Bible Lesson LXXI
Acts 13:26-43
The Power of Lofty Ideas

 

by Emma Curtis Hopkins

 

If a person is in great trouble and affliction, he should make the highest and most Spiritual affirmation that has ever struck his mind as a beautiful truth of God. He should keep on repeating that idea in his mind till affliction is left behind. He will then be delighted to find that he is stronger, more buoyant, wiser than he ever was in his life before. The trouble has not left him the worse for wear, because it has not touched him. His lofty idea only has touched him. Keep it as a rule of mind in the time of great persecution by circumstances or people, no matter how they come to pass with you. Touch not the earth; touch God. Here Paul tells of how, by the high arm of God, the Israelites were brought out of Egypt. They took their highest ideals of Spiritual power and held to them while they were in sore distress. Our highest ideals are the strong arm of God leading out of whatever bondage we seem to be in.

Paul immediately goes on to say that God destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan. God never destroys anything. If, while we are looking straight into this Spiritual Presence, full of goodness and peace, we keep speaking of God’s making men so constituted that they cheat, hate, fight, then those words come back upon us in a crowd of people who misuse us. We do not need to say God ordained it or made our lifelines to run in misery. We must be free from our ideas if we would run on smooth lifelines. Some of the finest minds through the ages have discovered the marked and immediate connection between ideas and events; they have left out one proposition, which now we use — change ideas and events change; drop ideas and events cease.

Paul here says that God suffered their manners forty years in the wilderness. God suffers nothing. He endures nothing. The Israelites in the wilderness simply spoke halfway and compromising texts concerning delivery from bondage, therefore they took extra time to get out of desponding conditions. Hope and faith must unite in the mind to bring strong, quick deliverance from your hardships.

Notice that children have just as much faith that miracles of help will be wrought as the parents’ hope will let them have. A child’s confidence runs up to the express expectation or hope of the mother. “God will hear us when we have scraped the bottom of the meal barrel, Mamma” “I hope so.” If the mother had taught the child that there is no such thing as the bottom to a meal barrel, his confidence would have run up to that teaching. That family would always be provided with abundance of meal. Let the mother’s teaching run buoyantly, and hopefully up to the idea that there is nothing on the earth but what they can have in full, rich, bountiful abundance, and up the child’s confidence will run to meet and mingle with the teaching till the earth with her bounty comes hurrying to fulfill the faith of the child.

Has God changed toward the mother and the child? Did God suffer because the meal barrel was empty, or rejoice because it was full? Does the mathematical principle you are dealing with suffer when you say you have got your problem all wrong because you said if X squared is 64, then X must be 77? No, X will always equal 8, if its square is 64 — no matter what you say. You need not lay your misery to the Principle we know as God if you will tell how God made your happiness less or more. You shall lay your misery to your ideas of God, not to God.

Paul often rose to stupendous metaphysics, as when he said, “We can do nothing against the Truth, but only for the Truth.” The Truth shines the clearer to us when we see how unalterable and how un-cajoleable it is. If the Israelites complain about Truth because it did not hurry them out of trouble, they never touched Truth, which is supremely free from trouble. If nations fell back when they appeared, then nations fell back because they had confidence in the hopes of their leaders. They believed as high as their teachers taught them they might. They were free as far as they heard and had confidence in Truth. If a doctor goes into the sick room and tells his patient with buoyant cheerfulness that he is sure to get well, the patient will get well if the doctor’s hope strikes the faith cord of the patient. If the doctor has such buoyant cheer right straight along and never lets his mind get nipped by that hidden fear of evil, which his mind keeps in his cellar, the patient’s faith will get hot enough to take him into splendid health. Thus, two of them together work the cure right through the sickness. Hope, and Truth, and faith in Truth are quick freedom from evil.

The whole of faith and the whole of hope ought to be united in every mind. The Jews of old had covenanted with God for a Messiah to come in the process of time. They also covenanted that the Jews should refuse him when he did come. So it all came to pass. But the everlasting Truth still remained that the Messiah was then with them and able to save them from trouble and hunger any moment.

Paul refers to the time when the Jews had been so self-willed that they would have a personal king. He then shows how David, the shepherd boy, came up as a fruit of their strong will, which sometimes drooped into sweet meekness. If this strong will is in one mind, it will drive its life environment all askew. If you have a strong will, you must be exceedingly meek to listen to the word of those people who get on in the world by high principles. The strong will, bending to hear a great principle suddenly strikes fire, and the clear and beautiful judgment rises. Martin Luther was not nearly so brilliant and able by scholarship or native talent as Melanchthon, but he was more meek to his religious teachers, consequently there came a moment when his judgment stood upright on its feet. He had come to the fruiting time of will crossing with docility. There is great strength always born with good judgment. He was strong to proclaim his new confidence that it is not by works that we get spiritual but by faith.

The commonest intellect, with the poorest sort of education, will be enabled by the union of will and meekness to sit in council halls as wise and sound in judgment. Without docility, such a character is obstinate and stupid. Always there is one idea to gather ourselves to and rise within — on the union of it with our strongest trait — into freedom, peace, and wisdom. The genius along any line should speak out and think out the science of the art he is the master of. Gasner, the matchless healer, could not explain, on scientific principles, the process by which he healed the multitudes. Consequently, the science of his healing was as invisible after his brilliant cures as before he touched Germany with the comfort of his presence. It is exactly as if the mathematical genius should be able to tell mankind about the coming conjunctions and transits of heavenly bodies by lightning — like calculations from first principles, but could not explain how he did it to his admiring fellowmen.

Every brilliant cure has its perfect explanation. He who shall arise with a good explanation of how he brings to pass instantaneous bodily cures will be the Jesus Christ of the age unto which he comes. His own body must be perfect. It must vibrate to the touch of his Science as blissfully as Paganini’s violin lifted and enchanted his audience when his fingers of fire from immortal altars quickened its fibers.

It is by the twelve lessons in law and twelve lessons in gospel, united in one mind, that success is best manifest. One by one, the conditions of our human lot are transformed, as we go on from mountaintop, to mountaintop of thought about God. We learn that we do not need to tie to even the loftiest Truth we have so far realized. The Jews did not need to fulfill the prophecies of their fathers. They did not need to pin to a tradition that they should hang on a tree the Lord of all the earth when He came. We do not need to pin ourselves to the doctrine that the just shall live by faith if we have found that life is forever in us, whether we believe it or not.

Martin Luther held himself pinned to the fourth mountaintop of Science, till he wrought out the freedom of a planet from the idea of living by works. But when the gentle Zwingli offered him the hand of love and friendship, independent of doctrinal differences, he had the offer of his lifetime to spring to the heights of a principle more glorified than his mind had touched, namely, “He who loves me transcends me.” Doctrine to the winds when friendship lights the hilltops! Was not true friendship, love in the heart, able to cause difference of opinion to be nothing? It would not have hurt his doctrine, but would have untied him from a post to which he was gathering himself if he had accepted the loving friend ship of Zwingli. He who ties to an idea is as struck with death as he who ties to a tree in the wilderness.

There is always something dead in the body of him who tries to tie others to his ideas, for the chain around the ankle of the slave is clasped around the neck of the captor. If you do not believe in tobacco, that is no reason why your mind should tie your neighbor to your idea of tobacco. Mentally take your clutch off him, and, being free from the chain of your censure, he will rise up to a clearer sight of what it is his soul seeks. He will be more healthy. You will suddenly be free from a burden of your life. You have been tied to your own opinions and have tried to tie others to them. From the time you take the yoke of your opinions off your sons and your neighbors’ sons, so dead sure you are right and they wrong, they will breathe the air or goodness and you will rise free from that physical disease or pain that represents death through being tied to ideas.

Paul agrees in this, Acts 13, like a person in a nightmare, with the idea that the prophecies of evil must be fulfilled. He agrees like a person half-waking with the promise, “God shall raise him from the dead”. This is true. This moment dead hopes will arise if you let go your ideas of what people ought not to do and what they have done that you do not think is right. In all the universe, there is only yourself and God to describe. Yourself as rejoicing in the peace and love of God, and God as all that is good. Paul should rise to the Absolute of the promises. He should get clear from traditions. No corruption for any man more than for Christ, for God is freedom. No death when we speak truths, for God is freedom from death. No burdens, for God is freedom. No pain, for God is freedom. No prophecies, for God is freedom from prophecies. No waiting, for God is NOW freedom. Mind is free to be as wise, as great, as powerful, as it has courage to let go its past ideas. God has no ideas of the past. God is freedom of ideas, past or future. Therefore unhitched from opinions, we are free as God. Paul refused his freedom. We receive ours.

November 20, 1892

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