Bible Lesson LXVIII
Acts 11:19-30
The Teaching of Freedom

 

by Emma Curtis Hopkins

 

As lions crouch on their haunches and rally with mighty skill all the living forces concealed within them to spring far and hard, so the Christian Jews rehearsed the prophesies of the Messiah to come. They preached that Jesus had fulfilled them till their confidence was generated to the point of irresistible oratory.

Emerson tells us it is the man, drunk with conviction, who convinces. The early Christian apostles were drunk with conviction. They rallied their conviction by constant repetition of their reasons for believing that Jesus was Christ. For a long time they as a body of Jew Christians, rehearsed their reasoning among themselves. Then the fires of their religion broke out and they told the twelve points of Christian doctrine to the outside world. As the trained ranger over Texan plains lassoes the wild steer, so the trained Christian thinkers added a multitude of believers to their incontrovertible principles.

Every separate statement of Bible history is the “Rosetta stone” to the solution of an individual problem, a national situation, or a church state of affairs. As the masterly reasoning and transcendent religious sentiments of prehistoric Egypt lay like a sealed book under moonless night to the early Greek scholar, the Roman priest, the Oriental traveler, the German, French, and English savant, till Champollion, threw the light of wise interpretation over the hieroglyphics of the “Rosetta stone,” so have the Acts of the Apostles lain under the cloudy materialism of modern interpretation, till Spiritual Science threw the ray of her twelve-pointed star of revelation over them. Hereby we learn to interpret what made the Christians of Apostolic times so efficient in converting to accord with their ideas. Hereby we learn how by constant thought upon the oneness of man with God in Substance, Wisdom, and Power, the young Jesus of Nazareth suddenly broke loose from His human nature, which works no miracles, and became in demonstration divine nature which works miracles.

At Cana of Galilee Jesus made the silent proclamation of His marriage with God and transformed the six stone water pots to tankards of red reviving wines. Under the light of the morning star of the science of Christ, we read that so His doctrine milled in the heart shall transform the six homely circumstances of every human lot into the red wine of beautiful associations. In the desert place, Jesus increased five loaves and two fishes to abundant provision for five thousand men, besides women and children, by blessing and praising the meager supply. The new radiance of the revival of His thoughts in pure metaphysics tells us that, we also in the seeming desert of our cheerless life, may take the few little possessions we do have, whose meagerness has so long offended us, and praise and bless them till they multiply into new treasures straight from the bounty of the ever-willing law of praise.

At the grave of Lazarus He thanked the Life-force that it had a law whereby if He spoke boldly forth the command of His soul, His command would be obeyed by the breaking forth of the Life-force in the dead and buried Lazarus. By the light of His love, I read my story as it lies here at my feet. I see, as the glory of His intention strikes my understanding, that when grief or resentment holds my whole being in its intense throes, that then is the supreme moment for me to decree a thing and it shall be established unto me, “Come forth, divine healing power!”

In this eleventh chapter of Acts, beginning at verse nineteen, we see that there shall spring a moment over the entire earth when all the people shall see that the light in all mankind is One. The prophecy of the great white rose of spiritual blooming shall be fulfilled. “And in the days of these kings shall the God of Heaven set up a Kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the Kingdom shall be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all the other kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”

This everlasting Kingdom is the teaching of Spirit that there is no need to teach children not to tell lies, for if they know what the Spirit in them is speaking they cannot lie. There is no need to teach men not to overreach, for with the spoken words of the Apostles of Jesus the Light that now lights every man shall flame forth with the Holy Ghost of love and mercy. As the early Apostles showed how the carpenter’s Son, by speaking forth to the world His inner knowledge, shone with Christ, so the apostles of today declare that by speaking forth the same Mind that was in Jesus, all men can shine with Christ.

This Kingdom is the teaching of freedom. There is a transcendent freedom awaiting the people. The Apostles threw off the yoke of caste ideas and breathed the breath of the knowledge that there is no man, no woman, and no child less than Christ. This free air gave them new healing powers, new providing energies. They were able to send food in the days of famine to far-off people. But they still held themselves under the yoke of expectation of martyrdom; they still held themselves under the fear that some of their members might speak too freely of the freedom of God.

Martin Luther rose up from the slippery staircase of belief that good works will open the spiritual nature to heavenly powers, to the more upright position that “the just shall live by faith.” He breathed the air of a new freedom. But he still held the idea that no one could be saved into spiritual airs except by obeying his dogma. When the still freer doctrine that man is greater than his dogmas was offered him, he closed down on the opening rose of his opportunity and refused the loving Melanchthon’s eternal friendship, because he had not yet accepted his ideas. He had not been staunch to confidence in his ideas as right. He had made himself free by them; but man’s freedom for himself to worship God after the light of his own mind may take the swing that others must see as he does or die.

The great Chrysostom could answer like the free Christ that they could not exile him, for God was his home. They could not defraud him, for his treasures were in heaven. They could not defame him, for his witness was in heaven and his record was on high. But he chained himself from a new freedom by being among those early church fathers who believed in the subjection of women and abject obedience to the rod for little children.

See the wondrous glory that shone over the multitude at the free utterance of these preachers at Antioch! Their voices stirred the proud city to name them by the most Divine Name that the planet ever quivered under. See them close down on the opening rose of opportunity after opportunity to show themselves in full fellowship with the absolutely free Jesus. Why did they expect martyrdom and imprisonment? Though Agabus prophesied famine, should they meekly agree with him, with the example of the blasting of the fig tree still pictured in memory? Had they not heard that Christ opened prison doors to set captives free, not to receive them? Had they not heard that Christ is Truth? Could they not gather from the coming and going of the risen Christ that they need not die to reach heaven, that they need not preach regulations about eating or clothing, for the Spirit should clothe and feed wisely?

When they spoke of “being transformed by the renewing of the Mind, having the same Mind in them which was in Christ Jesus,” need they have refused the next teaching of the over-beaming sunshine of truth, that all Spirit is God — powerful to close down on the schools, the churches, the kingdoms which tell that some are inferior, some superior, some clothed and some needing clothes?

To this day their idea of waiting to go through the tomb to be in Heaven has held the church from the bloom of life. But the Truth is not that we wait for our life of immunity from pain and trouble. The Truth is that we as Spirit are above the necessity for time. As Spirit, we do not stop amid the clashing ways of mortality. We rise out of them now. Their idea to which they were chained has come down over the centuries to us and held us as a Christianized people in its folds, that we must send missionaries and alms to the benighted and hungry part of God’s Presence. The Science of Christ understood, tells that abiding at home, the Spirit of man may speak to the Spirit of man and there shall be food and raiment come folding the people with gladness.

Does such a message from the Spirit within us, speaking that which is true of Spirit, stop the sending of ships to the Blacks of the islands and books to the heathen of India? It will work out to the sight of the mind a new consciousness, an understanding why the far races beg us to send truth and not run to their shores.

We have no right to speak of the darkness of mind of races stepping on the planet of God. “The Light that lighteth every man,” lighteth them also. We have no right to speak of the hunger and sadness of children walking over the plains of the earth of our God.

As sickness cannot be found when we proclaim from the Spirit that it is absent, so ignorance cannot be found on the globe when you sail around her God-protected belts. Go with the gospel that man is all-wise with the wisdom of God and you will not find a Black man eating his neighbor or hurting his children.

“Seek Me and ye shall find Me.” Go seek God in the wilds of Africa and see Jesus Christ smiling with infinite beauty, and unlimited wisdom, from every face you meet

“Is this practical,” you ask, “with the reports of the Livingstones and Stanleys of civilization explaining the darkness and sadness of Africa?” Just as you have now received the doctrine that sickness and bodily pain are not here, but only an imaging forth of what we have supposed, so there is no need of missionaries, no need of books, for ignorance, savagery, and race distinctions are only the mirage of our supposition. Seek wisdom on the islands and find wisdom. Seek the splendor of judgment and the knowledge of all the ages focused into all living creatures, and find them.

This is the kingdom that shall come to the earth in the days of the kingship of scholarship which believes in ignorance — of government which believes in inferior and superior — of church which believes in imperfection. Enlarge the bounds of your ministry. Open the expectation of your mind. As true as there is no sickness, so true is it there is no poverty, nor ignorance.

Shall there be an end of such a doctrine as this? Is it not what God says of His Kingdom? Shall I dare tell what God does not tell? This doctrine is Jesus come waking us up in our home. It shall stand forever.

October 30, 1892

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