is the standard by
which to judge all acts (or characters).
If society is bad to one set of persons -
they set up their standard of character and judge the others.
~ Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
I will give you the true position of your character. There are two characters. Perhaps it will be necessary to state what I mean by a “character.” I mean the position that one person stands in relation to another or to society.
Society is the standard by which to judge all acts (or characters). If society is bad to one set of persons, they set up their standard of character and judge the others. The good set up their standard to judge the bad, and each tries to gain the ascendancy. This keeps the world in a quarrel between the two elements of matter, and under the control of error and ignorance.
Ignorance sees no reason for law and thinks all persons are the same. Error sees the faults of ignorance and takes the advantage and sets up standards of right and wrong to judge the world by. All this is the wisdom of this world.
Now there is another character, not known by the natural world, and which is opposed by both of these controlling elements. This character is the child of science. It has no sympathy with the other two, and does not contain the elements of either. Its father is wisdom; its mother is science; and its character is in its acts. In the natural world, it is not known to have an identity. This character seeks not its own happiness independent of others; but its happiness is in its acts, and it lives on its knowledge.
Now when this character is known to a person, so that it can be identified in them - then the wisdom of man is looked upon as nothing in comparison to it. All man's wisdom is dross, compared to this wisdom. How shall a person know when he is guided by this wisdom? I will give you a sign, so that you cannot be deceived. Man, of himself, is a servant - acted upon and governed by two powers superior to himself. These two powers you may call God and the devil, good and bad, or science and error.
Now as the bodies of men are a machine to be acted upon by one of these two powers - through the servant - these bodies are like a vineyard, under the guidance of the steward (or master), who is responsible to his lord. So when the lord of the vineyard calls the steward to an account, if his acts do not harmonize with the agreement made with his lord and master, then the steward is turned out, and another takes his place.
I will now state the agreement between the steward and his lord. Whatever a person agrees to is binding on the steward, and if you, as a steward of your own vineyard (or body) agree that the laws are right and just - then if you do anything contained in the law, according to your agreement, you must be punished by this same law, if not by the law of the land. For one is sanctioned by God and the other, by man; and wisdom does not change, but rewards everyone according to his agreement. Now man had better look over his contract and see where he stands in regard to himself, as he is answerable to himself; for his happiness or misery is in obeying or disobeying his contract.
Now suppose we name over some of the articles contained in the agreement, and see if we are guilty. I will call them over, and you may say - under the knowledge of your agreement - whether or not you agreed to them as real, existing things, which were bad or ought to be dealt with according to law.
I will begin with the first article in the agreement. Have you not agreed that it is right for you to respect your parents, as you would have them respect you? You answer, "Yes." Then this is one of the agreements entered into by you and your master. Now this is binding on you, for it was your own free will; so just what punishment the law has attached to breaking that contract, is your punishment. This is in the agreement, and there is no escape - for everyone must give an account to his lord of his stewardship. So that whatever you have acknowledged as wrong or have given your sanction to as just and right, you are subject to.
You have acknowledged that to steal is wrong, and to punish a person for stealing is right. This is the law of man, and you have given it your sanction as right - so you have helped bind burdens on the people that you cannot remove. The wisdom of man is not able to remove this burden, so men are under these laws; and the obeying of them makes one character and the disobeying of them, the other.
So the world is in a quarrel to see which party shall rule. Ignorance finds fault; though it does not wish to correct anything, but is willing that everything should remain just as God made it. The other character wants to change everything and establish its own standard. In this way the science of wisdom finds no foothold in either of these two characters.
Jesus called them Scribes and Pharisees. Each of these two characters often produce a phenomenon through a third person, as for instance, when Joseph was sold to the Ishmaelites. According to wisdom, it was necessary that such a mind as Joseph's should go into Egyptian darkness to lead the people to a higher knowledge of a truth.
Ignorance never would have carried such an act into execution. Neither would error. For error is never guided by wisdom; therefore it must come from a higher power than either ignorance or error. It was wisdom acting through error and error not knowing it; as the light was in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not.
So wisdom, acting through error, brought about a scientific benefit to mankind; but the world knew it not, scientifically, and attributed it to some unknown law or wisdom of God - and they gave the power to an unknown God, as they always do. Paul said to the Athenians, when he saw a monument (or error) with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD, "Whom you ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you."
This God was science (or wisdom), for the word "science" was not used then, so that any truth that was governed by wisdom (or science) was a miracle; for it could not be understood by the two characters - ignorance and error. These two, with the third character, made up the trinity. Ignorance is the weight (or matter); error is the velocity (or mind); and wisdom is the direction (or intelligence). Each one is necessary for an effect - and neither can act alone.
Wisdom must act on mind, and mind on matter. As weight and velocity make mechanical power, so mind and matter make spiritual power, governed by a wisdom superior to both. This last element, wisdom, is not known in the natural world except as a mystery or unknown God. Error has always been looking for this power, as it is called, but when it comes, it is not known. For everything that is known scientifically is not taken into account. So that the very God that ignorance ignorantly worships is near them - even in their mouths, and they know it not.
As Jesus said to the Scribes and Pharisees, “You draw near unto me - that is, this truth - with your mouth, but your hearts (or knowledge) are far from me (or the truth), and you worship me; teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” The wisdom that acted upon Jesus was the Christ, and when Jesus spoke of it, he called it God. This was where all the mystery lay. The people thought that Jesus had a power, for science was not known, so science was the god they ignorantly worshiped.
When they asked him where he got this power, or how he cured diseases, he said if they would tell him where John got his power of baptism, he would tell them how he cured disease. This they could not do, so they stopped his explanation. So I say to all who wish to know how I cure disease, if they ask, tempting me, as they did Jesus - I answer, "Tell me how Jesus cured, and I will tell you how I cure," for I answer everyone according to his sincerity, as Jesus did.