I am reasoning from the proof of the law to the law itself.
There is no end to the illustrations that we might find proving the spiritual common sense of the New Testament and, if by working first in that way, we can get through this fog of tradition, of sentimentality, and of religious emotion, and find the living power of the book itself, then we can get a more and more clear comprehension of the laws it teaches, and will, every day, be proving their practical power in all our dealings with life and with people. Whether we are wrestling with nature in scientific work, whether we are working in the fine arts, in the commercial world, in the professional world, or are dealing with nations, it is always the same,—we find our freedom to work fully realized only when we are obedient to law, and it is a wonderful day for any human being when he intelligently recognizes and finds himself getting into the current of the law of the New Testament. The action of that law he sees is real, and everything outside he recognizes as unreal. In the light of the new truth, we see that many things which we have hitherto regarded as essential, are of minor importance in their relation to life itself.
The old lady who said to her friend, “My dear, it is impossible to exaggerate the unimportance of things,” had learned what it meant to drop everything that interferes, and must have been truly on her way to the concentration which should be the very central power of all life,—obedience to the two great commandments.
Concentration does not mean straining every nerve and muscle toward obedience, it means dropping every thing that interferes. If we drop everything that interferes with our obedience to the two great commandments, and the other laws which are given us all through the New Testament to help us obey, we are steadily dropping all selfish resistance, and all tendency to selfish responsibility; and in that steady effort, we are on the only path which can by any possibility lead us directly to freedom.
THERE was once a family who had a guest staying with them; and when they found out that he was to have a birthday during his visit they were all delighted at the idea of celebrating it. Days before—almost weeks before—they began to prepare for the celebration. They cooked and stored a large quantity of good things to eat, and laid in a stock of good things to be cooked and prepared on the happy day. They planned and arranged the most beautiful decorations. They even thought over and made, or selected, little gifts for one another; and the whole house was in hurry and confusion for weeks before the birthday came. Everything else that was to be done was postponed until after the birthday; and, indeed, many important things were neglected.
Finally the birthday came, the rooms were all decorated, the table set, all the little gifts arranged, and the guests from outside of the house had all arrived. Just after the festivities had begun a little child said to its mother: “Mamma, where is the man whose birthday it is—”