliefs. Therefore at this point it will be necessary for you to put your whole mind on God and to desire wisdom that will enable you to discriminate between good and evil, and in order that the Spirit may reveal to you what is good and what is evil.
Here is a delicate point. It is only through great devotion, through earnest prayer, and a careful
life that you will be enabled to set the right standards and to remove the errors. Your soul must be free from established beliefs, beliefs that were established during the dark period of man's existence, for the angel of the Lord has now been sent to you to lead you out from the old order into the new. That which was moral and just and righteous under the old order of life has now passed away; the standards of righteousness have advanced to higher planes.
However, the standards established by the Lord Christ in that noted Sermon on the Mount are not changed; not one of the standards of the Lord Christ's life is changed. Only the standards that you and your predecessors have set up will be torn down, and they are now being torn down. Having covenanted your life to God that you may become one of the first ripe fruit of the earth, you are going through the process of harvesting, of being cut down, separated from the ground; you no longer live from the earth, but you live from God. As the Master said, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you." This abiding in him was further brought to light in that noted prayer recorded in John xvii:
"Neither for these only do I pray, but for them also that believe on me through their word; that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us."
You are seeking that oneness, and even now you have attained it, so far as you can believe it, provided you have fulfilled the foregoing requirements. At this point again read carefully the Sermon on the Mount, for from this standard God is able to make you keep and will make you able to keep all the statutes, the ordinances, that Christ has laid down in this wonderful sermon.
Remember that there are not many things for you to keep in mind, but there are very few. You have decided to do the will of God as perfectly as you know it, and if you believe God, as he has promised to make you know his will and has sent his angel to you for that purpose, you need not be anxious for anything but to do his will.
Keep ever in view your purpose, make everything yield to the accomplishing of that purpose, then all things will work together for your good, for you are called now of God according to his purpose. (Romans viii. 28.)
So far we think that we have made the way plain before you. We have shown you how to free yourself from the bondage that hinders you from going forward, and we have shown you how to place yourself in the hands of God whose power is unlimited, and who is able to make you know and give you power to do his will. Henceforth look no more to man. Look no longer to books. Desire to know only such truths as you need to enable you to accomplish the Divine Purpose.
If you keep your eye on that inner consciousnessfor remember God speaks in the soul, though he sometimes illuminates the brainthen when the impression comes to read the Scriptures or any book, read it carefully, musingly and prayerfully. Always keep your inner eye upon God; never let it change, then whatever you read, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, that has promised to lead you into all truth, will illuminate your mind, will enable you to discern between truth and error, so that you cannot be deceived.
When we say you cannot be deceived, it all depends upon your having covenanted your life to God, upon your keeping your mind unselfishly centered upon the Spirit, desiring nothing so much as to know and to do the will. When this desire is the absolute, controlling thought of your mind, nothing can deceive you. But remember, if you set up an idol in your heart (see Ezekiel xiv.), if you desire something for yourself, it matters not what, and then look to God in the spirit of devotion, you will find that the Spirit of God will not respond to you; and if you persist in living the life in order that you may accomplish something for yourself, accomplish some purpose that you have set up in your heart, which is your idol, then evil spirits will come to you, apparently granting your desire, but taking possession of your soul, and your last state will be worse than the first.
What has been said in this chapter is preparatory
to placing you in the hands of the Father, where you will have no more absolute need that will not be supplied by the Spirit; but remember that supply may often come to you through physical means, or through the mentality of other persons. But you cannot set up the idol in your heart as to how the things that you need shall come. God may use some low, even malicious, person to teach you some great and grand truth. Remember always that it is the knowledge that you want, not the messenger.
If God sends an important message to you by the hand of a devil what concern is it to you? It is the message that you want. It is the knowledge that is useful to you, and if a messenger comes with knowledge that is not useful, that is not in harmony with the Divine Purpose, no matter if the messenger claims to be the angel of God, no matter if he comes in a flame of fire, reject the message. Believe God and follow righteousness and all will be well. For, if you have lived the life up to this point, God will have fulfilled his part of the covenant, and you will realize that you have the spirit of truth and you will be able to discern between truth and error. Just so long as you are faithful to your part of the covenant, faithful in your devotion to God and Spirit, so long can you absolutely trust that Spirit of truth that will lead you into all truth, and enable you to
reject all error, and will many times even show you things to come.
The teachers in the church are ever warning their people against error, and frequently warning them against great and important truths as error, because the teachers do not believe God. But if you believe God, and trust him wholly, your eye will ever be single to the knowledge of the truth; not because you want this, that, or the other, but because you want only to know and to do the will. Then you will know within yourself. It will not be a belief, but God will make you know the truth. But after you have been made to know the truth, if through fear or through any means whatever, you fail to follow it, to be led by it, then will the Spirit leave you to go your own way until you repent and seek God with all your heart again, and find that peace and confidence which enable you to be obedient to the knowledge of the truth; then you will be made conscious again that you have the guidance of the Spirit.