Transformation and Proof

The interesting narrative of Jacob's wrestle with a material sense of life, as related in the book of Genesis, has furnished inspiration and encouragement to a host of Christian warriors. So similar is his experience to that of other seekers for divine light that one cannot fail to see in this incident much that relates clearly to one's own experience; for every heart, in its striving toward a higher goal, has to face the conflict with the false concept of life and being.

Like all Bible narratives, this one requires more than a casual reading if we would gain from it the deeper meaning and learn the larger lesson it contains. In order to learn how complete was the transformation of his nature when his name was changed to Israel, it is helpful to compare the events in Jacob's life previous to this incident with those which follow. It may be recalled that he had become a fugitive from the wrath of his brother Esau, from whom he had stolen the birthright of their father's blessing; and after the lapse of many years he was on his way home, to meet Esau, but was in great dread of his wrath. Then he saw his brother, who ran to meet him; and they embraced in brotherly love. Ever after, the name "Israel," which was given to Jacob, was indicative of those seeking to follow the spiritual sense of life and putting away the false, material concept of life and man.

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When the heavenly vision first dawned upon Jacob, the angel, said, "Let me go, for the day breaketh." Here the divine qualities of persistence and wisdom were manifested, for Jacob said, "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me." Of this, Mrs. Eddy says in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 308), "The patriarch, perceiving his error and his need of help, did not loosen his hold upon this glorious light until his nature was transformed." Had Jacob relinquished his hold of the spiritual idea before his transformation, he would not have become the father of "Israel." Of two things he was assured: that he needed help, and that the angel-visitant could meet his need. His experience as a fugitive had taught him the need of something outside his own perverted sense of life, in order that he might have peace and safety. In the spiritual idea that awakened him, he recognized his savior. This was the coming of the Christ to Jacob. Thenceforth he was regarded as the ancestor of the most spiritually-minded people then on earth, the nation from which, later, sprang the mother of Jesus.

This need of transformation of character should have earnest consideration. That Paul regarded it as an essential to proof, or demonstration, is evidenced in his words, "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

Our acceptance of the heavenly vision as beautiful, lifts thought in ecstasy; but we need also to know its practical import, or the result may be a theoretical rather than a demonstrable knowledge of Truth. Jacob knew that spiritual perception could do much for him, and he persisted in his hold of it and demanded a blessing. We may do likewise. A superficial grasp of the truth is apt to result in the retaining of the letter without spirit of Christian Science, and to leave an open door for the claims of animal magnetism. The spiritual renaming comes only with the transformed nature, which renews the body as well. As Paul points out in his appeal, "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God."

To gain the full blessing of the angel-visitant while we retain an erroneous sense of pride, arrogance, or revenge is impossible. It was sincerity and self-renunciation that opened for Jacob the way by which the spiritual idea flooded his consciousness, healed him of remorse, and renamed him Israel, a prince of God. Jacob's enmity toward Esau ceased when he felt the touch of infinite Love that makes all men one. And as a result of this higher understanding, Esau's enmity was also destroyed.

Frequently it is said by those struggling with sin or sickness, The spiritual teaching of Christian Science is so clear, I do not see why I am not healed. Let us remember that Jacob refused to let the angel go until he had received the blessing! All too soon some are prone to turn from the heavenly vision. The overcoming of the beliefs of a material sense of life, however, and the laying hold of the divine facts of being are annihilation to the claims of disease and sin. While a remnant of revenge remains there is something still to surrender; while a trace of the fear of disease is entertained in thought, one's nature is not wholly transformed, for disease has no basis other than the carnal mind. More genuine love, more unselfed purpose, more charity for all will loosen one's hold on materiality and enhance the spiritual vision and resultant demonstration.

Being and Loving
July 4, 1931

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