7. “Agree With Thine Adversary Quickly”
THE scientific and psychological accuracy of the fundamental statements comprising The Sermon on the Mount has met with but little recognition. The general impression is that the doctrines which make up that remarkable deliverance are high grade moral maxims, but impractically ideal. They are looked upon somewhat like rare gems, hung above our heads, quite out of reach. What is an adversary? Not usually a person, but oftener some condition, environment, state of the weather, dilemma, disease, or whatever seemingly is opposed to one’s comfort. If rightly interpreted, the offender would be found within. Our own attitude determines our friends or enemies.
Jesus, with a full grasp of the laws of the human constitution, made statements which were not simply moral and spiritual, but positively scientific in their exactitude. In reality, these varying aspects are but different sides of a unit. Through the belief that things are against us, they receive armament and are set in array. To illustrate: We form a theory that the east wind is unfriendly, and thereby make ourselves negative, not to the wind itself, but to our own idea concerning it. Shall one rise superior to ordinary environment and realize its potential goodness, or, through a slavish state of consciousness, gratuitously surrender? Not that extreme and miraculous results can be suddenly realixed, but that great progress can be steadily cultivated. Endless variations of the same principle may be imagined, where by an irrepealable law the change of mental relation is fully reflected in the physical organism. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” The body faithfully articulates, expresses, and manifests the ruling idea. The “Word,” whatever its quality, “is made flesh.”
All those manifestations in mind or body which we call disorderly are due to violations of law, physical, psychical, or spiritual. Whether they occur consciously or through ignorance, the educational penalty, thus invited, at length puts in an appearance. Messengers, perhaps in the shape of a headache or a dyspeptic twinge, come to arrest our attention. Nothing milder would serve the purpose. We call them evil, count them as enemies, and wish to dodge the physical sensation. But their purpose is to teach us lessons and lead us to correct our mistakes. See them as friends, even though in rough attire, and with our change of attitude their bitterness becomes rapidly dissipated. So soon as their purpose has cordial recognition, their business is ended, and they bow themselves out. This is scientific healing. Though seemingly paradoxical, the enemy will persist just in proportion that it is considered an enemy.
The basic and fundamental principle to be recognized, is that the moral order is wholly beneficent and friendly, and nothing but our misinterpretation makes it seem otherwise. We create our relations. As we love everything, everything will love us. If we carelessly stumble and fall, we should be foolish to blame the bcneficent law of gravitation. It is the same with every other law, and this should spur us on in the search for truth.
We shall get back the faithful reflection of what we send out. If we think ill of one, the sight, and even the thought of him, brings an unwelcome shock. In effect, invisible telegraphic wires keep us in communication not only with material objects but spiritual entities, and currents of attraction or repulsion are ever passing over them. The stars, the sky, the rain, the temperature, the landscape, events, transactions, joys, fears, good and ill, all flash back reciprocal messages, which in quality are the echoes of those we send. But if a freight of base metal seems to come to us over a line of relationship, we can, through a spiritual alchemy at our command, transmute it into the fine gold of harmony and utility. The foundation of this power dwells in the understanding that every experience which comes to us, negative or positive, seeming evil as well as seeming good, painful as well as pleasurable, is potentially, and may be actually, an aid in our spiritual evolution. Whatever comes is capable of being “a means of grace.” If painful, it pushes from behind and below, thereby pleading with us to lift our consciousness higher. If ideal, it attracts us forward.
The local and smaller circumference of evil is surrounded and submerged in the larger environment of good. If one believes that “things are against him,” he virtually confers adverse potency upon them. The relation which he has set up within himself, he thinks has been erected outside, by chance, fate, or perhaps the responsibility is placed upon “Providence.”
Though the law of non-resistance is looked upon as weak and impractical, it is divine and conquers. “But I say unto you that ye resist not evil.” Absurd! says the worldly policy. Again, “Love your enemies.” But there are no enemies, for love makes them friends. There is an objective world, but in deeper reality every man creates his own world. Whether here or hereafter, unlimited antagonism is hell. In proportion as one installs adversaries about him, he shrinks in soul and weakens in body.
People, classes, sects, and parties antagonize each other, not so much for what they really are, but for what subjective coloring makes them appear to be. Our relations are not only intimate with objective things, but yet more so with our own subjective creations. We are constantly setting up thought pictures in consciousness and making them our tenants and companions. They impress their quality far more deeply than do personal friends. Shall they be health, harmony, happiness, love, purity, and strength; or disorder, inharmony, malice, fear, sensuality, and weakness? As we choose, we make them at home and abiding. We adopt them, and they mould us. The same law that governs our relations with outside things connects the ego with its own mental images. Linger in the presence of divine ideals, and you will become known by the company you keep. Lift your consciousness and dwell amid your own delineations of love, faith, purity, and goodness, and adversaries will dissolve. Glimpses will grow more frequent of the great Reality. “The pure in heart shall see God.”