Should the word obedience convey to us the sense of dependence, of being arbitrarily interfered with, compulsion, enslavement, or should it mean freedom, guidance, privilege, opportunity? The sun dispensing its light to the solar system, the song-bird pouring forth his liquid notes, the tender plant upspringing from the earth and bringing forth flower and fruit,—these are obedient to the law of their being; the sublimity, harmony, and order of the universe manifest the results of obedience to law. When in the prism the requirements of the law of refraction are obeyed, the sun's ray inevitably flashes the seven colors of the rainbow, and a perfect rose proves that the law of its being has been minutely obeyed. Why, then, should mankind revolt when the cultivation of the spirit of obedience is urged, seemingly unwilling to give up what they mistakenly regard as their rights of self-government?

It may be that in the relations of man to man, obedience has sometimes meant submission to another human will, subjection to selfishness, usurped power, and cruelty; but this is scarcely the right sense of obedience, since it always implies choice of action. Man, the image and likeness of God, the only one so designated of all the creations recorded in the first chapter of Genesis, must differ from all the rest. The image and likeness of the eternal "I am" must be the reflection of intelligence, and his obedience must be conscious obedience, conscious expression, conscious utilization of law.

August 16, 1913

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