Bible Interpretations (1891)
by Emma Curtis Hopkins
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This previously extremely hard to find book comprises a series of Bible Interpretations that were given by Emma Curtis Hopkins during the early eighteen-nineties at the Christian Science Theological Seminary at Chicago, Illinois. This Seminary was independent of the First Church of Christ Scientist in Boston, Mass.
From time to time there have been men and women of a character and work unquestionably marking them as sent of Him to announce His will and purpose to the children of men. When such have come among mankind they have not needed the great churches back of them, nor the recognition of the learned and powerful among men to support their claims as ministers of the Gospel of the Good.
It has always been accorded by the wise that the baptism of the Holy Spirit, or the quickening influence of the principle of divine Intelligence is the test of the called to teach the words and will of the Supreme of the universe. Those so called have not needed to quote authorities or precedents for their actions or teachings. They have all spoken as having authority, and not as the scribes or recorders of other men's teachings. They have all come like messengers of goodness and freedom to men at just the time when the recognized teachers of the world were quoting authorities to hold their doctrines in repute among a dissatisfied and restless people.
When the ancient prophets of the Lord came to teach Truth to the wondering multitudes they found the great lawgivers and teachers holding their own by showing how closely they were keeping to the laws of dead Shemaiah and Abtalion, and because they had no authority in themselves through the quickening Spirit's influence they must quote Shemaiah and Abtalion, and with passionate zeal discourse upon the terrible importance of the kind and quality of wood best for altars, or the moral deadliness of the use of blood, or the imperativeness of circumcision on the eighth day.
But the sent of the invisible God said; "Thus saieth the Lord," and the people feared, and repented of their sins at their voices.
When the divinely appointed Jesus came He found the learned Rabbis quoting Hillel and Shammai, and daring not at all to claim wisdom from the Most High Intelligence.
And they were amazed at His doctrine because He taught as vested with authority. Like all the inspired who had preceded Him He proved Himself God-sent by doing God-like works. The suns which had daily set upon crowds of sick and miserable people arose at morning time to overlook joyous multitudes, healed by the divine minister of the Gospel of health. The wicked turned from the error of their ways. The mad and despairing smiled and were at peace. The poor were helped and fed. He did not have to say: "Thus heard I of Hillel or Rabbi Meir or Rabbi Joseph," but only, "The words that I speak unto you it is not I that speak, but the Father that dwelleth in me. He doeth the works."
His example has been the inspiration and direction of millions since His time, and when the devoted hearts the world has known have been moved by the best within them to teach mankind of the goodness of the Supreme of the world they have pointed to the unacknowledged Jesus and walked bravely along lonely and untrod ways, teaching and helping the ignorant and unfortunate, regardless of whether the great and proud esteemed them, or the learned recognized their greatness.
There have been such lonely workers in our own time. They have all heard the voice of the Spirit and felt the impulse of goodness stirring them to go forth to help the world. They have looked over the religions and sciences of the intellectually great which have held sway in the hearts of the people, and have noted that under their ages of dominion there have been abuses and unjust dealings which the religions and sciences have proved powerless to abolish or bring into disrepute.
Their hearts, being moved in compassion, have strengthened their judgments till they cry with one voice against the old disputations, and with one voice declare for a new and a true, wherein the poor may be taught and befriended, women walk fearless and glad, and children be safe and free. Every fibre and thread of their being, every instant of their time is absolutely dedicated to the prophesied new dispensation of the Holy Spirit with its Ministry of healing from every ill known to the old times.
They are called Christian scientists* because they have set in order the teachings of the one who was called The Christ, and because they can do the works which are the outcome of His teachings understood. In all particulars they are a repetition upon a new plane of His experience in giving to the world His doctrine of salvation from fleshly bondages. In all particulars they are a repetition of the experiences of those who followed Him and believed in His doctrines one thousand nine hundred years ago. They preach the powerlessness of evil and the unreality of the material universe. They declaim against the necessity for evil in any form of sin, sickness or death. They declare the Omnipresence of God, the Good, and deny the presence or working power of any other principle but the Good. They demonstrate that the denial of evil as a reality or working principle puts evil into the nothingness from whence it sprang, by putting all forms of evil completely out of and away from the life experiences, when they deal with principles of Goodness, the only reality. They are proving daily what was the teachings of Christ and His immediate followers by new interpretations of His words and imitation of His works. They insist that the right interpretations of His words have never been given to the people by the great intellects who have taken them in charge to expound and explain.
*The term "Christian science" as used in these lessons stands for the scientific teaching of Jesus Christ as understood by Emma Curtis Hopkins.—Ed. note.
They urge that the misinterpretations of His teachings are accountable for all the pain and suffering and wickedness believed in by all mankind since His beautiful lifetime, when the multitude rejoiced in health and peace wherever He walked among them, teaching a doctrine whereby men could know blessedness, and not pain forevermore.
They do not ask those preachers who have wrested His wonderful words from their true meanings to give sanction to their right interpretations nor beg of them to recognize them as a ministry of the old interpretations, whose inefficiency they scorn. They set boldly forth with His true teachings, as sure of their calling to the work as Peter of old, who preached salvation to the Gentiles because it had been spiritually revealed to him that true salvation was for Gentiles as surely as for Jews, or as boldly and bravely as Paul, the Roman Citizen, who had all his travels and works mapped plainly out for him by that Holy Spirit, whose mark, being set in the forehead, none may dispute its authority.
These people are the apostles of a new dispensation. They usher in the dawn of a new time when evil shall be known no more among men, because Christ the Truth has come again in the way of His perfect doctrine revealed anew to the waiting world. They have for their rallying cry, "Not by might, nor by strength but by My Spirit saith the Lord," which was a watchword of the inspired prophets of old. They lay hold with a mighty faith upon the God of the ancient Hebrews as the only God able to save from evil beliefs. They are fulfilling that prophecy literally which reads, that in the last days of the world of belief in evil, "Men of all languages shall lay hold of the skirts of Him that is a Jew, saying: we will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."
They teach of Him as a very present help in every time of trouble, even to the saving from fiery furnaces, lions' teeth and angry kings, as unto Daniel and the holy men of Israel, who, believing in His own presence, did not put off the day of salvation from sin, sickness and death to a heavenly future, but showed that all things of evil are unreality now to them that speak the truth. They bring up the testimony of the devout and good in their highest moments of inspiration through all time to corroborate their conclusions.
Not the testimony of the good when disputing their own words, nor the words of the powerful and proud who know not inspiration, but the best and truest words the best hearts have ever spoken, and they are bound by all that is best within them to square their lives by them and base their hopes upon them.
Certain of the faithful have formed themselves into a body with the sole purpose of urging these principles upon an unbelieving and skeptical world. They are so young in their own doctrines and so hard beset by the questionings and criticisms of the churches and schools that they have not been coherent or unanimous upon certain points of doctrine, and in forming this body have subjected themselves to each other's severest tests, that there may be from henceforth no dissensions or differences, and that what is according to Christian science may be very clearly defined in their minds. In thus reviewing their relations to true Christian doctrines and practice they have repeated the experience of the early apostles of its first perfect preaching, and in today's proceedings we see the concluding ceremonies of the examining council of Jerusalem in the year of the first Christian dispensation.
Paul, Peter and Barnabas have preached the full salvation their Lord and Master Jesus Christ had taught them. But some of the converts have opposed the absolutely radical stand taken by Peter and Paul in their free and kindly fellowship with all believers in the Christ doctrine, whether of the Gentile or Jewish world, and their criticisms have been so decided that it has become necessary to know what does and what does not constitute sound doctrine, and who are not to be sustained in their common endeavors to convert the world to Truth. "The liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free" was their decision, and the yoke of the former belief in evil bondage was to be known no more among them. Then they shook hands like loving brethren, and went forth to minister to the world and to martyrdom.
We of the new dispensation have decided in like manner of the true children of the science, we free from all the evil beliefs of the old forms of faith, in whatever guise they may present themselves, whether as Satan of the recognized evangelical church or mesmerism of the later church, and we hereby ask all Christian science workers the world over to give us the right hand of fellowship on the doctrine of freedom from all evil and fearlessness of every evil thing; or thought. We ask the old church to take notice of our ministry that it is apostolic in principle and practice, and we ask it to bid us God speed on our healing mission to a world neglected in full spiritual ministrations. We ask the world, which is to be our church, to turn and listen to our preaching, for it is the quickening message from the Supreme of the universe announcing the second coming long expected, when every mountain of trouble shall be removed, every hill of difficulty obliterated. Pride cannot hold its own where the spiritually taught are speaking, and learning cannot defeat the wisdom of the children of Divine science. Listen, for we will speak of excellent things, and the opening of our lips shall be right things.
As we thus set forth upon this ministry, with the deliberate intention of converting the world to Christian science, we ought to tell somewhat of our relations to those ministrations held in reverence by other ministers of Christian doctrine. The ordinance of the Lord's Supper, baptism, marriage, and what other observances come in the way of the faithful minister's calling. In these matters we shall heed Paul's injunction literally for the present. "Let us give ourselves to the ministry of the Word," as if our only mission were to be that ministry which the Word itself, faithfully uttered, can carry. The ordinance of the Lord's Supper has no meaning to thousands of those who partake of the bread and wine which symbolizes the flesh and blood of Christ. But to the trained in Christian science, flesh and blood themselves are only symbolic of the thought and word of the Christ, and if we partake of the word and thought, till we have let the same mind be in us that was in Christ Jesus, our Lord, we have really fulfilled the ordinance of the Lord's Supper. To this interpretation we shall adhere, and the external forms will in no way be used by us, although their use by the external church is in no way deprecated or depreciated by us. The various forms of baptism used to symbolize the cleansing blood of the Christ have a deeper meaning than the red blood of the bleeding Savior to us. Baptism means the cleansing word of denial of all evil, spoken by the Christ, used, refusing to believe in the fatherhood of any other being but God, the Spirit manifest, refusing to see the evil of the world as reality, judging not according to appearance, but judging the righteous judgment of those translated out of such false beliefs into the white light of truth spoken.
The changeless word of truth shall be our ministry of baptism.
Marriage is to the Christian scientist the most sacred of all the symbols of Christian doctrine, symbolizing the Father-Mother principle of the Godhead complete in its beauty and wonder when the Oneship of Trinity is perfectly understood. We know that the motherhood of the race symbolizes the Holy Spirit or motherhood of the Trinity and that, while unchaste thoughts or unjust dealings are tolerated or believed in, the presence and office of the Holy Spirit will hardly be known on earth. When men and women, with right and true conceptions of the divine significance of marriage and the home shall be found, the Christian science ministry will be divinely appointed to speak the words that pronounce the marriage benediction. But the present ministry is not called upon for such office, and will give itself wholly to the words that purify the heart and life to be worthy of true marriage.
Now from this presence we send you forth to the world that waits for the healing benediction of the Spirit with which you have been baptized. You have been tried and not found wanting. You have been called and been answered by that fullness of power by which the devout in all ages have prayed. You can heal the sick by the word of your speaking. You can cheer the fainting. When hearts are cast down you shall say, "There is lifting up." You are the revival of the full ministry of the times of old. The Lord himself shall guide you continually, and you shall want for no good thing. Be not afraid of the speech of people, nor seek for the world's favor. Speak the word boldly that is given you to utter. For this is the faith of the fathers, The faith the apostles delivered.
Delivered in Chicago, 1891.
BIBLE LESSON 1
ALL IS DIVINE ORDER
No place where Jesus preached, or day upon which He wrought a miracle, but what has divine significance. Nothing is by accident.
All is divine order. "Cana of Galilee." Cana is the closing of the circuit, or circle of Galilee. Here the boy attains His majority and publicly celebrates His own marriage to the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
The circuit is closed on the third day—the day of fulfillment—the marriage day. At Cana He is joined unto Spirit forever. The complete surrender of the soul to the way and will of the Holy Spirit is fitly symbolized by the happy marriage of His young friends on Wednesday. The beautiful virgin to her beloved, Jesus to God. "Thy Maker is Thine husband."
Jesus never wrought any miracle till He thus publicly closed His recognition of Church and State and domestic authority over His speech and actions, and with only His mother for a witness solemnly pledged Himself to recognize as supreme the Inner Voice and the outer call of the Divine Spirit.
Two things He thus makes clear to the students of His teachings, viz; that He never condemned the institution of marriage, and that no unvarying success in miracle working may be looked for till there is complete surrender of the heart and hand and judgment to divine will.
Therefore, no matter how many mental demonstrations one may make he does not indicate utter surrender to the spirit of God, except he from thenceforth show his dominion over all external conditions by bringing forth order out of what seems chaos, health out of what seems sickness, life out of what seems death, peace out of seeming discord. "Miracle" working is the sign of being absolutely united to Spirit.
"If I do not the works of the Father, believe me not."
How beautifully Jesus Christ sanctions true marriage. There is no scornful reproval—no insinuation against it. He spoke of the obligation of one man and one woman to be true and faithful to each other for ever and ever. He stamps His image on honorable marriage. He is the only speaker of ancient times, in the Bible or out of it, who speaks so plainly that there is no mistaking His meanings— "They twain," and twain means two. Paul's words can easily be construed to mean another way. John the Revelator never carries the intimation of reverence for marriage in spite of his using it for a figure.
David's ideas are repulsive. But Jesus Christ—no wanton wandering from the plighted troth—no infidelity to the vows spoken to bind us to be faithful forever can we find excuse or sanction for in His teachings.
He or she untrue to the marriage pledge cannot expect the power of the Holy Ghost to work miracles through him. It was at this pledging time that Jesus wrought His first miracle.
The Spirit bore witness with Him that He was ONE with it. This marriage "in Cana" was the outward picture of the primal union or marriage of Jesus Christ with Spirit.
Madame Guyon sought to be married to God. She succeeded in catching glimpses of this union several times, but she accused God as sending so much evil upon those united unto Him that her words made a cloud of darkness perpetually between herself and that "Maker who is thine husband." There is wine and mirth and friendly joy in marriage with God—Spirit. "Wine" is a word signifying reviving, refreshing joy. They who know Jesus Christ indeed, drink refreshing, reviving, invigorating words. The refreshing, reviving, invigorating words Jesus made the wine of, wine praises of the goodness and tenderness and bounty of God.
How perfectly He demonstrated that He was actually in love with Spirit by immediately doing the works of God! After this celebration of His own eternal Oneness with God, He could restore a palsied hand to vigor in an instant. He could call the living to come forth out of coffins and graves. He could make bread and fish self-increasing. He could coin gold on the instant for meeting all current expenses. He did not believe in owing even the proud government of Caesar anything. "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's."
Unless we can do all the works that He did we have not closed in with the old ways at Cana and started the circuit of Galilee in Spirit. "The same works that I do shall ye do."
The "works" He did we realize were all accomplished by His knowing that when one came to Him drooping in body it was the outward picture of a drooping hope. When one came in consumption it was the outward picture of a hope departing or consuming. He could see that a word would quicken the hope—would restore the hope.
Looking into the mind realm where the thoughts were dwelling, a meek little woman, who understood Jesus, saw that a young man's hope was failing. What hope was it that was failing? The hope that he might be a success among men. The people said his nerves and muscles were failing. She saw his hopes drooping. She understood, because she understood Jesus Christ well, that there is no hope ever stirs within one of us but that God hath for us the actual fulfillment of that hope.
So she told him by silent ministry akin to the invisible marriage ceremony of Jesus Christ, that truly God would fulfill his expectations. Then aloud she said: "You will be successful, child." This was the "Wine" he was waiting to drink. It was the Word of God. "Thy words were found, and I did eat them and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart." So he was well from that hour.
This is the power of prophecy. "Prophecy is mine and sound judgment." They can tell of good to come who have united with the Spirit that is Divine Goodness all bounty without lack or failure. Whoever believes in weakness has not yet come into Cana. For Jesus Christ teaches that the truly joined to Spirit are filled with Omnipotence: "All power is given unto Me in heaven and earth."
Whosoever believes in sickness is not united unto Spirit, for Jesus Christ was explicit and definite, "heal the sick." Do not leave people in their sickness. Do not accuse God of sending sickness.
"As I live, saith the Lord, I know my thoughts and I think towards you thoughts of peace and not of evil, to bring you an expected end."
The end we all expect is good unto ourselves. We deeply and profoundly love prosperity and peace and health. These we have a right to and nothing else.
"Woman, what have I to do with thee?"
"Gracious lady! Keeper of my past; now I am listening for the voice of the Spirit. She does not yet bid me act."
So He broke away from the ways of Galilee's former hastenings, and without doing anything, did all things speedily. With the power of Spirit hastening through us there seems to the world delay, but all the world's armies of power and learning could not overtake our ministry if we are truly joined to God. Festina Lente.
All who obey the voice of Sophia (the Spirit) heed not the ways of the guests at the marriage, yet they do satisfy their hearts fair hopes. Then even the great ones at the former marriage obeyed Him. So it is always promised to the spiritually minded that they shall have "Kings come bending" and all the earth shall be theirs.
Notice that a woman, a "Gracious lady" recognized that He was great in Spirit. Cadijah recognized Mahomet. So "Woman" shall always know when the voice of the Spirit is speaking. And she shall tell the world what is true of Jesus Christ; also what is true of you and me.
"Six water-pots of stone." Here is our lesson for today put so plainly that he who runs may read. When Jesus Christ demonstrated the power of Spirit He always took the materials at hand such as they were; He did not take any loaves and fishes except such as they had on hand to look up and praise God with and feed the multitudes.
He took Lazarus just as He found him. He took the "Six stone water-pots" and water they had at hand. Nothing else. This signifies that you are to take your rough circumstances, your bodily conditions, your human affairs, just as they are and holding them in your mind give thanks and bless the providing Jehovah that within them is the wine of peace and success and health. This giving thanks and praising God the down-bending Spirit for the wine of joy and goodness, surely contained within your circumstances the stone water-pots of your affairs just as they are, is the silent transmuting potency of Jesus the Christ.
A man who takes his last copper pennies and looking up to heaven gives thanks, is doing that action which is the key turning into re-enforcements of Jehovah laid up for him from the foundation of the world. The copper pennies are all he needs to work with. The stone jars are your own affairs. They are just what is given you to manage with to show how powerful the Spirit is in dealing with you for your increasement.
Archimedes said give him standing place and he would move the world. But Goethe was more like Jesus Christ by saying, "Make good your own standing place, and move the world."
Jesus Christ said He would lay down His body and take it up. Moses took his own rod and made it a serpent; his own hand and made it leprous with a thought; his own hand and healed it with a thought.
The queen was surprised that they had such dirty rags in a rich paper mill. But soon the manufacturers sent her some shining white paper made from those same rags. So by this lesson you may learn that you do not need one single thing to do with more than you already have if you know the law of praise and thanksgiving. At a faith-cure meeting a man kept praising God that he was so well, while a great tumor or some other kind of swelling was plain to be seen by his neighbors. This was his "stone water-pot." But he praised God publicly that he was so well for a whole fortnight. Long before the fortnight was up he was well, so that even his neighbors could see it so.
Take the home as you find it, child, and turn it into a home indeed by praising God that there is a Spirit of Goodness working with you and through you and by you and for you to make all things well.
Take your business as it is, child, and praise Divine Love that there is a strong, wise way out of your dilemma. Take your professional hopes, your children, your work—nothing can be more common than stone water-pots—and set them right by praising the Spirit. Praise is the "wine" of daily experience. The praise of Divine Love—the Motherhood of God is the plenteous wine of Cana of Galilee.
Chicago, July 19, 1891.
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