"Two baskets of figs"

The prophets who were called to thunder the law and the gospel to recalcitrant Israel had no easy task. They were under the spiritual necessity of warning the seed of Abraham against the fruits of disobedience to the one God. Similitudes, parables, and visions came to their rescue in this redemptive work, so that God's meaning might be made clear to the rebellious nation. Under the figure of "two baskets of figs" Jeremiah was at one time given an illustration whereby the future of those members of the tribe of Judah who were carried away captive to Babylon "for their good" was distinguished from that of the Jews who remained in Palestine and in Egypt. We read of these baskets of figs, "One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad."

The Jews who went into captivity were to be purified by leaving the homes of their forefathers, and in a strange land among people worshiping strange gods were to learn individually to worship the one and only God, who is everywhere present and to be found not merely in the temple at Jerusalem. But those who clung obstinately to power and prestige at the seat of national authority or fled for supposed safety into Egypt were later overwhelmed by the waves of a more terrible conquest, which destroyed Jerusalem itself. When the call comes to march forward leaving all unnecessary baggage behind, the temptation to burden one's self with cherished opinions, silly notions, useless habits, ancient grudges, and false trusts is liable to halt the advance. As Mrs. Eddy so well put this in her article entitled "An Allegory," in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 327) where she describes the climbing of the mountain of Christianity: "Many there were who had entered the valley to speculate in worldly policy, religion, politics, finance, and to search for wealth and fame. These had heavy baggage of their own, and insisted upon taking all of it with them, which must greatly hinder their ascent." In time of fire it is not well to rush back into a burning house to find some material knick-knack, nor at sea in a shipwreck to load one's self down with all of one's material belongings. Those who travel on the spiritual highway or ascend above the clouds must be foot free and leave the world's falsities below. Speaking of Christ's second coming Jesus said to his disciples, "Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors." Jesus also said to them, "But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter."

The "very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad," are like those individuals who will not hearken to the voice of God. They stand stock-still when the bugle blows for the advance, thinking to insure their own safety by inaction, preferring self-styled prudence to divine guidance. Mrs. Eddy says in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 276), "Divine Science does not gather grapes from thorns nor figs from thistles."

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Lecture in The Mother Church
May 3, 1919

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