Bible Lesson LII
Acts 2:1-12
Chief Ideas Rule People

 

by Emma Curtis Hopkins

 

In metaphysics, we have ultimate conclusions, and steady reasonings. Two ultimate conclusions, have lately been thrown before the students of metaphysics, which have affected them differently according as their caliber and quality varied. These two statements are: “I am God,” and “There is no God.”

The steady reasonings that would lead up to these two statements are those reasonings, which the schools of theology ignore. They are strictly Christian, however. Jesus Christ told us to keep His word. He meant us to repeat them as our own. If “I and the Father are One,” (John 10:30) I am that One. “If I am meek and lowly of heart,” (Matthew 11:29) then I can never get meek and lowly enough to satisfy the words, till I am no-thing. So each “I” must have its highest and its lowest swings of obedience to wisdom.

There are a great many half-conscious ideas floating around in everyone’s mind. If one of these swift reasonings is choked off or ignored, it retreats like a lion to its lair; but it will come up again quite as alive as before, not quite so unconscious, and if you put it down it will not go into its cage quite so willingly as at first.

All these interpretations of Scripture, which honesty compels the illuminated mind to make, have run around in the metaphysical minds of men and women for ages. Eckhart, a pious monk, said he could not rise to his highest wisdom, till he first got rid of his idea of God. Telling such an idea aloud would have astounded him when it first walked around his mental planet. But by dropping his idea of God purposely, he rose to the LIBER BENEDICTIONUM. For his idea of God, which was wrong indeed, so filled his mind that he was almost good for nothing.

Some people feel better to admit there is no such god as they used to believe in. Evidently, they fear something or someone. Others do not hesitate to speak the word boldly because it seems to set them absolutely free for the True God to deal with them. The True God cannot be moved from His lofty place by the rejection of all ideas of Him previously held. The True God is not a being to fear. Nothing that anyone says moves Him to anger, revenge, or reward. I am “the same yesterday, today, forever.”

The “I am God and there is none beside me” (Isaiah 46:9) is not a word that the mortal speaks. The intellect at its highest pinnacle cannot speak it. Only the free Spirit proclaims it. When the intellect repeats the high statement, it gives its strongest characteristic absolute sway. One has a streak of jealousy in his composition, which with all his ability and seeming virtue, does act as prime mover of his words and works. Maybe unconsciously to himself, maybe consciously, but his jealousy rules him. His steady reasonings bring him to the conviction that indeed the true “I” of every man is God. So he repeats the affirmation. Which dominant note in his composition do you think springs to the front? Which trait of disposition comes up in delighted freedom? Jealousy! So he does and says the most ridiculously jealous things. He makes a complete idiot of himself before people who never suspected he had even the shadow of a shade of the slimy creature.

This is why the prophet said: “There is a destruction in the city when the people say I am God.” He meant it was not safe as a general rule for the thoughts of men to rise up and let the strongest one on the outer plane proclaim the name of Jehovah as its own. That should be taking the name of God in vain. Moses took this name and it was temper, that appropriated it. So he came to destruction along the line of his greatest ambition. It is always noticeable that those who say, “I am God,” letting their governing trait have the word in common with their other traits, get worsted on the very line of their ambitions.

If you are supremely generous and speak this affirmation lightly or vehemently, by and by you will get to giving away everything that you possess. If you read it from Moses or David or Isaiah or Jeremiah as a part of your Bible lesson, very likely you read it lightly, so your last dollar and last piece of goods and last comrade probably will not disappear speedily. If you speak it vehemently, as the high reasoners speak it, you will rush to the ends of your goods with the legs of Ahimaaz. “His word runneth very swiftly.” (Psalm 147:15) “By thy words thou art justified and by thy words thou art condemned.” (Matthew 12:27)

But there is a thought which may say, “I am, and there is none beside me!” What is it? Is it, “I, Victory, am God?” Oh no! Because the pride of intellect may take up that word and make you a supreme example of pride. Pride holding the reins of victory brings destruction. Solomon said, “Pride goeth before destruction.” (Proverbs 16:18) It cannot be, “I, Success”; it cannot be, “I, Health”; for a very ugly trait like enjoying other people’s misfortunes might “flourish like a green bay-tree.” (Psalm 37:35)

Is it, “I, Jesus Christ, am God?” Some of the profound students of the law of words spoken silently and audibly by us, tell us that it just as surely as we live, gets us into the exact tribulations experienced by Jesus Christ, if we made the Jesus Christ idea the God idea of our mind and speech. They never use the name as the dominant name of their mind because they fear His afflictions. They are afraid of His “cup”.

And this takes us straight to another idea of the profound metaphysicians. They got so afraid of the “I am’s” that they thought maybe David meant the word “Thou” when he said “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2) So they tried the words, “Thou only.” Watching their experiences, they perceived that the situation of Job became theirs: “The thing I feared has come upon me.” (Job 3:25) For what one is most afraid of is his ruler; and a ruler a god. So when one fills his mind with the words, “Thou only,” he hurries the things he is afraid of toward him. What mind is there, that does not let some fear overmaster everything – by spells?

If it is adoration of something that masters you, as, for instance, adoration of gold, why, how afraid are you that you will not get gold? The two ideas will stand out in bold prominence and fight each other for mastery over you. Fear generally wins.

“So shall thy poverty come as one that traveleth, and thy want as an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:11) The church of today is a bold example of the clinch of its two ideas in mortal combat. Some branches thereof are lean with want, and some are fat with surplus of gold. A secular paper says: “The undue deference paid to money by the churches is disintegrating church influence among the masses.” You see they have said, “Thou only,” for ages. Softly and indifferently sometimes, vehemently sometimes. Here is the summing up: “The Christian Union management is utterly amazed to find that the masses do not attend church.”

And all this is why certain thinkers took the Eckhart idea of denying that there is any God at all. They reasoned that there could not be any destruction of the true God, because a God who could be destroyed could not be worth mentioning, and the gods who might get their heads demolished were only too welcome to be utterly absent.

Would words of denial and words of affirmation so surely affect human destiny as all this describes? Yes, this is what metaphysicians are convinced of. They watch people and see how they are all the product of their chief ideas. They see that the ideas held by people are hurrying them to old age, disease, failing sight, loss of friends, and death. “One event happeneth to them all”(Ecclesiastes 2:14)

Do the metaphysicians think these conditions are avertible? They do. They see that common ideas make common events. They would break up some of the race ideas entirely. Can they do so? If a few fishermen stopped the clock of time and set it to measuring itself from their idea; if unlettered devotees dictated what should constitute the civilization of the nations, – other apostles of a right conviction may not flinch at the task set before them.

What is their task? It is to change the mind of the race from believing in sickness, old age, death, poverty, and inferiority, to knowing that just the opposites belong to every creature that walks.

This lesson is concerning the special characteristics of the body of men who had followed the teachings of a very persistent and authoritative man named Jesus, who called Himself the Christ. All these men had had cowardly and jealous traits of character which, with all their religious notions, they had not eradicated after three years of listening to the highest moral precepts, and watching the noblest of living examples. All of a sudden, their mean, and wicked and untruthful traits are transformed into lofty, upright, and righteous ones. They have held some idea in mind till by force of its own nature it has bloomed into glory. It has taken cowardice, jealousy, and quibbling by the vitals and tinged them with its own splendid fires. The tongue of the learned drops the “soft language of the Latin” on enchanted ears. The tongue of the eloquent touches to entrancing melody the speech of wild Araby. The tongue of healing falls tenderly on the bruised hopes of dying Egypt.

Here is the transformation of a few gathered in an upper chamber, such as the revival of their ideas must bring to pass upon a whole globe of people according to promise.

“When He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all Truth.” (John 16:13) The lesson may be found in Acts Chapter 2. Here we see that though for three years, certain very religiously inclined men had held one Name in mind with thoughts of doubt, fear, pride, and jealousy, and many other mixtures foremost, yet it conquered them all, according to their wisdom, healing power, and mastery of nature.

They had held the Name Jesus Christ without any knowledge gained from former lives. They had held it in timid wonder. They had held it in half doubt. They mixed with it the thought of the scorn of their neighbors. They put it into the alembic with their memory of the seeming defeats of Him who personified it. But according to orders, they held it.

Every word contains its own potentiality. Kept in the heart – it will germinate, quicken, and spring forth. There is one word that is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It will act as leaven in the measure of mental meal. Whoever keeps it will see his ambition to rule among men come to defeat. He will see that he cannot do it. Yet this Name will lift him out of shame and regret. It will take off the edge of humiliation and pain, as an anaesthetic dulls the anguish of amputation.

Whoever keeps this Name in his mind will see his money and friends leave him. Yet the sorrow and poverty that he experiences will not hurt him so sorely but that “bread shall be given him,” (Isaiah 33:16) and new friends will make up for the failure of the old ones. That money and those friends first came into manifestation by other ideas quite unlike the meaning of that Name.

Whoever keeps that Name past such crucifixions, regarding them as signs of the swifter coming of true honors, true riches, and true friends, will some unexpected moment feel the rush of the white wings of the Spirit. Thereafter he knows what duties were laid out for him to do from the ancient days. He knows just how to do them perfectly. They are no hardship. There is no laborious effort to bring something to pass. He knows where his clothes and food are to come from all the rest of his days. He knows who are his friends. He never speaks folly. He knows all Truth.

And His presence is a quickening fire to all who meet Him. Like cowardly Peter transformed into the intrepid speaker who converted three thousand in a day, so the world will be converted by those who hold this Name in their hearts. The Name Jesus Christ shall take me over the stormy waters of passive human experiences as Jesus walked on stormy Galilee. The star that shone over Calvary’s mountain shall shine over me. The Life all protected that folded the sinners who held on to the Name till it called the ears of the nations to their ideas, shall fold us today amid the clashings of teachings wholly unlike His, though claiming His Name.

It is no wonder at all that it has taken ages to bring us to this moment when the holy winds are about to fill the world. For the Name has had but slight hold in the mind of man. One may set his face like a flint in his will to hold out in his own ways with the Name only read from a prayer book, or spoken to the vague imaginary god or the mind, and it will not be this side of the grave that it will boom with the splendor of transfiguration.

He who holds the Name lightly shall hardly be kept from the full consequences of his own special characteristics, though he speak the high phrases of Science.

Each civilized country stands today reaping the consequences of its formal holding of the Name which has within its own potentiality the quickening energy to feed and clothe and educate every child of earth.

The fulfillment of every longing of man and angel lies with the blowing of the winds of “the Holy Ghost whom the Father will send in my Name.” (John 14:26)

There is one nation, that has proclaimed great faith in this Name. Yet, it has prayed unto a god of a strange nature called bravery in danger. To please this idea of a god pleased with bravery in danger, they court dangers. They set up schools of fighting with swords to prove how like their god they can be. Now, there is never any knowing how a god of the imagination ruling over a body of men, or one man alone, will turn on his worshippers, even though they have repeated the formal words, “In His Name.” Their women and dogs stay at home and do the work, while the men and horses parade before nobles. So there is much want and little hope. And it is boldly written of those brave knights that they would not dare face public opinion by refusing to gash one another’s face with swords if there was a call to do so, – not a bit like Jesus Christ in this kind of ministry.

Another nation holds in mind an imaginary god who is pleased with dominion. They reap conquests over small peoples to show how their idea of God acts with them. At the last, they take pride in hunting down helpless foxes and innocent rabbits. Instead of their God taking them from glory to glory of efficiency in dominion over poverty and squalid disease, they count the victims to these foes by the millions, and helplessly bow before such captors as the Name Jesus Christ should have led captive ages ago.

What do the cries of the starving, the half paid, the discouraged today mean? They mean that there has not been the right teaching concerning Jesus Christ. The bishopric is now being taken away from those who might have taught that it is not a superstitious manner of teaching which tells us to hold the Name of Jesus Christ in mind as the chief theme of our thought, till it quickens into the feeding, clothing, and housing power of the motherhood of God, which is the Holy Ghost Power here described.

Daniel looked in upon this day, which sees the fulfillment of the time of keeping the sufferings of a man of history, instead of His Name, in mind. “The wise shall understand,” (Daniel 12:10) said the angel who showed him how we should be wondering about these strange times.

And the wise do see that with all their keeping of the words of Jesus Christ as we have them translated, there is no descent of Power over the races to put foolishness and sickness and poverty away (however unreal, the highest metaphysics may name them), till the mind of today shall obey orders like those fishermen of the Far East and kindle to living fires, with the simple holding in mind, day and night, of the Name filled with the demonstration of God among us.

Many a student of life’s laws waits the very powers of wisdom he longs for, till he obeys orders, like Peter and Stephen. Many a laggard in healing efficiency and providing energies waits these signs till he obeys orders like a soldier in the ranks and fills his mind with that mysterious Name. Do you suppose it means a man of history, whose human blood was shed for us, and whom by acknowledging as the crucified Son of God we fulfill His commands? No. The Name means transformation of human traits into divine glories. It means the triumph of Spirit over matter. It means the sudden awakening of all who speak it into absolutely new conditions right here and now. It means that what is taken away is restored a hundred-fold. Whoever has the courage to hold it is hurried past the scenes of human destiny into the upper chamber of peace, where the winds of a wonderful Power shall seize him, and he can work miracles.

He that would save himself the hasty passage shall wait the miracle-working fires.

The cloven tongues, to be sure, are denial of evil and affirmation of good. But they cannot speak the language they were intended to speak, so that the multitudes can come into their rights, unless they have for their substance a Name whose body is fuel to warm a universe. The wise understand this doctrine.

July 10, 1892

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