It is customary for the clergy to open the Bible, read a chapter, make a prayer, and then after reading a passage as a text, preach a sermon. This is the fashion of the day, and everyone who preaches from the same text explains it according to his views, as though his explanation was of some value to man. Suppose a number of persons who are sick and in pain sit listening to preaching; instead of receiving any spiritual food or drink to cool their feverish tongue, they get nervous and are told to be reconciled to all that happens and not complain of their suffering, so they leave the church more nervous than they entered it. Now was this the case with the preaching of Jesus and his disciples? No, their preaching was from some wrong impression that the people had in regard to their health. Jesus never preached to the well. The priests of his day preached to them to make them religious, and when they got a convert, they made him ten times more miserable than before. This is the same in our day. All sermons are preached to make men more religious, and when they have succeeded, men are ten times more liable to disease.
Jesus opposed such works as the works of darkness, and I oppose this sort of religion as the invention of man and shall show that every word they say is false and contains not a word of Christ or truth. Jesus says a tree is known by its fruits. If I show that the fruits of religion come from a corrupt tree, then it ought to be hewn down. Everyone will admit that when a minister preaches from a text, he gives his opinion as to what it means, and his opinions make up his religious discourse, the fruit of it is the good it does to the hearers. Everyone knows that opinions are arbitrary or a belief without wisdom, so how can the fruits coming from a religious opinion be anything but bad? It must be so, for every person is responsible for his opinions and must be affected by them either for good or evil. All religion is arbitrary and was opposed by Jesus, for he had nothing to say to those who were without religion, for he came to save the lost house of Israel. You will find that all his disciples were from the church and religious, being Jews. So, being a Jew himself, his remarks were to his own people and everything was for the benefit of the suffering sick, who had been robbed of their health and happiness by the religion of the priests and left like the prodigal son, to eat the husks and crumbs of their own labor or wisdom or common sense.
This kind of food was to the priests and religious people a dry morsel as it is now. If a person undertakes to question the opinions of the priests and doctors and to think for themselves, such a person is denounced by both classes and their wisdom laughed at and ridiculed as dry food and worthless. As I said at first, all preaching is religious but not of the religion of Jesus. It was the very religion he opposed, for he saw that it contained nothing but opinions that were forced upon the people, making them sick and unhappy. Jesus' religion was Christ or truth, not opinions. So when he spoke the truth, he spoke God or Wisdom and that would burn up the priests' opinions and destroy the misery that followed them. So all his religion was to the sick, made so by the priests. The sick are the only ones who are in danger, for if a person is not sick, he needs no physician. So to make anyone sick is to get him in danger of something. If you cannot make him believe he has a disease, you can make him believe his soul is in danger of being lost. This is the same. One is an effectual as the other; either makes a man miserable and is the effect of our belief. When Jesus commanded his disciples to go forth and teach all men and cure all diseases, he never told them to go to the well and preach the doctrine of the Scribes and Pharisees but to go to the lost sheep or those who had been made sick by the priest, to call on them and cast out their corrupt ideas that they got from the doctors. So by their fruits they were to be known, and instead of making the young sick and crazy by false doctrines, they showed the absurdity of their religion and expounded the living truth which broke in pieces their opinions.
Their test came when they had something to perform; for instance, when Paul went to Athens, his text come up by the state of society. He saw that their religion was all vanity and it made the people sick and wicked, so he said, I perceive that in all things you are too superstitious or religious. You often hear this text preached from Acts 17:22-23. "I found an altar with this inscription, To the unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship him declare I unto you." Paul knew the people were very religious, for when he was a religious man, he was very religious and persecuted all who disbelieved in his religion. But when he saw the truth or Christ, it lit up his wisdom so that he saw that all his religion was of man and he condemned it as superstition, etc.
Religious worship is all the invention of man; there is not one particle of the wisdom of Christ in it. It is only the superstition of the old church that Jesus opposed. Jesus had got rid of his religion before he undertook to preach the Christ or truth. This is the difference: one teaches what he believes about something he knows nothing of, and if he succeeds in convincing others of this belief, this is religion. They are convinced of all kinds of errors and are put under a great many restrictions so that fears of something horrible get them nervous. This is called religion, and their feelings are the fruits. Therefore religion is to make men more miserable than before and this is always so, although at times it may seem different. Shall we do evil that good men come? Now let truth be truth but every man or opinion a liar. The idea of opinions being true is what causes all the controversy. All medical skill is based on this sandy foundation. Religion is based on the same, so when minds of wisdom blow and the waves of truth beat upon the house of opinion, its foundation is washed away and it falls.
Science, like rain, has been dropping upon superstition or religion until it is nearly crumbled to pieces. And as the tide of wisdom sweeps along the shores of superstition, it will wash out the errors and leave the shores of time clear from the rocks and ledges of religious bigotry. So when the wind of life springs up, the soul will glide away down the stream of life to the great ocean of wisdom, there to float free from all harm till time shall be no more. You may say that this time may never come. I will answer in the words of Jesus spoken on a similar occasion. As in the day of Noah, they were eating and drinking in heathen superstition and the floods of wisdom came and those that entered into this truth were saved; so shall it be now. The heavens or minds are black with error and the sun or wisdom gives no light or truth. The stars or teachers fall from the heaven and the powers of their theories are shaken. Now as this truth cometh from the east and shineth to the west, so shall this great wisdom come and thou that understandeth shall enter in and be saved from the evil that follows the belief of the priests and doctors. The truth shall come in the clouds of error, and every eye of wisdom shall see it, and it shall sit on the throne in the belief of man where it will judge the world and separate the truth from the error. Then every theory of man, based on an opinion, shall fall and the Son of God or Science shall reign on the earth as it does in heaven; then there will be a new heaven or science and a new earth or belief, for the old theory of opinions shall be burned up by Science.
Truth and wisdom shall reign till error shall be known as a separate thing from wisdom. Wisdom or Science shall test all opinions, and when a man gives an opinion, it will be taken as such and truth as truth. Religion will then give away to a higher wisdom that will prove itself as Jesus proved his wisdom when on earth.
Jesus was the founder of this great truth and his field was the mind of man. His labor was not among the well or in any known science, but it was with the sick, and his sermon was to correct the error that made the people sick. Therefore all he said was to destroy religion because religion was a sin, based on an opinion. If a person can show where a sermon corrects any error that the sick have so as to relieve them from any suffering, then I will admit the preacher is a follower of Jesus. Jesus never preached without having some object to obtain. But you may go to the church forever and gaze on the dead bodies of sin and error and offer up prayers to this common God, and it will never take away sin and error. But once in the end of these things, the truth will come out and explain all and the sick will be made better; but never will the truth shine till error is shown up in its true character and its cloven foot of ignorance is seen. Then it will cease to be error to mankind.
P. P. Quimby