Bible Lesson LXIII
I Cor. 11:23-34
The Science of Christ


by Emma Curtis Hopkins


D’Albert treated with coldness a brilliant young man who had solved a difficult problem in mathematics, because he told him he had worked it out to earn a seat in the French Academy. “You will never get on with that motive in your mind,” said D’Albert. Looking over the busy students in a normal school, I metaphysically perceived a certain number of them, working up their notes with the sole idea of making their living by and by as capable expounders of the propositions under consideration. I did not feel on the purposely sensitized plate of my mind any reflection of actual interest in the subject they were treating.

A sharp and fearless critic of human motives said to a band of reformers that “if all the saloons, etc., were closed up in a night the reformers would be the maddest lot of people in the world,” because “Othello’s occupation would be gone.” Some people have gone so far as to believe that the doctors would be a very disappointed set if all the people in the world were to be made perfectly well in an instant.

The Science of Christ teaches that we live on our motives. If our motives are to get bread, and clothes and good repute in the world, we may get these things, but there will still be left a hunger, a nakedness, a loneliness, which externals cannot satisfy. D’Albert meant to inform the young man, that the real honors of the Academy were won only by those who loved mathematical principles for their own sake. There is an initiation by motive, which is the esoteric doctrine open to all peoples of all tongues who love the doctrine for its own sake. It takes only a few words for the “initiated” to perceive their own kind in a speaker. A brilliant list of accomplishments is not the entrance ticket to the ranks of the truly esoteric.

When accomplishments by which you make your external living have failed you, if then you have felt the love of the Jesus Christ principles for their own sake, that love will attend to your living. If you can at once drop the idea of depending at all upon any external performance, but kindly engage in each duty as not essential to your support, or defense, or life, or health, or peace, your “seat in the Academy” will be given you at once. Your house external will be shown you. The idea of “making your living” will not be in your mind.

Riding on the train, you pay for your fare because the conductor has faced you with “Ticket, please!” while you were trying to avoid having to pay your fare. The payment of the fifty cents has nothing to do with the case a year from that time when you lose a hundred dollars; for you are living by your motives, not by the outer transactions. Some are faced up soon with their motives, some late, but there is a harvest from motives ahead of us all.

Science is science, and whether it is the Jesus Christ Principle of Life we are working out, or the mathematical principles of abstruse equations, we are “initiated” by love of principle and not by a trick of computations.

The golden text of today’s lesson contains this same idea. It makes mention of the outer performance of right actions with which the outer church is satisfied, and the inner performance with ideas with which Principle, the true church, is satisfied. The text reads, “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that Bread and drink of that Cup.” The lesson is found in I Cor. 11:23-34. It tells of breaking the body of Jesus Christ. There is a very visible meaning to breaking the body, and a very deep or esoteric meaning. The visible meaning is that the body of Christ is His doctrine. Whoever believes His doctrine in his heart eats His body.

The esoteric sense describes the effect of believing His doctrine. It coincides with the “Bhagavad Gita” teachings of “attachments.” The mind gets “attached” to ideas. The mind gets glued to notions. According to these attachments, our “body” or quality of character is made up. The Jesus Christ doctrine eaten till it is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh causes us to be “broken up” over and over.

The Jesus Christ doctrine does not let us get crystallized to anything. We cannot remember the past with either joy or sorrow. “Leave the things that are behind.” It will not let us form the habit of anticipating the future. If we get to looking forward we get “attached” to the future. This looking forward is sure to result in a timid apprehensiveness or dread as we put forward our thoughts into it. The Jesus Christ doctrine, or body, breaks us up often when we eat it. It is itself broken into omnipresent ideas for omni-eating. It touches the tiniest event of each day to quicken it with life. It vivifies the dreams of our nights with omniscience. It takes away our memories of past events and people. It astonishes us with knowledge of present meanings of actions small and great. It gives us sight of the harvest of motives. It satisfies us with the outcome of ideas.

Through not eating the doctrine of Jesus Christ, but trying to impress the history of a personality upon itself, Paul says that the church is “weak, sickly, and asleep.” He lays stress upon the principle of not judging of our neighbor’s actions because our own actions cannot be judged by them. The people who spend much time memorizing external facts about things suddenly find their minds broken up and they remember nothing. If they have not identified themselves with the principles for which those external facts stand, they get the reputation of being old, or brain-cracked, or crazy. It was an unworthy eating and drinking of life events that they indulged in. They missed the meanings, and must be counted in with the gluttons and wine-bibbers of scripture, as much as if they had spent their minds thinking of old and new wines, different kinds of roasts, and delicate fries.

There is but one subject with which the mind can be legitimately employed. That is pure Principle. “What principle is involved?” we must ask. The principle being true, we proceed to think it. We become it by thinking it. Now, Principle never gets old or cracks. So we, being Principle by thinking it, never get old or cracked.

If any sage or saint has the reputation of being aged, or having lost his mind, we may know at once that he occupied his mind with ideas of externals. He must have said a great deal about what it was religious to eat and not to eat. He must have tried to explain whether people should wear long or short hair, red or black dresses. He very likely trimmed his sails to keep in with people who knew about art, literature, and finance, not drinking the knowledge that the principle we are occupying our mind with takes care of our comrades for us, and finds our proper seats in the right places.

One who lately drank the blood of pure doctrine (using Paul’s figure) found his family afraid to buy certain articles for fear they might fail to pay a coming note. He told them to buy what was needed for the house and let the future obligation take care of itself. He felt that by laying up for the future they fastened themselves into it to the discomfort of the present, which would certainly have the effect upon his family that it has had upon the church, so glued to its hopes of a future-appearing Jesus Christ-viz., “Weakness, sickness, sleep” (or loss of miracle-working energy). He saw that the doctrine of Jesus broke up his old “attachment” to laying up for a future.

The true doctrine breaks up all our old notions, but leaves us stronger and stauncher for the breaking. Facts about Pericles, Plutarch, Phidias, and Philo, statistics of drunkards, or records of cholera ravages, are very husky eating. They have no blood in them. They too, break us up, but they leave us blanks; we have to put out groping fingers after something we know not what. “Infants crying for the light, and with no language but a cry.”

Pure doctrine eaten and drunk by us breaks up our notions and rolls them as debris down the stream of our principles. We find that if we suddenly see into a principle, everything that occurs immediately after that insight is the effect of that insight. For instance, you suddenly perceive that the reason why we have strikes is because the church has taught that man is under the curse, but sometime he will be free, instead of proclaiming that this day is every man free. You see the contracting effect of belief in the fall of man, so that some of us have fallen below each other in the scales and are subject one to another. You see how ideas go over the world, crossing and re-crossing each other in the minds of people who cannot imagine how they came by them, till the Jesus Christ doctrine of all being born of God from the beginning cuts some of the cords of the prevailing ideas and makes men feel that they have as good a right to peace and freedom as their neighbors. You see how working along on the externals by establishing charity houses and handcuffing criminals will never work the amelioration and reforms hoped for. You realize how definitely some strong mind must now set going the clear-cut statements of the Absolute Truth.

Well, the clear realization of all this, by one bold mental stroke, will knock off a dozen of your friends, tear up some of your estates by the roots, grind some of your fairest hopes to powder. But this pure knowledge of pure Principle, which will roll so much debris about your head, will also roll to you along its vitalizing stream some comrades whom winds cannot shake, some fortunes which come straight from lovers of your ideas, some new prospects for your family with unassailable strength in their excellence.

He that would save himself from the action of Principle had better not enter upon the study thereof. He had better play around among externals holding his goods by the skittish tenure of materiality. This is what Paul means by saying that we should not be judged with the world. The same sloughing off, of existing conditions takes place with people who deal with externals, because it is the nature of externals to change. The difference between the ups and downs of things under the law of materiality trusted, and pure Principle understood, is that the substance of things is more clearly felt and seen by those who get everything broken up by the stream of their true ideas, while they who trust in material ways see nothing except their losses.

We cannot judge by appearances, and the mere effort to do so is “eating and drinking to damnation, not discerning the Lord’s body.” A minister of the strict sort declared that he was so opposed to spiritual healing that he would rather his own beloved parents should “die” than be treated by such a practice. Not long after one of his parents suddenly “sickened and died.” Had he known how arable, how fertile the soil of an intense or excited state of mind is to carry out suggestions, he would not have said that.

The one who believes in Christ as a principle of healing ever present among us is eating of the Lord’s body. He who does not so believe is “eating damnation,” so Paul says. He means that his words come to pass upon himself and his affairs exactly the same as do the words of those who speak Truth, but that one goes out in nothingness, while the other lives. He tells us that if we hunger we had better eat at home. The deeper meaning of this idea is that before we get out among people we had better rouse our minds to the most perfect conclusions we can decide upon, which we would wish to see come to pass, and then speak some strong words to bring them to pass in our lot.

If we wait to speak Absolute Principles when occasions arise among our neighbors we may eat too greedily to “condemnation” — that is, we may speak what we will wish we had not when our neighbors arouse our feelings. It is not a good manner of “eating” to speak forth that it “seemed as if we should die”, when we relate some anecdote or describe our sensations, for that speech will bring up an occasion when it will verily seem as if we would die. If the minister had thought it all over carefully before he committed himself to eating such words he would not have spoken them into the soil of a hothouse to bring down his father so soon.

According to Jesus Christ there is no reality whatsoever in the fruits of false or foolish words, but they seem very real indeed, and as there is a scientific way of averting the shades of error, we are here advised to take it. A lad took the positive word, one day, in the company of some grown friends that he would always be lucky. Immediately afterwards a piece of good fortune came to him, seemingly by reason of his wise exertions. A metaphysician told him it was because he spoke so sturdily while he was in company with others. He could not see how it was because of what he had spoken a month before when it was, as it seemed to him, wholly due to his “hustling at the right moment.” “Your hustling would have come to nothing if you had called yourself unlucky when you were in the presence of other minds,” insisted the metaphysician. “Your words are always going before you and lighting on your opportunities.”

This is exactly what the thirty-fourth verse of this lesson means, whether Paul got so deeply into its meaning or not. Jesus told them to enter the closet and get it settled in their minds what they wanted to have brought to pass before they got out among men. Then, when excited, they would fill the rich moment with rich seeds. Higher than the flights of the archangels sings the meaning of every Scripture text. Down among the brooms and spades of the peasant’s cottage rustle the wings of the angels of comfort these texts send forth. There is no moment when the white mercy of God is not touching each feeling, each word, with opportunity to make life a manifest garden of peace.

This lesson is called a temperance lesson. It is a perfect temperance lesson, because it insists upon our eating and drinking right ideas at home so that when we get among people we shall eat and drink with great results. You will notice that Paul does not tell them not to meet together to eat because he knows that words spoken in moments of excitement in the presence of others count so powerfully. He simply tells us to get our minds settled on the ideas, which we would like to see carried out, and then we shall not be off guard when we get talking in company.

Another thing about eating at home first is that the ideas, which we have thought profoundly, have a more enduring demonstration when they come to pass. If the boy had thought out that idea that he must always be fortunate on the principle that he knew God as the provider, and that God could not fail, his speech to his friends would fasten to an enduring demonstration of success, having an everlasting reason for the hope that was in him — not transient prosperity, like a hothouse rose that blooms to fade quickly.

In explaining Bible texts, do not stop at their outer meaning. Push them to metaphysical or esoteric meanings. Compel them to explain your commonest emotions. Find how they teach your mind to conceive its own law of easy mastery over your lot. You do not need to be always grubbing, and toiling and moiling while your neighbors lie in hammocks at the seaside, if you will understand the Bible. You do not need to have that dark cloud hanging over your life which makes your riches such a mockery. You do not need to dread forever something, you cannot tell what. You do not need to be glued to any of these things. They will loose from your life, with your understanding of the esoterics of the Scripture.

With this principle in your mind, this principle of the flowing torrents of pure understanding, which roll down and away the environments and possessions of men, you can see it is time someone spoke over the crossing and chaotic ideas of mankind, the absolute statements of Truth and stopped describing the heterogeneous state of affairs formulated by foolish words spoken in hot moments. If in volatile France, Voltaire’s impetuous thoughts have been suddenly cut off by the statement that “ Voltaire had no soul,” so in plastic America your heartfelt pronunciamento, hot from the splendor of Truth, may cause to dawn this day the fulfillment of prophecy, which stops the slaying of animals for our clothing or food — stops the pain, the misery, which our preachers call the mystery of living — sets in order the Divine law of protection, providing, and delighting, by the same quick demonstrations of understanding that Jesus Christ made. As atheism practically received its deathblow by a statement, so misery shall lie down in forgetfulness under your omnipotent word. What is misery but the fruit of a mistake figured out on the boards of life? If Truth is a river of cleansing, shall not the mistakes be clean washed off the world’s life very easily? Does this seem reasonable to you? If it does, you have prepared the way for some demonstration of a new sort of good to come into your affairs. Just perceiving the reasonableness of Truth is all you have to do about it. Perception is demonstration. Hold steadily to your perception of the reasonableness of this doctrine whether you see it work out or not. It does its own work. It will work in unforeseen ways for your happiness. It will go speeding on to happify the lot of others.

The glory of this doctrine is that the instant you do truly perceive it you love it. You do not love it while you are studying the rules for thinking which lead up to the perception of it, but the clear light of the gospel is not possible to them that are not obedient unto the law. And the God, who is neither law nor gospel, but is the Principle running through them, is not in you and visibly round you till you perceive reasonableness. The perception of reasonableness is God. So much Principle as you see the reasonableness of, so much God do you demonstrate, either immediately around you, or remotely from you, hastening now toward you.

September 25, 1892


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