Treading on Serpents

Upon the joyous return of the seventy disciples whom Jesus had appointed to preach the gospel and heal the sick, they said to him, "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name." Jesus' reply was, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." And straightway he bestowed further gifts: "power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy," with the blessed assurance, "nothing shall by any means hurt you." Centuries have passed since Jesus uttered that word, conferring upon mankind power to tread unharmed on "serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy;" but it was not until Christian Science revealed the full meaning of all his words and works that humanity gained a correct idea of the import of the promise, and its fulfillment. Mrs. Eddy, among her many marvelous interpretations of the Bible text, defined the term "serpent" in the Glossary of the textbook, on page 594, the last sentence of which definition reads, "The first audible claim that God was not omnipotent and that there was another power, named evil, which was as real and eternal as God, good." It is evident, then, that the Christian Scientist's ability to tread unharmed on serpents is his power to destroy the claim which denies God's omnipotence and suggests the existence of an opposite veritable and eternal power, evil.

With Mrs. Eddy's definition of serpent comprehended, additional weight is placed upon Jesus' figurative language concerning Satan's descent from heaven, harmony. His words recall Isaiah's exclamation, "How art thou fallen from heaven O Lucifer, son of the morning!" Now whether it be to Satan that Isaiah is referring, or to his emissary, King Nebuchadnezzar,—for Biblical authorities differ on the subject,—the spirit of proud, personal ambition is the same, and its effect likewise identical. The prophet, commenting further upon this cataclysmic event in human history, attributes Lucifer's descent from his high estate to an overweening ambition, purposing to exalt his throne "above the stars of God." It was this spirit of personal emulation which would simulate a material creation, and it was this creation that Jesus indicated when he said, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do." This malcreator of the mist, following his own distorted concepts, would attempt the very impossible task of combining opposites, causing mankind to appear as a mixture of good and evil, Principle and person, Spirit and matter, life and death. Thus material man and likewise the serpent continue to express the mind of their source, and it is this parallel between mortal man and the serpent that is observable "until Shiloh come." In Christ Jesus there is no trace of the creator of things that are below, for as he says, "Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world." Christ Jesus manifested none of the serpentine qualities of mortal mind; per contra, he referred to himself as the type of salvation, and declared, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up."

"Guarding the door"
January 21, 1922

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