"The ditch of nonsense"

It was once said of "the preacher" that he was the only wise man known to the world, and that his wisdom amounted to a confession of supreme ignorance. As a matter of fact that is scarcely a fair way of putting it. The preacher did emphatically rate all merely human knowledge and all purely material effort as vanity, but he did not regard this as everything or even as the main thing. Vanity, it must be remembered, meant to the preacher, not strutting in the sun, like a peacock, but just nothingness. The "lying vanities," then, of the Psalmist were the empty falsehoods of human existence, not the eternal truths of spiritual life. "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter," the preacher winds up the most terrible and sustained of all the many indictments of the material counterfeit of reality: "Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." That truly, is the conclusion of the whole matter. Truth and error, good and evil, shall be tested on the touchstone of Principle, God, and the error and the evil will be proved to be vanities, unrealities, whilst the truth and the good will be found indestructible.

This being so, it is evident that the world's one wise man, as Congreve is pleased to call him, would have settled matters, so far as that famous dramatist was concerned, by ruling him and all his works amongst the vanities. But this world, from a metaphysical point of view, is made up generally of big and little Congreves, with the result that only the dissenters from the Congrevian platitudes of material reality could hope to be regarded seriously in Jerusalem. To put it a little differently, when Mrs. Eddy wrote in "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 242), "Christian Science is absolute; it is neither behind the point of perfection nor advancing towards it; it is at this point and must be practised therefrom," she put herself definitely on the side of the preacher, and swept all the vanities into "the ditch of nonsense." The dealers in vanities may plead to be allowed to indulge in the process of make-believe a little while longer: they are like the demoniacs amongst the tombs. Sooner or later they will be compelled to abandon the vanities, and meet the realities face to face. Mrs. Eddy emphatically gives on page 230 of "Miscellaneous Writings," "They spend no time in sheer idleness, in talking when they have nothing to say, in building aircastles or floating off on the wings of sense: all of which drop human life into the ditch of nonsense, and worse than waste its years."

We Are All Beginners
March 5, 1921

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