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Moral Tone

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

And what is this ideal state which we call moral tone? If we present the question to different people, we shall probably receive as many different replies. Nevertheless, the matter is perfectly simple. Moral tone is an expression of individual goodness, just as physical tone is an expression of bodily soundness. But goodness is always a relative thing; it consists in the effort to realize in life what one believes to be right, assuming that the belief is the result of reasonable effort to know the right in which properly to believe. This effort to know the right and to do the right as believed in is really an effort to come into harmony with the world in which we live, or, better, with the Universe and its I Am That I Am. Whoever is reason-ably striving after such a condition of harmony, must be accounted as good at the centre,— in the matter of intention. But the struggle for harmony is not the whole of harmony itself. There are millions of false moral notions and millions of unhealthy moral phases of life, which are honestly enough believed. The mind-health which embraces moral tone requires that the tone of morals shall really express at least a fair degree of actual harmony with the Universes as moral. This actual harmony must always depend upon personal thought and ability to realize the thought. If, then, we are to come to any agreement in the matter, we must decide, I take it, that the two greatest ideals that man has discovered, in the whole field of antiquity, pagan and Christian, and in the whole of modern life, Confucian, Mohammedan, Brahman, Buddhist, Greek, Roman, Protestant, are -- reverence for the Gods (or for the moral character of the Universe) and practical love for man. On these two points we shall probably agree. There is nothing beyond these ideals, except what is implied, the conscious possession by the human individual, of the Infinite Life. He who strives to " make good " on these ideals, is by so much in a state of harmony with the Universe and its I Am That I Am, by so much will come more and more into actual harmony in being and conduct, and by so much exemplifies a measure of moral tone.

You are requested, then, to scrutinize the following propositions, and, if you accept them, thoroughly to master them and become saturated with their power.

Proposition One. You are a legitimate part of the universal system of existence.

Proposition Two. Notwithstanding all contrary appearances, Infinite Goodness reigns on the Throne of Universal Government. The Universe is developing. That is the doctrine of evolution. Only goodness is preservative and constructive. These facts support the proposition.

Proposition Three. The Universe — or, the Universal Goodness — does its best, as a System of law in the interest of all, to confer on you all its benefits, and is bound to compensate, somehow, somewhere, some-time, all loss in your case which is not strictly due to your own fault.

Proposition Four. In order that you may receive these benefactions, two conditions are interposed before you, which are based in the nature of things, and which can be changed by no theory, creed or faith, to-wit:

Proposition Five. You must honestly endeavor to live up to the moral light which you now possess;

Proposition Six. You must honestly seek to acquire all the light which at any time may be reasonably possible in your case.

Proposition Seven. These conditions are born in Universal Goodness, never in tyrannical righteousness; born in a Government that means well by every intelligence and is conducted in the interest of all. The Infinite Goodness, while eternally true to itself, is in-finitely patient.

Proposition Eight. The Universal Goodness strives constantly to impart to every soul all the light — truth — needed at any given time; no more, no less.

Proposition Nine. Every soul in this earth possesses all the moral truth it demands and can use. Minds that are not normally competent come under another law, which is not before us.

Proposition Ten. If you are honestly and reason-ably (not slavishly) striving to fulfil the above conditions, you are possessed of a corresponding degree of soul-health, according to your capacity, and have nothing to fear in any world:

From yourself — for honesty is power;

For yourself — for honesty cannot be hurt; From things or forces — for your honest self will survive;

From others —for men cannot touch the soul, "devils" shun the honest soul, and the Universe necessarily ranges itself on the side of the honest soul;

From events — for events only culture the soul that lives according to its light and seeks the best light reasonably possible for the better living.

These considerations call up the problem of immortality. The belief in immortality should not be founded on primitive instincts — instincts that seem to be personally innate — nor upon blind religious tradition. Faith in immortality becomes sane and potent when it springs up amid the beauties of personal goodness, in touch with the Infinite White Life, and going out with large thought in helpfulness to others.

Proposition Eleven. Soul-health, high and symmetrical, has inner assurance of immortality—provided it is not obscured by some intellectual theory. You cannot prove immortality to a soul which is morally sick or logically imperious. To rational health of soul unobscured by theory the proof of immortality is gratuitous._ The best evidence of it is to have it.

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