Real self-control is the subjugation of selfishness in whatever form it may exist, and its entire subordination to spiritual and natural law. Real self-control is not self-centred. In so far as we become established in this true self-control, we are upheld by law and guided by the power behind it to the perfect freedom and joy of a useful life.
The Religion of It
THE religion of it is the whole of it. “All religion has relation to life and the life of religion is to do good.” If religion does not teach us to do good in the very best way, in the way that is most truly useful to ourselves and to other people, religion is absolutely useless and had better be ignored altogether. We must beware, however, of identifying the idea of religion with the men and the women who pervert it. If an electrician came to us to light our house, and the lights would not burn, we would not immediately condemn all electric lighting as bosh and nonsense, or as sentimental theory; we should know, of course, that this especial electrician did not understand his business, and would at once look about to find a man who did, and get him to put our lights in order. If no electrician really seemed to know his business, and we wanted our lights very much, the next thing to do would be to look into the, laws of electricity ourselves, and find out exactly where the trouble was, and so keep at work until we had made our own lights burn, and always felt able, if at any time they failed to burn, to discover and remedy the difficulty ourselves. There is not a man or woman who does not feel, at some time, the need of an inner light to make the path clear in the circumstances of life, and especially in dealing with others. Many men and women feel that need all the time, and happy are those who are not satisfied until the need is supplied and they are working steadily in daily practical life, guided by a light that they know is higher than theory. When the light is once found, and we know the direction in which we wish to travel, the path is not by any means always clear and smooth, it is often, full of hard, rough Places, and there are sometimes miles to go over where our light seems dim; but if we have proved our direction to be right, and keep steadily and strongly moving forward, we are always sure to come into open resting places where we can be quiet, gather strength, and see the light more clearly for the next stage of the journey.
“It is wonderful,” some one remarked, “how this theory of non-resistance has helped me; life is quite another thing since I have practised it steadily.” The reply was “it is not wonderful when we realize that the Lord meant what He said when He told us not to resist evil.” At this suggestion the speaker looked up with surprise and said: “Why, is that in the New Testament? Where, in what part of it?” She never had thought of the sermon on the Mount as a working plan, or, indeed, of the New Testament as a handbook of life,—practical and powerful in every detail. If we once begin to use it daily and hourly as a working plan of life, it is marvellous how the power and the efficiency of it will grow on us, and we shall no more be able to get along without it than an electrician can get along without a knowledge of the laws of electricity.