J. H. R.—You ask for a further elucidation of our article on "Temptation." Your questions and our replies are as follows:—
- "I believe that Adam was created a perfect man; how therefore could he be tempted 'because of the evil that was within him?'"
You have formed an opinion about Adam, but you know nothing about him, neither is it possible to know anything. It is therefore useless to talk about that of which we cannot gain any knowledge.
- "You say that 'The good in a man is never tempted.' Jesus was perfect, and yet he was tempted. Do you think that he was led by the Holy Spirit to a sham temptation?"
If he were originally perfect, without any possibility of sin, the temptation would certainly have been a "sham " one. It could only have been real if there was a possibility of sin. We are told that he was "perfected through suffering," and that "He learnt obedience through the things which he suffered." There must, therefore, have been a time when he was neither obedient nor perfect.
- "Was it the evil in Job that tempted him?"
Let Job answer: "I abbor myself and repent in dust and ashes" (Job XLII. 6).
- "Is not every man honest until he begins to steal? Is not every man sober until he begins to drink?"
No. He who covets his neighbor's possessions is already a thief; he who lusts for alcoholic excitement is already a drunkard. The act is but the visible outworking of the inward sin. In the words of Jesus, "He that looketh on a woman to lust hath already committed adultery with her in his heart."
- "You say that 'The fully enlightened soul is proof against all temptation.' Does that mean that it was impossible for Christ to sin?"
Yes, after his perfection had become rounded and complete.
- "Is it possible to reach that state of knowledge in this world as to be above sin and temptation?"
You say, in conclusion, that "temptation must be overcome by something stronger than knowledge; how many young men and women fall into temptation, fully realizing the awful result of such temptation."
It is because they do not so realize that they fall. They have known or have heard of the bitter results which someone else has reaped by committing a particular sin, but they labor under the delusion that they can commit the same sin, and escape the consequences; and this is where they lack knowledge. When they come to understand, by a knowledge of the Great Law, that there is no possible way of escape from the full measure of the consequences of their own acts, then and not till then, will they realize their position in the matter of sin and temptation.
F. P. W. —The passage in our Editorial, "Many men and women pass through untold sufferings, and at last die in their sins, because they refuse to reason" ought not to have puzzled you, as it really explains itself. No, it does not mean "that if a man does reason, he will die with all his past sins blotted out, and made perfectly fit to go into God's presence." It means that if a man cultivates and uses his reasoning powers, he will at last learn to live with all his sins blotted out, and will go into God's presence here and now. Without reason there can be no discrimination; and without discrimination there is the inability to distinguish between good and evil, and therefore to choose the right path.
Whilst you are brooding over your past sins, and troubling as to where you will "spend the next life," you are wasting the present, losing all that it contains for you of sweetness and heavenly joy. The next life does not concern a man, and no amount of worry can alter the past; therefore put your whole heart into the present, living it, minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day, self-governed and pure. Put away from you the selfish desire for a future heaven, and you will then no longer be overshadowed by the ignorant fear of "an eternity in torment;" be unselfish, dutiful, faithful, and you will enter heaven now, and will constantly live in its unspeakable felicity.
A. J. R. —The question of the disciples to Jesus, "Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" is frequently referred to by our readers, containing, as it does, a direct reference to the Law of cause and effect. But, along with many others, you are puzzled about the answer of Jesus, regarding it as a denial of that Law. The answer which Jesus gave, however, "Neither hath this man sinned nor his parents; but that the works of God should be made manifest in him," is simple and all-sufficient, being supplementary to the inference of law contained in the question. Hitherto the works of God had not manifested themselves in the man; in other words he was spiritually blind; he was also physically blind, doubtless as a result of his spiritual blindness. He had not sinned consciously, but was in ignorance of the Law of God. Now if a man is ignorant of the Law he cannot obey it; nevertheless, suffering is inflicted for every violation of the Law, whether it be done consciously, or in ignorance, other-wise there would be no pathway out of ignorance to knowledge. When the man's ignorance was removed—and his spiritual eyes were opened, the Law of God was revealed in him, and he obeyed it; as a result, his physical eyes were opened. Thus the Law of cause and effect. The reality was in the man himself; Jesus was instrumental in bringing it to light. The whole chapter has a spiritual significance which is made plain by Jesus in the last verse.
"If the sacrifice of Jesus was not a vicarious atonement, what was it?" Outwardly, it was exemplary, inwardly it is spiritual. When a man abandons all sin, and gives himself up unreservedly to the perfect spirit of Love, he then completely understands the nature of the atonement.
"You also say 'There were many Saviors before Christ.' Christ said, 'All that came before me were thieves and robbers. I am the door of the sheepfold.'"
This, as the context explains, is a parable, and cannot, therefore, be taken literally. Search for its spiritual meaning. This you will find as you grow in humility and charity of heart; bearing in mind (and this also applies to other correspondents) that Truth does not reside in scriptural interpretations, but in the practice of righteousness.
There is "forgiveness," but only for those who have the spirit of forgiveness, and who practice it in their hearts. This the Lord's Prayer makes plain. See the article on "Forgiveness of Sin" in our January issue.
J. S. R. —Oh, brother! to tell us that you are so anxious to see an end to "this awful war," and a few lines farther on to confess that you actually "engaged in fisticuffs with the sub-editor of a traitorous paper, who had been groveling to—,"the political leader for whom you have conceived an aversion! Do you not see that you are encouraging war by thus fostering in your heart the spirit of strife? There is a sure and safe way by which you may put an end to war, and it is this:—Give up all strife; call no man traitor; do not take sides, but be at peace with all. When men have learnt to do this, there will be no more war, men will be brothers indeed, and they will protect and not destroy one another.
Miss E. M. —Your letter is kindly and appreciative, and we are pleased that you have derived such help from The Light of Reason. It is well that you have, so early in life, become conscious of your shortcomings, for, having realized them, and feeling, as you do, the necessity of overcoming them, you will, sooner or later, rise above them into the pure atmosphere of duty and unselfish love. You should not picture dark things in the future, but if you think of the future at all, think of it as bright. Above all, do your duty each day, and do it cheerfully and unselfishly, and then each day will bring its own measure of joy and peace, and the future will hold much happiness for you. The best way to overcome your faults is to perform all your duties faithfully, without thinking of any gain to yourself, and to do all you can to make others happy; speaking kindly to all, doing kind things when you can, and not retaliating when others do or say unkind things.
HOPE —The particular business matter upon which you ask us to decide is of such a nature that it can be settled by no one but yourself Your own conscience alone can be the arbiter. This, however, we can tell you—and it will help you if you apply it to your own mind and conduct—follow faithfully where the inward light leads you; free your heart of passion, and so learn to act disinterestedly; as you do this you will develop a clear and impartial discrimination by which you will know how to act without detilement in all your business relationships. We feel glad that you have derived such real help from the book that you mention, and are sure that you will find another real friend and helper in the book "In Tune with the Infinite," which you are about to purchase.
Miss W. —Animals know no higher life than that of "each for himself," and this is why they suffer. Multitudes of human beings are, as yet, but dimly conscious of anything higher; this also is why they suffer. The whole creation suffers together through ignorance. But as to whether the particular suffering of a certain animal, say an ill-treated horse, is the direct result of some wrong-doing on the part of that animal, it is, of course, impossible to trace out and demonstrate in detail. Nor is this at all necessary. We know that the Overruling Law is just, and cannot err; therefore we say, this thing is right or it will be righted. Therefore find the cause of suffering in yourself, and then you will have solved the mystery of the suffering of animals. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that compensation, as well as retribution and reward, is contained in the Law of Justice. Our duty also (and this is all-important) is plain—to relieve suffering when we possibly can; not to inflict it on any living creature; to bestow compassion on those who ignorantly believe it necessary to inflict suffering, showing them a better way by the exercise of love.
More Articles by This Author James Allen
James Allen was a little-known philosophical writer and poet. He is best recognized for his book, As a Man Thinketh. Allen wrote about complex subjects such as faith, destiny, love, patience, and religion but had the unique ability of explaining these subjects clearly and in a way that is easy to understand. He often wrote about cause and effect, sowing and reaping, as well as overcoming sadness, sorrow, and grief. For more information on the life of James Allen, click here.