The Note of Authority

It has been well said that "no institution can exist without a basis, center, or principle of authority;" and what is true of institutions is true of men. God is the only being who is absolutely self-centered and sufficient unto Himself. All other beings are dependent, hence naturally and rightfully in subjection to Him who is superior to them, their creator, and to His laws. Their normal and healthful attitude is therefore one of obedience, and when this is apprehended the one great question, the answer to which must determine character and destiny moment by moment, is this, To whom or to what am I now subject? If it is to Truth and Love alone, then manifestly every true interest of life is being conserved.

Mortals are lazily disposed to be dependent. They are prompted by purposes of self-gratification and readily yield obeisance to anything that promises to satisfy desire. They are therefore easily enslaved by falsity and deception, and though they often fancy themselves the very exponents of freedom, unscrupulous error is ever profiting by their obedient weakness. The subserviency of ignorance and fear is very easily exploited, and this has been the serious offense of that unspiritual ecclesiasticism which has dominated and still dominates a large proportion of the race. On the other hand, assertive indisposition to recognize any authority begets an individualism which makes for social and moral disintegration, because in its pride over its scientific, matter-of-fact devotion to physical law, it becomes wholly unethical and uncompassionate. He, for instance, who honors the law of heredity as legitimate, can but steel his heart against the cry of those who are being crushed by its juggernaut wheels. The character of the devotee is naturally determined by the character of that to which he pays his devotion. Men become what they worship, and they who accept the authority and finality of so-called physical law, can but drift toward that state described by St. Paul as "having no hope, and without God in the world."

Among the Churches
June 6, 1914

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