Chapter 16 – The Law of Attraction

Chapter XVI
W. John Murray
The Realm of Reality
Divine Science Publishing Assoc.
New York, 1922.

“For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son.”
–Romans 8:29

[183] Two of the cardinal points in Calvin’s doctrine of predestination are, first, that “God elects individuals to be saved”; second, that “He designs complete redemption for these elect only.” The Koran teaches that “Every event is predestined from eternity and cannot possibly be avoided.” From these teachings there has grown a form of fatalism which declares that “if a man is born to be hanged he will never be drowned.” The old idea of predestination was most discouraging, since no man knew whether he was elected of God to be saved or not, so that regardless of his efforts to live the Christian life, he was always more or less uncertain about the post mortem consequences. Happily this is changing, even in the churches which recognize Calvin as their earthly founder. It is difficult to reconcile the predestination of one man to eternal bliss and another to endless torment with the justice of [184] that God Whom we now know to be impartial and universal Love.

If God is no respecter of persons, as the Scriptures declare, then it is impossible to understand how the fate of a man can be decreed before he is born, so that in spite of his most earnest endeavors he must perforce go the way of the flesh when all that is within him prefers to follow the spirit. Theologians have tried to prove, with very indifferent results, that predestination, as Calvin taught it and as the Koran teaches it, does not necessarily interfere with the exercise of free will. The moment you inject into the strange theological situation the element of free will, or free moral agency, you have something which, if pushed to the extreme of its possibility, at once interferes with the preconceived plan of the Predestinator. Free moral agency or free will supposes the power of the individual to save or lose himself, make or break himself, in the degree that he follows the law of Righteousness, or fails to follow it. It is hard, therefore, to reconcile the doctrine of predestination with that of free moral agency, since one has a tendency to offset the other, and thus balk the purpose of Him Who knows no defeat.

Free moral agency is the God-bestowed power by which man must eventually work out his own salvation. It is the sublime power of Thought by which a man may think himself into negative misfortune or positive prosperity.

Predestination is a truth, but not as it is [185] taught, nor as it is commonly understood. “There is,” as Shakespeare says, “a divinity which shapes our ends, rough hew them how we will.” But it is inconceivable that a God Who could plan an orderly universe and create man in His own image and likeness could not at the same time see the end from the beginning.

For Infinite Wisdom to know anything, is for It to foreknow all things, therefore, in Divine Science we accept predestination as the plan of Divine Mind to attract all things to Itself, and conform all things to Itself. Not the election of a few to be saved, but the selection of all, as the beneficiaries of His love, is the method of God’s goodness. The most hardened sinner will one day see the error of his way and turn unto God, for it is in accordance with his spiritual destiny to do so, since it is written “Through the greatness of Thy power shall Thine enemies submit themselves unto Thee.”

The Australian aborigine hurls his boomerang so that it will return with unerring accuracy to the hand which throws it. This is one form of predestination. Man, in the process of his spiritual unfoldment, makes the circuit of human experiences only to discover that the place from which he started is the place in which he must end. Like the Australian’s boomerang he must, through science or suffering, return to the Father’s hand. The length of time spent in returning to primitive perfectness depends largely on the manner in which we use those two most [186] precious things of time and thought. The intelligent use of time and thought depends entirely on what we know of Truth, since it is Truth which is the determining factor in all cases. To spend time and thought in error is merely to add disappointment to disappointment. So long as the race spent its energies under the delusion that the earth was flat, one continent was ignorant of the existence of any other continent but itself; but when the Truth became apparent and men began to use time and thought in the pursuit of more Truth, continent was added to continent. The limited and bounded gave place to the unlimited and unbounded, and the explorer still sails and endures hardships because he knows that all has not yet been discovered.

Laboring under the delusion that predestination is a chart of life which the individual must follow, and that the events of life, good, bad, or indifferent, have been carefully planned by God before one’s birth, one is apt to become a fatalist of a foolish sort, arguing that it matters not at all how one thinks or acts, since the end will be just the same after all. On the principle that “what is to be, will be,” men have become stoically indifferent when they might have become pre-eminently constructive.

Thinking of the doctrine of predestination on its negative side only, men have concluded that the least that could be expected of them was to be as moral as possible and leave other matters to a law which they were not supposed to understand. [187] But predestination has its positive side, and it is this side which we in Divine Science are striving to understand, and with which we are seeking to co-operate.

The positive side of predestination is embodied in the words of our text: “For Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His son.” The definition of the word conform is “to make like in form, to bring into harmony, or correspondence with a model or example,” and if we accept this definition we see at once Paul’s grand conception of the scheme of universal salvation. If the word predestination means “foreordained,” and conform means to “make like” in every particular, then we see that the plan of Divine Wisdom is that all men sometime, somehow, somewhere, must become like Jesus in Character and in Power.

It is as if God put man into this great workshop to work at the problem of life and develop character in the process. It is as if one were put into a studio with all the necessary elements for creating a work of art, and with the most perfect model as a pattern from which to work. And then it is as if Divine Wisdom had said, “It is only a question of time when all men shall prove their God-likeness.” May not this account for what we call the great patience of God? When a teacher knows that it is only a question of time when all his boys shall solve all their problems is he not likely to be patient and gentle? And is not his mental attitude going to be a wonderful [188] example to the boys? His faith in them and his conviction in their ultimate dominion communicates itself, as the boys develop in such an atmosphere as they can in no other. If a schoolmaster should predestinate or foreordain each boy in his school to become proficient in his conformity to all the arts and sciences, no matter what that boy’s personal experiences might be in arriving at this desirable state, and if in addition to this preconceived plan he had the power to put it into perfect execution, what a wonderful schoolmaster he would be! May it not be that this is just the kind of schoolmaster God is?

If we can regard this earth experience as a schoolroom in which we are to learn the most important lessons of life, and if we can realize that we are foreordained or predestined to become conformed to the image of the Perfect Man which is the Christ in us, what a glorious incentive it will be! To realize that it is only a question of time when we must become conformed to the pure, the perfect and the powerful, and that procrastination on our part is the only thing which is delaying the glad day, is to be seized with the holy desire to enter into heaven here and now. What an inspiration should be the consciousness that in all God’s plan there is nothing that can be lost, and that the worst, the very worst, that can happen to even the most hardened sinner is a more or less painful postponement of the things we are entitled to when we earn them!

[189] This helps us to think of predestination as Paul puts it. It does two wonderful things for me. It reveals the eternal Love of God on the one hand, and the ultimate perfectness and happiness of man on the other. It hurts me to think of predestination as Calvin expressed it, and as the Koran states it. When I try to think that only the elect can be saved, and when I see so few who are elect, notwithstanding the desires of so many to be so, it is depressing. I tell this to a man who believes in “infant damnation” and he says, “Yes, it is depressing, but it is nevertheless true,” and then I turn to Jesus and he answers the question of my soul by saying: “It is not the will of my Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish, but that all should have everlasting life.”

What a comforting Jesus: and what a different idea he had of predestination from that of some modern followers! “It is my Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” said He, and one can almost hear him add, “and why do ye so long refuse to partake of it? Since it is foreordained that ye must become like Him, why do ye linger and wait?”

Why do you accept this erroneous conception of predestination, which would hypnotize you into the belief that at the moment of your birth God placed an invisible tag about your neck signifying the painful manner of your life and death and also your future hopelessness? You believe in destiny and a cruel fate, but this is because you [190] see only half the picture. You see the boomerang leaving the hand of the thrower and you ask where it is going. You do not see its return and you conclude it will be lost. You see yourselves out here in space, and you wonder why you are here and what is going to become of you. You do not see yourselves slowly but surely returning to the Father’s house and you become afraid.

Life is a great mystery until one understands its purpose, but so is the schoolroom to the boy. When one understands, however, what it is all about, it takes on a new and a more hopeful significance. When one realizes that the painful experiences of this earth journey are not predestined and unavoidable calamities quite so much as they are the sharp reminders of a spiritual ignorance, which may be rectified through spiritual science, one takes hope, and “hope maketh not ashamed.”

For this cause came we into the world, namely: to prove our Divinity, and how can this be done unless it be in the studio of the mind? With a picture of oneself destined to fail, despite efforts to the contrary, what will the consequence be? Can figs grow on thistles? Can the fruit of success and prosperity grow on a tree, the seed of which is a belief in predestined poverty? Can a man prove his divinity so long as he believes that he is predestined to fill a drunkard’s grave, no matter how heroically he struggles against the tendency?

[191] What is the remedy for all these pain-producing mistakes? Does it not lie in a right idea of this much misunderstood Law of God? Does it not rest upon a spiritual interpretation of what predestination really is? When a man understands that he is predestined, foreordained to become conformed to the very image of God, to manifest God in terms of Life, and Health, and Happiness, and that here or elsewhere he must eventually measure up to his foreordained Perception, he is likely to conclude it might as well be here as elsewhere.

Since the end of man, according to Divine Plan, is to become like God, the individual who perceives this Truth puts on the garment of righteousness and the breastplate of Truth and goes forth to fulfill his allotted destiny. Knowing that predestination means that nothing which God has created can be lost or come to naught, he regards himself and every other man in the world as a candidate for the kingdom of heaven upon earth. Man cannot utterly destroy himself, even if he tries, for this would interfere with predestination; the worst he can do by such an attempt is to make a temporary fool of himself.

When man, the boomerang, has spent his force in the outward journey, he returns almost involuntarily, and this is in accordance with a Destiny which shapes his ends. He returns from Whence he came. The ends must unite in Spirit, and they are so welded together by the fervent [192] heat of God’s Love that mortal eye cannot discern the point of union. This, then, is Predestination: that we shall be conformed to the Image of Him Who created us. “The work to be performed is ours, the strength is all His own.”

Chapter 17

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