There is always something or someone near every one of us telling us the wisest course to pursue. If we learn to be observing and to have our minds made up to an issue, we shall have clear sight and hearing to receive right directions. The Oriental metaphysicians found out that to cease from thinking is a clarifying process for the mind; so they practiced ceasing from thoughts. They wondered greatly why the nameless satisfaction they were seeking did not result to them by the clarifying process of non-thinking. They never found out formerly, and have not yet been told, that if the mind is positively set upon any conviction it is locked in the prison of that conviction. Stopping thoughts only shuts the few portholes and windows of the prison; it does not break down the walls of a mighty conviction. There was not an Eastern mystic who was not convinced clear to the roots of his mind that God ordained castes and sex inferiority. Six thousand years of cessation of thought would not molder the walls of that gloomy conviction.
The Occidental metaphysician now practices cessation from thinking because he has been told that it is wonderfully clarifying to the mind to stop thinking. He also is surprised to find how far away the glory of the satisfaction he hopes for still remains. He stopped thinking, while his mind was set as the everlasting hills into the determination to be recognized by his fellow beings as of some consequence, or as a mighty character. He hopes for the plaudit, “Well done.” This also is a prison house with walls unmeltable by silence at the roots of mind.
When one is very sincere, he is very opened. He may not be as able as his fellow-men as regards talents or education, but he will have such open ears for the counsels that lie around him that his wisdom will be the marvel of his age.
George Washington was a genuine lover of his cause. The preservation of the independence of his country was to him his God-called mission. Recognizing the hand of the free God in the strike of America for liberty, he flung his life to the winds of the principle the strike represented.
The following narrative was related by Anthony Sherman, an octogenarian, who heard the account from Washington’s own lips:
The darkest period of our Republic was the year 1777, when Washington, after experiencing many reverses, went into winter quarters at Valley Forge. Often I observed tears course down the cheeks of our beloved Commander when he was considering the sufferings of his brave soldiers.
Washington was in the habit of praying in secret and calling upon God for assistance, and it was only by the help of God we passed safely through those days of adversity.
One day Washington spent the whole afternoon in his room alone. When he came out, I observed that he was much paler than usual, when he related to me the following:
“Whilst I was sitting at my table this afternoon engaged in writing and my mind heavy with sorrow, I suddenly observed directly opposite to me a most beautiful female.
“I was so much surprised, for I had given strict orders not to be disturbed, that I could not find words at the moment to inquire the object of this unexpected visit. Two, three, and even four times I repeated the question without receiving an answer, the only effect being that she raised her eyes a little, I now experienced a most curious sensation spread over my whole body. I wished to rise from my seat, but the steady gaze of my mysterious visitor kept me spellbound. I again tried to speak to her, but my tongue was tied. An unknown, mysterious irresistible power had taken me prisoner. I could do nothing else but steadily gaze at the apparition. Gradually the room filled with light, and the form grew more clear and bright. My feelings were those of a dying man; I could neither think nor act. My steady gaze at the figure was all I was aware of.
“I now heard a voice, which said: ‘Son of the Republic, behold and learn!’ At the same time the figure stretched out its arm and pointed with its finger towards the east. Light clouds arose in the distance, which dispersed and revealed to my eyes a most astonishing picture. Before me, all the countries of the earth were spread out, Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. Between Europe and America, I saw the waves of the Atlantic Ocean toss backward and forward, and between America and Asia the waves of the Pacific Ocean.
“Again, I heard the voice: ‘Son of the Republic, behold and learn!’ Immediately a dark form like that of an angel appeared over the ocean between Europe and America. It then dipped water from the ocean with both hands, and with its right sprinkled it over America and with its left over Europe. Immediately dark clouds arose from both of these countries, which met in the middle of the ocean; here they remained stationery for awhile, then moved westward, and wrapped America in darkness. Lightning flashed through the dark clouds, and I heard the groaning and shrieking of the American people. Again the angel dipped water from the ocean and sprinkled it as before. The black clouds withdrew and sank into the sea.
“For the third time, I heard the voice: ‘Son of the Republic, behold and learn!’ I looked towards America and saw populous villages and cities from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific Ocean. Again, I heard the mysterious voice: ‘Son of the Republic, the end of the century is near at hand. Behold and learn!’ The dark form of the angel then turned toward the south, and coming from Africa, I observed a horrible phantom making its way to our country. It floated slowly and heavily over our towns and the country; the inhabitants arose to make war on each other and formed in battle array. As I looked at this scene, I observed an angel surrounded with light; on his head he wore a beautiful crown on which was inscribed the word ‘Union.’ In his hand, he held the American flag. This he planted between the contending armies, crying out: ‘Remember you are brothers.’ Immediately the nations threw away their arms, became friends again, and gathered around the flag.
“Again I heard the mysterious voice: ‘Son of the Republic, the second danger is past; behold and learn!’ And I saw the villages and cities steadily increase in size and number, until the whole country was covered with them — the whole extent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and the nation had multiplied in as countless numbers as the stars in heaven, or the sands on the seashore. Again, I heard the voice: ‘Son of the Republic, the end of the century is at hand; behold and learn!’ The dark angel then put a trumpet to his mouth, blew it three times, then dipped out some water from the sea with his hand over Europe, Asia, and Africa. My eyes now beheld a most terrible scene. From each of these countries dark heavy clouds arose and united in one mass; through this mass, dark red lightning played. I saw troops of armed men advancing, and then sail across the sea to America, which was immediately covered by the black cloud.
“And I saw how these immense armies desolated the land and laid towns and villages in ashes. I heard the roar of cannon, the clashing of swords, the cry of the victorious and vanquished millions engaged in deadly strife, when again I heard the mysterious voice proclaim: ‘Son of the Republic, behold and learn!’ The dark angel then again took up the trumpet and gave one long and terrible blow. Suddenly a light burst forth and drove away the dark cloud hovering over America. At the same time I saw the angel with the beautiful crown, on which was inscribed the word ‘Union,’ descend from heaven, holding in one hand the star-spangled banner and in the other a sword, and accompanied by legions of heavenly spirits. These united with the American people when the latter were almost overpowered, who took fresh courage and formed in battle array. Again, amid the horrible noise of war, I heard the mysterious voice: ‘Son of the Republic, behold and learn!’
“After this voice the dark angel dipped out water for the last time from the sea and sprinkled it over America, and immediately the dark cloud retreated with its armies, which it had brought along, leaving the victory to the Americans.
“I then again saw towns and villages rise in the same places where they had stood before, while the heavenly angel planted the star spangled banner among the people with a loud voice: ‘As long as the stars are in heaven and as long as the dews descend from heaven to earth, so long shall this Republic exist.’
“At the same time he took the beautiful crown from his head, on which was inscribed the word ‘Union,’ placed it on the star-spangled banner, and, kneeling down, cried out, ‘Amen.’ The apparition then began to dissolve, and at last the mysterious female was all that remained before me in my room, and again I heard the voice: ‘Son of the Republic, what you have seen is explained as follows:
“ ‘Three dangers will come over this Republic. The second is most to be dreaded. When this one is past the whole world cannot conquer her. Let every child of the Republic learn to serve his God, his country and the Union.’
“With these words the form vanished. I arose from my chair with the conviction that the birth, progress, and fate of the United States of America had been revealed to me.”
These words, said Mr. Sherman, he heard from General Washington’s own lips.
We know that the first two sections of the vision have been fulfilled. The last is now upon us. The reason for so vivid a picturing of the future of his country before him was because he needed a strong reassurance from some quarter. He had come to where he could not be pacified with the ordinary helps of his mind’s reasoning or his religious convictions.
We, who are genuinely in earnest with respect to our lofty purposes, can be as plainly reassured of victorious freedom from whatever bondage we experience as the lover of the Republic was. Keep on knowing that you are a transcendent being with transcendent powers. This is honoring the handiwork of the Omnipotent Mind that sent you forth. It is a principle as worthy of espousing as the principle of liberty for a people whose property and labors are owned by a foreign nation.
The principle you espouse who take the Name of Jesus Christ as the synonym for Truth, Life, and Freedom, is that “all power is given unto Me in heaven and earth.” You know that it is not only Jesus Christ, who is this all-powerful Being, but it is yourself as handiwork of an impartial God. Everything rises up near you to testify to your spreading righteousness. The golden text of this lesson, Acts 15: 12-29, tells the story of mental liberty from foreign notions as the free republic tells of freedom from former yokes. “Through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” (Verse 11)
It is as great a principle to proclaim that we are free from former religious and hindering beliefs as to proclaim that we will not be taxed without representation or permit a black man to be chased in the Everglades. If we think we have the perfect doctrine and the denominations are wrong, we are imprisoned into a mental belief — which is mental stealing. For we certainly are mentally withholding from others their right to our idea that as Sons of the same Father with us they know what is right as well as we do. We will hand them back the idea we have tried to steal away from them. We will give them our free knowledge that they are wise with the free wisdom of God.
We will probe the thought wells of our minds to still deeper teachings. If I thank God that He has given me my perfect hearing while I believe that He has made you to be deaf, I am taking away something from you with my mind. I am believing in a God who bestows and withholds. I am mentally stealing your rights. It is not praise of God I am giving when I look upon Him as any such being.
This mental giving up of former suppositions is taught by the ancient metaphysicians as the final freedom from stealing. It is a wonderful treatment to send over the ethers into the hearts of this age. The dark cloud that hangs over the planet through the mental unrest of mankind’s feeling its bondage to something it knows not what — is the cloud that Washington saw. The teachings of Spiritual science will go to each heart and take out the wish to slay and torture from even the roughest and angriest, as the wise James poured oil on the Jews of this lesson. Peace will steal into their violent feelings by the free kindness of our beautiful teachings of the rights of all men to their transcendent wisdom and goodness. We do not need to speak aloud to the world concerning their rights any more than the good mental healer needs to speak aloud to the prisoner of paralysis. Thoughts go stealing like ointment into the clogged hopes of the world and mind is set free by the angels of light.
Now more than ever, each event and each man tells you of your own freedom and the triumph of your own cause. Believe nothing that you may be free to believe all things. Think nothing that you may think as the omniscient Mind of God.
With the abstaining from those things we have felt were our virtues, whereby we took from the free-handed Truth our realty by being grateful for blessing withheld from others, we are obeying the injunction of James in the twenty-ninth verse, “Abstain from things strangled.” We have to be true to our principle of liberty for all men, even in the depth of our hearts. “For the Lord looketh on the heart.” We do not think it is a virtue to give thanks to God for our home, our friends, and our table, while we secretly steal from that same God the honor of believing that He has provided all creation with exactly the same blessings we have.
We let go our secret hold on the rights of the nations and silently shed abroad the final treatment of a closing age. If we let go our strangling ideas, all the multitudes will lift up their heads with freedom, and long before Christmas, Christ, the Providing Jehovah, will be here, and there shall be no more pain or poverty, for the former earth is passed away.
December 11, 1892