A third misconception of the nature of the spiritual life, which is certain finally to give the sense of its unreality, is that it is a life of magical inheritance of results.
Our own time is particularly liable to have this feeling. So far as the scientific spirit really affects men, they are certain to give increasing emphasis to the necessity, in all spheres, of the recognition of laws, of conditions, and of time. If results in the spiritual life, therefore, are conceived as coming without clear conditions, in a kind of merely magical way, that life unavoidably takes on for such minds a decided aspect of unreality. It has no intelligible connection with the rest of their life, and there seems to be nothing they can do with it. This makes it imperative that those, who would make the spiritual world a reality for the most wide-awake minds of our time, must themselves see the spiritual life as a genuine sphere of laws, with its own clear conditions that can be known and stated and fulfilled, with a certainty of results following. It is not the frills of scientific illustration that the interpreter of the spiritual life needs to-day, but the genuine scientific spirit in the study of his own greatest sphere. Drummond's greatest contribution to the thought of his time lay just here. And there is still great opportunity for a thoughtful carrying on of his central contention of law in the spiritual world.
And even for those who are not consciously, and perhaps not at all, affected by the scientific temper of our times, there is a similar baffling sense of the unreality of spiritual things, if the magical conception largely prevails. Even such must have the sense that, in their religious life, they are simply feeling around in the dark. What may result, they can have no idea; much disappointment is certain; they can only hope that here and there something of what they seek may be stumbled upon. And when even such minds turn to the ordinary avocations of their lives, and note how confidently they may count upon results following upon conditions, they can hardly fail to contrast the sharp out-lines of this real life of work with the dimness of the spiritual.
And none of us may forget without distinct and large loss that the spiritual life, like all life, is a growth, always involving laws, conditions, and time. To forget or ignore this, is to make it certain that the spiritual life will become unreal to us. That is simply to say that we are bound to take account of the common psychological conditions of our life, already considered, and particularly to note the special laws of the spiritual life itself, to be considered later. These laws, in a word, are the laws of a deepening personal relation, which every day's true living makes better known.