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BY JENNIE H. CROFT.
(Address delivered at the Convention of the New Thought Federation Nevada, Mo., September, 1905)
N a very ancient Book, which contains the
evidence, and is the testimony of man from the very first inception of life on to its highest expression, we find this statement:
"And God breathed into his nostrils the breath of Life, and man became living Soul."
At this epoch in the evolution of Man, he entered into a higher, holier and more exalted sphere of mental action - the domain of the spiritual.
Not that some superior, all-potential Being, in a mysterious manper implanted in man a suppositious something called a “ Soul,” but that man, in the divine order of his unfoldment, at this time awoke to the conscious knowledge that within him were inherent forces of a much finer nature than he had before been aware of, and through the activity of these powers did he begin his soul-life, the life of conscious dominion.
The subject of soul-growth is of such infinite magnitude that we can but treat it relatively, only hinting at the potentialities and ultimatum of man. We are but beginning to feel the power of divine possibility, and with this higher realization comes the aspiration to grow into the ideal state, and purer ambitions and nobler resolutions result in spiritual advancement. Progress unshackles the mind and liberates the thought, and the whole being expands into a higher and holier estimation of life.
The highest estimation of man is that he is the image and likeness of God; the one who represents God; the being to demonstrate all that we attribute to God. Ecclesiasticism, false education and our own ignorance, have placed us in bondage; separated us from God as the Principles of life, and forced us to look to a future existence for all that is of real worth. We have thus lost the true conception of life, hence man is the imperfect creature we now find him, and from which imperfect state he is but just emerging, through the awakening of the soul.
This new activity of the soul first expresses itself as desire, a reaching out for something; a yearning which makes us bend everything within our power to the attainment of the desired end. This is the first impulse of growth, the breaking away from the old dormant mental condition, and, through the striving of the soul by this divine “ Breath of Life," becoming truly alive. What is this “Breath of Life"? As I see it, it is consciousness the power of knowing the action of one's own mind, of knowing that we know.
What do we grow into? Into the image and likeness of God with all the perfection of Spirit. What do we mean when we say, “ Image and likeness of God?” Do the words convey an idea of form; if so, how can the formless be limited by form?
If we separate the word "image" into its parts, that we may the better define it, we find that the first syllable, “im," is a contraction or abbreviation of I am, the name which, according to Biblical records, God gave to Himself. The last syllable, "age," is a suffix which means, “of like nature," or quality of." Thus we plainly see that "image” means quality of I am, or partaking of the quality of God.
In our spiritual unfoldment, in our cultivation of soul qualities, we grow into the wisdom, power, purity and perfection of God. We grow in grace also, adding beauty and dignity to our nature; sincerity and love are the foundation stones of our soul structure, and we become the temple of God. In the soul, which is the temple of God and which is symbolized by Solomon's Temple, we have first the Outer Court, or the conscious mind, which takes cognizance of the world of things; we have the Inner Court, or subconscious mind, which is the realm of ideas, and we have also the Holy of Holies, or superconscious mind, which is the home of the Spirit, and which we may enter only when pure and free from the dominion of the world of things, or of ideas, and prepared for the spiritual life. Here we commune with God.
We grow in knowledge. We are no longer ignorant; no longer in doubt. Truth changes place with tradition. Life has a definite aim, and we begin to incarnate the Christ. The same mind begins to unfold in us which is in Jesus the Christ, and we have the same standard of being. All of the divine forces and factors are renewed, and we are stimulated to higher achievements. We advance from character to character, because we have a new basis of life and understanding. We are spiritual, divine, limitless, God-like. It is the incarnation of divine sonship; it is the unification and identification of the individual with God.
It is incumbent on us to assimilate the Christnature, to partake of his spiritual character. The Christ spirit is fundamental in every life, its power is in active force, and we should look for a higher demonstration of the present Christ-nature.
The Christ magnified man as a spiritual being, he shadowed forth the union of God and man, showing to what degree of spiritual perfection man might restore himself. We must grant his higher idealism as the true conception of man, and we should follow in the line of bis thought by conceding to ourselves the full and complete power of Spirit. We are all potentially the Christ, and must give him actual embodiment in ourselves, that the image and likeness of God be a reality. Ignorance is the only thing that limits man; ignorance is the only devil, and when man is willing to concede to himself all of the qualities which he conceives of as belonging to some exalted, mythical being, God will become existent in man, and the devil idea be relegated to the realms of no-where. A comparison of orthodox Christianity with New Thought shows the awakening of man. He has advanced in spite of doctrines and dogmas which have fettered his mind, and is now casting off the chains of creeds and ritualisms.
Orthodoxy believes in a good God and a bad devil; in two powers - good and evil, the evil in seeming supremacy in this world, and that we have to die to escape from it and obtain the good. The belief in a good God and a bad devil places life upon a semi-perfect basis. It is impossible to believe in a devil without beholding devilish things. Good things and bad things are the inevitable result of a dual state of mind, for like produces like. When the individual is intelligent enough to forever drop his belief in a devil, and absorb his mind in the omnipresence of good, or the God-idea, evil will forever disappear, for there will be nothing in the mind of man to discern evil.
New Thought maintains that evil is negation, which, under its various discords, is the result of man's ignorance of his relation to the great universe in wnich he has his being. Man will not forever be left comfortless by his ignorance of the law of cause and effect; he will find that there is an aptidote for every discord that arises in life, and what better remedy can we have than that offered by Paul, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind "? This means to get a new mind, a different estimation of ourselves, to rid the mind of the thoughts which have bound us to negative conditions. The thoughts we have been thinking have manifested according to the character of the thought, and if we are in unlovely conditions we must
to entertain unlovely thoughts.
A divine being is one who thinks divine thoughts and acts in a divine manner. Evil can no more exist to the Christ-minded man than darkness can exist where there is sunshine. If we find that our minds are lacking in divine elements, we must
replenish them, just as we replenish a lamp with oil. We must fill the mind with purity of thought, with love, with the powers and characteristics of God. God is something to be, and not something to worship. By purifying our thoughts we revive latent powers which will operate against everything negative to the spiritual laws of perfection, and that perfection will become manifest in us. What the hour needs is concentration. We have scattered our soul forces by dipping into this “ism" and that “ology,” and now, after proving these ideas to be mostly unsatisfactory, let us center our attention and effort upon the establishment of the Kingdom of God within, and fill our souls with divine forces and elements. Without effort nothing is acquired, and if we would be happy and prosperous, noble and perfect, we must do our part to attain these blessings. Jesus said, “What things soever the Father hath are mine," but he had to put forth persistent effort to obtain his own property. But he did it, and so can we. We are this moment fully equipped with sufficient qualities to externalize the Christ, but the trouble is we do not use these forces, or we employ them upon the wrong side of life, and remain servants where we should be sovereigns.
There is not one thing in life from which we may not redeem ourselves if we will concentrate our energies to such conquests. We must strive to prove our divinity, even as Jesus of Nazareth proved his, thus establishing the divinity of man, and the proof is peace, purity and perfection.
In the cultivation of God qualities in the soul, we sooner or later come to the place where we discern that there can be no separation between God and man, and to call God "Spirit” and man “flesh" creates opposition, and God becomes unknown, and man debased.
It has been said that, “To place God and man upon a common, equal basis, gives actuality and supremacy to both. The equal extolment of both is the salvation of both; God from obscurity,