“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! – Psalm 133:1
“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.” – John 17:22
These verses express the purpose of the Lord’s creation of men and also of His coming into the world. By nature we like to associate with others and to be united with them in mutual service. The most dreaded punishment is solitary confinement. If long continued, it leads to madness and to self-destruction. All happiness results from the association of one conscious being with another and with those external objects which call the various faculties of the mind into harmonious action.
The material body was made to respond to and to act in harmony with the laws of the world of nature. When these laws are violated, the body is weakened and invaded by disease. All our domestic and social pleasures come from union with one another in the various forms of social life. So it is with marriage and family life. This law governs all human relations. If men and women should be isolated from all union with the outward world and with one another, happiness would be impossible to them. The happiness of heaven consists in the union of its members with each other in mutual service. And as all happiness has its source in the Lord, the first essential of all is conjunction with the Lord – “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.”
All love comes to us from the Lord by constant inflowing. All action, change, and growth in the material world are the result of the heat and light from the sun operating with power upon minerals, plants, animals, and men. Likewise in the world of spirit all life, action, and growth are from the love and wisdom of the Lord flowing forth from the Lord into the hearts and minds of men. But men must freely choose to receive this love and wisdom – spiritual reaction is not automatic like natural reaction. We should know that our happiness, both in measure and in quality, is caused by and is wholly dependent upon the degree of love that we prepare ourselves to receive from the Lord and transmit to others. That He may gift us with His happiness the Lord wishes to dwell in us and to have us dwell in Him.
The first essential of happiness then is that we be conjoined with the Lord. The second essential is that there be a union of the will and the understanding in ourselves. We know how much labor and suffering and sorrow are the result of disharmony in the mind – when we know what we ought to do but are governed by selfish desires and ambitions. There is a constant warfare between our natural inclinations and our knowledge of the Lord and of His purposes for us. The desperate nature of this struggle is pictured in the Lord’s temptations in the wilderness.
When the will and the understanding are united there will be constant progress. We shall live in the present, all our faculties will come into free and harmonious play, and we shall find joy in all our tasks. While we are in this world, this state is never fully attained, but it is attained in heaven, where we are freed from the limitations of time and space and from the many hindrances to the free exercise of all our faculties and powers. There we shall become what we are created to be – recipients of the Divine love and joy.
We cannot attain this happiness, however, without union with others. “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.” We cannot live without other beings who are the objects of our affection, who possess qualities to call it forth, and who can reciprocate it. Friendship and working together strengthen our hands, lighten our burdens, and bring blessing to our labors.
All the inhabitants of heaven seek the same end, and that end is the happiness of others. Everyone looks to the common good and seeks to promote it. It is each for all, and all for each. So there is complete harmony. And in addition to harmony of purpose there is harmony of thought. The inhabitants of heaven not only desire the happiness of others but they know how to accomplish it. Here want of knowledge of how to carry out our good intentions is a great hindrance to our happiness. Love to the Lord and to man will grow stronger, deeper, and purer through the ages as we become more regenerate, and with this increase will come greater intelligence and knowledge.
A clear distinction must be made between unity of thought and sameness of thought. No two angels look alike or think alike. There are no two things in the spiritual or in the material world that are identical. The Lord never duplicates anything. There are indefinite varieties; union consists in their harmony. The inhabitants of heaven do not think in exactly the same way – if they did, they could be of no help to each other – but their thoughts harmonize, and the variety of their ideas contributes to the excellence and perfection of the whole. Truth is infinite and the finite mind can never fully comprehend it. One of the richest and most important means of happiness consists in the free and constant interchange of thoughts and affections.
Love and wisdom, affection and thought, however, are of no use and have no actual existence until they become embodied in act. As we advance in love and wisdom, the ways in which we can serve one another will constantly multiply and the amount of good we can do will increase. We see this law in operation in this life. The more intelligent one becomes the greater service he can render to humanity. He finds access to a greater number of people, and serves a greater variety of uses. Today with the increase of knowledge there are innumerable ways of serving others which were unknown even a century ago. There are new occupations which before had not entered into human thought. It is not long since even the steamboat, the railroad, and the telegraph were unknown. New sciences, new forms of industrial, social, and civil life continually come into being as the population increases in numbers, bringing new minds and new ideas. Our occupations here grow out of our relations to each other, and they are all some form of use which is an embodiment of love and a means of expressing it.
In the other life no one labors to accumulate property. The wealth of everyone consists in his capacity to receive love from the Lord and to transmit it to his neighbor. No one there seeks knowledge that he may have the reputation of being learned. Knowledge is sought only for immediate use.
In this world we are never so happy as when we are doing something that we delight to do for those whom we love. That is because our hearts are in our work. In the other life our services are fully appreciated and reciprocated; there is no conflict between capital and labor, for the only capital one has is his ability to serve others. Here much of our time is necessarily spent in labor for external things. In the other life we do not labor for these. There the world in which we live will be the outward expression of our inward states. Our surroundings will be as rich and beautiful as is the excellence of our minds.
In the writings we find the following: “It was observed when I wished to transfer all my delight to another, a more interior and fuller delight than the former continually flowed in in its place, and the more I wished this, the more it flowed in; and it was perceived that this was from the Lord.”
Jesus said, “For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.”
These are the conditions of happiness: living in unity with the Lord, in unity with ourselves, and in unity with one another. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”