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Chapter 1

The Time, The Place, The Need the Man

There are supreme and epoch-making moments in the life of the world. There are supreme and light and power-bringing moments in the lives of individuals.

A supreme moment in the life of the world is when some great prophet, seer, sage, or saviour appears with a great elemental truth, and is able to impart it to others with a persuasive beauty and power.

A supreme moment in the lives of individuals is when they come face to face with such a truth — when it comes clearly and convincingly to them. Such truth must not only be uttered, but, to have authority and power, it must be lived by him who utters it. Moreover it must be a truth that becomes an inspiration and a real help in the daily lives of common men and women — men and women who have their problems to meet, their fears to face, their battles to fight, their bread to win.

The greatest saying in the world’s history, when adequately understood, was given utterance by a young palestinian Jew, some nineteen hundred years ago — and how short a time, comparatively, that is in the life of the human race.

He started life humbly, the son of a carpenter, and worked some years at his father’s trade, but his life and influence became so great that time stopped and began again from the date of his birth; or rather, the measuring of time began again for practically the entire human race.

It is a life, if men were sensible, most easily understood; but by virtue of inherited mental and spiritual inhibitions it has become one of the most misunderstood in the world, and with an incalculable loss to the world.

A sympathetic and unbiased study of such a life would seem to be something of both interest and value — of real concrete value. Real greatness, lasting greatness, comes only through unusual human service. There must therefore be something unusually helpful in his life.

Reference has been made to ‘the greatest saying in the world’s history.’ It fortunately took the form of a direct answer to a direct question that was put to him in public, so that many heard both question and answer. What were the facts surrounding this occurrence? For a full understanding of the statement, the following brief facts are essential:

The people of Judea were a portion of a race that had been devout and, as they felt, particularly favoured by Divine Providence. Many great prophets and teachers had appeared among them. They led primarily a pastoral life, which was conducive to the highest inspiration, and the inception, therefore, of a pure and vital type of religion. A strikingly large number of their prophets were husbandmen and shepherds.

Out in the open, tilling their fields, or herding their flocks, with their hearts and their minds open to the voice of their God, they made it possible for the revelation of great truths to come to them; and such revelations did come to them. We can recall numbers of wonderful sayings of Hebrew prophets, containing various elemental truths of life, many of them taking great beauty of form.

As time passed, however, their religion became stereotyped, as is so often and so generally the case. Organisation, form, ceremony — and at times even cant and hypocrisy, with its established order of priests, scribes, and interpreters — took the place of the vital truths that had come from their prophets, open-windowed to their God. For close on three hundred years, through this deadening influence, no prophet had spoken.

All inspiration, and all chance for inspiration, had gone. The people became settled in the dead level of the commonplace, through tradition and dogma, nourished and systematically cultivated by a thoroughly entrenched ecclesiastical institution.

The priests, arrayed in their fine raiment, sat in the seats of authority and regarded themselves as something apart from the life of the people, and with a vested authority that made them not ‘servants,’ but would-be masters of the people.

All religious teaching emanating from them took set forms: ‘It is said,’ ‘It is written,’ ‘Moses has said,’ ‘The prophets have said,’ and even, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ The soul’s windows were not kept open to Jehovah as formerly. They were open, when open at all, toward Jerusalem, where ritual in its ever-increasing forms waxed stronger.

So the religious life of the people, and with it their entire life, became one where the spirit was dead. The empty form alone remained.

The priests and ecclesiastical orders became their overlords; and the condition of the people, as is always true in any country or nation where this comes about, was pitiable.

To add to their burdens, they had fallen under the yoke of an alien power — Rome. Tiberius Caesar was the Roman emperor. Under him was Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor or representative of Judea.

Rome conducted its campaigns — its raids threw great numbers of its captives into slavery, and exacted tribute, under its well-established policy of conquest. But Rome was already in its decadence, and its people required continually greater amounts to satisfy this desire for show, and all that wasteful expenditure summed up in the phrase panem et circenses.

This oppression, combined with the oppression of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, made the life and the condition of the people of Judea hard, discouraging, and pitiable. There was a tradition among them, which had persisted for some time, that a Deliverer would be sent them, and this, on account of their hard conditions, they were ready and even eager to believe.

Into these surroundings or conditions came a young Rabbi, or teacher, a successor once more to their long line of prophets; but one with such a supreme aptitude for discerning the things of the mind and the spirit that he became the greatest prophet, and therefore teacher, of them all.

He was the son, the eldest son, of poor but highly thought-of parents — Joseph and Mary. Joseph was a carpenter, in the little, and at that time comparatively unknown, village of Nazareth. There were four other sons, we are told, whose names were common names in the little village. There were daughters; how many and their names we are not told, but two are mentioned.

The eldest son was named Joshua (Jesus) and was known as Joshua Ben Joseph — Joshua son of Joseph. After the custom of the time and place, he followed the vocation of a carpenter, and as a carpenter worked with his father. What his schooling and his training were we do not know. Of this portion of his life, so important and so interesting, there is no record.

That his birth, the manner of his birth, and the manner of his life were at all different from those in the little community in which he lived and worked, was entirely unknown by those among whom he lived and worked, and later taught. ‘Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Judas, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us?’ (Mark vi. 3.)

That he had a strong, vigorous, pleasing, and. even compelling personality; that he had great vigour and independence of thought; that he loved and lived the life of the open; that he had a marked aptitude for discerning, and imparting in a compelling manner, the things of the spirit, we must believe, because tile people — the common people — ‘heard him gladly.’ Some said that never man spake as this man; and soon great multitudes began to follow him.

He had not only the power of interesting, leading, and teaching them, but also the power of healing, so that many who came to him he healed of their afflictions and diseases. He did this by arousing in them, as he very often stated, a certain power of ‘faith,’ which is a power of thought, so that the latent powers within them were so aroused and so directed that they were made whole — many even instantly.

At approximately thirty years of age, he appeared one day at a place where a cousin, named John — later called John the Baptist — who had spent a considerable time alone in the wilderness in preparation for the mission to which he felt called, was delivering a message to the people who had come out to hear him. He was of a vigorous personality and his message was: ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ And again: ‘Repent ye: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.’

Through a rite of baptism — a custom very common in that country and at that time — he was inducting those who would into the new life that he set forth and that he called upon them to follow.

Jesus, among others, accepted baptism at the hands of John, and began almost immediately in a ministry of his own. The striking thing about him and his method, which attracted the attention of all and even astonished all, was that he cited no ‘authority’ for the truth that he put forth; but spoke as one having authority.

It was not ‘It is written,’ ‘It has been said,’ ‘The prophets have said,’ but ‘I say unto you.’ He gave what he himself perceived as truth, and the result was that it was with such persuasion and power, that all felt the authority with which he spoke. He claimed no ‘supernatural’ power for himself. He never made mention of it, and he chided those who would thrust it upon him.

What was his message that came with such authority and such moving power?

It was the message of discovery. A new era had come in the evolution, in the upward climb, the progress of the race. Or rather, perhaps, a new knowledge which, if followed, would of itself make for a new era. And this is the message that he gave, that he reiterated in the same form or in kindred forms, straight through to the end: ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel.’ Repent means to turn, Gospel means good news.

The Kingdom of God has come nigh. Sometimes he used the expression, the Kingdom of God, sometimes the expression, the Kingdom of Heaven, and by each he meant the same.

Repeatedly as he taught he gave the injunction: ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.’ And this was followed by a kindred injunction: ‘Neither shall they say, Lo here! or Lo there! for, behold, the Kingdom of God is within you.’ His conception and his express teaching of God is: ‘God is Spirit.’

The Kingdom of God has came nigh - which I reveal to you. It is an inner kingdom — the conscious union of the human with the Divine. It is the revelation that the One life, the Divine life, the God life, which is Spirit, is the life that is within us.

To realise this Life as our life, to love it, and to live always in its realisation, to open ourselves to its illumination, its guidance and its power, is the finding of the Kingdom of God, of the Kingdom of Heaven — the kingdom of harmony — that he perceived, lived, and revealed to the world.

It is the conscious vital realisation of the essential oneness of each life with the universal Divine Life, that is the source and the essence of all life. It is to realise and always to live consciously in the state: ‘In Him we live, and move, and have our being.’

The Divine essence, the Divine Centre of life came to him as ‘Father.’ His own realisation was: The Father in me and I in the Father. His teaching was: ‘As I am ye shall be.’ Again his realisation was: It is the Father that worketh in me, my Father works and I work. Then again, his teaching was as he so distinctly said: ‘As I am ye shall be.’

His teaching took these lines: I show you the way, and it is idle for you to call me Lord and Master, unless you do the things I tell you. It is idle to say merely that you believe on me. That alone means nothing. But if you believe me, actually believe me, you will do the things I tell you to do; you will follow my commandments.

His injunction is, then, to become open-minded, open-hearted, open-windowed, to the God life, which is the life, the real life within — that it do for us what it does for him.

Again he said: ‘Of myself I can do nothing. It is the Father that worketh in me; my Father works and I work.’ And then again he enjoins that we live and work in the realisation of the same relations with the Divine life within — the Father — and that if we do, we then realise his statement: ‘Not only shall ye do these things; but greater things than these shall ye do’

He, then, of all men, had a clear vision — and this made him the Great Teacher — of the reality of the human soul, of the indwelling of the Divine in the human, in the degree that the human realises its true Self, and through desire and through will, which indicate his love for it, lives habitually in this realisation and life.

It is the Fatherhood of God, and if the Fatherhood, then the Divine Sonship of man; and as a concomitant of this, there flows from it, and inevitably, the Brotherhood of Man.

That we realise the God life within us, the Kingdom of God within, that we love it, that we live in it, was his repeated command.

The life that he taught was questioned by some of his hearers; and one day, we are told, as he taught the people, a certain lawyer arose and asked a question. A ‘lawyer’ was a scribe, or an interpreter, and teacher of the ecclesiastical law and observances. His question was: ‘Master, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’

This to me, because fraught with such potency and power, is, when rightly understood, when interpreted in the light of his ‘gospel,’ his good news of the life, the Kingdom of God within, the greatest saying in the world’s history.

It is significant to remember here also the words of the Master: ‘Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

As we read his words, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,’ we get far afield, unless we keep clearly in mind his teaching, that God is Spirit, which is Life, and that the Kingdom of God is within. His own perception of this truth was so clear, that he never conceived of his life as any other than the life of God, the Father.

He never recognised the fact that he had any life outside the Divine life within him — my Father — in Heaven. ‘Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me.’ And again: ‘The words I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father abiding in me doeth His work.’ And to those before him he said: ‘Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in Heaven.’

He never speaks of his life as any other than one with God, the Father; and his constant injunction, even pleading injunction, is that all men so realise their lives. To him only in this conscious union with God was there reality.

The Kingdom of God and His righteousness is not only what he intended to teach, the basis of all of his revelation, but what he undoubtedly did teach — and that he so longed to establish in the minds and hearts of men. In more than thirty places he explains to his disciples, and to others, his mission and his purpose: to preach the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God.

Repeatedly the accounts of him read: ‘He went about through cities and villages, preaching and bringing good tidings of the Kingdom of God.’ And then later on: ‘He sent them forth to Preach the Kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.’ ‘And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony to all nations.’

His Divine self-realisation was the reason, the secret, as he said, of his insight and his power. He taught always that the same results would be realised in the lives of all who lived in this same realisation, this law, this way of life.

His own words are: ‘He that believeth on me,’ and shows it by living the same life, ‘the works that I do shall he do also.’ It was a clear-cut law of being, that he realised, lived, and then revealed to the world.

His finding, and his message to the world, was then that there is an order of life, ‘The Way,’ as he called it, whereby through the channel of our minds we can bring our thought, and therefore our lives as individual lives, into such harmony and union with the Universal Life that as it guides and cares for the planets in their courses, the sparrow in its flight, so it guides and cares for us. Live this life, said he, and then do not worry about your life.

When he said, ‘My Father gives me all power because I seek to do the will of my Father,’ he must have meant, ‘because I seek constantly to live in mind and spirit in such harmony with my Father’s life that I become an open channel through which His life and power can manifest themselves and work.’ This perfect blending of the human with the Divine is his realisation that makes him Master, Way-shower; and the knowledge of this is his gift to us. This is his truth, of which he says: ‘Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’


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