"Thou art the man"
A most forceful story is to be found in the twelfth chapter of II Samuel, where the prophet Nathan narrates to David the parable of the poor man whose one little ewe lamb had been taken from him by a certain rich and powerful man to provide food for a traveler. It is not difficult to understand that the king was filled with indignation as he listened to this story, and he no doubt felt that here was an occasion to administer swift, kingly judgment, very likely waiting with impatience to learn the name of the offender. The king's reign had been very prosperous, and the exalted position which he occupied had enabled him to gratify almost every desire. He had traveled far in the pursuit of personal pleasure and aims since he, as the young shepherd, slew the lion with his bare hands, and, with only a sling as a weapon, had slain the giant Goliath; and perhaps without realizing the heinousness of his misdeed, had violated in the most flagrant manner the sacred family circle. This finally brought down upon him the condemnation of the prophet Nathan. With crushing directness, he said to the king, "Thou art the man."
The lesson contained in this story is worthy of deep study, and an application of the moral which it contains can be made to every one, it matters not what position he may occupy. The real selfhood of David always had been pure and perfect, as the indestructible image and idea of God, and David was no more a king in this respect than every other man who ever lived; but the fleshly mind, the only sinner, had brought upon David the scathing reprimand from Nathan. The counterfeit man, whom we seem to see, is not God's man, but a supposititious, carnal belief, misnamed man, which sins, lies, and practices all manner of wickedness simply because there is no truth in it. It is this counterfeit which deserves condemnation. In the Scriptures man constantly is admonished to put away evil and unclean thoughts, and rigorously to sacrifice the lusts of the flesh. This is not a task for a day, a year, nor for a lifetime, but one that will continue until all trace of mortal thought is destroyed. Until this is done, the charge of Nathan will apply just as surely and forcibly as it did in the days of David. When this fact becomes more fully and clearly understood there will be less lingering among the fleshpots of Egypt, and less delay in setting out on that journey toward the realization of the kingdom of heaven, which sooner or later must be undertaken by every one; but just so long as mankind bows to a belief in the flesh, whether it be of sickness or of lack, of ambition or of anger and vexation, just so long will mankind need the admonition, "Thou art the man."
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That the attitude of David led him into conflict with the law of Truth, was exemplified in the stinging rebuke of Nathan; and it is no less the law to-day of inexorable retribution for all would-be violation of Principle. This by no means indicates that a man is forever doomed to punishment and to continual suffering for wrongdoing, but that evil thoughts and unclean desires of whatever nature must be destroyed as Truth replaces the suffering that is the inevitable concomitant of willful indulgence in evil. In Science and Health (p. 497) Mrs. Eddy has given us the clearest possible statement of what Christian Science teaches regarding the destruction of evil. The statement is as follows: "We acknowledge God's forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal. But the belief in sin is punished so longas the belief lasts." This will eventually disclose the fact that it is only the mortal belief which suffers, and which will continue to suffer just as long as any man allows the claim of the reality of matter to control him; while the real man is perpetually living in the sunshine of eternal Truth and can never suffer pain or experience sorrow of any kind.
It would seem that it has taken nearly twenty centuries for the world to begin to understand the truths of being so exactly and clearly set forth by Jesus, and it was not until the nineteenth century was well past its sixth decade that these life-giving truths were discovered by Mary Baker Eddy, after having been forgotten for more than sixteen hundred years. Christian Scientists date the new era of truth and love from 1866, when this sacred discovery was made, and from which time Mrs. Eddy consecrated herself to the service of mankind. Now, as the result of her unselfish labors, more and more are the people of the world reaping the benefit in better health and greater happiness and prosperity; and more and more is the world beginning to ponder upon these things. There are many indications that the former unreasoning pursuit of position, power, and riches, is beginning to give place to a deeper consideration of the things that are real.
The mesmeric spell of autocracy, from which the nations have recently struggled so mightily to free themselves, is but a phase of the one error which has enthralled the minds of mortals since the world began. To enumerate these phases would be to rewrite the history of mankind, but a single one may be cited here: Over a year ago an epidemic of fear swept over the country, resulting, among many other things, in the closing of churches, schools, and libraries in many if not all of the states. This was done at the behest of certain officials in authority, but no clear thinking person will say that the epidemic was abated one jot thereby; on the contrary, the state of fear was still further aggravated, and this again resulted in yet further extension of the epidemic.
One of the special phases of this punishment has been the placarding of homes where the disease was supposed to exist. Placarding, of course, means restricted activity, if not complete confinement, of those in the home; an infringement upon the liberty of the individual which, we have been taught, cannot take place without invoking the law of the land. A cause may, for the moment, appear to be a just one, and temporary regulations which may be established may appear to be for the common good, but whenever the will of an individual or of a class is used to fetter the thought and action of others, unless it has the sanction of law and orderly process behind it, that moment the old devil of autocracy raises one of its many heads.
The only true leadership is the attraction of divine Mind, which was revealed by Jesus and put into practice by Mrs. Eddy. As she says on page 102 of Science and Health, "There is but one real attraction, that of Spirit." For uncounted generations the world has been striving to free itself from the shackles of autocratic domination, these struggles having at last culminated in the gigantic conflict, one phase of which so recently has been brought to a close. It may be stated, however, that only since Mrs. Eddy made her momentous discovery has the world begun to realize that every conflict, every struggle, has its origin in the mortal mind; and that the vile brood of errors which have been instrumental in keeping the world in turmoil must first be destroyed before mankind can attain to that long sought desideratum, universal peace.
If the attitude of David merited severe censure, so does any yielding to the desire to rule, which seems to be one of the special phases of the manifestation of the fleshly, carnal mind, which Paul says is "enmity against God," and which originates in poverty of spirit as exhibited in mortal thought. Knowing that it has nothing permanent in itself, mortal mind constantly is striving to acquire what it does not possess, and which, seeming to have acquired, proves unsatisfying and thus leads to the attempt to secure other possessions, which if obtained prove equally disappointing. This is typical of mortal mind, which itself is without entity and, of course, being nothing can acquire nothing that is real and enduring.
How clearly attractive is that state of real being in which the man of God's creating lives, and who, knowing that he is the rightful possessor of every good thing, proceeds calmly on his way undisturbed, because for him there are no discordant conditions. He serenely follows his righteous inclinations regardless of any and all claims of mortal thought. Can anything in the universe be more attractive to the thoughtful individual than the certain knowledge that there is a living Principle which can at all times be relied upon to meet every condition which may arise? This Principle is so infinite and all-powerful that thought humbly bows before it in holy awe. Thus each one must prove for himself what Paul meant when he wrote, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."