The question is often asked why Jesus spoke in parables to convince the people of another world. Why not tell the simple story and not mystify everything, so that even his own disciples could not understand him? I will admit that there is something in that question that looks dark, but when one understands what Jesus was trying to establish or teach, it will give you a very different slant on his ideas.
The first question should be, “What was Jesus trying to establish?”, not take it for granted it was another world. It is generally believed that it was to establish a belief in a future state or world beyond this material world; and it was necessary for him to come from heaven to earth, in order for him to teach this great truth; and to show the people that he really did come from heaven and to make them believe, he must show a sign or do something a little above the rest of mankind.
How natural it is to mystify everything, so that the ignorant cannot understand! Men do not want to think, so if they can only get rid of investigating a phenomenon and attributing it to an invisible power, so that they stand just as well as their neighbors, that is all they want. There is another class called the wise men, who have been set up as oracles of wisdom. To them everything that starts up must take its rise from their fountain, or they will open their flood gates and overflow the little streams that are trickling over the rocks and pebbles of their superstition.
It is too much labor to be a hewer of wood. So if you take a person of eminence, and make him a laborer, he will say, like the slothful servant, that truth is a hard master. So such persons will hide their talent, because they will not put themselves on a level with the thinkers of their age, but rather lie still and cry, “Crucify him, for our craft is in danger!” The people take the cue and fall upon him with staff and stone or ridicule, until they have put him down. Then those wise men rise in their majesty and praise the people for their good sense in putting down the very person who is their friend.
This was the case with Jesus. The opposition came from the wisest men, or class of men who led the people for their own good. This course, taken by the wisdom of this world, has always opposed all science ever since the commencement of the world. For when science is established, the wisdom of this world has to yield, but a hard battle must be fought before the science is established.
So when Jesus commenced his reform, he was despised of all men, misrepresented by fools, and construed by knaves and hated by priests and doctors. They thought, as they do now, “Our craft is in danger!” So they called him infidel and impostor. When they crucified Jesus, they put such a construction on his acts as they pleased, and instead of giving his ideas, they gave just such an opinion as anyone would expect from those who wanted to keep the people in subjection and ignorance. Thus they have explained Jesus' meaning just according to their ideas.
Now the Bible is in the hands of the people, and they can all read and judge for themselves; and everyone has a right in this land of liberty to give his own opinion in regard to the Bible. I will avail myself of the same liberty as others. All I ask of you is to lay aside all prejudices and listen to my explanation of Jesus' mission in the world. I will state what I intend to prove and afterwards, I will prove it by his works and my own, and leave it to the people to judge which is the most natural construction, the priests' or mine.
I will now give my opinion. I take this ground, that Jesus never intended to teach any kind of religion acknowledged by any religious class of people but opposed all kinds of religion of his days and ours. Secondly, I say he never meddled with any institution or laws made by the people. Thirdly, he never put any restrictions on man but left him a free agent to do just as he pleased but subject to the laws of men, for God never made a law. All laws are the inventions of men, not of God; and Jesus' kingdom or truth was not of this world, but of science. His religion was a science, and science was never known to have any connection with ignorance.
There are two standards, one is ignorance, and the other is science. One belongs to that class of intellect or wisdom that is of this world and can be detected as easily as you can detect any other error. The difference between the two is this. The wisdom of this world tells what others know. It takes memory of events and the history of the learned for science. But science talks what it knows and stands ready to prove it by works.
Here is the difference in men. A great man is one who can remember anything he ever heard and repeat every person's opinion but has no idea of his own. He stands ready to prove all he says by his standard, so if he is doubted, he shows you his authority. Thus he is a sort of court or town record that is ready to receive any opinion that is supposed to be true. Having the court or town stamps, this makes a learned man!
A truly scientific man is a book of nature, understood; so that he can prove all he says. He is made, not of opinions, but of wisdom; and never refers to old authors, but proves all things by his science. His memory of events or names or places, he has no shelf to put on, for to him they are only as an amendment. He listens to persons having that knowledge as a parent listens to a child, to hear him give an account of some play or story that amuses him for the time. In his leisure hours, he seeks such men as a person goes to a play; for the sake of amusement, not expecting to realize any true wisdom. This sort of amusement is of this world and is well-expressed by Shakespeare when he says, “All the world's a stage and all men are players,” etc.
This is the case, and as science is a stranger to this world, it comes into this world and pays tribute money, to be instructed in all things pertaining to the world. It pays the clergy for their opinions of truth or science of this world for its own amusement. It asks questions of the wise men about itself, as science, as Jesus did, to hear what kind of answers they gave to this spiritual world. This world is very strict. It worships science as a power not known and is very strict in regard to its followers. It erects standards to this unknown God or science, for it is a God not known to this world, but the world of science is in it.
Now as Jesus came from this world of science, he was a stranger in this land and liable to its laws. So that his mission, like all science, being to destroy error, he must come into the world of error to lead the science that is imprisoned in this world of error to the truth or health. Jesus knew that God or Science was not in their worship; that all it did was to keep science down and retard it. So he must, like Sampson, throw firebrands into their minds; so as to get up a disunion, in order to dissolve the bands or burdens that kept them down.
He knew that the people knew not what they did or believed. They never had any science about their belief and had not the slightest idea of what it was or how it could be altered. They never dreamed that to be good was a science, so that all their goodness was based on fear; either of being punished by the laws or being destroyed by the science that they called God. Thus all their prayers were to this science not to destroy them. For as the truth came, their life or error was destroyed. So Jesus said, in the name of Christ or Science, “He, that is, error, that loseth his life or opinion for my sake or science shall find it.” So, to understand Christ or Truth was to forsake opinions and embrace truth and not to receive an opinion from anyone who knew nothing about what he affirms.
He told them how to know the difference. “If any man say, 'I am Christ' and have not the evidence, only resting on an opinion, believe him not; for there shall be many theories and beliefs founded on opinions. So try them and see whether they are based on science or error.” (Mark 13:21.) If they are based on science, they can stand the test of investigation. But if based on error, you will hear a voice, like the mighty winds; and the earth shall be shaken to its foundation; and every idea shall arise; and they will make as much ado as the devils did when Jesus told them to depart! Men have to be questioned in regard to their belief, for it won't stand the fire of science. So they rail and foam, and if that will not do, they escape into the wilderness or run headlong into the sea of public opinion, where the common opinion holds them. To attack public opinion is a risk. This, Jesus had to run.
Now Jesus' world that God or Science was in, was science. And when he came from science, he came to this world of ignorance and superstition. It may be necessary to give some idea of Jesus' knowledge of this other world and where he differed from the leaders of his time. Jesus' two worlds were science and ignorance. Therefore, science can come from its world and go to error and release that science that is bound by error. These are the two worlds, and Jesus never intended to teach any other.
Now what the difference is between these two worlds, I will try to show. This world is made up of all kinds of deception, superstition and ignorance; all based on heathen superstition, governed by leaders of theories, which are based on opinions and do not have the slightest foundation in truth. These two worlds are in and around everyone. The natural world is in man, looking out and prophesying about the other world. The scientific world is outside of man and sees all the natural man's ideas of science, as the musician sees the errors of the natural man in regard to music. All science is inspiration and from a spirit world far above the natural man. The natural man has found it out and submits to it as a science.
Now in all science, God is not known by the natural man. His God is in his ignorance of himself. So when he prays, he never prays to any science or wisdom; therefore, he thinks all the phenomena he sees are the natural result of the development of man. But being ignorant of science, he is not a fit judge of the phenomena that he may chance to see or hear. And being ignorant of himself, he applies the same rules to others. It may be a good rule, but there are exceptions to all the rules, so I will make an exception to this. For error is not accountable for its acts, as truth is. If a scientific man does wrong, he knows it; but if he is wrong from ignorance, there is no right in it, so there is no sin to him. Science tells you that fire will burn your hand, and you cannot put your hand into the fire ignorantly, when you know it. So you cannot commit that wrong, without suffering punishment; for your punishment is in your knowledge and not in the fire.
Now suppose you are a child and do not know fire. You see it, and as all children do, you want it, or a piece of the red-hot coal. Your ignorant desire for the coal excites you, and you put your hand into the fire. The sensation frightens you, just as much as though you had put your hand into a dog's mouth and been bitten. The sensation produces fright; then comes reason. You reason about the fire, as though it contained life and would hurt you. So the fire and the dog are, to you, just the same. As you stand weeping, someone comes up and tries to soothe you by telling you to keep away from the fire or dog and not get hurt but makes no distinction between them. So the child sees the dog can move around and thinks the fire is the same as the dog. He shuns them both alike but puts intelligence in the fire.
Now the child grows up with all the ignorance of his youth, until he becomes a man. Then he takes his place with other men and knows nothing of science. So it sees a sort of intelligence in everything it does not know and reasons how to keep clear of every phenomenon it happens to see. At last, in its ignorance, it prays to this enemy. So it worships all things that it cannot comprehend. It puts God into everything. Therefore, in its ignorance, it gets up a sort of creed or belief to offer up a prayer to this invisible power, to which it has given the name of God, and it lives and dies in the fear of it. It worships and pretends to adore it. So when it goes into the water, it prays that the water will not drown it. It sees God in all danger and prays to it to have mercy on it, until it can get clear of the enemy it worships. This is the religious man.
Now where stands Jesus, as a man? Not Christ. Jesus knew that all this was hypocrisy, fear and ignorance. He made a difference between his God and their God. He knew that their God was a devil, so he said to them, ”You worship ye know not what; I know what I worship.” Again he says, “You are the children of the devil; he was a liar and abode not in the truth.”
The people, in their ignorance, want leaders, and they will hire them. These leaders know that the people put trust in them, and they know that they are not worthy of taking the high responsibility of leading or instructing them. So their first prayer is correct, when they say that they are not worthy to take the Lord's or Science's name upon their lips. This is true, for God is true; and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. So when a person is all the time crying, “Lord!” or “Truth,” never showing any fruits, beware of such, for they are wolves in sheep's clothing.
Jesus told them all this was hypocrisy, and this made them crucify him. The priests never taught the people anything, except for the benefit of their craft. The leaders must have a living, and a pretty good one! This deception could not be kept up, but must go down before the progress of science in the people's minds. All science was confined to the leaders and was of this world. It made them crafty and inventive of all sorts of humbug, to keep the people in subjection. This kept the people superstitious and led to sorcery and witchcraft. So deception became the order of the day; so much so that they got frightened at their own beliefs and passed laws to keep it down, just as though the development of science must be under the ignorance of this world!
Jesus saw all this, and as the people were groaning under the yokes or beliefs that bound them down, he said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest to your soul, by explaining to you the cause of your trouble.” When he commenced explaining to the people, the explanation was to save them from the misery of this world of belief and to introduce a science or kingdom, where there would be no offering up of prayer or forgiving of sins, but a consciousness or science that would put them in possession of a knowledge of themselves, which the natural man knew nothing of.
When Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you,” he means my wisdom or science. That is easy, for it contains no restrictions. This, to the people, was something new, so they reasoned together, like people who want to get some information. This setting the people to reasoning was a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks, for they had no idea that the people could govern themselves. So he took up the laws of Moses and gave them common ideas of them. Then he showed them a more perfect law of love that bound them together by sympathy, not of this world, but of science. The people had never known that a good act must precede from a goodness that they felt. The priests had never taught such a thing. So goodness was a sort of low wisdom and only applied to the poor. To try to be good without having any reward in view was of no use, and the person who put any religion into it was as ignorant as the swine or dogs.
Now here was where Jesus struck at the root of error. He says, “Every plant or science that is not planted by wisdom shall be rooted up...,” and goes on to tell the people what his kingdom of heaven was. It was peace and joy in the Holy Ghost or Truth. He explained to them by illustrating the difference in the motives that govern the people. Therefore he said, “Except ye become as little children, you cannot enter into the kingdom of God or Science.
Now everyone knows that a little child has no idea of what man calls “right” or “wrong”, but “might is right!” So to “become as a child” means that you must not be under any restriction that prevents you from doing just as you please! Suppose you were in this state, and Jesus and one of the priests called on you to teach you the wisdom of this world, and you should put this question to the priest:
<>“I want my neighbor's ox for my family to eat, can I not take it?”
The priest says, “No.”
“Because it would be stealing, and that is not right.”
“Why? I want it, and I see no reason why I cannot have it. I am stronger than he is and am not afraid of him.”
“We know that, and the wisdom of this world has seen fit to make a law that if you steal an ox, you shall pay five oxen back.
“Well, suppose I kill the owner? Then there will be no one to tell. What can they do?”
“The Great Spirit will catch you.”
“Why, he has a place where he puts all who do not repent of their sins.”
“Stealing from each other.”
“How must I repent?”
“By asking this great power to forgive you.”
“Will he do it?”
“Yes, if you are sincere.”
“What is that?”
“Say you won't do it again.”
“Is that all?”
“Well, if that is all, that is easy enough.”
“Oh.... You must confess it to the priest, and he will lay your case before the Great Spirit and get your sins forgiven.”
“Why cannot I do it?”
“Because God has appointed certain men to attend to that, for his special purposes.”
“Then if I steal, as you call it, I must pay the man four times as much?”
“Suppose I steal, and he never finds it out, will the Great Spirit know it?”
“Yes. He knows all things.”
“What will he do?”
“Just what I told you, if you do not confess to the priest and tell him all you have done.”
“What does the priest get for his trouble? Does the Great Spirit pay him?”
“The person who steals.”
“So... if I steal... and you are a priest... I must pay you for getting the Great Spirit to let me off?”
“Then he won't hurt or punish me?”
“Does he not have anything to do with the laws of man?”
“Then if the laws of man do not catch me, you can clear me from God's punishment?”
“Well... I understand!!”
So religion is made up of rewards and punishments; not of good works, lest any man should boast! Goodness is a sort of clever fellow, always in the way of the religious man. An honest man at heart is the greatest eyesore that a Christian can have. He is as bad as a man who never drank or smoked or chewed tobacco is to the temperance party. He must be of them, or he is the worst enemy the party has to contend with. So it is with all hypocrites. True goodness, not hypocrisy, is the worst enemy that religion has to contend with. For an honest and upright man is the noblest work of God or Science, but the religious man is of his father, the devil, and his works, he will do.
Now I do not intend to apply these ideas to any particular man or class of men, but to all. We all have religion or error, and we all have some science or wisdom of God. Religion is our superstition and belongs to the natural man. Science is spiritual and belongs to the spiritual man. Paul had these two characters; therefore, when he would do good, his old religion was present; and that which he would do, his old ideas prevented him. So it was not science that did wrong, but his old religion that was in him. Jesus had the same enemy to contend with. If he had listened to the voice of religion of his day, he might have been king of the Jews, but enemy to all science.
Honesty, or doing unto another as you would have another do to you, was not just the thing, for it struck at the root of all their religion. It made man a responsible being to himself and put into his mind a truth that would show him to act from a higher motive than religion. It teaches us that God is in science and not in ignorance; that "might is right" for the religious world, but for the scientific world, action and reaction are equal. And just as we measure out to another, just so it shall be measured back to us, and no priest or prayer of this world can stay the hand of this law.
So Christ dies for all, and Jesus abandoned all his heathen religion and worshiped God or Science, laid down his life or science for the world, so that all can enjoy it, if they will only forsake their father or their old creeds and embrace Christ or Science. This will wash away all superstition. This was the religion of Jesus. To be a disciple of Jesus, you must forsake all these forms and ceremonies; for in sacrifices and prayers he has no sympathy. But to worship this Christ, as Jesus did, is to worship it in spirit and in truth.
This religion was blasphemy! So they crucified him and parted his garment or science and drew lots for it. The doctors took that part which applied to healing and the priests that which applied to preaching. So the people are just about as wise as they were before. Christ or Science is in the world, not in the church or medical faculty, but in the hearts of the people, working itself along.
— July, 1860
P. P. Quimby