Bible Lesson LIII
Acts 2:37-47
New Ideas about Healing

 

by Emma Curtis Hopkins

 

There is a story of the war that in a certain prison men were dying of thirst and they all fell to praying the Spirit of God for water. Directly, a living spring of water sprang up in a spot where no sign of a water fountain had ever been seen, and their thirst was quenched.

There is a story told of two missionary women, who though they had petitioned in vain to many rich men in favor of a worthy cause. They got no assistance till they knelt and prayed the Spirit of God for the direct bounty of His storehouse. The next morning they had a gift of several thousand dollars.

It is said that the Monitor could not have come sailing up to rout the Merrimac had she not been filled with the winds of prayer.

When Spiritual Science first came forth as a distinct religion, its disciples were thought to be too devoted to phenomena in their religious ideas, because they took the Bible teachings concerning healing as really meaning that people might be cured by Christ now.

Bodily healing was laid great stress upon, and it went against those teachings considerably, because the Scientists seemed to be devoting spiritual ideas to physical uses. It was a marvel that they held their own, because there were a great many of those ardent disciples themselves who had unhealed infirmities, and they often failed to demonstrate the cures their religion proclaimed itself capable of making.

It is not anything against arithmetic that a boy with a non-mathematical head cannot prove the principles proclaimed in its pages. It is all against the boy. It seemed to be against the religion itself, however, if a failure on the part of a student of Spiritual Science occurred. The practitioner and his religion were classed together as nonsense. The reason it has lived and counts its converts by thousands is because it is Truth. “The eternal years of God are here.”

Healing of bodily ailments, still continues to be part of its ministry. It will form a still more marked part of its ministry when there is more stress laid upon the impartiality of the Omnipotent Spirit in dealing with mankind. If we will often assert the mighty truth that the Spirit is as liable to convert and illuminate a prizefighter as a Sunday-school superintendent, we shall see more demonstrations of the power of the Spirit. “With God is no respect of persons.” (Romans 2:11)

The instant one yields his human will to its native nothingness and lets the Divine Will sift its Light through him, he is likely to have illumination of Truth which the ages will bask in. What he has been in the past counts nothing. “Though your sins were as scarlet, they shall be white as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

He who preaches much this one special Truth of God will feel many fences being taken down. He will feel a larger humanity. He will not have any time to spend thinking his neighbor on the right is in no favor with God, while his neighbor on the left is in all favor. He will never dare say anyone did his healing by any other power than by the Spirit of God. He will be found telling that all good works have for their substance the one Spirit, as there is only one Spirit.

As we go on studying the Science of Spirit, we find that every part of our life is included in the ministry of Science. Not only bodily health, but also our support, and defense.

The result of the study is very comforting. We found that really it is as good as an army to have faith in God in a time of danger. It is as good as a bank account and a storehouse of provisions to believe that God is a Fatherly Provider.

“The Almighty shall be thy defense and thou shalt have plenty of silver.” (Job 23:25)

Heretofore these Bible teachings have been considered very beautiful rhetoric but not in the least safe to follow out literally. “Trust in God and keep your powder dry,” a verse from the “Ballads of Ireland,” has been considered a much safer religion to follow literally. At the moment, when as students of Truth, we catch the idea that we do not have to keep our powder dry, for “the Almighty is sufficient,” the Bible texts are no longer vague poetry but strong bulwarks. There is now growing swiftly a feeling that we must make great principles practical. If an Emerson tells us that “all evils are the mis-creations of the human mind,” he must realize that he is telling a Truth with power in it great enough to heal him of softening brain.

What the children are taught in the classroom, they must find their teachers living forth in the church sociable. Two young men were seen kicking a little pony the other day. A lady who had always been answered insolently whenever defending animals from abuse before, said to them that it must be they knew that kindness was better than cruelty to manage animals with. They hung their heads and actually went to caressing the pony. They have evidently heard their teachers say so at school, but upon getting among men, they had found them kicking and lashing. Example is better than precept to young folk. All they needed was the sight of a wild pony tamed by gentleness, to tame their little terrified horse with the gentleness they had stored up in such a large measure within themselves. They really have as full measure of kind feeling as Jesus Christ. Schoolroom teachings bring the ideas forward. The sight of those tremendous welts on the cart-horses hide the practicality of the idea. They think men do not do the way of the moral law.

This Bible lesson (Acts Chapter 2) is an object lesson. It tells the practical result of actually accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The apostles got an immense number of people to be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ. Then the Name filled them with a mysterious intelligence. They lost all fear of coming to want, even under the reign of Tiberius Caesar, who, you remember, is historically referred to as “one of the most infamous tyrants that ever scourged the Empire of Rome.” They lost all fear of sickness, all fear of pain, all fear of man or beast or instrument of death. Not only that, but they could do things. They healed multitudes – they fed thousands – they comforted everyone.

In a small way, they lived in times exactly like ours. That which was true of their bondage to Rome is true of the whole world’s bondage to an Emperor who rules the whole earth now (speaking from the standpoint of appearance). This Emperor’s name is Material Science.

Daniel figures this ruler as “a king of fierce countenance and understanding dark sentences.” (Daniel 8:23) He takes the capitalists by the neck, and causes them to employ little children to help them get rich. He takes the laborers by the neck and combines them to do violence against those who have not his mark in their foreheads. He takes scholars by the neck and runs them into vivisection. He takes churches by the neck, and causes them to reason that the sorrows and wrongs of the poor are sent by the Omnipotent wisdom, to teach the rich generosity and compassion. And that the overbearing, and withholding of the rich are to teach the poor submission and long suffering. They thereby make the Almighty a doer of evil that good may come.

Daniel said that in this day all transgressors should come to the full. They should be brought to their full by the hastening power of Material Science. He said that this king would not reign by his own power at all, but simply by people’s belief in him. But, “under his policy all manner of craft should wonderfully prosper” (Daniel 8:25) And indeed, so it has.

And indeed, how the universal belief that there is a science of war, a science of medication, a science of employing our neighbors, a science of dress manufactures, and education by material methods, has seized the race mind. But there is in reality no such science. It is only a belief.

So Daniel saw that when it should reach its fullness of dominion it should “suddenly be destroyed, and that without hand.” (Daniel 8:25) For the true Science is the Science of Spirit. This Science is silently stretching forth its unseen fingers, and over the porches of every house, temple, and factory is writing, “Weighed in the balance and found wanting.” (Daniel 5:27)

It is under the reign of Material Science that there are such multitudes of hungry and unemployed people while earth is teaming with productions, and the storehouses, barns, and warehouses groan with over-abundance.

The Science of Spirit operates quite differently. People shall “have all things in common.” They shall “eat their bread with gladness and singleness of heart.” They shall “have favor with all people.” They shall not fear anything. They shall “work signs and wonders.” (Daniel 6:27)

Under the reign of this doctrine, those practical signs will accompany every single man, woman, and child, which the right prayers of a few now and then bring to pass today. The state of mind that brought forth the answers for a few shall be held by a whole earth-full.

The age of Tiberius Claudius Nero took in the manhood of Christ and the Acts of the Apostles of Christ, as Material Science has been reigning since Spiritual Science was first proclaimed, and has been dealing with the disciples thereof ever since. The end of it is to be exactly like the end of Tiberius. He was murdered by suffocation by unrecognized hands. That is only a symbol of the unseen hands that will shut off the faith of the people in church, state, and educational policies. Suddenly the rich man’s gold will not be worth anything, for people will not use gold in exchange. The manufacturer’s warehouses will not be worth anything to him, for the people will not use that kind of goods. The scholar’s Latin will be no use to him, for no one will study it any more. The chemist’s compounds will evaporate unmissed, because they are no longer thought of as anything but memories of an empty dream.

The Science of Spirit takes up the same ideas the apostles held whom Luke and which the Acts tell about. It shows that all outward things are symbols of ideas held in mind. It tells us that if we live with our ideas, our worldly and physical matters will take good care of themselves. This is not true, however, if we live with false ideas.

If you are holding the idea that men ought to travel from point to point by balloons, and you sit and meditate on balloons all day long, year in and year out, there will be no signs in your affairs of true ideas holding you in their grasp – for your business and clothes will get thin like the gas and gas bags you are meditating on. If you are thinking all the time that there is but one mind in the universe, and therefore whatever that mind knows you know, and whatever you know all men know, there will come such mysterious helps to your affairs and to your possessions that you will be ready to exclaim, “Wisdom is better than riches.” (Proverbs 8:11)

For it is true that there is but one mind in the universe, and it fills your mind and all minds alike. This is a healthy idea to hold to. Strong bones and vigorous limbs will grow within you. Your idea builds them. The idea ought to get such a hold on your mind that you could know all things going on everywhere every moment. It ought to get so real to you that you could hear it speak. Nothing could be lost from you. Nothing could be hidden from you. The ancients advised us to let our heads fall slightly forward, relax all our muscles, drop caring about anything, and thus give free way for a sweep of wisdom to flow through. “The spirit hath a voice to teach thee.” The words that came to one mind, which had not been exhibiting wisdom, were so gracious and willing that they demonstrated in noble judgment through hard places. It was the Spirit that said: “Let divine wisdom now be demonstrated by the excellent judgment with which I administer upon affairs.”

The idea that we are made entirely of Spirit is a good one to live with. It will cure a sprained ankle to think that Spirit could not be sprained. But if we were holding the idea that we were made entirely of Spirit before the chance to get sprained came about, there could not be any sprain take place. Cicero said, “For thou art not the being that this figure shows. Thou art a Divine being, since it is the Deity in thee which moves, feels, remembers, foresees, rules.”

To hold the idea that we are made in reality of Spirit, and then suddenly to think of our bodies as ugly old things, or wish we could die, would certainly cause an accident of some kind. The fall of the mental barometer would be sudden, and the outward symbol would be sudden.

This keeping their mind steadfast to the “Apostle’s doctrine” was what made the people that Luke tells us about so successful. It is here said that “fear came upon every soul.” This “fear” is just what stirs the mind when it is aware of the importance of its thoughts. It is simply unwillingness to change the ideas from lofty to ridiculous or untrue. Following a rule in mathematics is the evidence of the same kind of fear. If we work against the rule, the answer will not come right.

To regard everything as a “sign and wonder” (Daniel 6:27) of some Spiritual idea is to get the handling of everything. According to Truth, the left arm stands for hope and the right arm stands for faith. If the left arm is injured or feeble, then, we know that we have not really hoped for some good that we ought to have taken for granted. That left arm or hand will never get well till we honestly expect that good to come to us which we will not let ourselves expect. It does not make any difference if it is the coming back of some great blessing we have lost, which seems impossible. If it is on its way to us it will be hidden by our not expecting it, and our arm will not be well.

If our right arm is hurt or feeble, it is faith we have chilled. Faith and hope ought to work together so strongly in our mind that they work out for us a sight of things as we want them. Expect everything. Have faith in its belonging to you. Then your eyes will surely see it. The sight of the eyes is the symbol of a satisfied delight of mind. If anything has been ailing your eyes you have been restless and unsatisfied, you have longed for something, and it has not come. You have not let hope and faith work actively in your mind.

Studying all the principles of Spiritual Science stirs the faith and quickens the hope. Studying physical eyeballs and the nature of bones and nerves would not make the arms and eyes well.

Ideas of Spiritual things knock over the old material ideas and we do not believe at all as we used to, after a little study. Old people find out that Spirit never grows old. This idea quickens their mind and over falls the notion that they are too old to learn the noblest Science there is, in its perfection. They find that, holding steadfastly by this new idea, sets them back a few years. Holding it still more tenaciously strengthens them in their reviving. Suddenly some bad news comes. If they remember that there is no bad news in Spirit, nor to Spirit, they will rise buoyantly up, and sail like a ship over the billow. If they do not remember this part of the true Science they suddenly look as old as they ever did.

Some people are not honestly interested in the Science of Spirit for a long time. Their thoughts are all wound and twisted around material things. They only think of the Spiritual teachings in the hope to get material gains of some kind. Now, for a long time the most extraordinary blessings attend them. Their eyes are healed. Their backs are strengthened. Their families are healthy. But there is one thing that still seems to refuse to yield to all their thoughts about Spirit. They were so filled with hope at first that they rather ignored that one unchanged condition. But by and by it is thrust uppermost in their mind and they actually feel cross at the Science for not fixing up that one point.

This unmanageable condition stands for the human will. That human will is still set to material issues. It is cross-grained to Spirit. Here is an affair that never will go the way you want it. Your want must be changed; for the want is simply your ugly will. At this point Jesus Christ said we ought to take our mind entirely away from caring whether it were brought to pass or not. The dissolution of the human will is demanded. It has been an ugly clog in the passageway where some wonderful idea was meant to flow through.

The question of the bounty of God has been ignored by many spiritually minded people, for at first they were so thankful for bodily curing. But after a while they do not feel thankful for that, they are so anxious about ways and means. The Spirit has no anxiety about provisions. These “apostles” had no anxiety about provisions. Therefore, they had everything in bountiful measure. They had given up the idea of having any ugly set will about anything. “They continued praising God.” While anyone is snarling and clutching after some material issue, which only the yielding of the will can put into its right place, nothing of the spiritual teaching really interests them. It drops like rain on a tin roof.

The swan praised the airs, the tinkling waters, the sunny groves, the tender grasses of another clime to the heron. “Are there any snails there?” snapped the heron. “The grace of God fills you, Divine Wisdom guides you, all is being managed in love by love itself for you,” whispers the Science to one whose one sore subject is uppermost. “But if that is true why do I not have this thing?” or “why is not that event demonstrated?” snaps the unyielded listener.

All things stand for ideas. Therefore get the ideas right. Get away back to the protoplasm of a will absolutely yielded. Start an amoeba to living strength by rising up with some noble idea, which you pledge yourself to live by. Protoplasm is the life stuff that is shaken into amoebas by warmth and moisture. The degree of heat and the character of the moisture determine whether an Aristotle or a tree shall spring forth. So the submerged will is the Divine Life stuff out of which the word of what shall be done springs forth. All things are possible to them that speak their word from this last formless substance, a will lost in willingness.

The pietists of the past thought they were yielding to the rod held by Divine Love. The Scientist knows he is yielding his will, which is the only rod there can be held over him. When this is melted, the substance of his mind is the shining Substance of the God-mind. At this point the Divine fiat is spoken. Out of this he shall be fed, clothed, and housed.

When a whole world takes the Science of Spirit as the word of God, it will be cured of certain ails. When it “continues in the doctrine” it will be cured of other ails. When it yields its will to bring things to pass by the science of matter, it will be found expecting all things to be furnished directly by Spirit. It is far more satisfactory to have even a little knowledge of Spirit than a large brain full of knowledge of matter. All answered prayers represent a moment of yielding to Spirit. This is the apostles’ doctrine.

July 17, 1892

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