Now if we are convinced that evil in ourselves has no power unless we give it power, that is the first step toward making our efforts positive and so negativing the evil. If we are convinced that evil in ourselves has not only no power but no importance unless we give it power, that is a step still farther in advance. The next step is to refuse to submit to it and refuse to resist it. That means a positive yielding away from it and a positive attention to doing our work as well as we can do it, whatever that work may be.
There is one way in which people suffer intensely through being negative and allowing their temptations to be positive, and that is in the question of inherited evil. “How can I ever amount to anything with such inheritances? If you could see my father and what he is, and know that I am his daughter, you would easily appreciate why I have no hope for myself,” said a young woman, and she was perfectly sincere in believing that because of her inherited temptations her life must be worthless. It took time and gentle, intelligent reasoning to convince her that not only are no inherited forms of selfishness ours unless by indulging we make them ours, but that. through knowing our inheritances, we are forewarned and forearmed, and the strength we gain from positive effort to free ourselves fully compensates us for what we have suffered in oppression from them. Such is the loving kindness of our Creator.
This woman of whom I am writing awoke to the true meaning of the story of the man who asked, before he went with the Lord Jesus Christ, first to go back and bury his father. The Lord answered, “Let the dead bury their dead, and come thou and follow me.” When we feel that we must be bound down by our inheritances, we are surely not letting the dead bury their dead.
And so let us study the whole question more carefully and learn the necessity of letting all that is sickness and all that is evil be negative to us and our efforts to conquer it be positive; in that way the illness and the evil become less than negative,—they gradually are removed and disappear.
Why, in the mere matter of being tired, if we refuse to let the impression of the fatigue be positive to us, and insist upon being positive ourselves in giving attention to the fact that now we are going to rest, we get rested in half the time,—in much less than half the time. Some people carry chronic fatigue with them because of their steady attention to fatigue.
“I am tired, yes, but I am going to get rested!" That is the sensible attitude of mind.
Nature tends toward health. As we realize that and give our attention to it positively, we come to admire and love the healthy working of the laws of nature, and to feel the vigor of interest in trying to obey them intelligently. Nature’s laws are God’s laws, and God’s laws tend toward the health of the spirit in all matters of the spirit as surely as they tend toward health of body in all natural things. That is a truth that as we work to obey we grow to see and to love with deepening reverence, and then indeed we find that God’s laws are all positive, and that the workings of self are only negative.