Oh, when I am safe in my sylvan home, I tread on the pride of Greece and Rome; And when I am stretched beneath the pines, Where the evening star so holy shines, I laugh at the lore and pride of man, At the Sophist schools and the learned clan; For what are they all in their high conceit, When man in the bush with God may meet?
It was he who has exerted such a world-wide influence upon the minds and lives of men and women who also said: " Great men are they who see that spirituality is stronger than any material force: that thoughts rule the world." And this is true not only of the world in general, but it is true likewise in regard to the individual life.
One of the great secrets of all successful living is unquestionably the striking of the right balance in life. The material has its place - and a very important place. Fools indeed were we to ignore or to attempt to ignore this fact. We cannot, however, except to our detriment, put the cart before the horse. Things may contribute to happiness, but things cannot bring happiness - and sad indeed, and crippled and dwarfed and stunted becomes the life of every one who is not capable of realising this fact. Eternally true indeed is it that the life is more than meat and the body more than raiment.
All life is from an inner centre outward. As within, so without. As we think we become. Which means simply this: our prevailing thoughts and emotions are never static, but dynamic. Thoughts are forces - like creates like, and like attracts like. It is therefore for us to choose whether we shall be interested primarily in the great spiritual forces and powers of life, or whether we shall be interested solely in the material things of life.
But there is a wonderful law which we must not lose sight of. It is to the effect that when we become sufficiently alive to the inner powers and forces, to the inner springs of life, the material things of life will not only follow in a natural and healthy sequence, but they will also assume their right proportions. They will take their right places.
It was the recognition of this great fundamental fact of life that Jesus had in mind when he said: "But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you," - meaning, as he so distinctly stated, the kingdom of the mind and spirit made open and translucent to the leading of the Divine Wisdom inherent in the human soul, when that leading is sought and when through the right ordering of the mind we make the conditions whereby it may become operative in the individual life.
The great value of God as taught by Jesus is that God dwells in us. It is truly Emmanuel - God with us. The law must be observed - the conditions must be met. " The Lord is with you while ye be with him; and if ye will seek him, he will be found of you." " The spirit of the living God dwelleth in you." " If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering." That there is a Divine law underlying prayer that helps to release the inner springs of wisdom, which in turn leads to power, was well known to Jesus, for his life abundantly proved it.
His great aptitude for the things of the spirit enabled him intuitively to realise this, to understand it, to use it. And there was no mystery, no secret, no subterfuge on the part of Jesus as to the source of his power. In clear and unmistakable words he made it known - and why should he not? It was the truth, the truth of this inner kingdom that would make men free that he came to reveal. " The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." " My Father worketh hitherto and I work. . . . For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself. ... I can of mine own self do nothing." As he followed the conditions whereby this higher illumination can come so must we.
The injunction that Jesus gave in regard to prayer is unquestionably the method that he found so effective and that he himself used. How many times we are told that he withdrew to the mountain for his quiet period, for communion with the Father, that the realisation of his oneness with God might be preserved intact. In this continual realisation - I and my Father are one - lay his unusual insight and power. And his distinct statement which he made in speaking of his own powers - as I am ye shall be - shows clearly the possibilities of human unfoldment and attainment, since he realised and lived and then revealed the way.
Were not this Divine source of wisdom and power the heritage of every human soul, distinctly untrue then would be Jesus' saying: " For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knock-eth, it shall be opened." Infinitely better is it to know that one has this inner source of guidance and wisdom which as he opens himself to it becomes continually more distinct, more clear and more unerring in its guidance, than to be continually seeking advice from outside sources, and being confused in regard to the advice given. This is unquestionably the way of the natural and the normal life, made so simple and so plain by Jesus, and that was foreshadowed by Isaiah when he said: " Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not, neither is weary? He giveth power to the faint and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint."
Not that problems and trials will not come. They will come. There never has been and there never will be a life free from them. Life isn't conceivable on any other terms. But the wonderful source of consolation and strength, the source that gives freedom from worry and freedom from fear is the realisation of the fact that the guiding force and the moulding power is within us. It becomes active and controlling in the degree that we realise and in the degree that we are able to open ourselves so that the Divine intelligence and power can speak to and can work through us.
Judicious physical exercise induces greater bodily strength and vigour. An active and alert mental life, in other words mental activity, induces greater intellectual power. And under the same general law the same is true in regard to the development and the use of spiritual power. It, however, although the most important of all because it has to do more fundamentally with the life itself, we are most apt to neglect. The losses, moreover, resulting from this neglect are almost beyond calculation.
To establish one's centre aright is to make all of life's activities and events and results flow from this centre in orderly sequence. A modern writer of great insight has said: " The understanding that God is, and all there is, will establish you upon a foundation from which you can never be moved." To know that the power that is God is the power that works in us is knowledge of transcendent import.