THE SERPENT'S GIFT

In the twenty-third chapter of Exodus we are commanded, "Thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous." A long time ago, as the Bible tells us, there lived a man and a woman who had been created by the Lord God. From all the evidence recorded, they were healthy, peaceful, and happy. At some period not definitely stated, there appeared on the scene, according to this story, a serpent, who was exceedingly desirous of making these two happy people a gift. Now this serpent was very subtle, and with the proffered gift the argument was advanced that by its acceptance the eyes of the man and woman would be opened and they would be "as gods, knowing good and evil;" that is, that they would know life, pleasure, and sensation as existing in matter. We read that they accepted the gift, and that soon there was manifested in them a sense of fear and shame hitherto unknown. Later, a "yoke of bondage," heavy and cruel, was placed about their necks, and from it there seemed no way of escape.

For centuries this same gift has been thought of among the children of men as something to be desired, and has been accepted by them, and all the suffering, sorrow, sin, poverty, shame, and fear that have accompanied it, has not been enough to awaken them to the realization of its falsity. The teachers and prophets of old saw, in part, the meaning of this gift, but having accepted it, they were unable to free themselves or the people from its evil domination. But when Jesus, the gift of Love divine, came, he at once set about his Father's business: to open the eyes of the blind, heal the sick, bind up the broken-hearted, and restore that which was lost, the true sense of life, by removing the yoke, the lie that man lives in matter, the belief which came with the gift of the serpent. He had to demonstrate the truth for himself and also for others, and so he was taken into the wilderness to prove that the gift had no attraction for God's idea; and when those final words were spoken to the serpent: "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve," then, as the Scripture reads, "the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him." The offer of error was refused by Jesus, but the people failed fully to understand his mission and message. The years rolled on until there came one who did understand both the messenger and the message, one whose consciousness was so in tune with divine Mind that she was able to discover that "there is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all" (Science and Health, p. 468).

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