The Patience of Principle
The appeal to war as an arbitrament of human quarrels is rooted in the fundamental passions of the human mind. The primitive man fought as naturally as he slept or ate. He altered his method, it is true, as he became more civilized, but the instinct remained unchecked. When, consequently, peace movements are initiated, Hague tribunals formed, and limitation of armament conferences called, it is a proof that the power of Principle over the human mind has reached a stage where it is possible to place some further control upon evil. This, when it is understood, is the explanation of the Mosaic law, that curious compound of brutality and protection, exerted in the name of Principle, and yet, superficially, so contradictory of Principle. Moses, pondering deeply over the spectacle afforded by the comparatively unrestrained license of human thought, fell back upon his understanding of Principle for a way of escape from the claims of evil. Thinking the question out, in the light of this understanding he reached a series of conclusions which he embodied in his code. The conclusions were arrived at, however, not through any intellectual reasoning, but by adhering to the dictates of principle, in other words, to the law of God. The Mosaic law was, in consequence, received direct from God, Principle; and the record of the Bible, "And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation," is merely the writer's way of expressing in the metaphorical language of the East, the fact lawgiver was receiving an answer to his prayers.
It is in the very necessity of things, then, that if the world is to understand the Bible, it should get clear on this question of prayer. "Desire," writes Mrs. Eddy, in a passage on the very first page of Science and Health, the depths ofwhich are not easily plumbed, "is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds." Moses seeking the solution of the problems which arose out of the passions of the Israelites, as they journeyed from Egypt to the promised land, reviewed the whole question in the light of Principle. To do this he had to bring all his ideas into subjection to Principle, which, stated in the language of his time, is only another way of saying that he prayed to God, to Principle. The result of the earnest effort he thus made to reach the truth was the answer to his prayer, and is expressed by the writer of Leviticus, personifying Truth as God, as he naturally would, in the words already quoted, "And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation." Thus the Mosaic law, after the manner of all law, in spite of its crudities and its apparent brutalities, was an answer to prayer, a reflection of Principle.
Desire, however, being subject to the individual's ever-increasing perfection of Truth, the desire or prayer of Moses was bound to develop with the centuries. The note of forcible restraint gradually gave way to one of more tender solicitude; the command, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house," to the command, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." The change is already noticeable in the opening passages of the prophecies of Isaiah. The prophet is busy, as it were, throwing the out-of-date commands of the Mosaic law overboard. "The times change," the Roman sage had written, "and we with them," and an unknown hand had added, "The stars rule us, but God rules the stars." The times had changed, and, in the light of Israel's clearer understanding of Principle, Isaiah was condemning the sacrifice of birds and beasts, and demanding instead a sacrifice of the animal in man, in two words, his appetities and passions. The demand of Isaiah was reiterated, with added force, by the last of the prophets of the old dispensation, John the Baptist. "Wash you," Isaiah had cried, "make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil' learn to do well." And then had come the Baptist, with a further call, the call to the seeker to light the refiner's brazier, "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire."
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