Man
(Is Man Spirit or Matter?)

 

September 12th, 1861

 

by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

 

Is man spirit or matter? Neither. Then what is he? He is life. What are his attributes? A knowledge of himself as a living, thinking, seeing and moving being, without matter or mind. Then what is this body that we see? It is a tenement for the man to occupy when he pleases. But as man knows not himself, he reasons as though he was one of the fixtures of his house or body.

I will give you an illustration. Take the White House at Washington. The President is the name of the wisdom that governs the man called Lincoln. Suppose in ten years a person inquires what house that is, and he is told that it is the president's, does it follow that Mr. Lincoln occupies it? Yet the same intellect is there, or ought to be. Now here are three identities in one man: 1 Lincoln himself, 2 Lincoln as president, and 3 Lincoln's house.

We do not think or know that all there is of us is our wisdom, and happiness and misery is what follows our belief. If we had no belief, we should either be fools or wise men; so a belief makes neither, but a man of error or matter that can be changed. All these faculties are not of the idea body, but one, that is error.

The Christian character, independent of his senses or life, is his stock in trade, as in other persons. I will take him, for he sets such a value on his riches. Religion is called “riches”, and riches sometimes take to themselves wings and fly away. Now there is some standard to test a man's riches to see what they consist in. I will take the Christian. What does his riches consist in? Not in charity, for they have none for any who do not believe as they do. Here is what Jesus says. “If you love them that love you, what reward have you?” If you do anything sinners do, you are no better than they.

So where is the Christian any better than a man who does as well as the Christian? There is a difference, but it exists in the person's belief. Here is all the value of a Christian's inheritance. It is in his belief, and all scientific men will see that a belief is worth just what it will bring; and a belief of which you have no proof is nothing at all. I will assume I am a Christian, independent of any worldly acts. For a Christian, according to the people, is a gift of God, and not of works; lest anyone should boast, so it must be a free gift.

I will begin and tell what makes me a Christian. I believe the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. I believe that God sent Jesus into the world to save man. I believe God is everywhere and nowhere in particular. He has a form; and he is without one. He is three distinct persons; and he is but one, and he knows all things, etc. Suppose I believe all this. What does it show? It shows that I have not got wisdom enough to see that, in all the above, there is as much wisdom in it as there would be to take in the Arabian Nights as true. If this absurdity makes me happy, it only proves that a fool can be happy in his own folly.

To be a Christian is to attach yourself to the above belief. What does it mean to be a Christian, according to Jesus' ideas? He is the founder of the religion. Let us see what it says in the New Testament. Pure and undefiled religion is to visit the sick in their affliction, and keep yourself pure and unspotted from the world. Do the Christians of this age do more of that than the skeptic? Where was Jesus' religion? In his words or acts. Take Jesus as a man, for he was no more than any man, and as such, he was not religious. To be religious is to be something more than a man; for the natural man knows not God. So to be a Christian is to be born again.

Now religion is a science that can be applied to the happiness of man; but a belief is a belief to the person who has it, and no one else. Here is the difference between the Christian and the natural man; for instance, Jesus and another man, just as good in all respects. Let a sick person be the test to discriminate between Jesus and a skeptic. The skeptic is anxious to help his friend. If money would do it, he would give all that he had or suffer his body to be burned, but that can't help the sick man. Then Jesus, with no money, applies his Christ or religion to the sick, and they recover. So religion is that wisdom that can say to the sick and palsied man, “Stretch forth thy hand, and I will apply the science or Christ and restore it.”

Here is the difference. The natural man knows not science or Christ. To know science, you must be born of the spirit of religion or truth; but to be a quack is to believe in something that you know nothing of. This makes up the religion of man. It never made man any better. I know it from experience. I do not believe in any God, as taught me in my early days; neither do I believe in any religious belief or anything attributed to the Christian.

I will admit that happiness is the greatest blessing to man, and Jesus taught it. But Jesus' religion and man's religion are as near alike as an abolitionist and a rabid pro-slavery man are. One goes for liberty and the other for slavery, and it is a burlesque on Jesus for a man to preach slavery and claim to be a follower of Jesus. Jesus preached the true doctrine of Christ or science: to let slavery alone; not to meddle with it, but preach the truth.

— September 12, 1861.

P. P. Quimby

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