In the conduct of life we select, or have assigned, certain measures of activity upon which we rely for our support and the self-respect that follows the doing of our part. This we call our business, and if we are wise we attend to it and prosecute it with due diligence and application. But it is not all of life, and its claim is not the only call that is made upon us. Exclusive interest and devotion to it may end in the sort of success that robs us of the highest value, so that, however much substance we accumulate, we are failures as men. On the other hand, we take risks if we slight its just demands and scatter our powers on miscellaneous interests. Whatever its value, every man, in addition to what he primarily produces, turns out some by-product. If it is worth anything, he may be thankful and add the amount to total income.
The extracts of which this chapter is composed are selections from the editorial columns of The Pacific Unitarian, submitted not as exhibits in the case of achievement, but as indicating the convictions I have formed on the way of life.
Thirty years ago, a fairly active Sunday-school was instigated to publish a monthly journal, nominally for all the organizations of the First Unitarian Society. It was not expected to be of great benefit, except to the school. After a year and a half it was adopted by the Conference, its modest name, The Guidon, being expanded to The Pacific Unitarian. Its number of pages was increased to thirty-two.
Probably the most remarkable circumstance connected with it is that it has lived. The fact that it has enjoyed the opportunity of choice between life and death is quite surprising. Other journals have had to die. It has never been easy to live, or absolutely necessary to die.
Anyhow, we have the thirty years of life to look back upon and take satisfaction in. We are grateful for friends far and near, and generous commendation has been pleasant to receive, whether it has been justified or not.
We realize more and more truly that Christianity in its spirit is a very different thing from Christianity as a theological structure formulated by the makers of the creed. The amazing thing is that such a misconception of the message of Jesus as has generally prevailed has given us a civilization so creditable. The early councils were incapable of being led by the spirit of Jesus. They were prejudiced by their preconceptions of the character of God and the nature of religion, and evolved a scheme of salvation to fit past conceptions instead of accepting as real the love of God and of man that Jesus added to the religion of his fathers. Even the Christianity they fashioned has not been fairly tried. The Christianity that Jesus proclaimed, a call to trust, to love, and spiritual life, has hardly been tried at all. We seem just to be awakening to what it is, and to its application to the art of living.