O dull, gray grub, unsightly and noisome, unable to roam,
Days pass, God’s at work, the slow chemistry’s going on,
O brilliant, buoyant life, full winged, all the heaven’s thy home!
O poor, mean man, stumbling and falling, e’en shamed by a clod.
Years pass, God’s at work, spiritual awakening has come,
O regal, royal soul, then image, now the likeness of God.
The Master Teacher, he who appeals most strongly and comes nearest to us of this western civilization, has told us that the whole and the highest duty of man is comprised in two great, two simple precepts— love to God and love to the fellow-man. The latter we have already fully considered. We have found that in its real and true meaning it is not a mere indefinite or sentimental abstraction, but that it is a vital, living force; and in its manifestation it is life, it is action, it is service. Let us now for a moment to the other,–love to God, which in great measure however let it be said, has been considered in dealing with love to the fellow-man. Let us see, however, what it in its true and full nature reveals.
The question naturally arising at the outset is, Who, what is God? I think no truer, sublimer definition has ever been given in the world’s history, in any language, in any clime, than that given by the Master himself when standing by the side of Jacob’s well, to the Samaritan woman he said, God is Spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. God is Spirit, the Infinite Spirit, the Infinite Life back of all these physical manifestations we see in this changing world about us, and of which all, including we ourselves, is the body or outer form; the one Infinite Spirit which fills all the universe with Himself, so that all is He, since He is all. All is He in the sense of being a part of Him; for, if He is all, there can be nothing that is outside of, that is not a part of Him, so that each one is a part of this Eternal God who is not separate from us, and, if not separate from us, then not afar off, for in Him we live and move and have our being, _He is the life of our life_, our very life itself. The life of God is in us, we are in the life of God; but that life transcends us so that it includes all else,–every person, every animal, every grass-blade, every flower, every particle of earth, every particle of everything, animate and inanimate. So that God is _All_; and, if all, then each individual, you and I, must be a vital part of that all, since there can be nothing separate from it; and, if a part, then the same in nature, in characteristics,–the same as a tumbler of water taken from the ocean is, in nature, in qualities, in characteristics, identical with that ocean, its source. God, then, is the Infinite Spirit of which each one is a part in the form of an individualized spirit. God is Spirit, creating, manifesting, ruling through the agency of great spiritual laws and forces that surround us on every side, that run through all the universe, and that unite all; for in one sense, there is nothing in all this great universe but law. And, oh, the stupendous grandeur of it all! These same great spiritual laws and forces operate within us. They are the laws of our being. By them every act of each individual life is governed.
Now one of the great facts borne ever more and more into the inner consciousness of man is that sublime and transcendent fact that we have just noticed,–that man is one with, that he is part of, the Infinite God, this Infinite Spirit that is the life of all, this Infinite Whole; that he is not a mere physical, material being,–for the physical is but the material which the real inner self, the real life or spirit uses to manifest through,–but that he _is_ this spirit, this spirit, using, living in this physical, material house or body to get the contact, the experience with the material world around him while in this form of life, but spirit nevertheless, and spirit now as much as he ever will or ever can be, except so far of course, as he recognizes more and more his true, his higher self, and so consciously evolves, step by step, into the higher and ever higher realization of the real nature, the real self, the God-self. As I heard it said by one of the world’s great thinkers and writers but a few days ago: Men talk of having a soul. I have no soul. I am a soul: I have a body. We are told moreover in the word, that man is created in the image of God. God is Spirit. What then must man be, if that which tells us is true?
Now one of the great errors all along in the past has been that we have mistaken the mere body, the mere house in which we live while in this form of life for a period,–that which comes from the earth and which, in a greater or less time, returns to the earth,–this we have mistaken for the real self. Either we have lost sight of or we have failed to recognize the true identity. The result is that we are at life from the wrong side, from the side of the external, while all true life is from within out.