Amanda M Hicks.

Spiritual evolution; online

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Class of 1887.







Berkeley, California

Berkeley, California

Copyright 1917

Amanda M . Hicks


Introduction Page 5

I. Spiritual Heredity - - Page 6

II. Spiritual Environment, - - Page 9

and Survival of the Fittest.

III. Spiritual Life - - - - Page 14

IV. Spiritual Dynamics Page 19

V. Spiritual Gravitation - Page 24

VI. The Spiritual Kingdom - Page 27

For Reading:
The Gospel according to John.

For Memory:

John 15:1-17 John 17:20-26
Ephesians 3:14-21



Evolution is defined by science as a process of
systematic development by which things that are have
come to be what they are.

Add to this Le Conte's definition, "Evolution is
the Divine Method of Creation."

These studies in spiritual evolution are based on
the axiomatic principles that "all forces of nature are
forms of divine energy, and all laws of nature are
regular modes of operation of divine energy, or will."
Many men of science have thus far been content to
limit the principle of evolution to physical and mental

We shall find a rich vein of thought opening to
our minds if we follow the lead of some of the most
profound men of science and philosophy of today who
recognize that the principle of evolution includes also
spiritual development.

This is the theme to which we are to give our
attention in these studies.


Heredity in a biological sense is the name given to
the generalization drawn from observed facts that
plants and animals closely resemble their progenitors.

Men of science who have failed to extend the prin-
ciple of evolution beyond the physical and mental
have naturally failed to include spiritual heredity as
a factor in human evolution.

That we may see this subject in its true perspective
we turn to the prologue to St. John's Gospel and take
as our starting point the time, the person and the work
of the Word as set forth in John I, 1-14.

"In the beginning was the Word.

The Word was God.

All things were made through Him.

In Him was Life.

The Word became incarnate and dwelt among us."

One great purpose of the Word in coming to earth
in the flesh as Jesus the Christ was to establish here
and now a spiritual kingdom in which the will of
God shall be done as it is done in heaven.

That man might know his true place in the divine
order it was needful to make known God as a Father
and every man as a possible son of God.

The Old Testament gives only glimpses of the
truth that God is a father. Jesus came to reveal to
man in its fulness the truth that God is "Our
Father." He came not only to teach us this truth by
word of mouth; He came to show us the Father.
Having lived among men his life of perfect purity
and love, of lowly service and sacrifice, he said in
that wonderful upper room talk, "He that hath seen

me hath seen the Father." John 14:9.

The correlative of God as Father is man a son
of God. Man's greatest privilege on earth is to be a
child of God. Man's unique endowment, the power
of choice; not absolute but relative. But even so
this power is so far reaching, so wonderful that no one
has yet sounded the possibilities it presents to the
human soul. Man cannot choose whose child he shall
be physically; cannot choose his physical parentage,
hence cannot choose his physical heredity. But he
can choose whose child he shall be in a spiritual
sense, hence can choose his spiritual heredity, and so
not only become a son of God but a partaker of the
Divine nature as his birthright.

When Jesus came in the flesh to his own people
they did not as a people receive him; but some did
as individuals receive him and to these he gave
power to become sons of God. Those who received
him became sons of God by a process which is called
birth. John 1:12-13.

Birth is not the beginning of life. It is transition
into a larger sphere of life, a life of opportunities for
growth and development that could not be known in
the pre-natal state.

Much mystery has been thrown around the fact of
a spiritual birth, and yet the conditions of spiritual
birth have been set forth in words and by symbols
that startle us by their simplicity. In each case we
find either expressed or implied a divine invitation or
command; a simple human act of choice, and a divine
response, a Gift.

Here is a typical case. My sheep hear my voice.
This is the call of the shepherd. They follow me.

This is an act of choice. I give to them eternal life,
the divine gift. John 10:27-28.

The conditions of spiritual birth are like that.
They are like opening a door in response to a knock,
Rev. 3:20; like asking for and taking a drink of
water, John 4:10; like eating offered bread, John 6:51;
like accepting an invitation to a wedding feast, Mat.
22:1-5; like coming home from the "Far Country"
to the Father's house, Luke 15:11-24; like chickens
fleeing to the sheltering wings, Mat. 23:37; like tak-
ing an offered gift, "The Gift of God is eternal Life."
Rom. 6:23. A gift cannot be given unless there is
one with a will to receive it. God himself cannot
bestow the gift of life which comes with the new birth,
upon one who does not choose to receive it. Yet a
little child may choose to take this gift. Our little
ones need not go into the "Far Country" before they
come to be at home in the Father's house; before
they are born into the Father's family. "Suffer the
little children to come to me. Of such is the King-
dom of Heaven."

Spiritual birth is set forth by Jesus as the one
condition of entering the kingdom which he came to
reveal upon earth. The fact of spiritual birth in in-
dividuals is to be known, not by a wordy profession,
but by a life; known as the wind is known, by its
effects; known as the life of the vine is known in
the branches by their power to bear fruit. John

Through spiritual birth man becomes not only a
child of God and by heredity a partaker of the Fath-
er's nature; he becomes an heir of God and a joint
heir with Christ. Rom. 8:16-17.

It is well at times to take account of our riches.

We become heirs to his peace, My peace I give to
you, John 14:27; heirs to his joy, That they may have
my joy fulfilled in themselves, John 17:13; heirs to
his continued work of bringing in the kingdom by
means of his continued presence and power, Mat.
28:18-20 and Acts 1:8; heirs to his abundant life,
John 10:10; heirs to likeness to God through son-
ship, I John 3:2; "Beloved, now are we children
of God and it is not yet made manifest what we shall
be. We know that if he shall be manifested we shall
be like him."

To stop here in counting our riches would be to
do injustice to a vital principle in the life and teach-
ings of Jesus, the principle of self sacrifice. We fail
if we too constantly picture the Christian life as a
child's holiday. We started with Paul, but thus far
have failed to follow to the limit that stern old war-
rior who counted not his own life dear unto himself,
and who in declaring that we shall be children of
God and joint heirs with Christ adds this significant
clause as a condition, "If so be that we suffer with
him, that we may be also glorified with him."



The word environment in its simplest sense means
surroundings. Used in this sense there may be an
environment of relationship or an environment of
proximity without relationship. A dry seed sur-
rounded by air is in proximity to the air, but unre-
lated to that environment. The living leaf is related
to the surrounding air by its power to take in through


pores the CO 2 and so help in building the living
tissues of the plant.

Spencer says, "Whatever power an organism ex-
pends in any shape is the equivalent of power taken
in from without." We all know how important is the
influence of surroundings in bringing to perfection
plants and lower animals, and in modifying the phys-
ical and mental development of human beings.

In physical life, which seems to be more essen-
tial, the organism or the environment? We shall find
that each is helpless without the other. Air, light,
heat, electricity, soil and water without an organism
through which to manifest themselves would be only
chemical elements and natural forces; would not be
plant, would not be lower animal, would not be
physical man. And an organism, plant, or animal,
without an environment of chemical elements and
physical forces, could it exist?

But man, the goal of the animal series, is mind as
well as body. Without human environment from in-
fancy, if indeed he could exist, what would he be?
Suppose him to be brought up from birth by a family
of monkeys, could he speak? Would he walk on all
fours? What of his intellectual development? Man
needs for normal mind development an environment
of human beings; of plant and animal life; of land
and sea; of sky and sun and stars; of books and
teachers; of art and music.

Through developed intellect and scientific discov-
eries and mechanical devices man adds a universe to
his environment and multiplies his physical power
almost without limit. His unceasing effort is to fur-
ther enlarge his thought environment and further in-
crease his physical power.

But man is not only body and mind. He is spirit,
that "Something" within, which knows instinctively,
unless it has become petrified by neglect or false
teachings, that back of the flower is the maker of the
flower; beyond the star is the maker of the star, and
that physical death does not end all.

There was an old idea of a God who created the
universe all at once, wound it up as one winds a
clock, then left it to run itself, an absentee God.
The later idea, not yet universal, is of a God immi-
nent, resident in nature, shaping with infinite skill the
buds and blossoms of today, controlling all things by
divine law, upholding all things by divine power.
John 5:17. The environment of every human soul is
God. "In him we live and move and have our being."
The whole universe is a whispering gallery in which
God is sending out his wireless messages in every
direction, but only he who keeps his soul attuned to
the divine call receives the message. Man has the
power of choice to respond or not to respond to his
divine environment. It may be to him only an en-
vironment of proximity and not of relationship.
"Their ears are dull of hearing and their eyes have
they closed." The response of a soul to spiritual
environment is spiritual life, which is the Gift of
God at the new birth. This is the topic for our third

Another factor in evolution advanced by scientists
is "The Survival of the Fittest." Yet even science is
now discrediting its own terms, for in the evolution
of plant and lower animal the strong survive and the
weak perish, and the strong are not always the most

In the lower forms of life there is, if any, only
very little power of choice on the part of the organ-
ism. As we ascend to the plane of human evolution
we find a new factor in action, the conscious volun-
tary co-operation of the thing evolving, in the process
of its own evolution. Man, endowed as he is with
the power of choice, is capable of responding to the
attractive force of ideals.

Every human being whether high or low in the
scale of development has moments when he sees in
flashlight a better self than he is. He feels within
himself the draw to ascend to the plane of divine life
and divine law, and he feels the counter urge to fol-
low the line of least resistance and descend to the
level of the beast; to the law of the jungle, the law
of claw and tooth. This is the new problem in the
man plane of evolution. Not shall the physically fit
individual survive and the unfit perish; but shall the
fittest in each individual survive and the unfit perish?
Shall his best ideals, his finest visions, his noblest self
survive and become permanent; or shall these die
and the unfit survive and become permanent?

Here is the fierce battleground of life, the place
where character is made, where the virility of man-
hood is tested. This is the field of destiny. Each
man must make choice at every step of the way.

Some think the battle is done when the soul is
born into the spiritual kingdom, but in truth the fight
is then only begun. The choice to open the door of
life to God is one great victory, but it stands at the
beginning and not at the end of the Christian life.
Paul won his first victory on the road to Damascus
and could say boldly, "I was not disobedient to the
heavenly vision." Acts 26:19. Twenty years later,

after he had preached the gospel in Asia Minor and
Macedonia and Greece and won untold numbers to
Christ, he wrote to the converts in Corinth, "I buffet
my body and bring it into subjection, lest after I have
preached to others I myself should be rejected,
should become a castaway." I Cor. 9:27. Later still
he wrote to the disciples in Rome, "I find then a law
that to me who would do good, evil is present." Read
the whole account in Romans 7:14-24 and note the
agony of a tempted soul as he cries out, "Wretched
man that I am, who shall deliver me out of the body
of this death?"

Fortunately for Paul he saw his danger and knew
the one source of strength that would give him the
victory. "I thank God through Jesus Christ our
Lord." Here we turn with joy to the ever present
Christ who in the days when he dwelt in the flesh
was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without
sin, Heb. 4:15, and in that he himself hath suffered,
being tempted he is able to succor them that are
tempted. Heb. 2:18. Only by his help shall the fit-
test in each soul survive and the unfit die.

But to the soul that aspires to highest attainments
in the spiritual life the choice is not always between
that which is morally good and that which is positively
evil. Far more often the choice is between the good
and the better; between the better and the best. The
ground that produced thirty fold is called good
ground. So of the ground that brought sixty fold.
But there was ground that produced one hundred

It is unfit that any child of God should be content
with less than the best when power is at hand to give
him the best.


"God gives his best gifts to the few

Who dare to stand the test;
He gives his second choice to those
Who will not choose the best."


In our study of "Spiritual Heredity we have dealt
with the beginnings of the evolution of spiritual life,
and have seen that the environment of relationship to
God is a necessary factor in the process. We are now
to follow the further development of the soul life.
We are to study the divine process of making full
grown men and women from new-born souls.

Evolution as a process is in action all around us
today in the making of a leaf or a flower from a bud;
in making a bird on the wing from a life germ in
the egg; in the making of far off worlds from star
dust; in the making of men who are of the measure
of the stature of Christ from new born spiritual chil-
dren. Eph. 4:13-14.

What is Life? Spencer has said, "Life is contin-
uous adjustment of inner relations to outer relations."
Henry Churchill King says, "Life is correspondence
to environment." These are not true definitions of
what life is. They only state the conditions of active,
evolving life. There is latent, passive life in the seed
germ; in millions of seeds stored dry for the spring
planting; but no adjustment to outer relations, no
correspondence to environment. The spiritually un-
born soul is alive, but not adjusted to divine relations;
not responsive to divine environment. Jesus himself
called this condition spiritual death. John 5:25.
Death is separation, not annihilation. The father said

of the son who had gone into the far country, "This
my son was dead." The Far Country is not a place.
It is a state of mind and heart. It is lack of re-
sponse to the divine environment to the Father's love.
Self separation from God is spiritual death. Oneness
with God is spiritual life.

Spiritual life is not a created entity. It is of the
very essence of the creator; of the Christ who said,
"I am the Life." If we can define "God," we can
define "Life." These terms are too great for defini-

Out of his own rich full nature Christ has this
gift of spiritual life for man, for every man who will
choose to take it. "The gift of God is eternal life.
I am come that ye may have life."

But man may choose not only to be a spirit-born
soul, a child of God. He may choose to be a full
grown man in the spiritual kingdom. I am come,
not only that you may have life, but that you may
have it in abundance. John 10:10.

Abundant life in the plant and animal world
comes through proper correspondence with favorable
environment Life and abundant life in the spir-
itual realm depend on certain conditions analogous
to those that we find in physical life. Jesus constantly
used the conditions of physical life and growth to
make plain soul life and development. For full vig-
orous life and growth every plant and every animal
must have air to breathe. Breath is necessary to the
growing plant as to the living animal. The breath of
life for the spirit of man is the Spirit of Truth prom-
ised by the Master as he was about to depart from
the earth in his physical manifestation. Jesus ac-

counted the presence of the Holy Spirit of more value
to man than his physical presence. He said, "It is
better for you that I go away." He even promised
that the Spirit of Truth should guide men into knowl-
edge that he could not then reveal. John 16:12-13.
Christ in the flesh was limited in time and place.
Christ in the person of the Holy Spirit is in all times
and all places, in every human heart in all the world,
that has opened the door to him; and he is here to
abide forever. He is here to do, through those who
believe on him, greater works than he did in the
flesh. John 14:12-18.

Every form of physical life depends upon water for
its primal development and for its continued existence
and growth. We find Jesus again and again using
water as a symbol in relation to spiritual life and
growth and out-go. Note his answer to the woman at
the well. John 4:10. On the great day of the feast
when the priests carried from the pool of Siloam the
golden pitcher brimming with water to be poured out
at the temple, Jesus stood and cried, "If any man
thirst let him come to me and drink. He that be-
lieveth on me out of him shall flow rivers of living
water." John 7:37-38.

The symbols used by Jesus to represent soul food
are so rich and varied that we can only suggest a con-
tinued study of so wonderful a theme. "Give us this
day our daily bread." Does any one suppose that
Jesus thought only of bread for the body when he
taught us to pray this prayer? "Man shall not live
by bread alone, but by every word of God." For
Christ's most profound teachings concerning food and
drink for the spirit of man read the great parables in
John 6:26-59 and John 15:1-17.

For the hunger and thirst of the soul there is no
satisfaction but in eating of the Living Bread and
drinking of the fountain of Living Water.

Other essentials for normal development in the
higher forms of plant and animal life are sunlight and
heat. Note the vine that creeps into a dark cellar, how
it loses color and strength and power for hearing blos-
som or fruit. Call to mind the blind fish in the
Mammoth Cave and the pitiful pale children reared
in cold dark tenement houses.

An old time prophet announced the coming Christ
as "the Sun of Righteousness"; and how often the
Master used the wonderful indefinable something that
we call Light, to set forth his own character and
mission. Enough that he said, "I am the Light of
the world. He that followeth me shall not walk in
darkness, but shall have the Light of Life." John

But physical man needs for his best development
not only the conditions we have named, but he needs
exercise and rest. So of the spiritual man. "Jesus
said, I must work the works of him that sent me."
"As the Father hath sent me so send I you." There
is no growing spiritual life without service, without
work of some kind, and those who work must find
rest. For rest there are two conditions, rest from
labor and rest in labor. Jesus recognized that both
are needful. To the tired disciples he said, "Come
apart and rest a while." Mark 6:31. His ideal for
rest in labor is beautifully pictured in the parable of
the Yoke. Matt. 11:28-30. "Come unto me all ye that
labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn of me and ye

shall find rest to your souls. My yoke is easy; my
burden is light."

Many think of the yoke as a symbol of servitude,
of bondage. It is in reality one of the finest symbols
the Master ever used to set forth a spiritual truth.
The yoke is a symbol of partnership in service and
it may be so constructed that the stronger partner may
take the larger share of the burden. My burden, the
burden that you share with me and I share with you,
is light, and ye shall find rest to your souls. Instead
of fret and worry, of wear and tear in labor we shall
find joy in our work and rest in our labor. So shall
"the common deed of the common day" become a
source of strength and not of weakness; of growth
and not of decline.

We all know what wonders have been wrought by
scientific methods in improving plants and animals.
Man seems almost to have joined hands with the
Creator in hastening the process of evolution. To
work these wonders the man of science has imposed
his own choice upon things that cannot choose for
themselves. He chooses for each thing a better hered-
ity, a more favorable environment, and decrees that
the truly fit shall survive and the unfit shall die. He
compels each thing to abide by its own divine law
of life and growth and progress.

When man by his own choice for himself shall be
careful to conform to divine law in all the essentials
of life and growth; when he chooses for himself the
divine heredity, the divine environment of relation-
ship which is the continuous adjustment of the soul
to God ; when he decrees that by divine help the fittest
in him shall survive and the unfit shall die daily, then
the ideal of the full grown man shall be in process


of realization. To this end Christ offers to each hu-
man soul his own abundant Life, which is the Birth-
right of every child of God.


Dynamics is denned as the science of force. Force
is any agency, latent or active, that can cause motion,
arrest or change the direction of motion. In a larger
sense force is any cause that can produce effect.

We speak of force as if it were something within
the range of human comprehension. We try to de-
fine the word, yet we do not tell what force is. We
only state what it can do. We are in the realm of
mystery, of miracle, of the infinite, when we talk of
force and of forces.

We see the daisy lift its head above the clod by a
force that transcends gravitation, that mighty unseen
power which holds uncounted worlds in their orbits.
The transcendent force that lifts the daisy is life,
and the mind of man stops in wonder before the works
being done, day by day, by the undefined power that
we call life.

We think of light and talk of it as if we knew.
Light is a commonplace thing. But the astronomer
will tell us that this invisible force that we call light
has its own fixed laws; and because the man of
science knows and obeys these laws, light obeys his
will and has brought him word from a star-world so
far away that the swift messenger was one hundred
and thirty years on the journey, as it carried the mes-
sage which tells the stuff of which the star is made,
and the time limit of its orbital journey.

We think and talk of spiritual force as if we knew

the meaning of our own words. Yet we know that to
comprehend this mystery requires a kind of knowledge
that we do not now possess.

It gladdens us to know that man has eons of time
for spiritual development and eternal years to study
the secrets of the universe.

Within the limited range of what we know at pres-
ent we find many things that may reward our quest
toward the unknown.

We turn our thought first to the so-called natural


Online LibraryAmanda M HicksSpiritual evolution; → online text (page 1 of 2)