What is the object and purpose of living? What is the infinite design back of life? For assuredly there is one; for it is faintly reflected in the life of every normal human being. No living thing can move without purpose. This fact of observation in our daily lives has become so commonplace, has become so taken for granted, that we fail to study it to recognize its true import. There is purpose in every life, self-directed within the limits of its understanding. No man, woman, or child will raise a hand without some object in view. This fact does not limit itself to human beings. As forms of life taper back and downward from the estate of self-will as found in human beings they become more supple and yielding to the general purpose of the infinite. We can, therefore, truly say that the plants and animals, within their range of life, are more obedient to the "Word of God" than we human beings are. They do not practise the abuses that we do. They do not commit the crimes against their species; nor engage in epidemics of wholesale murder.
The difference between man and the life beneath him is that man has advanced, through growth, into the estate of self-consciousness. He has become aware of himself and his effects in relation to others. He has become an agent of free will. Now, the advancement of life to this point is all a matter of purposeful design. There is nothing hit or miss, or chance, about it. The development of an intelligent, self-conscious, and responsible human being is a vitally important and purposeful creation. Even as men and women are impulsed to prepare themselves for a useful function in human society, so is humanity, as a whole, impregnated and impulsed by the cosmic will of the Deity eventually to grow to the fulfillment of a cosmic purpose. Conceived and exercised at first in the petty and personal, man's self-conscious will and responsibility grow and expand out of the selfish and purely personal, expand in sympathy and understanding to comprehend the welfare of mankind, as was exemplified by the Master Jesus. Through spiritual aids and self-directed effort, man advances in will and knowledge self-consciously to witness the unseen worlds and the unseen truths that lie in the bosom of the infinite. Thus man self-consciously advances through wilful growth to meet his God, and, in the meeting, to comprehend and to do His will. Man can understand his reason for being only through growth to eventually make himself one with his divinity.
It should be very plain that, if man is ever to attain Heaven and qualify there as a useful citizen, he will have to grow into it. No clergyman, of whatever degree or persuasion, is spiritually authorized to tell you otherwise. To observe that a child must grow to manhood before it can attain its physical majority, and then to persist in the premise that men and women in their spiritual infancy need not grow to their spiritual majority to enter self-consciously the world of God is the rankest blasphemy and paralyzes the purposes at the basis of being. Take self-willed growth out of life and the universe and all within it will cease to exist. Growth, physical, mental, spiritual, and divine, is the purpose of living. He who would stem or subvert that spiritual force faces annihilation.
Of one thing we can be as certain as we are of the rising sun, and that is that this life of ours is governed by the law of cause and effect. "As you sow so shall you reap." The Law of Consequences measures out, on accurate and exacting scale, every degree of growth or failure in every unfolding principle in the complex nature of man. This limits and conditions man in any life. No form of self-deception to evade responsibility, or to justify self-indulgence and the practice of evil, will change that fact one iota. No force on earth or in Heaven can intercede for man and save him from the consequences of his ignorance and his weakness. God would not, because it would deprive man of the experience by which he learns and grows. Man must be taught to know and to become master of himself. Thus he rises to the dignity and grandeur of his true calling and executes the Will of God. And in all this grandiose program, death is but a restful interlude, but no escape.
1. Courtesy The Minnetonka Pilot, Mound, Minnesota. (return to text)