Anaxagoras, 500 B. C., finds the force which shapes the world, not in the nature of matter, nor in impersonal forces, but in a world-ordering Mind. This supreme Mind is distinguished from matter by simplicity, independence, knowledge, and supreme power.
Peter cured a “paralytic” and raised a “dead body” to life. It is evident he was not exercising the magnetic or mesmeric forces, for he explained that it was by the action of Jesus Christ the miracles were wrought, by the training potency of the words which represent the demonstrations of health and life. There has come up a revival of the idea of mental training by repeating words, which concentrate many meanings in them. By repeating “Om” in various fashions the Brahmins said man would become God, for man would gradually appropriate an understanding of “Om” and understanding is God. With this understanding, he should govern his world. And man is not truly appropriating of “Om” or Understanding, any more than he can demonstrate. This is the same as the saying of Jesus, “If I do not the works of the Father, believe me not.”
Spiritually we take from Spirit only what we are willing to give forth. The prayer, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” means that we cannot take any more forgiveness than we can give forth. The same with mercy. The same with friendship. The same with all good. No one is realizing or enjoying a moiety more than he is bestowing.
There is but one lake on the surface of the globe that has no outlet, and that is the Dead Sea. All of us belong in mental geography to some material country or sea, which is more typical of us than any other country or sea. Those who are choosing not to give forth of their mental riches belong to the Dead Sea type. To give forth our mental riches is to be speaking and thinking what the Spirit is doing; not mentioning what the flesh is doing. “The flesh profiteth nothing.”
Dorcas had been thinking of the kindness of God till her hands had wrought many great deeds. Peter had been thinking of the Life of God till his voice could raise the dead. Aeneas had been thinking of the unexpected actions of God in miracles till be sprang up from palsy, because another, who also believed in miracles, spoke suddenly to him. Two people together visiting at our house, both strong in confidence that our prayers will be answered will quicken our spiritual faculties to lay hold of the blessings we are seeking. On the same principle two visitors, strongly intellectual believers that we are very foolish to trust so much to aid from miraculous sources, will chill the atmosphere and discourage us mentally till we begin ourselves to doubt. This will make a delay in the answers to our prayers. What kind of people are near you those of simple confidence in miracles, or those who consider all expectations of incalculable interposition in your behalf folly? You may compute your depressions or exalted hopes from the mental radius of such people as are your companions.
Peter was an uplifting visitor wherever he went. All believers in the power of Mind welcomed him with delight. He meditated so much on the visibility of God through repeating the Name Jesus Christ that miracles always accompanied him. Something always transpires wherever we go which is of the nature of our persistent feelings before we arrive there. Peter cured Aeneas and aroused Dorcas according to this lesson. He had taken his mind off the external persecutions of the young church so long that he was in an exalted state of mind just suited to heal. People, who are thinking of how badly they are used, or how badly someone is acting, do not carry enlivening atmospheres with them. The persecutions of the church were suspended about long enough before Peter went down to Lydda to give his buoyant mind time to quicken with extra ozone through breathing and eating and drinking two glorifying words. He told Aeneas that those two words were the healing force working instantaneously with him. “And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.” The two words always come to fruitage exactly the moment our type of mind gives forth its confidence, its love, its expectation to them.
Aeneas believed in miracles, but he did not believe it was quite time he himself received one, did not think himself quite ready for one to take place for his own benefit. Peter was the very opposite. With Peter everything was NOW. His belief in the “now” of the miracle struck down the “by and by” of the paralytic’s mind, and up he stood whole. The entire battle of mind, one the “by and by” kind and the other the “now” kind, showed forth. All battles are in the mental before the externals figure them out. One idea in everyone always yields to some idea in every other mind that it meets. Some outside movement will indicate it. You believed James was in the wrong till you met Thomas and talked with him about the Presidential campaign. You never mentioned James, but you go home in certainty that James is right. This is because Thomas understands the truth of the case. Your idea is eliminated, beaten out, by Thomas’s understanding. No words spoken aloud, no special thoughts on the subject are necessary. Every change of sentiment, every new manner of looking at a question, results from someone’s understanding the true inwardness of the question. If you are a procrastinator like Aeneas, get somewhere near impetuous people who never can wait a moment for anything. If they believe in miracles, you will find yourself dispatching your work with miraculous speed.
Similarly, if you are one who belongs to the multitude of those who tell what good works used to be done, either by the apostles or in the early day of the faith cures of Spiritual Science, you need to have a Peter type of mind come visiting you at “Joppa.” It is death, or old age, to talk of what used to be so much better than is now. Peter, the impetuous “Now,” puts every idea of the past out of your house and makes his own prompt action startle your shrinking wish into exhibition. Peter himself is no more eager for great miracles of cure than procrastinators and backward lookers are, but he believes in expedition. Peter was the idea of instantaneousness which Jesus left to walk visibly when He thought it expedient that He go away. The idea still remains, though Peter, its representative, himself has gone away. We find this idea of the dead being raised to life, as Tabitha was in this ninth chapter of Acts, and of Aeneas being healed, instantly, always exhibited by the effect of certain people’s mental presence among us. If they are utterly given up to the idea they do strong works promptly. If they take the idea faintly they do not do mighty things promptly, but simple works, like cheering people quickly, or giving excellent judgments without waiting to think. Only intense confidence wakes a man out of paralysis and a woman out of death.
The mind that raises the dead to life with a few words, and quickens palsied limbs with a sentence is the one that is all given up to what already is. It does not talk to you about “growth” and “evolution.” Those words get utterly routed when the true Peter-mind saying, “There is no time in Spirit, no growth or progress in Spirit all is now,” comes near.
Aeneas represents one who thinks of what great things are going to be done. This is palsy. Dorcas and her friends represent those who rehearse what great things have already been done. This is death. Peter represents one who sees life and accomplishments as neither past nor future, but now.
The body is not the only thing that gets palsy by looking forward. Knowledge, ability along any chosen line, stops, paralyzed with the idea that some time we will attempt the work we see ought to be done. Be bold to believe that today is the day meant for your healing, or for stirring prosperity along some line.
“Boldness hath genius, power, and magic in it.
What you can do or dream you can, begin it!”
The body is not the only thing that acts out deadness by looking backward over what used to be done. The enterprises you ought to be engaged in this moment, which were intended for your quickening delight and unalloyed success, will have nothing interesting or stirring in them when you think of them if you talk much of the past. It is as bad for the mind to contemplate the past as it is to anticipate the future even worse, if this lesson is taken literally. All is mind. You will see plenty of charm in enterprises if you never remember the good old times nor hope for better times. Refuse to meditate an instant on what has been or what shall be. Just this minute is the minute everything is alive, healthy, strong, and successful with you in Spirit. You can demonstrate as much “present” as you appropriate the idea of — as you let of Peter into your “house” — into “Joppa.” They could not do anything with only a part of Peter in their cities — that is, with descriptions of him. That means we have to have the idea of “now” get complete possession of our premises.
How shall we do this? Peter did it by repeating the Name Jesus Christ over and over. Those two words usually hurry a man or woman over a whole lifetime of experiences within a short time.
The speaking of the word “now” has prompt efficiency with some people. It is not superstition; it is as sensible for mind to hold, by repeating over and over certain words, as it is for the outward body to eat oatmeal. One feeds the mind and the other symbolizes feeding the mind. Aeneas had mental starvation. A few words refreshed him. Dorcas had mental exhaustion. A few words revived her.
Peter was so pleased with the natural result of keeping the idea that Jesus Christ is now working, healing, and encouraging among us, that he concluded to stay in that state of mind, so he abode many days in it. This indicates that if you have an exalted certainty of the healing and quickening power this instant you may keep it intensifying with happiness as long as you please. That gleam of glad recognition of your own spiritual nature will be your constant home of bright rest by your saying, “I will abide here forever.”
People should not say that “they were at one time in just the right state of mind to do great works, but do not feel equal to them now.” The name of the Good is “I am.” It is the Freemasons, who have changed the statement of Being from “I am that I am” to “I was, but am no more.” If they had kept the teachings of Moses, while letting his mighty inner voice proclaim itself, they might have had every sign of the presence and working of good among us which we are asking for. The new Freemasons, now reviving the Spirit of Christ, do not say that they “were” strong, they “were” wise, they “were” rich, they “were” happy. They know very well that to be telling of the past is cold death. Notice how cold and dead Dorcas was to those who thought of what activities she used to exhibit; so even the most inviting prospect in our affairs will seem to have no life, no substance, no goodness in it for you who keep talking of “I was, but now am not as strong as I would like to be or as well, as wise, as satisfied.”
To look forward is paralysis. To look backward is death. The name of the good in us ready to demonstrate with the world of affairs is I Am.
After we have settled the question of “now,” we may say, “I was.” Being confident of today, we may speak of “I will be.” The Good lies back of us — “I am Alpha.” The Good lies ahead of us — “I am Omega.” The Good is now here.
Peter showed forth another important principle, that is, we are not to be mindful of praise or blame if we would do our most enlivening works. Peter was indifferent to blame, Dorcas was dead to praise. This combination wrought a miracle. We are not to swerve to the right for blame, nor to the left for praise. Keep your mind’s eye on your own business and have as little as possible to do with the opinions of people.
Still another fact comes to light in the ethics of life from Peter’s conduct as set forth in this lesson, namely, do not attempt to fight for your reputation or character. Be above reputation, above concern therefore. If Peter had failed to bring Tabitha into manifest life, he would have had the reputation of proclaiming a science he could not demonstrate. It would seem as if he were filled with vanity to even attempt to do the works of Jesus — to even say they ought to be done. He did not care what he might seem to be; his whole concern was with the duty that lay before him. He practiced his Science on every situation, regardless of appearances.
Lastly, we see by this lesson, that Peter had the solution to the ancient question of “how to animate the particular from the universal.” Every “particular,” which means every single manifested thing, can receive unlimited renewal, infinite reanimation, from the universal, by the absorption of the kind of living fire which gets kindled by independence of mind in regard to spiritual matters. If you perceive that “Simon the Tanner” is a spiritually awakening companion, commune with him often, be comrade with him much, though the church and your social acquaintances object. To be in the right and know it, with “Simon the Tanner,” is better than to be pampered by opposing princes. Be comrades with the spiritually minded that you may be a better minister to the unspiritual.
October 9, 1892