By Sidney H Beard
When the founder of Christianity was living yonder in Palestine that wonderful life which has since been the study of the best and wisest of mankind, and revealing to us those principles, which if adopted by all men, would banish from the world the strife, the tears and the bloodshed which mar so effectively its beauty and peace, He bade His followers pray – “Thy Will be done on Earth.” Most of us give utterance to this prayer at least once a week, but probably few of us have ever given half-an-hour’s thought to its full significance, or have considered the prospect which it fore-shadows, anything but Utopian and visionary.
Despite the promises and prophesies of a period, when love and goodwill towards all fellow – creatures, shall reign in every heart, and the belief of the Christian Church that such a time must eventually come, we are too apt to deem it but a poetical fancy, relating to an era which is too far distant in the future, to be worthy of our consideration. Very little combined effort has consequently been made to bring about a definite fulfilment of this prayer, and thus to hasten the coming of that Golden Age, described by Isaiah when he said – “The voice of weeping and crying shall be heard no more, man shall live out his full length of days, the wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and they shall no longer hurt or destroy.”
The Prophet of Nazareth however was no dreamer, and when he exhorted His followers to make the doing of the Divine Will the aspiration of their lives, he literally pointed out to them the surest and most practical way of remedying the sorrows and miseries of the world, and of securing at the same time, their own highest welfare and happiness. Only a very inadequate interpretation and proclamation of this great truth, has however been hitherto made, by the exponents of Christianity, and probably this fact will account for the present pitiable condition of Christendom.
To live in perfect harmony with all God’s physical and spiritual laws, is the only sure method of attaining the highest and the best that is possible to us, and nearly all the suffering and wretchedness that we see in this world, is directly or indirectly the result of their violation.
By living to obey the dictate of his own selfish wishes and desires, instead of to fulfil the benevolent Will of his Creator, man has lost that which alone can satisfy the needs of his immortal nature, and the deep, although perhaps unrecognised cravings of his heart, viz: friendship and Communion with God. Most of our great Scientists have declared that he was created a Frugivourous (fruit-eating) animal, but through developing carnivorous tastes, and adopting the practice of eating the dead bodies of slaughtered beasts, he has also brought upon himself a number of diseases and afflictions, both of body and soul. By this custom our race has contrived to transgress in a two-fold manner from generation to generation, having violated a fundamental physical law of the highest importance, and also the Moral Law of love, benevolence and mercy, by unnecessarily shedding rivers of blood, and inflicting pain upon countless millions of de fenceless fellow – creatures. Is it to be wondered at therefore, that in spite of the various kinds of religious, philanthropic and political remedies which have been tried for improving the state of the world, man still appears to remain the most miserable, depraved and diseased of God’s creatures.
It is time some effort was put forth to make the religious world realise, that to exhort men to get into a proper relation towards the spiritual world, by embracing certain truths and conforming to certain religious ceremonies, does not (although such action may be needful and desirable) sufficiently meet all the needs of their case, whilst they continue to demoralise body, mind and spirit by the aforesaid transgressions, which are inevitably followed by penalty and loss.
In spite of our incredulity and apathy therefore, it would be wise if some of us were to ask ourselves seriously, whether after all, the prospect of a peaceful and happy world is only a dream, whether it is so far from realisation, and whether we, during the short time of our sojourn upon earth, cannot do something practical to hasten its fulfillment.
We therefore invite all thoughtful, philanthropic and religious persons, to unite with us in an effort to combat the existing state of things, by making known far and wide these important truths, and by endeavouring to promote by our example and influence, the doing of God’s Will upon earth, in things both physical and spiritual, because we believe that there is no surer way of serving our own and coming generations, or of lessening the sum of human misery and depravity, than by pointing men to the blessings which will most certainly follow all sincere endeavour to live in accordance with them.
Opening article in The Herald of the Golden Age vol.1 no.1, January 25th, 1896 (reprinted in tract form later that year).
Sidney H. Beard (1862-1938) was a founding member of The Order of the Golden Age – a mostly Christian, vegetarian organisation which existed from 1895 until the 1950’s. The society published The Herald of the Golden Age between 1896-1918 which was edited by Beard. A large selection of books and tracts was also produced by the organisation and distributed by The Vegetarian Society.