The Hidden Power, by Thomas Troward , at sacred-texts.com
A DEEPLY interesting subject to the student of the New Thought movement is to trace how exactly its teaching is endorsed by the teaching of the Bible. There is no such thing as new thought in the sense of new Truth, for what is truth now must have been truth always; but there is such a thing as a new presentment of the old Truth, and it is in this that the newness of the present movement consists. But the same Truth has been repeatedly stated in earlier ages under various forms and in various measures of completeness, and nowhere more completely than in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. None of the older forms of statement is more familiarly known to our readers than that contained in the Bible, and no other is entwined around our hearts with the same sacred and tender associations: therefore, I have no hesitation in saying that the existence of a marked
correspondence between its teaching and that of the New Thought cannot but be a source of strength and encouragement to any of us who have been accustomed in the past to look to the old and hallowed Book as a storehouse of Divine wisdom. We shall find that the clearer light will make the rough places smooth and the dim places luminous, and that of the treasures of knowledge hidden in the ancient volume the half has not been told us.
The Bible lays emphatic stress upon "the glorious liberty of the sons of God," thus uniting in a single phrase the twofold idea of filial dependence and personal liberty. A careful study of the subject will show us that there is no opposition between these two ideas, but that they are necessary correlatives to each other, and that whether stated after the more concentrated method of the Bible, or after the more detailed method of the New Thought, the true teaching proclaims, not our independence of God, but our independence in God.
Such an enquiry naturally centres in an especial manner around the sayings of Jesus; for whatever may be our opinions as to the nature of the authority with which he spoke, we must all agree that a peculiar weight attaches to those utterances which have come down to us as the ipsissima verba from which the entire New Testament has been developed; and if an identity of conception in the New Thought movement can be traced here at the fountain-head, we may expect to find it in the lower streams also.
The Key to the Master's teaching is to be found in his discourse with the Woman of Samaria, and it is contained in the statement that "the Father" is Spirit, that is, Spirit in the absolute and unqualified sense of the word, as appears from the original Greek, and not "A Spirit" as it is rendered in the Authorised Version: and then as the natural correlative to "the Father" we find another term employed, "the Son." The relation between these two forms the great subject of Jesus' teaching, and, therefore, it is most important to have some definite idea of what he meant by these terms if we would understand what it was that he really taught.
Now if "the Father" be Spirit, "the Son" must be Spirit also; for a son must necessarily be of the same nature as his father. But since "the Father" is Spirit, Absolute and Universal, it is evident that "the Son" cannot be Spirit, Absolute and Universal, because there cannot be two Universal Spirits, for then neither would be universal. We may, therefore, logically infer that because "the Father" is Universal Spirit, "the Son" is Spirit not universal; and the only definition of Spirit not-universal is Spirit individualised and particular. The Scripture tells us that "the Spirit is Life," and taking this as the definition of "Spirit," we find that "the Father" is Absolute, Originating, Undifferentiated Life, and "the Son" is the same Life differentiated into particular forms. Hence, in the widest sense of the expression, "the Son" stands for the whole
creation, visible or invisible, and in this sense it is the mere differentiation of the universal Life into a multiplicity of particular modes. But if we have any adequate idea of the intelligent and responsive nature of Spirit 1--if we realise that because it is Pure Being it must be Infinite Intelligence and Infinite Responsiveness--then we shall see that its reproduction in the particular admits of innumerable degrees, from mere expression as outward form up to the very fullest expression of the infinite intelligence and responsiveness that Spirit is.
The teachings of Jesus were addressed to the hearts and intelligences of men, and therefore the grade of sonship of which he spoke has reference to the expression of Infinite Being in the human heart and intellect. But this, again, may be conceived of in infinite degrees; in some men there is the bare potentiality of sonship entirely undeveloped as yet, in others the beginnings of its development, in others a fuller development, and so on, until we can suppose some
supreme instance in which the absolutely perfect reproduction of the universal has been attained. Each of these stages constitutes a fuller and fuller expression of sonship, until the supreme development reaches a point at which it can be described only as the perfect image of "the Father"; and this is the logical result of a process of steady growth from an inward principle of Life which constitutes the identity of each individual.
It is thus a necessary inference from Jesus' own explanation of "the Father" as Spirit or Infinite Being that "the Son" is the Scriptural phrase for the reproduction of Infinite Being in the individual, contemplated in that stage at which the individual does in some measure begin to recognise his identity with his originating source, or, at any rate, where he has capacity for such a recognition, even though the actual recognition may not yet have taken place. It is very remarkable that, thus defining "the Son" on the direct statement of Jesus himself, we arrive exactly at the definition of Spirit as "that power which knows itself." In the capacity for thus recognising its identity of nature with "the Father" is it that the potential fact of sonship consists, for the prodigal son was still a son even before he began to realise his relation to his "Father" in actual fact. It is the dawning of this recognition that constitutes the spiritual "babe," or infant son; and by degrees this consciousness grows till he attains the full estate of spiritual manhood. This
recognition by the individual of his own identity with Universal Spirit is precisely what forms the basis of the New Thought; and thus at the outset the two systems radiate from a common centre.
But I suppose the feature of the New Thought which is the greatest stumbling-block to those who view the movement from the outside is the claim it makes for Thought-power as an active factor in the affairs of daily life. As a mere set of speculative opinions people might be willing to pigeon-hole it along with the philosophic systems of Kant or Hegel; but it is the practical element in it which causes the difficulty. It is not only a system of Thought based upon a conception of the Unity of Being, but it claims to follow out this conception to its legitimate consequences in the production of visible and tangible external results by the mere exercise of Thought-power. A ridiculous claim, a claim not to be tolerated by common sense, a trespassing upon the Divine prerogative, a claim of unparalleled audacity: thus the casual objector. But this claim is not without its parallel, for the same claim was put forward on the same ground by the Great Teacher Himself as the proper result of "the Son's" recognition of his relation to "the Father." "Ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you"; "Whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive, and nothing shall be impossible unto you"; "All things are possible to him that believeth." These statements are absolutely without any note of
limitation save that imposed by the seeker's want of faith in his own power to move the Infinite. This is as clear a declaration of the efficacy of mental power to produce outward and tangible results as any now made by the New Thought, and it is made on precisely the same ground, namely, the readiness of "the Father" or Spirit in the Universal to respond to the movement of Spirit in the individual.
In the Bible this movement of individualised Spirit is called "prayer," and it is synonymous with Thought, formulated with the intention of producing this response.
and we must not let ourselves be misled by the association of particular forms with particular words, but should follow the sound advice of Oliver Wendell Holmes, and submit such words to a process of depolarisation, which brings out their real meaning. Whether we call our act "prayer" or "thought-concentration," we mean the same thing; it is the claim of the man to move the Infinite by the action of his own mind.
It may be objected, however, that this definition omits an important element of prayer, the question, namely, whether God will hear it. But this is the very element that Jesus most rigorously excludes from his description of the mental act. Prayer, according to
the popular notion, is a most uncertain matter. Whether we shall be heard or not depends entirely upon another will, regarding whose action we are completely ignorant, and therefore, according to this notion, the very essence of prayer consists of utter uncertainty. Jesus' conception of prayer was the very opposite. He bids us believe that we have already in fact received what we ask for, and makes this the condition of receiving; in other words, he makes the essential factor in the mental action to consist in Absolute Certainty as to the corresponding response in the Infinite, which is exactly the condition that the New Thought lays down for the successful operation of Thought-power.
It may, however, be objected that if men have thus an indiscriminate power of projecting their thought to the accomplishment of anything they desire, they can do so for evil as easily as for good. But Jesus fully recognised this possibility, and worked the only destructive miracle recorded of him for the express purpose of emphasising the danger. The reason given by the compilers of the Gospel for the destruction of the fig-tree is clearly inadequate, for we certainly cannot suppose Jesus so unreasonable as to curse a tree for not bearing fruit out of season. But the record itself shows a very different purpose. Jesus answered the disciples' astonished questioning by telling them that it was in their own power, not only to do what was done to the fig-tree, but to produce effects upon a far grander scale; and he concludes the conversation by
laying down the duty of a heart-searching forgiveness as a necessary preliminary to prayer. Why was this precept so particularly impressed in this particular connection? Obviously because the demonstration he had just given of the valency of thought-power in the hands of instructed persons laid bare the fact that this power can be used destructively as well as beneficially, and that, therefore, a thorough heart-searching for the eradication of any lurking ill-feeling became an imperative preliminary to its safe use; otherwise there was danger of noxious thought-currents being set in motion to the injury of others. The miracle of the fig-tree was an object-lesson to exhibit the need for the careful handling of that limitless power which Jesus assured his disciples existed as fully in them as in himself. I do not here attempt to go into this subject in detail, but enough has, I think, been shown to convince us that Jesus made exactly the same claim for the power of Thought as that made by the New Thought movement at the present day. It is a great claim, and it is, therefore, encouraging to find such an authority committed to the same assertion.
The general principle on which this claim is based by the exponents of the New Thought is the identity of Spirit in the individual with spirit in the universal, and we shall find that this, also, is the basis of Jesus' teaching on the subject. He says that "the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do these things doeth the Son in like manner." It must
now be sufficiently clear that "the Son" is a generic appellation, not restricted to a particular individual, but applicable to all; and this statement explains the manner of "the Son's" working in relation to "the Father." The point this sentence particularly emphasises is that it is what he sees the Father doing that the Son does also. His doing corresponds to his seeing. If the seeing expands, the doing expands along with it. But we are all sufficiently familiar with this principle in other matters. What differentiates an Edison or a Marconi from the apprentice who knows only how to fit up an electric bell by rule of thumb? It is their capacity for seeing the universal principles of electricity and bringing them into particular application. The great painter is the one who sees the universal principles of form and colour where the smaller man sees only a particular combination; and so with the great surgeon, the great chemist, the great lawyer--in every line it is the power of insight that distinguishes the great man from the little one; it is the capacity for making wide generalisations and perceiving far-reaching laws that raises the exceptional mind above the ordinary level. The greater working always results from the greater seeing into the abstract principles from which any art or science is generated; and this same law carried up to the universal principles of Life is the law by which "the Son's" working is proportioned to his seeing the method of "the Father's" work. Thus the source of "the Son's" power lies in
the contemplation of "the Father," the endeavour, that is, to realise the true nature of Being, whether in the abstract or in its generic forms of manifestation. 2 This is Bacon's maxim, "Work as God works"; and similarly the New Thought consists before all things in the realisation of the laws of Being.
And the result of the seeing is that "the Son" does the same things as "the Father" "in like manner." The Son's action is the reproduction of the universal principles in application to specific instances. The principles remain unaltered and work always in the same manner, and the office of "the Son" is to determine the particular field of their operation with regard
to the specific object which he has in view; and therefore, so far as that object is concerned, the action of "the Son" becomes the action of "the Father" also.
Again, there is no concealment on the part of "the Father." He has no secrets, for "the Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things that himself doeth." There is perfect reciprocity between Spirit in the Universal and in Individualisation, resulting from the identity of Being; and "the Son's" recognition of Love as the active principle of this Unity gives him an intuitive insight into all those inner workings of the Universal Life which we call the arcana of Nature. Love has a divine gift of insight which cannot be attained by intellect alone, and the old saying, "Love will find out the way," has greater depths of meaning than appear on the surface. Thus there is not only a seeing, but also a showing; and the three terms--"looking, seeing, showing"--combine to form a power of "working" to which it is impossible to assign any limit.
Here, again, the teaching of Jesus is in exact correspondence with that of the New Thought, which tells us that limitations exist only where we ourselves put them, and that to view ourselves as beings of limitless knowledge, power, and love is to become such in outward manifestation of visible fact. Any objection, therefore, to the New Thought teaching regarding the possibilities latent in Man apply with equal force to the teachings of Jesus. His teaching clearly was that
the perfect individuality of Man is a Dual-Unity, the polarisation of the Infinite in the Manifest; and it requires only the recognition of this truth for the manifested element in this binary system to demonstrate its identity with the corresponding element which is not externally visible. He said that He and his Father were One, that those who had seen him had seen the Father, that the words which he spoke were the Father's, and that it was the Father who did the works. Nothing could be more explicit. Absolute unity of the manifested individuality with the Originating Infinite Spirit is asserted or implied in every utterance attributed to Jesus, whether spoken of himself or of others. He recognises only one radical difference, the difference between those who know this truth and those who do not know it. The distinction between the disciple and the master is one only of degree, which will be effaced by the expansive power of growth; "the disciple, when he is perfected, shall be as his Master."
All that hinders the individual from exercising the full power of the Infinite for any purpose whatever is his lack of faith, his inability to realise to the full the stupendous truth that he himself is the very power which he seeks. This was the teaching of Jesus as it is that of the New Thought; and this truth of the Divine Sonship of Man once taken as the great foundation, a magnificent edifice of possibilities which "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart
of man to conceive," grows up logically upon it--a glorious heritage which each one may legitimately claim in right of his common humanity.
The Great Affirmation
I take it for granted that my readers are well acquainted with the part assigned to the principle of Affirmation in the scheme of the New Thought. This is often a stumbling-block to beginners; and I feel sure that even those who are not beginners will welcome every aid to a deeper apprehension of this great central truth. I, therefore, purpose to examine the Bible teaching on this important subject.
The professed object of the Bible is to establish and extend "the Kingdom of God" throughout the world, and this can be done only by repeating the process from one individual to another, until the whole mass is leavened. It is thus an individual process; and, as we have seen in the last chapter, God is Spirit and Spirit is Life, and, therefore, the expansion of "the Kingdom of God" means the expansion of the principle of Life in each individual. Now Life, to be life at all, must be Affirmative. It is Life in virtue of what it is, and not in virtue of what it is not. The quantity of life in any particular case may be very small; but, however small the amount, the quality is always the same;
it is the quality of Being, the quality of Livingness, and not its absence, that makes it what it is. The distinctive character of Life, therefore, is that it is Positive and not Negative; and every degree of negativeness, that is, every limitation, is ultimately traceable to deficiency of Life-power.
Limitations surround us because we believe in our inability to do what we desire. Whenever we say "I cannot" we are brought up sharp by a limitation, and we cease to exercise our thought-power in that direction because we believe ourselves stopped by a blank wall of impossibility; and whenever this occurs we are subjected to bondage. The ideal of perfect Liberty is the converse of all this, and follows a sequence which does not thus lead us into a cul-de-sac. This sequence consists of the three affirmations: I am--therefore I can--therefore I will; and this last affirmation results in the projection of our powers, whether interior or external, to the accomplishment of the desired object. But this last affirmation has its root in the first; and it is because we recognise the Affirmative nature of the Life that is in us, or rather of the Life which we are, that the power to will or to act positively has any existence; and, therefore, the extent of our power to will and to act positively and with effect, is exactly measured by our perception of the depth and livingness of our own Being. Hence the more fully we learn to affirm that, the greater power we are able to exercise.
Now the ideal of perfect Liberty is the entire absence
of all limitation, and to have no limitation in Being is to be co-extensive with All-Being. We are all grammarians enough to know that the use of a predicate is to lead the mind to contemplate the subject as represented by that predicate; in other words, it limits our conception for the time being to that particular aspect of the subject. Hence every predicate, however extensive, implies some limitation of the subject. But the ideal subject, the absolutely free self, is, by the very hypothesis, without limitation; and, therefore, no predicate can be attached to it. It stands as a declaration of its own Being without any statement of what that Being consists in, and therefore it says of itself, not "I am this or that," but simply I am. No predicate can be added, because the only commensurate predicate would be the enumeration of Infinity. Therefore, both logically and grammatically, the only possible statement of a fully liberated being is made in the words I am.
I need hardly remind my readers of the frequency with which Jesus employed these emphatic words. In many cases the translators have added the word "He," but they have been careful, by putting it in italics, to show that it is not in the original. As grammarians and theologians they thought something more was wanted to complete the sense, and they supplied it accordingly; but if we would get at the very words as the Master himself spoke them, we must strike out this interpolation. And as soon as we have done so there flashes into light the identity of his statement
with that made to Moses at the burning bush, where the full significance of the words is so obvious that the translators were compelled to leave the place of the predicate in that seeming emptiness which comes from filling all things.
Seen thus, a marvellous light shines forth from the instruction of the Great Teacher: for in whatever sense we may regard him as a Great Exception to the weak and limited aspect of humanity with which we are only too familiar, we must all agree that his mission was not to render mankind hopeless by declaring the path of advance barred against them, but "to give light to them that sit in darkness," and liberty to them that are bound, by proclaiming the unlimited possibilities that are in man waiting only to be called forth by knowledge of the Truth. And if we suppose any personal reference in his words, it can, therefore, be only as the Great Example of what man has it in him to become, and not as the example of something which man can never hope to be; an Exception, truly, to mankind as we see them now, but the Exception that proves the rule, and sets the standard of what each one may become as he attains to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
Let us, therefore, by striking out this interpolation, restore the Master's words as they stand in the original: "Except ye believe that I am, ye shall die in your sins." This is an epitome of his teaching.
"The last enemy that shall be overcome is death,"
and the "sting," or fatal power, of death is "sin." Remove that, and death has no longer any dominion over us; its power is at an end. And "the strength of sin is the Law": sin is every contradiction of the law of Being; and the law of Being is infinitude; for Being is Life, and Life in its innermost essence is the limitless I am. Dying in our sins is thus not a punishment for doubting a particular theological dogma, but it is the unavoidable natural consequence of not realising, not believing in, the I am. So long as we fail to realise its full infinitude in ourselves, we cut ourselves off from our conscious unity with the Infinite Life-Spirit which permeates all things. Without this principle we have no alternative but to die--and this because of our sin, that is, because of our failure to conform to the true Law of our Being, which is Life, and not Death. We affirm Death and Negation concerning ourselves, and therefore Death and Negation are externalised, and thus we pay the penalty of not believing in the central Law of our own Life, which is the Law of all Life. The Bible is the Book of Principles, and therefore by "dying" is meant the acceptance of the principle of the Negative which culminates in Death as the sum-total of all limitations, and which introduces at every step those restrictions which are of the nature of Death, because their tendency is to curtail the outflowing fulness of Life.
This, then, is the very essence of the teaching of Jesus, that unbelief in the limitless power of Life-in-ourselves--
in each of us--is the one cause of Death and of all those evils which, in greater or lesser measure, reproduce the restrictive influences which deprive Life of its fulness and joy. If we would escape Death and enter into Life, we must each believe in the I am in ourselves. And the ground for this belief? Simply that nothing else is conceivable. If our life is not a portion of the life of Universal Spirit, whence comes it? We are because that is. No other explanation is possible. The unqualified affirmation of our own livingness is not an audacious self-assertion: it is the only logical outcome of the fact that there is any life anywhere, and that we are here to think about it. In the sense of Universal Being, there can be only One I am, and the understanding use of the words by the individual is the assertion of this fact. The forms of manifestation are infinite, but the Life which is manifested is One, and thus every thinker who recognises the truth regarding himself finds in the I am both himself and the totality of all things; and thus he comes to know that in utilising the interior nature of the things. and persons about him, he is, in effect, employing the powers of his own life.
Sometimes the veil which Jesus drew over this great truth was very transparent. To the Samaritan woman he spoke of it as a spring of Life forever welling up in the innermost recesses of man's being; and again, to the multitude assembled at the Temple, he spoke of it as a river of Life forever gushing from the secret
sources of the spirit within us. Life, to be ours at all, must be ourselves. An energy which only passed through us, without being us, might produce a sort of galvanic activity, but it would not be Life. Life can never be a separate entity from the individuality which manifests it; and therefore, even if we conceive the life-principle in a man so intensified as to pulsate with what might seem to us an absolutely divine vitality, it would still be no other than the man himself. Thus Jesus directs us to no external source of life, but ever teaches that the Kingdom of Heaven is within, and that what is wanted is to remove those barriers of ignorance and ill-will which prevent us from realising that the great I am, which is the innermost Spirit of Life throughout the universe, is the same I am that I am, whoever I may be.
On another memorable occasion Jesus declared again that the I am is the enduring principle of Life. It is this that is the Resurrection and the Life; not, as Martha supposed, a new principle to be infused from without at some future time, but an inherent core of vitality awaiting only its own recognition of itself to triumph over death and the grave. And yet, again hear the Master's answer to the inquiring Thomas. How many of us, like him, desire to know the way! To hear of wonderful powers latent in man and requiring only development is beautiful and hopeful, if we could only find out the way to develop them; but who will show us the way? The answer comes
with no uncertain note. The I am includes ' everything. It is at once "the Way, the Truth, and the Life": not the Life only, or the Truth only, but also the Way by which to reach them. Can words be plainer? It is by continually affirming and relying on the I am in ourselves as identical with the I am that is the One and Only Life, whether manifested or unmanifested, in all places of the universe, that we shall find the way to the attainment of all Truth and of all Life. Here we have the predicate which we are seeking to complete our affirmation regarding ourselves. I am--what? the Three things which include all things: Truth, which is all Knowledge and Wisdom; Life, which is all Power and Love; and the unfailing Way which will lead us step by step, if we follow it, to heights too sublime and environment too wide for our present juvenile imaginings to picture.
As the New Testament centres around Jesus, so the old Testament centres around Moses, and he also declares the Great Affirmation to be the same. 3 For
him God has no name, but that intensely living universal Life which is all in all, and no name is sufficient to be its equivalent. The emphatic words I am are the only possible statement of the One-Power which exhibits itself as all worlds and all living beings. It is the Great I am which forever unfolds itself in all the infinite evolutionary forces of the cosmic scheme, and which, in marvellous onward march, develops itself into higher and higher conscious intelligence in the successive races of mankind, unrolling the scroll of history as it moves on from age to age, working out with unerring precision the steady forward movement of the whole towards that ultimate perfection in which the work of God will be completed. But
stupendous as is the scale on which this Providential Power reveals itself to Moses and the Prophets, it is still nothing else than the very same Power which Jesus bids us realise in ourselves.
The theatre of its operations may be expanded to the magnificent proportions of a world-history, or contracted to the sphere of a single individuality: the difference is only one of scale; but the Life-principle is always the same. It is always the principle of confident Affirmation in the calm knowledge that all things are but manifestations of itself, and that, therefore, all must move together in one mighty unity which admits of no discordant elements. This "unity of the spirit" once clearly grasped, to say I am is to send the vibrations of our thought-currents throughout the universe to do our bidding when and where we will; and, conversely, it is to draw in the vitalising influences of Infinite Spirit as from a boundless ocean of Life, which can never be exhausted and from which no power can hold us back. And all this is so because it is the supreme law of Nature. It is not the introduction of a new order, but simply the allowing of the original and only possible order to flow on to its legitimate fulfilment. A Divine Order, truly, but nowhere shall we find anything that is not Divine; and it is to the realisation of this Divine and Living Order that it is the purpose of the Bible to lead us. But we shall never realise it around us until we first realise it within us. We can see God outside only by the light
of God inside; and this light increases in proportion as we become conscious of the Divine nature of the innermost I am which is the centre of our own individuality.
Therefore, it is that Jesus tells us that the I am is "the door." It is that central point of our individual Being which opens into the whole illimitable Life of the Infinite. If we would understand the old-world precept, "know thyself," we must concentrate our thought more and more closely upon our own interior Life until we touch its central radiating point, and there we shall find that the door into the Infinite is indeed opened to us, and that we can pass from the innermost of our own Being into the innermost of All-Being. This is why Jesus spoke of "the door" as that through which we should pass in and out and find pasture. Pasture, the feeding of every faculty with its proper food, is to be found both on the within and the without. The livingness of Life consists in both concentration and externalisation: it is not the dead equilibrium of inertia, but the living equilibrium of a vital and rhythmic pulsation. Involution and evolution must forever alternate, and the door of communication between them is the I am which is the living power in both. Thus it is that the Great Affirmation is the Secret of Life, and that to say I am with a true understanding of all that it implies is to place ourselves in touch with all the powers of the Infinite.
This is the Universal and Eternal Affirmation to
which no predicate is attached; and all particular affirmations will be found to be only special differentiations of this all-embracing one. I will this or that particular thing because I know that I can bring it into externalisation, and I know that I can because I know that I am, and so we always come back to the great central Affirmation of All-Being. Search the Scriptures and you will find that from first to last they teach only this: that every human soul is an individualisation of that Universal Being, or All-Spirit, which we call God, and that Spirit can never be shorn of its powers, but like Fire, which is its symbol, must always be fully and perfectly itself, which is Life in all its unlimited fulness.
In assigning to Affirmation, therefore, the importance which it does, the New Thought movement is at one with the teaching of Jesus and Moses and of the entire Bible. And the reason is clear. There is only one Truth, and therefore careful seeking can bring men only to the same Truth, whether they be Bible-writers or any other. The Bible derives its authority from the inherent truth of the things it tells of, and not vice versa; and if these things be true at all, they would be equally true even though no Bible had ever been written. But, taking the Great Affirmation as our guide, we shall find that the system taught by the Bible is scientific and logical throughout, and therefore any other system which is scientifically true will be found to correspond with it in substance, however
it may differ from it in form; and thus, in their statements regarding the power of Affirmation, the exponents of the New Thought broach no new-fangled absurdity, but only reiterate a great truth which has been before the world, though very imperfectly recognised, for thousands of years.
If, as we have seen, "the Son" is the differentiating principle of Spirit, giving rise to innumerable individualities, "the Father" is the unifying principle by which these innumerable individualities are bound together into one common life, and the necessity for recognising this great basis of the universal harmony forms the foundation of Jesus' teaching on the subject of Worship. "Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father. Ye worship that which ye know not; we worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour cometh and now is when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth" (Revised Version). In these few words the Great Teacher sums up the whole subject. He lays particular stress on the kind of worship that he means. It is, before all things, founded upon knowledge.
"We worship that which we know," and it is this knowledge that gives the worship a healthful and life-giving quality. It is not the ignorant worship of wonderment and fear, a mere abasement of ourselves before some vast, vague, unknown power, which may injure us if we do not find out how to propitiate it; but it is a definite act performed with a definite purpose, which means that it is the employment of one of our natural faculties upon its proper object in an intelligent manner. The ignorant Samaritan worship is better than no worship at all, for at least it realises the existence of some centre around which a man's life should revolve, something to prevent the aimless dispersion of His powers for want of a centripetal force to bind them together; and even the crudest notion of prayer, as a mere attempt to induce God to change his mind, is at least a first step towards the truth that full supply for all our needs may be drawn from the Infinite. Still, such worship as this is hampered with perplexities, and can give only a feeble answer to the atheistical sneer which asks, "What is man, that God should be mindful of him, a momentary atom among unnumbered worlds?"
Now the teaching of Jesus throws all these perplexities aside with the single word "knowledge." There is only one true way of doing anything, and that is knowing exactly what it is we want to do, and knowing exactly why we want to do it. All other doing is blundering. We may blunder into the right
thing sometimes, but we cannot make this our principle of life to all eternity; and if we have to give up the blunder method eventually, why not give it up now, and begin at once to profit by acting according to intelligible principle? The knowledge that "the Son," as individualised Spirit, has his correlative in "the Father," as Universal Spirit, affords the clue we need.
In whatever way we may attempt to explain it, the fact remains that volition is the fundamental characteristic of Spirit. We may speak of conscious, or sub-conscious or super-conscious action; but in whatever way we may picture to ourselves the condition of the agent as contemplating his own action, a general purposeful lifeward tendency becomes abundantly evident on any enlarged view of Nature, whether seen from without or from within, and we may call this by the general name of volition. But the error we have to avoid is that of supposing volition to take the same form in Universal Spirit as in individualised Spirit. The very terms "universal" and "individual" forbid this. For the universal, as such, to exercise specific volition, concentrating itself upon the details of a specific case, would be for it to pass into individualisation, and to cease to be the Absolute and Infinite; it would be no longer "the Father," but "the Son." It is therefore exactly by not exercising specific volition that "the Father" continues to be "the Father," or the Great Unifying Principle. But the volitional quality is not on this account absent from Spirit in the Universal;
for otherwise whence would that quality appear in ourselves? It is present; but according to the nature of the plane on which it is acting. The Universal is not the Specific, and everything on the plane of the Universal must partake of the nature of that plane. Hence volition in "the Father" is not specific; and that which is not specific and individual must be generic. Generic volition, therefore, is that mode of volition which belongs to the Universal, and generic volition is tendency. This is the solution of the enigma, and this solution is given, not obscurely, in Jesus' statement that "the Father" seeks those true worshippers who worship Him in spirit and in truth.
For what do we mean by tendency? From the root of tendere, to stretch; it signifies a pushing out in a certain definite direction, the tension of some force seeking to expand itself. What force? The Universal Life-Principle, for "the Spirit is Life." In the language of modern science this "seeking" on the part of "the Father" is the expansive pressure of the Universal Life-Principle seeking the line of least resistance, along which to flow into the fullest manifestation of individualised Life. It is a tendency which will take manifested form according to the degree in which it meets with reception.
St. John says, "This is the boldness that we have towards him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us; and if we know that He heareth us whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions
that we have asked of Him" (1 John v. 14). Now according to the popular notion of "the will of God," this passage entirely loses its value, because it makes everything depend on our asking "according to His will," and if we start with the idea of an individual act of the Divine volition in each separate case, nothing short of a special revelation continually repeated could inform us what the Divine will in each particular instance was. Viewed in this light, this passage is a mere jeering at our incapacity. But when once we realise that "the will of God" is an invariable law of tendency, we have a clear standard by which to test whether we may rightly expect to get what we desire. We can study this law of tendency as we would any other law, and it is this study that is the essence of true worship.
The word "worship" means to count worthy; to count worthy, that is, of observation. The proverb says that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery"; more truly we may say that it is the sincerest worship. Hence the true worship is the study of the Universal Life-Principle "the Father," in its nature and in its modes of action; and when we have thus realised "the Law of God," the law that is inherent in the nature of Infinite Being, we shall know that by conforming our own particular action to this generic law, we shall find that this law will in every instance work out the results that we desire. This is nothing more or less miraculous than what occurs in every case of applied
science. He only is the true chemist or engineer who, by first learning how to obey the generic tendency of natural laws, is able to command them to the fulfilment of his individual purposes; no other method will succeed. Similarly with the student of the divine mystery of Life. He must first learn the great laws of its generic tendency, and then he will be in a position to apply that tendency to the working of any specific effect he will.
Common sense tells us what the law of this tendency must be. The Master taught that a house divided against itself cannot stand; and for the Life-Principle to do anything restrictive of the fullest expansion of life, would be for it to act to its own destruction. The test, therefore, in every case, whether our intention falls within the scope of the great law, is this: Does it operate for the expansion or for the restriction of life? and according to the answer we can say positively whether or not our purpose is according to "the will of God." Therefore so long as we work within the scope of this generic "will of the Father" we need have no fear of the Divine Providence, as an agency, acting adversely to us. We may dismiss this bugbear, for we ourselves are manifestations of the very power which we call "the Father." The I am is one; and so long as we preserve this unity by conforming to the generic nature of the I am in the universal, it will certainly never destroy the unity by entering upon a specific course of action on its own account.
Here, then, we find the secret of power. It is contained in the true worship of "the Father," which is the constant recognition of the lifegivingness of Originating Spirit, and of the fact that we, as individuals, still continue to be portions of that Spirit; and that therefore the law of our nature is to be perpetually drawing life from the inexhaustible stores of the Infinite--not bottles of water-of-life mixed with other ingredients and labelled for this or that particular purpose, but the full flow of the pure stream itself, which we are free to use for any purpose we desire. "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." It is thus that the worship of "the Father" becomes the central principle of the individual life, not as curtailing our liberty, but as affording the only possible basis for it. As a planetary system would be impossible without a central controlling sun, so harmonious life is impossible without the recognition of Infinite Spirit as that Power, whose generic tendency serves to control each individual being into its proper orbit. This is the teaching of the Bible, and it is also the teaching of the New Thought, which says that life with all its limitless possibilities is a continual outflow from the Infinite which we may turn in any direction that we desire.
But, it may be asked, what happens if we go counter to this generic law of Spirit? This is an important question, and I must leave the answer for further consideration.
I concluded my last chapter with the momentous question, What happens if we go counter to the generic law of Spirit? What happens if we go counter to any natural law? Obviously, the law goes counter to us. We can use the laws of Nature, but we cannot alter them. By opposing any natural law we place ourselves in an inverted position with regard to it, and therefore, viewed from this false standpoint, it appears as though the law itself were working against us with definite purpose. But the inversion proceeds entirely from ourselves, and not from any change in the action of the law. The law of Spirit, like all other natural laws, is in itself impersonal; but we carry into it, so to speak, the reflection of our own personality, though we cannot alter its generic character; and therefore, if we oppose its generic tendency towards the universal good, we shall find in it the reflection of our own opposition and waywardness.
The law of Spirit proceeds unalterably on its course, and what is spoken of in popular phraseology as the Divine wrath is nothing else than the reflex action which naturally follows when we put ourselves in opposition to this law. The evil that results is not a personal intervention of the Universal Spirit, which would imply its entering into specific manifestation,
but it is the natural outcome of the causes that we ourselves have set in motion. But the effect to ourselves will be precisely the same as if they were brought about by the volition of an adverse personality, though we may not realise that in truth the personal element is our own. And if we are at all aware of the wonderfully complex nature of man, and the various interweavings of principles which unite the material body at one end of the scale to the purely spiritual Ego at the other, we shall have some faint idea of on how vast a field these adverse influences may operate, not being restricted to the plane of out-ward manifestation, but acting equally on those inner planes which give rise to the outer and are of a more enduring nature.
Thus the philosophic study of Spirit, so far from affording any excuse for laxity of conduct, adds an emphatic definiteness to the Bible exhortation to flee from the wrath of God. But, on the other hand, it delivers us from groundless terrors, the fear lest our repentance should not be accepted, the fear lest we should be rejected for our inability to subscribe to some traditional dogma, the fear of utter uncertainty regarding the future--fears which make life bitter and the prospect of death appalling to those who are in bondage to them. The knowledge that we are dealing with a power which is no respecter of persons, and in which is no variableness, which is, in fact, an unalterable
Law, at once delivers us from all these terrors.
The very unchangeableness of Law makes it certain that no amount of past opposition to it, whether from ignorance or wilfulness, will prevent it from working in accordance with its own beneficent and life-giving character as soon as we quit our inverted position and place ourselves in our true relation towards it. The laws of Nature do not harbour revenge; and once we adapt our methods to their character, they will work for us without taking any retrospective notice of our past errors. The law of Spirit may be more complex than that of electricity, because, as expressed in us, it is the law of conscious individuality; but it is none the less a purely natural law, and follows the universal rule, and therefore we may dismiss from our minds, as a baseless figment, the fear of any Divine power treasuring up anger against us on account of bygones, if we are sincerely seeking to do what is right now. The new causes which we put in motion now will produce their proper effect as surely as the old causes did; and thus by inaugurating a new sequence of good we shall cut off the old sequence of evil. Only, of course, we cannot expect to bring about the new sequence while continuing to repeat the old causes, for the fruit must necessarily reproduce the nature of the seed. Thus we are the masters of the situation, and, whether in this world or the next, it rests with ourselves
either to perpetuate the evil or to wipe it out and put the good in its place. And it may be noticed in passing that the great central Christian doctrine is based upon the most perfect knowledge of this law, and is the practical application to a profound problem of the deepest psychological science. But this is a large subject, and cannot be suitably dealt with here.
Much has been written and said on the origin of evil, and a volume might be filled with the detailed study of the subject; but for all practical purposes it may be summed up in the one word limitation. For what is the ultimate cause of all strife, whether public or private, but the notion that the supply of good is limited? With the bulk of mankind this is a fixed idea, and they therefore argue that because there is only a certain limited quantity of good, the share in their possession can be increased only by correspondingly diminishing some one else's share. Any one entertaining the same idea, naturally resents the attempt to deprive him of any portion of this limited quantity; and hence arises the whole crop of envy, hatred, fraud, and violence, whether between individuals, classes, or nations. If people only realised the truth that "good" is not a certain limited quantity, but a stream continuously flowing from the exhaustless Infinite, and ready to take any direction we choose to give it, and that each one is able by the action of his own thought to draw from it indefinitely, the substitution of this new and true idea for the old and
false one of limitation would at one stroke remove all strife and struggle from the world; every man would find a helper instead of a competitor in every other, and the very laws of Nature, which now so often seem to war against us, would be found a ceaseless source of profit and delight.
"They could not enter into rest because of unbelief," "they limited the Holy One of Israel": in these words the Bible, like the New Thought, traces all the sorrow of the world--that terrible Weltschmerz which expresses itself with such direful influence through the pessimistic literature of the day--to the one root of a false belief, the belief in man's limitation. Only substitute for it the true belief, and the evil would be at an end. Now the ground of this true belief is that clear apprehension of "the Father" which, as I have shown, forms the basis of Jesus' teaching. If, from one point of view, the Intelligent Universal Life-Principle is a Power to be obeyed, in the same sense in which we have to obey all the laws of Nature, from the opposite point of view, it is a power to be used. We must never lose sight of the fact that obedience to any natural law in its generic tendency necessarily carries with it a corresponding power of using that law in specific application. This is the old proverb that knowledge is power. It is the old paradox with which Jesus posed the ignorant scribes as to how David's Lord could also be his Son. The word "David" means "Beloved" and to be beloved implies that reciprocal
sympathy which is intuitive knowledge. Hence David, the Beloved, is the man who has realised his true relation as a Son to his Father and who is "in tune with the Infinite." On the other hand, this "Infinite" is his "Lord" because it is the complex of all those unchangeable Laws from which it is impossible to swerve without suffering consequent loss of power; and on the other, this knowledge of the innermost principles of All-Being puts him in possession of unlimited powers which he can apply to any specific purpose that he will; and thus he stands towards them in the position of a father who has authority to command the services of his son. Thus David's "Lord" becomes by a natural transition his "Son."
And it is precisely in this that the principle of "Sonship" consists. It is the raising of man from the condition of bondage as a servant by reason of limitation to the status of a son by the entire removal of all limitations. To believe and act on this principle is to "believe on the Son of God," and a practical belief in our own sonship thus sets us free from all evil and from all fear of evil--it brings us out of the kingdom of death into the kingdom of Life. Like everything else, it has to grow, but the good seed of liberating Truth once planted in the heart is sure to germinate, and the more we endeavour to foster its growth by seeking to grasp with our understanding the reason of these things and to realise our knowledge in practice, the more rapidly we shall find our lives increase in livingness--
a joy to ourselves, a brightness to our homes, and a blessing expanding to all around in ever-widening circles.
Enough has now been said to show the identity of principle between the teaching of the Bible and that of the New Thought. Treated in detail, the subject would extend to many volumes explanatory of the Old and New Testaments, and if that great work were ever carried out I have no hesitation in saying that the agreement would be found to extend to the minutest particulars. But the hints contained in the foregoing papers will, I hope, suffice to show that there is nothing antagonistic between the two systems, or, rather, to show that they are one--the statement of the One Truth which always has been and always will be. And if what I have now endeavoured to put before my readers should lead any of them to follow up the subject more fully for themselves, I can promise them an inexhaustible store of wonder, delight, and strength in the study of the Old Book in the light of the New Thought.
156:1 Intelligence and Responsiveness is the Generic Nature of Spirit in every Mode, and it is the concentration of this into centres of consciousness that makes personality, i. e., self-conscious individuality. This varies immensely in degree, from its first adumbration in the animal to its intense development in the Great Masters of Spiritual Science. Therefore it is called "The Power that Knows Itself"--It is the power of Self-recognition that makes personality, and as we grow to see that our personality is not all contained between our hat and our boots, as Walt Whitman says, but expands away into the Infinite, which we then find to be the Infinite of ourselves, the same I AM that I am, so our personality expands and we become conscious of ever-increasing degrees of Life-in-ourselves.
163:2 Everything depends on this principle of Reciprocity. By contemplation we come to realize the true nature of "Spirit" or "the father." We learn to disengage the variable factors of particular Modes from the invariable factors which are the essential qualities of Spirit underlying all Modes. Then when we realize these essential qualities we see that we can apply them under any mode that we will: in other words we supply the variable factor of the combination by the action of our Thought, as Desire or Will, and thus combine it with the invariable factor or "constant" of the essential law of spirit, thus producing what result we will. This is just what we do in respect to physical nature--e. g., the electrician supplies the variable factor of the particular Mode of application, and the constant laws of Electricity respond to the nature of the invitation given to them. This Responsiveness is inherent in Spirit; otherwise Spirit would have no means of expansion into manifestation. Responsiveness is the principle of Spirit's Self-expression. We do not have to create responsive action on the part of electricity. We can safely take this Responsiveness for granted as pure natural law. Our desire first works on the Arupa level and thence concentrates itself through the various Rupa levels till it reaches complete external manifestation.
173:3 The Old Testament and the New treat the I AM from its opposite poles. The Old Testament treats it from the relation of the Whole to the Part, while the New Testament treats it from the relation of the Part to the Whole. This is important as explaining the relation between the Old and New Testaments.
(a) "My Word shall not return unto me void but shall accomplish that whereunto I send it."
(b) The Principle here indicated is that of the Alternation and Equation between Absorption and Radiation--a taking-in before, and a giving-out.
(c) "Order"--Whatever betrays this is "Disorder."
(d) "Conscious"--It is the degree of consciousness that always p. 174 marks the transition from a lower to a higher Power of Life. The Life of All Seven Principles must always be present in us, otherwise we should not exist at all; therefore it is the degree in which we learn to consciously function in each of them that marks our advance into higher kingdoms within ourselves, and frequently outside ourselves also.
(e) The Central Radiating Point of our Individuality is One with All-Being.
(f) Equilibrium--Note the difference between the Living Equilibrium of Alternate Rhythmic Pulsation (the whole Pulsation Doctrine) and the dead equilibrium of merely running down to a dead level. The former implies the Doctrine of the Return, the Upward Arc compensating the Downward Arc--The deadness of the latter results from the absence of any such compensation. The Upward Arc results from the contemplation of the Highest Ideal.
(g) Spirit cannot leave any portion of its Nature behind it. It must always have all the qualities of Spirit in it, even though the lower parts of the individuality are not yet conscious of it.
(h) The Great Affirmation is The Guide to the whole Subject.