If you demand positive proof of the soundness of the “Law of the Golden Rule”, If you demand more substantial and authoritative evidence than my own, then I am privileged to refer you to the teachings and philosophy of Christ, Plato, Socrates, Epictetus, Confucius, Emerson and two of the more modern philosophers, James and Munsterberg, from whose works I have appropriated all that constitutes the more important fundamentals of this lesson, with the exception of that which I have gathered from my own limited experience. For more than four thousand years men have been preaching the Golden Rule as a suitable rule of conduct among men, but unfortunately the world has accepted the letter while totally missing the spirit of this Universal Injunction. We have accepted the Golden Rule philosophy merely as a sound rule of ethical conduct but we have failed to understand the law upon which it is based. I have heard the Golden Rule quoted scores of times, but I do not recall having ever heard an explanation of the law upon which it is based, and not until recent years did I understand that law, from which I am led to believe that those who quoted it did not understand it. The Golden Rule means, substantially, to do unto others as you would wish them to do unto you if your positions were reversed. But why? What is the real reason for this kindly consideration of others? The real reason is this: There is an eternal law through the operation of which we reap that which we sow. When you select the rule of conduct by which you guide yourself in your transactions with others, you will be fair and just, very likely, if you know that you are setting into motion, by that selection, a power that will run its course for weal or woe in the lives of others, returning, finally, to help or to hinder you, according to its nature. 5 Whatsoever a man soweth that shall be also reap! It is your privilege to deal unjustly with others, but, if you understand the law upon which the Golden Rule is based, you must know that your unjust dealings will come home to roost. You cannot pervert or change the course of this law, but you can adapt yourself to its nature and thereby use it as an irresistible power that will carry you to heights of achievement, which could not be attained without its aid. This law does not stop by merely flinging back upon you your acts of injustice and unkindness toward others; it goes further than this - much further - and returns to you the results of every thought that you release. Therefore, not alone is it advisable to do unto others as you wish them to do unto you, but to avail yourself fully of the benefits of this great Universal Law you must think of others as you wish them to think of you. The law upon which the Golden Rule is based begins affecting you, either for good or evil, the moment you release a thought. It has amounted almost to a worldwide tragedy that people have not generally understood this law. Despite the simplicity of the law it is practically all there is to be learned that is of enduring value to man, for it is the medium through which we become the masters of our own destiny. Understand this law and you understand all that the Bible has to unfold to you, for the Bible presents one unbroken chain of evidence in support of the fact that man is the maker of his own destiny; and, that his thoughts and acts are the tools with which he does the making. During ages of less enlightenment and tolerance than that of the present, some of the greatest thinkers the world has ever produced 6 have paid with their lives for daring to uncover this Universal Law so that it might be understood by all. In the light of the past history of the world, it is an encouraging bit of evidence, in support of the fact that men are gradually throwing off the veil of ignorance and intolerance, to note that I stand in no danger of bodily harm for writing that which would have cost me my life a few centuries ago. While this course deals with the highest laws of the universe, which man is capable of interpreting, the aim, nevertheless, has been to show how these laws may be used in the practical affairs of life. With this object of practical application in mind, let us now proceed to analyze the effect of the Golden Rule through the following incident. EVERY man takes care that his neighbor does not cheat him. But a day comes when he begins to care that he does not cheat his neighbor. Then all goes well. He has changed his market cart into a chariot of the sun. Here’s a story:
No, said the lawyer, I shan't press your claim against that man; you can get someone else to take the case, or you can withdraw it; just as you please. Think there isn't any money in it? 7 There probably would be some little money in it, but it would come from the sale of the little house that the man occupies and calls his home! But I don't want to meddle with the matter, anyhow. Got frightened out of it, eh? Not at all. I suppose likely the fellow begged hard to be let off? Well, yes, he did. And you caved in, likely? Yes. What in creation did you do? I believe I shed a few tears. And the old fellow begged you hard, you say? No, I didn't say so; he didn't speak a word to me. Well, may I respectfully inquire whom he did address in your hearing? God Almighty. Ah, he took to praying, did he? Not for my benefit, in the least. You see, I found the little house easily enough and knocked on the outer door, which stood ajar; but nobody heard me, so I stepped into the little hall and saw through the crack of a door a cozy sitting-room, and there on the bed, with her silver head high on the pillows, was an old lady who looked for all the world just like my mother did the last time I ever saw her on earth. Well, I was on the point of knocking, when she said: Come, father, now begin; I'm all ready. And down on his knees by her side went an 8 old, white-haired man, still older than his wife, I should judge, and I couldn't have knocked then, for the life of me. Well, he began. First, he reminded God they were still His submissive children, mother and he, and no matter what He saw fit to bring upon them they shouldn't rebel at His will. Of course twas going to be very hard for them to go out homeless in their old age, especially with poor mother so sick and helpless, and, oh! how different it all might have been if only one of the boys had been spared. Then his voice kind of broke, and a white hand stole from under the coverlet and moved softly over his snowy hair. Then he went on to repeat that nothing could be so sharp again as the parting with those three sons - unless mother and he should be separated. But, at last, he fell to comforting himself with the fact that the dear Lord knew that it was through no fault of his own that mother and he were threatened with the loss of their dear little home, which meant beggary and the alms-house - a place they prayed to be delivered from entering if it should be consistent with Gods will. And then he quoted a multitude of promises concerning the safety of those who put their trust in the Lord. In fact, it was the most thrilling plea to which I ever listened. And at last, he prayed for Gods blessing on those who were about to demand justice. The lawyer then continued, more lowly than ever: And I believe - I'd rather go to the poor-house myself tonight than to stain my heart and hands with the blood of such a prosecution as that.
Little afraid to defeat the old man's prayer, eh? Bless your soul, man, you couldn't defeat it! said the lawyer. I tell you he left it all subject to the will of God; but he claimed that we were told to make known our desires unto God; but of all the pleadings I ever heard that beat all. You see, I was taught that kind of thing myself in my childhood. Anyway, why was I sent to bear that prayer? I am sure I dont know, but I hand the case over. I wish, said the client, twisting uneasily, you hadn't told me about the old man's prayer. Why so? Well, because I want the money the place would bring; but I was taught the Bible straight enough when I was a youngster and Id hate to run counter to what you tell about. I wish you hadn't heard a word about it, and, another time, I wouldn't listen to petitions not intended for my ears. The lawyer smiled. My dear fellow, he said, you're wrong again. It was intended for my ears, and yours, too; and God Almighty intended it. My old mother used to sing about God's moving in a mysterious way, as I remember it. Well, my mother used to sing it, too, said the claimant, as he twisted the claim-papers in his fingers. You can call in the morning, if you like, and tell mother and him the claim has been met. In a mysterious way, added the lawyer, smiling. Neither this lesson nor the course of which it is a part is based upon an appeal to maudling sentiment, but there can be no escape from the truth that success, in its highest and noblest form, brings one, finally, to view all human relationships with a feeling of deep emotion such as that which this lawyer felt when he overheard the old mans prayer. It may be an old-fashioned idea, but somehow I can't get away from the belief that no man can attain success in its highest form without the aid of earnest prayer! Prayer is the key with which one may open the secret doorway .