April 19, 2015
Jesus, His Belief or Wisdom
by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
When Jesus was on earth, no one understood him but now all think they know his meaning. I, like others, once believed that Jesus came to save man from eternal damnation and to point out the way to another world, but my practice with the sick has produced an entire change in my mind in regard to that subject. If any of Jesus’ truth lingers in the religion of the world, it would be seen in the sick, who are just on the verge of another world, as they believe. Yet I have learned by sitting with them that the religious belief is the worst torment one can have at such a time. Although they may say that they rejoice in Christ and are ready to go, they are really afraid and show as much joy when I tell them they will not die as a condemned criminal feels when, kneeling upon his coffin, he hears the words of pardon.
It requires a long time to bring a person into this insane state when he wishes to die. Severe sickness and trouble are necessary to make one ready to leave friends and all earthly ties. It is the same with any fear, diseases for instance. There will be more cases of cholera during a panic than if the presence of the disease was not known. Ghosts are always seen in the dark by those only who fear them. All these evils are caused by the fear of death and it is included in religious instruction that they exist in another world, for men are called upon to accept the summons which calls them to God. This other world contains heaven and hell, with their terrors and rewards, and the Bible is introduced to prove them.
In the days of Jesus, the priests proved these same evils by the Old Testament but he exposed the folly of their belief and showed them that they did not understand the scriptures. His controversy with them makes the New Testament, and the priests of our day will still preach this old belief in another world which they declare is taught by Jesus, while his whole labor was to destroy it in their belief. He failed to do this because of their superstition and their prejudice, yet the truth was in him, and like the good sower he went forth to sow the seeds of truth in man’s mind. Some seeds were choked by superstition and were unfruitful, while others fell upon good soil and came forth. The truth could not grow on religious soil, for that stifles discussion. But it grew outside of the church in the hearts of men and shed its light on those who never bowed their knee to the church but who were a law unto themselves.
The other world taught by the church is out of sight and out of the reach to the natural world, but it is said to be the place where all men must go, sooner or later. As it is taught by Jesus, it is a condition corresponding to man’s ignorance containing all the evils of imperfect knowledge but differing in every respect from the other world of the priests. They said it was a part of God’s Providence. Jesus declared that it existed only in the errors of their belief. According to the priests, the inhabitants of this world are to be transferred at death to the world beyond, there to be dealt with according as their acts in this life demand. The exact limits of the other world were not defined and the idea was started that the inhabitants might return to earth again. Thus arose the belief in transmigration and spiritual communications. Speaking of this belief, Lucretius describes the stately palaces of “Acheron where nor our souls or bodies ever come but certain specters strange and wondrous pale” and how “Homer’s ever celebrated shade appeared,” etc. Ennius, a Latin poet, who lived a hundred years before Lucretius, held to the transmigration of souls. He affirmed that the soul of Homer was in his body. The ancients held that ghosts were a third of nature, of which together with body and soul the whole man consisted. These specters and shadows of the dead appear or seem to appear when we are asleep or awake and sick and terrify our minds.
It appears from this that there is but little difference between the ancient belief in a future state and the present religious belief in another world. Religious doctrines were the same in the days of Jesus as they are now. There was the spiritualist then, as in modern days, and it can be shown that every modern creed started from the religion which was before Christ and which Jesus opposed. Such ideas as those I have quoted are admitted by every reformer but modified as science gained ground. They cannot be explained away so long as their foundations exist, and they will exist till a new philosophy leads man through the wilderness of progressive knowledge.
What has the religious belief done to enlighten man in regard to his life or in regard to any science? Nothing. Science, steadily developing, has forced the church from its ground, while the church has claimed the credit of the increasing intelligence. Yet it has been an important instrument in civilization because it has held the people till wisdom could spring up in their minds. But it has been a prison and when science burst its bands and freed the prisoners, each assumed a character outside the church. The church is as necessary for the mass of the people as state laws, yet there are those who require no laws of church or state to regulate their conduct. Knowing what is for their good, they live by the light of science and they feel that their religion is their life; and in order to put it in practice, something more than mere profession is necessary. Therefore they labor to develop some truth that is for the benefit of mankind. This is the design of wisdom, and Jesus being the medium of it, I base my faith on the rock on which he stood, which rock is Christ or the Science of God, and no opinion of religion must destroy it.
The church in misrepresenting Jesus has proved itself his worst enemy. Jesus stands to the church as the law to the criminal. The vicious man hates the law for he dislikes to live up to its standard. The church ignorantly worships God because it dislikes the labor of seeking to understand him. All religion is of the law and therefore it cannot save man from sin, but Christ or Science coming through Jesus puts an end to religion and law and introduces a higher principle of wisdom which shall save all who understand.
Jesus was a priest, not after the old priesthood, but after the order of Melchizedek. This was of wisdom; therefore unlike the priesthood of Aaron, it requires no prayers or sacrifices, for in such it took no delight. The religion of the Jews commenced with the creation of man and in applying the principles of wisdom to their religion. Jesus admitted every fact of their belief and interpreted it as a symbol of truth. They started at the garden of Eden, not as a natural garden but as a figure of innocence, representing man in his infancy. Jesus illustrated the condition of man before he began to investigate, by the figure of a child, whose parents were truth and error. The religious people believe that if Adam had not eaten the forbidden fruit, he would not have died. Jesus showed that if the child had not improved since its birth, it would have continued in a brutal state of bliss and would never have gained happiness. Therefore the death of Adam represented the introduction of progression. In the wisdom of Jesus, the word death means simply the change from brutish ignorance to a higher state of knowledge, but to the religious world it is a real thing for the dead never rise. Jesus represents Adam and Eve as two opposite principles in man and his body as a garden, where fruits were the offspring of ideas. True ideas simply nourish the body in innocence but the food from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil causes death to that state of bliss.
The religious world put a false construction on this passage, believing that the act of eating the forbidden fruit was an act of disobedience and that it brought into the world the long train of evils that have followed civilization. Jesus, knowing that this was a false belief, brought a child among them and said, Of such is the kingdom of heaven and except ye become as a little child, ye can in no wise enter the kingdom of heaven. Religion could not enter for it believed that the kingdom of heaven was in another world apart from this world, as two countries are separate from each other. Jesus admitted the two worlds not as places but as conditions of mind. But the people believed that heaven is a place to which the good go at death, and hell where the bad go. So the illustration of the child was a mystery to them. With Jesus the kingdom of heaven is the effect of wisdom, and to enter into it, man must do something that is contained in wisdom.
The child is a representative of the earth and its ideas like seeds in the earth, and its growth like a vineyard. The vineyard, Jesus said, is cultivated by stewards and if the steward is of error, the Lord, when he comes, will put him out and put in the truth. So as error dies, truth lives.
[To be concluded next week.]
Daily Quotation of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby for Sunday, April 19, 2015
True knowledge is in true love—false knowledge is in error and as God is in the former, he contains no matter, and as man is in the latter, he is made up of truth and error. Now as there is a regular gradation from error to knowledge, our identities are in these two mediums or elements, for man has no identities and he becomes subject to the one he obeys. Then how can a man believe in what he never knew? How can he understand unless someone teaches him and how can one teach except he know? Then comes the question is this theory ever taught? I answer, yes. By the mother to her infant, but not understanding the law, she is a law unto herself and does the things contained in this law of love. Now to understand this law is to know how to put it into practice: so that the world can be wiser for the information. This can be learned if any person will give up all their former ideas and surrender to a teacher.” ~Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Article: Love 2
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