April 12, 2015
Jesus, His Belief or Wisdom
by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Had Jesus, like other men, a belief? And if so, what was it? To suppose Jesus had a belief is to suppose he was not sure of the truth of his words, but to admit that he knew what he was saying is to believe his words were truth and life, for to know what one says is to know the truth. Therefore all men will admit that Jesus knew and therefore had no belief, and the only question to settle is, What did he intend to convey to the people. It must be something invisible, for Paul, I believe, says, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” We are told that Jesus was a religious man. If he was, then his religion was in the world before him, for it is said he was baptized of John.
If Jesus was merely a converted man preaching what John had foretold according to the belief of this world, wherein was his superiority to other preachers; for others also cured the sick and performed miracles. We are told also that Jesus is of God. Then where is the God principle in Jesus more than in any man who does the works that he did. To me these stories are all the inventions of the priests. I will try to place Jesus before the people, not as the world places him, but as he places himself, and it will then be seen if he ever taught the doctrines that are attributed to him. In the first place, I deny that Jesus ever intended to teach any doctrine of rewards and punishments or ever hint about a future state, as it is said that he did. If Jesus had no other motive than to tell man of another world, if his words were not applied solely to this life, then his wisdom was a failure. He taught the Science of God which destroyed all religion and introduced a higher wisdom based on eternal wisdom.
The fruits of this wisdom taught by him were in opening the eyes of the blind or ignorant, in loosing the tongue of the dumb, and breaking the chains of those bound by party or priest. I believe that Jesus was the very man prepared before the creation to receive this great truth when the time came, but that he had no knowledge of it, any more than Columbus had that he was the man to discover this continent. Wisdom acts through matter, and matter must go through a certain process of refinement before it can become a medium of any science. At the time of Jesus the world was in darkness in regard to man’s future state. Society was divided into sects, and priests by their craft ruled the masses and kept them in bondage, constantly frightening them with what would come after death. Lucretius who lived one hundred and fifty years before Christ gives a true account of the religion of his day which could not have varied much from that of the time of Jesus.
I will quote an extract from his poem. After describing the horrors of religion, he says, “But still I fear your caution will dispute the maxims I lay down, who all your life have trembled at the poets’ frightful tales. Alas! I could even now invent such dreams as would pervert the strictest rules of reason and make your fortunes tumble to the bottom. No wonder! But if men were once convinced that death was the sure end of all their pains, they might with reason resist the force of all religion, and contemn the threats of poets. Now we have no sense, no power to strive against this prejudice because we fear a scene of endless torments after death.” To suppose that Jesus taught any such religion, as is here referred to, is to put him on a level with the priests. Opposition to the popular religion was sure death and he was forced to come in conflict with it. It is absurd to say he was a come–outer from any sect, for he says, My kingdom is not of this world, but your kingdom is of this world and it must fall. Let the word kingdom represent happiness arising from wisdom, or misery arising from a belief, and then it follows that his wisdom was to make men happy or to establish the kingdom of heaven within them, while their belief made the kingdom of darkness wherein men were sick and wicked.
His religion was based on his wisdom and theirs on their belief. The difference made trouble. He knew that their religion was based on no true foundation, and that their future state was a heathen belief; therefore to them he was an infidel and blasphemer in the same manner as anyone at the present day who opposes the popular religion is an infidel. If Jesus should appear among men now, he would be an infidel to the religious, the same as he was eighteen hundred years ago. It may be asked what was the religion of Jesus? I answer, his life, spent in benefiting mankind. He did not labor to save man from another world but from the evils of this world. He knew that the other world was an evil that the priests had invented to keep man in subjection.
But had Jesus no belief? To himself I think not, but to the world his wisdom was a belief. To him his wisdom embraced all things and he was the medium of it. His religion, if you please to call it religion, was based on an actual truth that could become a practical thing. If a person wishes to teach a science, he explains it by the best demonstrations or proofs he can, for science, like religion, is seen only by its works. Jesus says, “Many shall say, Lo here is Christ, but by their fruits ye shall know them.” As I understand the religion of Jesus, it sweeps away all religious beliefs and opinions and leaves man to act on scientific principles of truth. It takes away belief and in its place substitutes knowledge of good and evil. He disbelieved in death, in heaven and hell. He believed in endless happiness and misery and that every idle word should be accounted for at the day of judgment. He believed that just as a man measured out to his neighbor, so it should be measured out to him. And that if a person commit a sin, knowing it to be such, there is no forgiveness; he must be punished for it.
He believed that all manner of sin might be forgiven but that the sin against the Holy Ghost should not be forgiven in this world nor in the world to come. Man must be born again in order to enter heaven. He did not believe that it was intended by wisdom that the child should suffer for the sins of its parents but that it must suffer for its own errors. These are the truths Jesus taught; although I have used the word belief in stating them, I believe them all. Who is there willing to be tested by them? They are also statements of the belief of the world at the time of Jesus, but to these were added the belief that the priests could pardon their sins. Although the same words express both the belief of the world and the truth of Jesus, the difference was that one was based on an opinion and the other on true wisdom.
The priests believed in a heaven, a hell, and a devil and also in the doctrine of salvation by works. These were also embraced in the teaching of Jesus, yet he was in conflict with the religion of the priests and the controversy was upon beliefs. His was a religion of works, theirs of beliefs. One was law, the other was gospel. One was an invention, the other was eternal truth. The priests believed that in order to make man pure and holy, it was necessary to believe in their doctrines. Jesus knew that such a system was false and hypocritical, benefiting only the priests. The idea that a belief was connected with man’s health, as cause is connected with effect, had never been presented to the world. Jesus knew that all there is of man that can be affected is his belief, that his wisdom is of God and cannot change, while his belief is of man.
Man makes himself, that is, his spiritual, moral, and mental condition by his belief, and to destroy that is death to the belief, and life to the truth. One religion was applied to man as a belief, while the other applied to man as a principle. The priests reached no higher intelligence than matter. Therefore mind and matter composed the whole man, while the soul was an unsettled question. Jesus divided man into three persons: Father, Son and Holy Ghost; the Christian church at the present time assume to do the same, but there is as much difference between them as between the early heathen beliefs and the wisdom of Jesus. Jesus did not confirm one article of their belief, nor did he in his parables refer to man’s future state. Two separate principles are found in his words: the truth which came directly from him, and the error which is the interpretation given by the church. He did not directly attack the mode of worship but brought it in when he exposed the absurdity of their beliefs. Had he lived in these days, he would not have been a religious man according to the church, and yet he taught every element necessary to make a perfect man, not a religious man, but one who would do unto another as he would that another should do unto him.
When Jesus taught this truth, his object must have been different from that of the priest who merely sustained an old system. The very fact that men have such a blind reverence for the Bible shows that there is concealed within its lids something that cannot be seen. It is this something that affects the people, making some insane and some infidels, while there are others who appreciate and reverence it without understanding it. They are affected by the truth, though they do not know it. The Bible cannot speak for itself; therefore all interpretations have equal claims to wisdom, and this is why there is so much skepticism in regard to its true meaning. It is supposed that the learned are best able to explain it, but could they explain it in the days of Jesus? No, for he says his words are foolishness to the Greeks and to the Jews stumbling blocks. Is it the rich? Jesus says it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
[To be continued next week.]
Daily Quotation of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby for Sunday, April 12, 2015
Our wisdom may or may not be attached to things seen by the natural man. Yet it has an identity and is the very substance that makes the shadow we call man. But the natural man is so gross that he cannot see wisdom or light, so that things must be shrouded in darkness. When I speak to you, that which speaks is not the thing that speaks but the shadow of the substance.” ~Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
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