Filename: RC4011.TXT [PAGE 198] ROSICRUCIAN CHRISTIANITY BIBLE COURSE: +quot;THE BIBLE HAS

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Filename: RC4011.TXT [PAGE 198] ROSICRUCIAN CHRISTIANITY BIBLE COURSE: "THE BIBLE HAS BEEN GIVEN TO THE WESTERN WORLD BY THE RECORDING ANGELS, WHO GIVE TO EACH AND ALL EXACTLY WHAT THEY NEED FOR THEIR DEVELOPMENT." --Max Heindel LESSON NO. 21: THE SACRAMENTS (continued): REFERENCES: Matthew 22:1-14; Luke 14:16-35; Revelation 19:7 THE SACRAMENT OF MARRIAGE: When stripped of nonessentials the argument of the orthodox Christian religions may be said to be as follows: First, that tempted by the devil, our first parents sinned and were ex- iled from their previous state of celestial bliss, placed under the law, made subject to death, and became incapable of escaping by their own ef- forts. Second, that God so loved the world that He gave Christ, His only begot- ten Son, for its redemption and to establish the kingdom of heaven. Thus death will finally be swallowed up in immortality. This simple creed has provoked the smiles of atheists, and of the purely intellectual who have studies transcendental philosophies with their nice- ties of logic and argument; and even of some among those who study the West- ern Mystery Teaching. Such an attitude of mind is entirely gratuitous. We might know that the divine leaders of mankind would not allow millions to continue in error for millennia. When the Western Mystery teachings is stripped of its exceed- ingly illuminating explanations and detailed descriptions, when its basic teachings are stated, they are found to be in exact agreement with the or- thodox Christian teachings. There was a time when mankind lived in a sinless state; when sorrow, pain, and death were unknown. Neither is the PERSONAL TEMPTER of Christian- ity a myth, for the Lucifer spirits may very well be said to be fallen an- gels, and their temptation of man resulted in focusing his consciousness upon the material phase of existence where he is under the law of de- crepitude and death. Also it is truly the mission of Christ to aid mankind by elevating them to a more ethereal state where dissolution will not longer be necessary to free them from vehicles that have grown too hard and set for further use. For this is indeed a "body of death," where only the smallest quantity of material is really alive, as part of its bulk is nutrient matter that has not yet been assimilated, another large part is already on its way to elimination, and only between those two poles may be found the material which is thoroughly quickened by spirit. We have in previous lessons considered the sacraments of baptism and [PAGE 199] communion, sacraments that have to do particularly with the spirit. We shall now seek to understand the deeper side of the sacrament of marriage, which has to do particularly with the body. Paul preached in the 15th chap- ter of I Corinthians, starting at the 35th verse, that in addition to the body of flesh and blood we have a soul body, SOMA PSUCHICON (mistranslated "natural body"), and a spiritual body; that each of these bodies is grown from a different SEED ATOM and that there are THREE stages of unfoldment for Adam, or man. The first Adam was taken from the ground and was without sen- tient life. Soul was added to the SECOND ADAM; thus he had life within, a leaven laboring to elevate the clod to God. When the potential of the soul extracted from the physical body has been raised to the spiritual, the LAST ADAM will become a life GIVING spirit, capable of transmitting the life im- pulse to others directly as flame from one candle can be communicated to many without diminishing the magnitude of the original light. In the meantime the germ for our earth body had to be properly placed in fruitful soil to grow a suitable vehicle, and generative organs were pro- vided from the beginning to accomplish this purpose. (See INTRODUCTION to Lesson 18.) Like other sacraments the institution of marriage had its beginning and will also have its end. The commencement was described by the Christ when He said, "Have ye not read that HE which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and twain shall be one flesh? Where- fore they are no more twain, but one flesh." (Matthew 19:4-6) He also in- dicated the end of marriage when He said: "In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are the angels of God in heaven." (Matthew 22:30.) In this light the logic of the teaching is apparent, for MARRIAGE became necessary in order that BIRTH might provide new instruments to take the place of those which had been ruptured by DEATH; and when death has once been swallowed up in immortality and there is no need of providing new in- struments, marriage will also be unnecessary. Science with admirable audacity has sought to solve the mystery of fecun- dation, and has told us how imagination takes place in the walls of the ovary; how the little ovum is formed in the seclusion of its dark cavity; how it emerges therefrom and enters the Fallopian tube; is pierced by the spermatozoon of the male, and the nucleus of a human body is complete. We are thus supposed to be "at the fount and origin of life"! But life has neither beginning nor end, and what science mistakenly considers the foun- tain of life is really the source of death, as all that comes from the womb is destined sooner or later to reach the tomb. The MARRIAGE feast which prepares for BIRTH, at the same time provides food for the insatiable jaws of DEATH, and so long as marriage is necessary to generation and birth, dis- integration and death must inevitably result. Therefore it is of prime im- portance to know the history of marriage, the laws and agencies involved, the duration of this institution, and how it may be transcended. [PAGE 200] When we obtained our vital bodies in Hyperborea, the sun, moon, and earth were still united, and the solar-lunar forces permeated each being in even measure so that all were able to perpetuate their kind by buds and spores as do certain plants of today. The efforts of the vital body to soften the dense vehicle and keep it alive were not then interfered with, and these primal, plantlike bodies lived for ages. But man was then unconscious and stationary like a plant; he made no effort or exertion. The addition of a desire body furnished incentive and desire, and consciousness resulted form the war between the vital body, which builds, and the desire body, which de- stroys the dense body. Thus dissolution became only a question of time, particularly as the con- structive energy of the vital body was also necessarily divided, one part or pole being used in the vital functions of the body, the other to replace a vehicle lost by death. But as the two poles of a magnet or dynamo are req- uisite to manifestation, so also two single-sexed beings became necessary for generation; thus marriage and birth were necessarily inaugurated to off- set the effect of death. DEATH, THEN, IS THE PRICE WE PAY FOR CONSCIOUSNESS IN THE PRESENT WORLD; marriage and repeated births are our weapons against the king of terrors until our constitution shall change and we become as an- gels. Please mark that it is not stated that we are to become angles, but hat we are to become AS ANGELS. For the angels are the humanity of the Moon Pe- riod, they belong to an entirely different stream of evolution, as different as our human spirits form those of our present animals. Paul states in his letter to the Hebrews that man was made FOR A LITTLE WHILE inferior to the angels; he descended lower into the scale of materiality during the Earth Period, while the angels have never inhabited a globe denser than ether. As we build our bodies from the chemical constituents of the earth, so do the angels build theirs of ether. This substance is the direct avenue of all life forces, and when man has once become as the angels and has learned to build his body of ether, naturally there will be no death and no need of marriage to bring about birth. But looking at marriage from another point of view, looking upon it as a union of souls rather than as union of the sexes, we contact the wonderful mystery of Love. Union of the sexes might serve to perpetuate the race, of course, but the true marriage is a companionship of souls also, which alto- gether transcends sex. Yet those really able to meet upon that lofty plane of spiritual intimacy gladly offer their bodies as living sacrifices upon the altar of LOVE OF THE UNBORN, to woo a waiting spirit into an im- maculately conceived body. Thus humanity may be saved from the reign of death. This is readily apparent as soon as we consider the gentle action of the vital body and contrast it with that of the desire body in a fit of temper, where it is said that a man has "lost control" of himself. Under such con- ditions, the muscles become tense and nervous energy is expanded at a sui- cidal rate, so that after such an outbreak the body may sometimes be pros- trated for weeks. The hardest labor brings no such fatigue as a fit of temper; likewise a child conceived in passion under the crystallizing [PAGE 201] tendencies of the desire nature is naturally shortlived, and it is a regret- table fact that LENGTH OF LIFE IS nowadays almost a misnomer; in view of the appalling infant mortality it ought to be called BREVITY OF EXISTENCE. The building tendencies of the vital body, which is the vehicle of love, are not so easily watched, but observation proves that contentment lengthens the life of anyone who cultivates this quality, and we may safely reason that a child conceived under conditions of harmony and love stands a better chance of life than one conceived under conditions of anger, inebriety, and passion. According to Genesis it was said to the woman, "In sorrow shalt thou bear children," and it has always been a sore puzzle to Bible commentators what logical connection there may be between the eating of fruit and the pains of parturition. But when we understand the chaste references of the Bible to the act of generation, the connection is readily perceived. Astrology will reveal the temper and tendencies of each human being; it will enable two people to blend their characters in such a manner that a love life may be lived, and it will indicate the periods when interplanetary lines of force are most nearly conducive to painless parturition. Thus it will enable us to drawn from the bosom of nature children of love, capable of living long lives in good health. Finally the day will come when these bodies will have been made so perfect in their ethereal purity that they may last throughout the coming Age, and thus make marriage superfluous. The love of our soul for soul, purged of passion in the furnace of sorrow, will be our brightest gem in heaven as its shadow is on earth. QUESTIONS ON LESSON NO. 21: 1. What are the basic arguments of the orthodox Christian religion? 2. How do these arguments compare with the Western Wisdom Teaching? 3. What is the mission of Christ? 4. Give the references in which Christ mentioned the beginning and the end of the institution of marriage? 5. Briefly summarize the origin and necessity of marriage. 6. In what ways is humanity to become "as angels"? 7. How may Astrology be used regarding marriage? [PAGE 202] "THE BIBLE HAS BEEN GIVEN TO THE WESTERN WORLD BY THE RECORDING ANGELS, WHO GIVE TO EACH AND ALL EXACTLY WHAT THEY NEED FOR THEIR DEVELOPMENT." --Max Heindel LESSON NO. 22: THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION: REFERENCES: Matthew 1:20-25; Luke 1;26-35. The Doctrine of Immaculate Conception is one of the most sublime myster- ies of the Christian Religion, and perhaps for that reason it has suffered more from being dragged down into materiality than any of the other myster- ies. It has suffered alike from the interpretation of its clumsy supporters and the sneers of the skeptics. The popular, but erroneous, idea is that about 2,000 years ago an indi- vidual named Jesus Christ was born of a mother without the cooperation of an earthly father, and THIS INCIDENT IS REGARDED AS UNIQUE IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. In reality it is not unparalleled; the immaculate conception has taken place many times in the history of the world and will become universal in the future. The periodical ebb and flow of the material and spiritual forces which invest the earth are the invisible causes of the physical, moral, and mental activities upon our globe. According to the hermetic asiom, "As above, so below," a similar activity must take place in man, who is but a minor edi- tion of Mother Nature. The animals have twenty-eight pairs of spinal nerves and are now in their Moon stage, perfectly attuned to the twenty-eight days in which the Moon passes around the zodiac. In their wild state, the group spirit regulates their mating. Therefore there is no overflow with them. Man, on the other hand, is in a transition stage; he is too far progressed for the lunar vi- brations for the has thirty-one pairs of spinal nerves. But he is not yet attuned to the solar month of thirty-one days, and he mates at all times of the year; hence the periodical flow in woman, which under proper conditions is utilized to form part of the body of a child more perfect than its par- ent. Similarly, the periodical flow in mankind becomes the sinew and back- bone of racial advancement; and the periodical flow of the earth's spiritual forces, which occurs at Christmas, results in the birth of Saviors who from time to time give renewed impetus to the spiritual advancement of the human race. There are two parts to our Bible, the Old and the New Testaments. After briefly reciting how the world came into being, the former tells the story of the "Fall." We understand the "Fall" to have been occasioned by man's impulsive and ignorant use of the sex forces at times when the inter- [PAGE 203] planetary rays were inimical to conception of the purest and best vehicles. Thus man become gradually imprisoned in a dense body crystallized by sinful passion and consequently an imperfect vehicle, subject to pain and death. Then commenced the pilgrimage through matter, and for millennia we have been living in this hard and flinty shell of body, which obscures the light of heaven from the spirit within. The spirit is like a diamond in its rough coat, and the celestial lapidaries, the Recording Angels, are constantly en- deavoring to remove the coating so that the spirit may shine through the vehicle which it ensouls. When the lapidary holds the diamond to the grindstone, the diamond emits a screech like a cry of pain as the opaque covering is removed; but gradually by many successive applications to the grindstone the rough diamond may become a gem of transcendent beauty and purity. Similarly, the celestial beings in charge of our evolution hold us closely to the grind- stone of experience. Pain and suffering result, which awaken the spirit sleeping within. The man hitherto content with material pursuits, indulgent of sense and sex, becomes imbued with a divine discontent which impels him to seek the higher life. The gratification of that aspiration, however, is not usually accom- plished without a severe struggle upon the part of the lower nature. It was while wrestling thus that Paul exclaimed with all the anguish of a devout, aspiring heart: "O wretched man that I am!. . .The good that I would I do not: but the evil that I would not, that I do. . .I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and brining me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." (Romans 7:19-24.) When the flower is crushed, its scent is liberated and fills the sur- roundings with grateful fragrance, delighting all who are fortunate enough to be near. Crushing blows of fate may overwhelm a man or woman who has reached the stage of efflorescence; they will but serve to bring out the sweetness of the nature and enhance the beauty of the soul till it shines with an effulgence that marks the wearer as with the halo. Then he is upon the path of Initiation. He is taught how unbridled use of sex regardless of the stellar rays has imprisoned him in the body, how it fetters him, and how by the proper use of that same force in harmony with the stars he may gradually improve and etherealize his body and finally attain liberation from concrete existence. A shipwright cannot build a staunch oak ship from spruce lumber: "men do gather grapes of thorns"; like begets like, and an incoming ego of a pas- sionate nature is drawn to parents of like nature, where its body is con- ceived upon the impulse of the moment in a gust of passion. The soul who has tasted the cup of sorrow incident to the abuse of the creative force and has drunk to the dregs the bitterness thereof, will gradually seek parents of less and less passionate natures, until at length it attains to Initiation. [PAGE 204] Having been taught in the process of Initiation the influence of the stellar rays upon parturition, the next body provided will be generated by Initiate parents without passion, under the constellation most favorable to the work which the Ego contemplates. Therefore the Gospels (which are for- mulae of Initiation) commence with the account of the immaculate conception and end with the crucifixion, both wonderful ideals to which we must some- time attain, for each of us is a Christ-in-the-making, and will sometime pass through both the mystic birth and the mystic death adumbrated in the Gospels. By knowledge we may hasten the day, intelligently cooperating in- stead of as now often stupidly frustrating through ignorance the ends of spiritual development. In connection with the immaculate conception misunderstandings prevail at every point; the perpetual virginity of the mother even after giving birth to other children; the lowly station of Joseph, the supposed foster father, etc. We will briefly view them in the light of facts as revealed in the Memory of Nature. In some parts of Europe people of the higher classes are addressed as "wellborn," or even as "highwellborn," meaning that they are the offspring of cultured parents in high station. Such people usually look down with scorn upon those in modest positions. We have nothing against the expres- sion "wellborn"; we would that every child were well born, born to parents of high moral standing, no matter what their station in life. There is a virginity of soul that is independent of the state of the body, a purity of mind without the taint of passion and enable the mother to carry the unborn child under heart in sexless love. Previous to the time of Christ that would have been impossible. In the earlier stages of man's career upon earth quantity was desirable and quality a minor consideration, hence the common was given to "go forth, be fruitful, and multiply." Besides, it was necessary that man should temporarily forget his spiritual nature and concentrate his energies upon material conditions. Indulgence of sex passion furthers that object, and the desire nature was given full sway. Polygamy flourished, and the larger the number of their children, the more a man and a woman were honored, while barrenness was looked upon as the greatest possible affliction. In other directions the desire nature was being curbed by God-given laws, and obedience to divine commands was enforced by swift punishment of the transgressor, such as war, pestilence, or famine. Rewards for dutiful ob- servance of the mandates of the law were not wanting either; the "righteous" man's children, his cattle and crops were numerous; he was victorious over his enemies and the cup of his happiness was full. Later when the earth had been sufficiently peopled after the Atlantean Flood, polygamy became more and more obsolete, with the result that quality of the bodies improved, and at the time of Christ the desire nature had [PAGE 205] become so far amenable to control in the case of the more advanced among hu- manity that the act of generation could be performed without passion, out of pure love, so that the child could be immaculately conceived. Such were the parent of Jesus. Joseph is said to have been a carpenter, but he was not a worker in wood. He was a "builder" in a higher sense. God is the Grand Architect of the Universe. Under Him are many builders in varying degrees of spiritual splendor, down even to those whom we know as Freemasons. All are engaged in building a temple without sound of hammer, and Joseph was no exception. It is sometimes asked why Initiates are always men. They are not; in the lower degrees there are many women, but when an Initiate is able to choose his sex he usually takes the positive masculine body, as the life which brought him to Initiation has spiritualized his vital body and made it positive under all conditions, so that he has then an instrument of the highest efficiency. There are times, however, when the exigencies of a case require a female body, such as, for instance, providing a body of the highest type to receive an Ego of superlatively high degree. Then a high Initiate may take a female body and go through the experience of maternity again, after perhaps having eschewed it for several lives, as was the case with the beautiful character we know as Mary of Bethlehem. In conclusion, then, let us remember the points brought out, that we are all Christs-in-the-making; that sometime we must cultivate characters so spotless that we may be worthy to inhabit bodies that are immaculately con- ceived; and the sooner we commence to purify out minds of passionate thoughts, the sooner we shall attain. In the final analysis it only depends upon the earnestness of our purpose, the strength of our wills. QUESTIONS ON LESSON NO. 22: 1. State the popular idea in regard to the immaculate conception. 2. What brings about the birth of saviors? 3. Explain why we are now imprisoned in a dense body. 4. How may we hasten the process of becoming Christlike? 5. In what sense was Joseph a "carpenter"? 6. Why was Mary called a "virgin"? 7. Sum up briefly the interpretation of the immaculate conception as given in this lesson. [PAGE 206] "THE BIBLE HAS BEEN GIVEN TO THE WESTERN WORLD BY THE RECORDING ANGELS, WHO GIVE TO EACH AND ALL EXACTLY WHAT THEY NEED FOR THEIR DEVELOPMENT." --Max Heindel LESSON NO. 23: MISCELLANEOUS INTERPRETATIONS: THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS; EVERLASTING SALVATION AND DAMNATION; CONVERSION: REFERENCES: Matthew 18:3; 23:14; Mark 3:29; Luke 1:69; 2:30; 22:32; John 4:22; Acts 4:12; 13:26-47; 15:3; 26:1-23; 28:28; Romans 11:11; 13:2; I Corinthians 11:29; Ephesians 1:1-7; Colossians 1:14; Revelation 12:10. THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS.--The inability to believe in the forgiveness of sins has caused many to believe exclusively in the law of cause and effect, as taught in eastern countries under the name of KARMA. There are also many who think that, because eastern religions teach that law, and the law of re- birth, more clearly than the western religion, Christianity, these eastern religions are better and more scientific than the western religion, which teaches, as popularly interpretated, that the Christ died for our sins and that, in consequence, belief in Him will bring us forgiveness. As a matter of fact, however, the Christian teaching also enunciates the doctrine that "as we sow so shall we also reap," and thus it teaches both the law of cause and effect and the forgiveness of sins. BOTH of these laws are vitally operative in the unfoldment of humanity, and there are good rea- sons why the earlier eastern religions have only one part of THE COMPLETE TEACHING WHICH IS FOUND IN THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION. In those early days when the religions of the East were given to human- ity, mankind were still more spiritual in nature than the material beings of the present-day Western World. They knew that we live many lives in differ- ent shapes and forms here upon this earth. In the East today they are yet thoroughly imbued with that idea, and as a consequence they are exceedingly indolent. They are more concerned with thoughts of Nirvana--the invisible world--where they may rest in peace and joy, than with taking advantage of their present material resources for advancement. As a consequence, their country is arid and waste, their crops are small and often destroyed by a scorching sun and devastating floods. They suffer famine, they die by mil- lions, but although they teach the law of cause and effect, they seem to be unaware that their miserable conditions are brought about by indolence and indifference to material things. For naturally, when they have not worked [PAGE 207] here they have nothing to assimilate in the heaven life between death and a new birth, and as an organ or limb that is disused gradually atrophies, so a country that is not developed by the spirits incarnating therein gradually atrophies and becomes useless as a habitation for mankind. It was necessary to the evolution of humanity to enter this material world and develop all its resources. Therefore, the Great Leaders have taken various means to cause us to for- get temporarily the spiritual side of our nature. In the West, where pioneers of the human race are found, they commanded marriage outside the family. They gave to the West a religion that did not definitely teach the doctrine of rebirth and the law of cause and effect as means of advancement. They also originated the use of alcohol, with its paralyzing effect upon the spiritual sensibilities of man. By these means we have in the West tempo- rarily forgotten that there is more than this one life on earth, and in con- sequence we apply ourselves with the utmost diligence to making the fullest possible use of what we believe to be our only opportunity here. Therefore, we have developed the West into a veritable garden; we have made for our- selves, BETWEEN INCARNATIONS, a land that is exceedingly fertile and rich in the minerals which we need in our various industries, and thus we are con- quering the visible material world. It is evident, however, that the religious side of man's nature must not be entirely neglected, and as Christ, the great Ideal of the Christian reli- gion, had been set before us for imitation, and we could not possibly hope to become Christ-like in one life, which is all that we now have any knowl- edge of, there must be given us a compensatory doctrine, otherwise we should in despair cease to strive, knowing that it would be futile. Therefore the Western World was taught the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins through the righteousness of Christ Jesus. It is equally certain, however, that no doctrine which is not a truth in nature could have any uplifting power, and, therefore, there must also be a sound basis behind the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins, which seems to vitiate the law of causation. It is this: When we look about us in the material world, we observe the different phenomena of nature, we meet other people and have various transactions with them, and all these sights, sounds, and scenes are observed by means of our sense organs. Yet not all, for we are usually exceedingly unobservant of details. It is exasperatingly true when it is said that "we have eyes and see not and ears that hear not." We lose a great deal of experience on that account. Besides, our memory is woefully lacking. While we are able to re- call a little, most of our experiences are lost to us because we forget them. Our conscious memory is weak. There is another memory, however. As the ether and the air carry to the photographic plate in a camera the im- pression of the landscape without, omitting not the slightest detail, so also do the air and the ether which carry impressions from the outside to our sense organs carry into the lungs, and thence to the blood, an actual [PAGE 208] picture and a record of everything with which we come in contact. Those pictures are stored in the minute seed atom resting in the left ventricle of the heart, and that little atom may be considered the Book of the Recording Angels, where all our deeds are inscribed. Thence it is mirrored in the Re- flecting Ether of our vital body. In the ordinary course of life, man passes into Purgatory at death and expiates the sins inscribed upon that atom. Later he assimilates all the good stored there in the First Heaven, working upon his future environment in the Second Heaven. But a devout person realizes each day his shortcom- ings and failures. He examines the events of this life daily and prays from a devout heart to be forgiven for sins he has committed. Then the pictures which have recorded the sins of omission and commission fade, and are wiped out of life's record from day to day. For it is not the aim of God or na- ture to "get even" as it would seem under the law of causation, which de- crees an exact retribution for every transgression, as well as a reward of compensation for every good act. It is the aim of God that we should learn by experience here to do justly and well. When we have realized that we have done wrong and determine to do better, we have learned the lesson, and there is no necessity for PUNISHING us. Thus the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins is an actual fact in nature. If we repent, make restitution and reform, the sins we have repented of, made restitution for and reformed from are forgiven and wiped out of life's record. Otherwise they are eradicated by corresponding pains in Purgatory after death. Thus the doctrine of Karma, or the law of cause and effect as taught in the East, does not fully meet human needs, but the Christian teaching which embodies BOTH the law of causation and the doctrine of for- giveness of sins, gives a more complete teaching concerning the method em- ployed by the Great Leaders to instruct us. EVERLASTING SALVATION AND DAMNATION.--The orthodox religions say that those who have done well in this life are saved, that is to say, they will go to heaven not very clearly defined, and those who fail to reach this sal- vation are plunged into hell of which not very much is known save that it is a place of misery. The good and the bad stay in their respective places, once they have been judged; there is no redemption for lost souls, and no danger of a fall for those once saved. Such an interpretation is radically wrong, if the Greek dictionary is taken as authority, for obviously the meaning hinges upon the word trans- lated "everlasting." That word is AIONIAN, and in the dictionary it is translated to mean "an age, an indefinite period, a lifetime," etc. What, then, is the true meaning of the passage quoted, we may ask ourselves, and in order to find that meaning it will be necessary to take a comprehensive view of life. In the beginning of manifestation, God, a Great Flame, differentiates a vast number of incipient flames or sparks, WITHIN Himself, not FROM Himself, [PAGE 209] for it is an actual fact that "IN Him we live and move and have our being." NOTHING CAN EXIST OUTSIDE GOD. So within Himself, God differentiates these countless spirits. Each of them is POTENTIALLY divine, each enfolds all His powers as the seed enfolds the plant, but as the seed must be buried in the ground to bring forth the plant, so it is necessary that these divine sparks should be immersed in material vehicles in order that they may learn lessons that can be mastered only in such a separative existence as there is in the world. The world may be regarded as a training school for the evolving spirits. Some of them started early and applied themselves diligently to the task be- fore them; consequently they progressed rapidly. Others started later and are laggards. They are therefore left behind in the race; but all will ul- timately attain the goal of perfection. In consequence of the foregoing fact there are a number of classes of these pilgrim spirits, and before one set, or class of spirits can be moved up another step in evolution, it is necessary that they should have attained a certain standard of proficiency. They are SAVED from a lower condition which they have outgrown. Once this measure of efficiency has been acquired, they are promoted into another race, another epoch. But among a large number there are always laggards, and these are CONDEMNED to stay in the class where they were until they have arrived at the stage of growth required for advancement. The plan is similar to the method in which children in a school are promoted into the next higher class AT THE YEARLY EXAMINATION if they have attained a certain standard of knowledge; if not, they are condemned to stay behind--NOT FOR- EVER, BUT ONLY UNTIL ANOTHER YEAR'S EXAMINATION PROVES THAT THEY HAVE QUALIFIED. The foregoing is not a distorted or a wrong representation of the meaning of the word AIONIAN. It has been used in other places in the Bible in a manner which bears out our contention. For instance, in Paul's letter to Philemon, where he returns to him the slave Onesimus with the words, "Per- haps it was well that you should lose him for a time that he might be given back to you FOREVER." The word "forever" is the same word AIONIAN which is translated "everlasting" in connection with damnation and salvation, and it will readily be seen that in this case it can only mean a part of a life- time, for neither Paul or Philemon, as such, would live forever. CONVERSION--There are conversions and conversions. There is the conver- sion which takes place in a revival meeting to the beating of drums, the clapping of hands, the singing of gospel hymns, and the insistent calling of the revivalist to "come before it is too late." All these aids to conver- sion produce an intense hypnotic influence, which works upon the emotional nature of many people in such a way that these "sinners," so called, can no longer remain in their seats, but are FORCED in the most literal sense to obey the command and come forward to "the mourner's bench." That kind of conversion is usually of very little worth. Revivalists find that it is ex- tremely easy to convert people in this manner. The exasperatingly [PAGE 210] difficult problem is, as one of them expressed it, "to make it stick," for when the victim of the hypnotic revivalist leaves the meeting, the influence gradually wears off, and sooner or later he relapses into his original attitude. And though these "backsliders" may feel no pang at all when backsliding, the next revival meeting draws them to the mourner's bench again as surely as a magnet draws a needle. They are con- verted repeatedly and backslide regularly every time there is a revival meeting, to the disgust of the revivalist and the amusement of the commu- nity, who are unaware that it is a simple case of mild hypnotism. There is another conversion, however, always accompanied by planetary in- fluences, and according to the strength of these influences the conversion, or change in the life, will be more or less radical. It then shows that the soul has reached a certain point in its pilgrimage where it feels attraction to the higher life. The immediate cause of conversion may be a sermon, a lecture, or a book, a verse in the Bible, or something in nature, but that is only the physical cause of something which was already a fact spiritu- ally. From that moment the man or the woman will commence to take a new view of life, will lay aside the old vices, will follow new lines of thought and endeavor. It may change his whole attitude toward life and also his en- vironment. In fact, very often a journey has brought him out of the usual environment for the time being, to give the proper condition for sowing the new seed. QUESTIONS ON LESSON NO. 23: 1. What is the generally accepted understanding of the "forgiveness of sins." 2. How are our "sins" really "forgiven"? 3. Why was the Western World taught the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins through the righteousness of Christ Jesus. 4. Explain why the orthodox interpretation of "everlasting: salvation and damnation is not acceptable. 5. Give the correct interpretation of this doctrine. 6. Describe the popular methods of conversion. 7. What is true "conversion"? Continued with file "RC4012.TXT" End of File

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