Napoleon said that when the reign of conscience should begin his reign would end. So he never let even a little glint of conscience get into his mortal kingdom till one day he felt a trifle sorry for his dealings with Josephine. This admission of the hint of a possibility that he could do anything that he could be sorry for opened a spot on the externals of his career where that quicksand rivulet of an idea for which he was famous could break out.
The rivulet was underground, like all the beginnings of quicksand streams. But like all quicksand streams, it broke out on the surface. Conscience made the basin.
The quicksand stream always running within his mind was the idea what he should do in case of defeat. It broke loose instantly when he made a soft spot by being sorry for one thing he had done.
It is not always a regret for what you have done that causes the quicksand idea in your mind to break out in failure or affliction. These lessons are adapted to every kind of mind and have purposed to show you that if you have a sneaking little notion that you are not quite master of your business or of your art, some unguarded word or action will give that little notion mastery over your affairs.
Even children should not get the idea that they are not yet perfect in their studies or in the art they have chosen. For, in Truth, their soul is the origin of the arts and sciences. “Their angels do always behold the face of their Father.” Their inmost thoughts dwell in illuminated wisdom. To tell them this, is truer than to tell them they do not know. If you tell than that in Truth they are wise, they will find some way to express outwardly what they know at the soul.
If you were nagged with the idea that you did not know and must work to know, very likely you do not think very much of what intelligence you have. This poor idea of your intelligence or of your “learning” will break out on some great day in a failure of some kind which other people will say was owing to your foolish disregard of their opinions.
No such thing - it is the time for your own opinion of yourself to break out. There is no knowing what new idea opened up the chance for the old self-depreciation to show out. Maybe it was the idea that you never would have committed that secret sin the other day or a year ago if you had not been tempted more than you could resist.
In this lesson about the fiery furnace we see how surely every mind will have victory over disaster if it has had a habit of thinking that God will bring it out right. These three men had so ardently believed in God with them that when their belief in angry kings and their opposition to their religion broke out, their belief in God with them lifted them out alive and unhurt.
In the histories of martyrs, we often read of the flames and racks not hurting them at all. Some said that fair and wondrous beings came and stood by them, touching their wounds with fingers of ecstasy.
Napoleon thought it was a supreme necessity in battle to have heavy artillery. He was mistaken. The supreme necessity is a right idea of God. These three men did not think they needed any army to save them except their idea of God. They proved the righteousness of their idea by coming out of a very hot fire without even the smell of it on their garments.
They had for many years a sneaking little thought running under their general manner of thinking. That sneaking thought was that there was a great opposition to the true God in other people’s minds. They should have faced that quicksand stream straight up just as soon as it came into their mind. For indeed there is no opposition to the true God in anyone’s mind. They would never have been thrown into the furnace if they had met their early error with its noble truth.
By this lesson, we see that it is a greater demonstration of godliness never to get into afflictions of any kind, than to get out of great afflictions bravely. For we make our own afflictions without doubt.
Now you are thinking that the baby does not make its our afflictions, and therefore this idea is a fallacy.
In Truth, the baby does not suffer at all. You imagine that it suffers. Honestly take your thought that the baby is suffering off from it, and you will see it smile at once. The baby expresses one of your young thoughts that you have not been thinking very long. People who have great mental suffering by reason of thinking much that there is terrible opposition to their idea of good, see a great deal of suffering wherever they go, and they do not more than get in your house till the baby has pains and accidents to express their idea. They unite their strong belief in opposition to the good with your indifferent idea on that subject, and together you fix up the baby to scream and cry all night.
Let you both drop the idea and the baby will sleep just as its soul is resting. It will express its soul estate -- the real of itself. God is Rest. It will rest. Night is the signal that we should all express the Rest of God. God is as much Rest as He is Strength.
People who have to work nights are expressing their notion of much opposition to their idea of good. If they should once see the idea that God is Rest they would be taken up as by a strong hand and put down into some resting-place.
If they should go right back to their idea of there being opposition to the good and say, “There is no opposition anywhere, in all the universe, to my idea of good,” they would never have any hard places to rest from. It is a high statement of Spiritual Science which Jesus Christ made, “My yoke is easy,” “Ye shall find rest.” You have been praising the martyrs, have you not? See to it that you praise their idea of the power of God to save. Do not get to thinking with them that suffering is a necessity to bring out the virtues of men. Do not get to thinking with them that the time of suffering is the time of manifestation of God’s power.
Praise their idea that God will save, till by praising it you see clearly that there was nothing to be saved from except their notion that suffering is an ordinance of God. Then you will suddenly see how inspired Jeremiah was when he said that, “a man’s word is his only burden.”
This third chapter of Daniel shows that there is nothing to be saved from except our own ideas. It shows that one true idea held firmly will be a golden thread of light to bring us into the realm of all Truth. One true idea in your mind will take you through into all Truth, if you will look hard at it and never mind whether you know much or little, or whether your lot is hard or easy.
For instance one of these men, who came out of a hot furnace by holding an ecstatic state of mind, was named Azariah. This name signifies that he believed strongly in God as his defense in the day of affliction. It was a truth as far as it went and out of his hot affliction, he came safely.
Another of those men was entranced by the idea that all things are the free gift of God. It was the idea that:
“When earthly helpers fail and comforts flee,
God of the helpless, He remembers me.”
This idea was just as capable of giving him the free gift of cool breaths in flames as Azariah’s idea of defense. The other one was named Mishael. That name shows that he believed that his substance, the very substance of his body, was God. No one believes that fire can burn God. So whoever believes that the substance of his body is God will certainly never have anything hurt him.
The golden text of this lesson tells us that if we will hold any one of these ideas held by these three men, we will come off victorious over every trial. “When thou walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned.” Some things make up the fires through which one walks, and other things make up the fires through which others walk.
A true idea coming into mind will lift you out of your fire safely. A true idea in my mind will lift me out safely -- will lift anyone out who thinks it. One woman had a cancer on her nose, which was her fire of affliction. Someone sent her a true idea of God, and it rushed through her mind like a white stream of glory and washed that cancer out in one night. Another woman had a tumor, which was her hot furnace of trial. A true idea was printed in a little blue magazine in Chicago, and when she read it that idea rushed the tumor out of her body in less than twelve hours.
A man had a film on his eyes and it slipped off at the reading of an idea of God, which a friend wrote him in a letter.
To these three men, recorded by Daniel, the idea appeared as a man. To the great king Nebuchadnezzar, it looked like the “Son of God.” Our ideas often stand out as beings who do not appear mortal and natural, like those we deal with in business.
This lesson suggests that we love the practice of the Presence of God. We love the marvelous. It tells us to go back to the first principle established in Universal Mind. That first principle is: “There is good for me.” Everything says this unconsciously. When it says it consciously, the good begins to come toward it. When the mind says boldly of this good that it ought to have it, that good hurries to meet its owner.
The word good is a little waxy subject in the mind. We can “bring forth” out of it, or “make” out of this word whatever good thing we name as what we ought to have. Watch the word good for a while as you name it as what you ought to have. All things are made out of the word -- “And the Word was God.” And God is Good.
There is a cord connecting your good with you. If you are anxious, your anxiety is a corrosive sublimate to eat off that cord. So you must not let anxiety rest in your mind. Jesus Christ said: “Take no thought.” “Be not afraid.” We can stop being anxious, and stop being anxious and stop being anxious, till everything we think we ought to have comes running swiftly to greet us.
“It shall come to pass that while they are yet speaking I will answer them.” The idea of opposition to our ideas of good, which makes all the human hardships brought about by spreading this idea abroad, is called a “wilderness” by Ezekiel; “Lion’s den” and “Fiery furnace” by Daniel. When Ezekiel was speaking of human experiences as a wilderness, he said it was the highest law to refuse the teachings of our fathers and mothers, our ministers and our schoolteachers. (Look into the deep meaning of Ezekiel, twentieth chapter, and eighteenth verse.) They all represent some ideas we have given great authority and prominence to in our mind. Every one of them had so much trouble that they represented to us more the idea of opposition to good than power of good. Whoever believes much in opposition to his idea of good, will get very blue and despondent. If he had an idea that it is his duty to work with all his might – “to widen the skirts of light and make the struggle with darkness narrower,” he will be a philanthropist or reformer. Then we shall praise him. But his overpowering sorrow at the sufferings of this planet makes him a very lugubrious mentality to have around.
All the good the reformer does is by his idea that suffering can be ameliorated by his efforts seconded by his God.
That idea is very, very slim and tender by the side of his mournful idea of the power of the opposition to his God, however, and so he really fans the furnace of pain for those he would save. This lesson compels the conclusion -- Nebuchadnezzar hoping -- that God will save, and not the true thinker ignoring the flames. Shall the reformer and philanthropist look into the dens of crime and ignore them, according to metaphysics? He shall.
He shall not respect the sight of the eyes or the hearing of the ears, when they report pain. He shall not record the doings of misery. They are only his own long-held notions spread out in his sight. As he looks at these evidences of his own quicksand of past thoughts, taught by those who believed in opposition to good, he shall say “I do not judge after the sight of my eyes, nor after the hearing of my ears. I judge by my idea of the omnipresence and omnipotence of God. Let now God be manifest here.”
He shall stand by that idea and that alone, till it is his vital faith. “According to thy faith be it unto thee.” Shall a poor miner, a half-paid printer, a feeble sewing girl, a wounded heart, ignore the difference between their lot and the lot of a Vanderbilt or a Field? They shall. They shall look straight into the airs that are full of God and say to God alone: “Thou art my noble Comrade, my rich and powerful Champion.”
They shall stand by that Truth until it is their vital faith. And they shall see God manifest, first by the unsought kindness of mankind, the unmasked comradeship of good people, the unbegged gifts of the rich and powerful. Then by the wonderful possessions of their own, whereby they are able to lift every burden off their neighbors with wisdom of action and without sorrow. It is written that David was a man after God’s own heart, simply because he spoke so richly of God and ignored everything else. Every man is after God’s own heart when he tells the Truth of God.
There is no opposition to God in Truth. Speak this out boldly and see it demonstrated. Tell the child God is with him as his High Counselor, and that there is no opposition to his God. Shout it to the beggars that God is their rich and powerful Champion, and nothing can withstand Him.
Tell it to the convicts that God is their noble Comrade, and nothing can oppose Him. Ezekiel saw in his fifteenth chapter that the very best old teachings would be burned up in the fires of Truth. There shall not be a pin left in the true teachings upon which to hang our miseries. This is Bible prophecy. The only pin we can tie to is the Truth concerning God, which is first thought of as a righteous principle. It then shows as a helper out of the troubles we are now in, and then shows as the only Presence knowing nothing of trouble any more at all.
June 5, 1892