Cornelius and Peter magnified every sign, and vision and dream that came to them as signifying some new power for good. Abraham was noted for believing every symbol to be the intention of some great good for him. Believing so innocently in the good, sure enough, each prognostication turned to their advantage eventually, no matter through what seas and winds of trial it steered its way to reach them. Cornelius gave “much alms and prayed God always.” Peter had regular hours of each day set apart to prayer.
The true prayer is affirmation. The true almsgiving is denial. We hear of thousands upon thousands of worthy people asking assistance from rich church members, but not getting it, because the good, kind church people do not realize the difference between where and where not to bestow their bounty. They hide discernment — they show no judgement.
A systematic course of affirmation and denial, or speaking truth from both positive and negative, such as is mentioned in our present lesson, the tenth chapter of Acts, would uncover their judgment and quicken their discernment. The power of discernment and strength of right judgment belong to all men and all women and all living creatures in exactly the same quantity and quality.
Every man is as divine as Jesus Christ. The only possible distinction between any man, no matter what is his calling or seeming character, and Jesus, is that Jesus Christ told of His divinity and yielded Himself to His words, while the rest of mankind, even if they proclaim their divinity, do not yield to their words.
The measure of casting one’s self into one’s words is the measure of that person’s demonstration of divinity. Abraham kept to the saying that was constantly in his mouth — ‘The Word of the Lord.” Everything that came to pass with him, or came near him he was sure was the “Word of the Lord.” No matter through what seas of experience we pass after having an uplifted sense of the action of an unusual phenomenon in our lives, we are to see by faith some great good to come. It is sure to arrive. A right practice of keeping to this speaking of our divinity and casting ourselves into our words would make us demonstrate all of our divinity as Jesus demonstrated all of His. Then, like Cornelius, we would bestow our alms wisely and our prayers would be availing.
Outward wise almsgiving is the symbol of right denial. The right denial for want, hunger, need, beggary, is, “There is no want, no hunger, no need, no beggary.” This is speaking Truth from the negative. Then the hands will make haste to act in such a fashion that those words will be proven all around in our world. There will be shown to be no want, no beggary, no lack. What the mouth speaks, the world shall make visible. A metaphysician, who had come into the knowledge of the necessity for putting his idea on the negative side, or denial side, instead of the positive, or affirmative side, had to change his thoughts from running on the words, “I am satisfied with the bounty of God,” to “There is no need of the bounty of God.” His first way of putting it had suggested the opposite to his peculiarly sensitive mind. The words, “I am satisfied,” could not make his mind work with his affairs till he had said, “There is no lack.” Cornelius was evidently one who used both forms of mental speech, for here it speaks of his prayers and almsgiving.
Peter was on the positive side. He had experienced one great denial and mentally thereafter, he had to come at the mechanism of his mind on the positive side only. Today it is the same old law of using the wheels of our mind by positive turns of expression or negative modes, or both.
People who are always feeling that they make mistakes but would like to do the right thing must pattern after Cornelius and use both ways of thinking. The “I” of us all stands back and uses its thoughts as the hands use pens or needles. The “I,” the “ego,” understands the Substance, which keeps it renewing the re-enforcing itself continually. It knows what thoughts to use to make it seem to be an erring mortal mind making mistakes, and what thoughts to use to expose its irresistible perfection.
Giving up all actions and all thoughts, leaving our destiny and character in the keeping of the “Ego” that understands all things, as a regular, daily practice, we shall have unerring visions like Cornelius, and instructive dreams like Peter. They gave themselves regularly to praying.
In the course of these lessons, there has been a constant repetition of the idea of speaking and thinking in an orderly, truthful fashion. Now it has come to where we must make mention of that high form of prayer which is without words, without thoughts, leaving the true “Ego,” the “I,” that is above thoughts, above words, to deal with us. We are to set apart a certain portion of each day to this speechless, thoughtless “letting be what is.” The “is” which we by thus ceasing from thinking can let manifest, is not by any manner of means the material criss-cross appearance of physical phenomena. These are not that which is. That which really “is” we shall be absolutely glad to know. That which is “not” often changes its manner of dealing with us, from unpleasant to entrancing. That which “is” is changeless, eternal joy.
There is an intimation given by this lesson of the occult teaching that we are to stand aside and let the Warrior that dwells within us fight our battles for us, yet we are to act as though we did the fighting. It teaches that forever this Warrior within is indeed fighting our battles for us, but we do not stand aside. With all Peter’s habit of positive confidence in the dealings of Spirit with him, he stopped to dispute its making known by him how practical we must make his religion. Many of us have spoken against the common sense of some little signal thrown out by the Spirit for our guidance because it did not appear under the circumstances we should have chosen. The meanest things, the homely things of daily turmoil, are not mean or homely when seen from the spiritual standpoint.
There is no voice truly speaking to us except our own Spiritual voice, whether the sound of it seems to reach us from within or without. The ancient secret doctrine taught that the Light of the world is within us all, and if we cannot perceive the Light within ourselves, we cannot perceive it anywhere. The voice that spoke to Moses was his own interior voice. It sometimes reflected itself upon the external atmosphere, but it was his own Spiritual voice. Our voice of the Spirit may seem to speak from without, but forever it is the Warrior within, the Light within, the Voice within, escaping forth when we know what is true, or when we see a vision with a warning, or hear a voice with a message.
Thus if we stop to argue against it we make a conflict within ourselves which is as sure to show forth in outward events as Peter’s arguments against his own Spiritual judgment showed forth in the opposition of his Christian colleagues. Peter finally yielded to the spiritual voice that broke forth from his mind and reflected itself on the airs around him; so also finally, the Christians who opposed him yielded to his judgment. No argument worth giving voice to can be brought up when a spiritual principle is announced.
What possible worth is there in an argument for the reality of crime. Is it an argument for its reality that we claim to see it with our eyes and hear it with our ears? What use is there in such an argument as that, when every identical thing we see with our eyes, hear with our ears, feel with our sentiments, is the formulation of a belief?
Why do we need to believe in such things as if they were real when our belief is entirely within our control? Shall we not believe what we please? And shall we not please to believe what stands to reason? From time to time there have been strong, wise reasoners trying to show that all external things are dependent utterly on man’s ideas. Aristotle, Descartes, Berkeley, Collier — read over their writings, and see what brave struggles they made to disentangle the mind of man from the network of belief in outward and seeing phenomena as having any controlling efficiency further than mind itself has given them.
One moment Peter showed confidence in the voice of his Spirit, the next he reverted to his old prejudices. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Have we not all believed one way one moment and another way the next? Have we not, therefore, tangled and mixed environments? How do we know what sort of affairs would surround us if we were to believe one way constantly?
In our lesson, it speaks of the ninth hour and the sixth hour. The ninth hour is three o’clock in the afternoon, and the sixth hour is twelve o’clock in the morning. In mental training, they are important hours in the day. One is for withdrawing accusations from the world and from ourselves, and the other is for making the affirmation we would see soonest demonstrated. At three o’clock, Cornelius felt his prayers and alms taking effect before his very eyes. There are times when Spiritual ideas, that have been held in mind, are seen plainly to be coming into manifestation. He heard a voice announcing that what he had been thinking, and speaking, had come up as flowers in the sunshine of the Presence of God. He teaches us patience, persistence, and presence of mind. When it comes to a time when all things respond to our ideas we do not dictate to them, we listen to them.
There is a law by which things work exactly according to our ideas, as there is a law by which roses bloom according to their climate. Ideas in your home make a climate in which things and affairs spring up. A family always denying that they can afford this and that will fix their business affairs so that it will some time be very apparent that they cannot have anything. A family always fearing for the children’s health will fix one of them to be a chronic invalid early or late in life. Yet the invalidism and the lack will not be real; they will simply represent the ideas of those who worried so much. This principle being known, we see how great a practice it would be for us to stop, like Cornelius, from having any ideas at all for a while every day. It would give us a great rest, and as ideas fall down at once into the sands at our feet when we let go of them, we shall thus leave our Spiritual “self” free to see and hear things from its own standpoint. There will be no more puzzling over books on language, no more worrying over mathematical computations of how to make both ends meet, no more scrambling and struggling for place and power, no more competition. The divine “Ego,” being uncovered of the ideas that we must go through these things, will calmly tell the universe, as the maker of languages, the origin of numbers, the owner of its world, that it was only the illusion of the “what might be if it were not free,” which has circles around mankind.
Cornelius loved the fruits of his ideas. People who complain are only whimpering because they do not like the fruits of their ideas. As it is good for ground to lie untilled for a space, so it is good for our world if we do not forevermore plow it with our ideas, harrow it with our notions, enrich it with our erudition concerning the nature of evil, the origin of religion, the history of Rome, the marbles of Phidias, the statistics of crime; nor sow it with seeds of new science, new policy, new inventions, all relating to total unrealities. Peter did not love and he did love, all in a minute, the fruits of his past ideas. He should have kept silent when he was faced by the net full of creeping and crawling creatures. We will not think anything. Then they will fall away, leaving only the sight of spiritual kindness, giving us freely the sound of love at every turn, feeding us, prophesying for us.
Peter had no cause to dispute that what was spread for him to eat was good, only such cause as he had learned independent of spiritual judgment. We have no cause to see evil in our world, only such cause as we have chosen to believe exists unlike supreme goodness. It will be a great rest for us to cease believing contrary to what is true. It will spread our table with bread and milk and honey to cease from thinking at all, while the living Spirit is working out our provisions, our wisdom, and our actions for us. It may seem to the world that we are thinking and working, but indeed Spirit is responsible when we choose to cease from imaginations. “The Father that dwelleth within us doeth the work.”
October 16, 1892