We do not look for a good translation of Cicero’s De Senectute from a poor Latin scholar, and we should not look for a good translation of Jesus Christ’s gospels from a materialist, even though he might occupy a high seat in the world’s estimation.
The materialist usually makes heaven a place of abode, while the spiritual Jesus evidently meant a state of mind. The materialist does not teach that there is a state mind, possible right now, capable of healing all manner of sickness. But Jesus Christ certainly taught that there is. The materialist right in the pulpit proclaims that material methods for healing and material methods for getting a living are expected of the followers of Jesus Christ’s teachings. But Jesus Christ healed by His spoken words and silent thoughts. He got His money and bread by speaking words out of whose fabric or substance He formed all He used. He told all the world to go and do likewise. He would not admit that if a man said, “I do not believe this,” he was an obedient follower of His. For He would say, “Why do you not believe this when you claim to believe My words?” He most certainly would tell us that there would be more genuine education in the laws of healing by studying the meaning of His name, and by learning how to have faith in His name, than by all other studies put together.
Here are two men in Acts Chapter 3, who once knew nothing about healing the sick or addressing a multitude, but after about three years of studying spiritual teachings they have beaten the materialists of the most noted schools of pharmacy, and can address an audience so eloquently that the orators of those times are jealous of them. They have demonstrated the third strength, which John the Revelator calls the strength of the beast with the face of a man. This is the strength of doing — the strength of works.
All this world is in love with works. But nobody can work the works of God unless he has demonstrated the two strengths, which precede works. The strength to endure and the strength to dare, go before the strength of works. The strength to endure is called a lion by John. The strength to dare is called a calf. This animal always stands for youth, so John here means the daring of youth. The third strength is the strength of doing. The face of a man is his evidence, prima facie, of what he can do, what he has done, and what he is going to do. So the lame man looked on the face of Peter, the daring, and saw strength so alive and contagious that he caught strength clear down to his feet and ankle bones.
David said, “In Thy light shall we see light.” (Psalm 3 6:9) Whatever quality there is about a face, which we see and appreciate – that we ourselves will be like, by looking steadfastly at it. Even the beauty of a face will transform us into beauty, if it is delightful to us.
We accomplish that which the steadfast light of our countenance shows. None can hinder or interfere with the result of our face. This face transformed from thoughts of material things to thoughts of spiritual has the healing strength of the Son of God. Paul said that in Jesus Christ we could see the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. Looking steadfastly upon this face we also shall know the glory of God.
The apostles had seen the risen Christ. They had gazed steadfastly upon Him. Thus, they were risen above the bondage of material hardships into the freedom of Spirit. The lame man caught the idea of freedom from their strong light of freedom. Seneca wrote: “We should will to be free, to snatch ourselves from the bondage of fear. You must free yourself from the fear of poverty.”
The memory of a pure face in the mind, just at a moment of temptation has wrought many a miracle of resistance to temptation. In the midst of tribulation, if one can remember how the face of the vision of Jesus Christ looked, when He came that once to the view – there will a great strength to endure, and a strength to be silent come charging the fainting heart. Whenever in the vision of the night a face of wondrous light or kindness comes to one, he should keep that face ever in mind. He should obey the idea of Peter, “Look on us.” Its whole meaning will come clear. Its quality will be communicated.
Do not look at the faces of people who strike you as wholly ugly. Do not remember the sinister countenance of an enemy. Their hatred for you, or against their victims, will come to be your hatred of them. “Hatred shall not cease by hatred. Always ‘tis by love that hatred ceases.”
This lame man had got his lameness from the face of his mother. Her face when she looked at him in her mind, before he was born, was full of some idea of a bondage. The face of a slave to even an idea is sure to communicate slavery. There is no knowing where the bondage will show forth. In this child’s case, it showed forth in his feet and in his possessions. He was a slave to lameness and to poverty.
Whoever thinks that afflictions are dispensations of God, is the slave of a lie. Do not look much at him, because there is no knowing where his chains will fall on you. You do not like afflictions even in your ankle bones. And you certainly do not want your possessions to have a chain hitched around them and dragged out of your reach. Many a great orator has looked bravely out from behind the prison bars of his idea that rum is a great curse. His enlargement of nothing has strengthened the chain of your small opinion of yourself, until your small opinion of yourself has demeaned your countenance, so that people now think less of you than ever.
For why should a man think that if Jesus Christ is here there is any curse here? Is not God omnipresent? Of whose face shall he report that his thoughts have dwelt on if he would set you free? On the face of a curse which is nothing, or the face of a Christ that is all? “Who shall save us from our curse save He who seeth no curse in us?” “Who shall save us from our sin save He that seeth no sin in us?”
Mind is all. Everything and every condition is reducible to an idea. A false idea may be looked out of countenance, as this lame man’s idea was dissipated. But a true idea cannot be looked out of its strength, as Peter and John held their own even while the eyes of a crowd were seeing with positiveness that they could not cure by the strength of their spirit. This is the strength of endurance. They endured or held on and held out, recognizing no power in opposition. They won the case. The man lame from birth leaped and walked, praising God. What a principle that was which they understood! We will not look on the face of one who says we may not understand the same principle now; for principle is one and eternal. Understanding is one in all men. Whoever believes differently from this carries a look of blindness to truth. He might give us blindness of eyesight. We will rather look on the face of free Jesus Christ, who said, “Go and do likewise.” (Judges 7:17) “And these signs shall follow them that believe.” (Mark 16:17)
These two apostles, Peter and John, exhibited the strength to hold their own without recognizing the power of opposition, because they had taken off one bandage from before their eyes. The world’s idea had put it on, but the Jesus Christ idea had taken it off. That bandage over anybody’s eyes always gives a countenance of weakness. It hides the “lion of the tribe of Judah.” (Revelation 5:5) The weakness that comes from accusing the living creatures of the world of impure appetites is the hiding of the first strength of revelation. “My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure.” “To the pure all things are pure.” He who beholds all things in purity without the accusation of impurity sets free the strength of the power to endure, symbolized by the first beast in the fourth chapter of Revelation– “the lion of the tribe of Judah.” (Revelation 5:5)
The strength to endure all things without being intimidated by numbers of opponents or moved by the speech of a world set against one, is uncovered by taking off the bandage of belief in the presence of evil. It is a hiding of the second strength of the face to believe that people are deceitful. They cannot deceive us by telling of the hordes of astral vampires invisible to the eyes of flesh, nor by reports of the wickedness and poverty of the living creatures on earth. There is no deception. There is no power in evil. There is no bondage to matter. This is the strength of daring, which is the strength of youth and beauty, untaught in the ways of the world, and with no example before it of the results of a truth.
One has to refuse to accuse the world of having even an appearance of the dominion of Satan. Though the voice of one who seems wise tells of the power of evil, reject his words. Injustice has no power over justice. Vice has no hold on virtue. Gold cannot buy honor. Appetite cannot decoy goodness. It will keep you young and bold forever to believe always in the goodness of people; to deny the reports against your husband, your brother, your father, your friend. To refuse to believe that people that seem good are hiding evil will make the strength of the young behemoth, whose vigor none can daunt and whose goings none can hinder. The fire and fervor of the calf of behemoth are the eternal youth of one who cannot be deceived into thinking that there is any evil where good is proclaimed. They believe in the goodness of their neighbors though a thousand tongues denounce them. They are the strong in youth and beauty. The first wrinkle sets in the face and the first darkening of the skin comes with the belief in a scandal against a friend. The young behemoth is the strongest of champions; the strength of the beauty and daring of youth is the championship of the accused.
Take off the shackles of belief in the presence of evil. “Be not deceived,” (I Corinthians 15:33) said Jesus Christ. He could not see evil. Peter and John here saw only soundness and wholeness. In this bold strength of daring to see good where a world saw evil, they rose to the power of the Son of God.
The ability to accomplish great things comes forth from its hiding place under the covering of flesh with the breaking of the third wall of error built around the thoughts of the heart. “There is no condemnation to them that walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.” (Romans 8:1) Take down the condemnation of mankind, from before your face. “Henceforth know we no man after the flesh but only after the Spirit.” (II Corinthians 5:16) Permit the mind to speak of mankind, from the standpoint of the Spirit, not from the standpoint of flesh. As flesh, “man is as prone to err as the sparks to fly upwards.” (Job 5:7) but as Spirit, “in him is no guile.” (Psalm 32:2)
If what the mind dwells upon is exhibited in the face, “Who shall save us from our sins save He that seeth no sin in us?” And who shall see no sin in us save He who seeth us as Spirit, and not as flesh? It is not in the face of one who mourns over the sins of the world that we are to see the strength of salvation from sin, with healing clear down to our ankle bones. No! it is in the face of one who never speaks or thinks of the sins of the world. He has taken down the curtain of condemnation from before his strength. In the face of such a divine thinker, I see the face of Jesus Christ. In Peter and John, strong with the freedom from condemnation, strong with the sight of the “Holy One of God,” the men of that day read the way to do right. The lame man felt sound and whole. He earned his own money by testimony concerning the goodness of God. Possessions flowed in upon him.
In the fearless, strong countenance of Jesus Christ, whose name was their only idea, Peter and John saw all men in one.
“I shall be satisfied when I awake in Thy likeness,”(Psalm 17:15) by seeing Thy face in all faces.
July 24, 1892