SALVATION IS OF THE JEWS.
What does this saying of the Master’s mean? Certainly not a mere arrogant assumption in favour of His own nationality–such an idea is negatived, not only by the universality of all His other teaching, but also by the very instruction in which these words occur, for He declared that the Jewish temple was equally with the Samaritan of no account in the matter. He said that the true worship was purely spiritual and entirely independent of places and ceremonies, while at the same time He emphasized the Jewish expectation of a Messiah, so that in this teaching we are met by the paradox of a universal principle combined with what at first sight appears like a tribal tradition quite incompatible with any recognition of the universal reign of law. How to reconcile these apparent opposites, therefore, seems to be the problem which He here sets before us. Its solution is to be found in that principle which I have endeavoured to elucidate throughout these lectures, the specializing of universal law. Opinions may differ as to whether the Bible narrative of the birth of Christ is to be taken literally or symbolically, but as to the spiritual principle involved there can, I think, be no difference of opinion. It is that of the specialization by the individual of the generic relation of the soul to the Infinite Spirit from which it proceeds.
The relation itself is universal and results from the very nature of the creative process, but the law of the universal relation admits of particular specialization exactly in the same way as all other natural laws–it is simply applying to the supreme Law of Life the same method by which we have learnt to make iron float, that is to say by a fuller recognition of what the Law is in itself. Whatever other meanings we may apply to the name Messiah, it undoubtedly stands for the absolutely perfect manifestation in the individual of all the infinite possibilities of the Principle of Life. Now it was because this grand ideal is the basis on which the Hebrew nationality was founded that Jesus made this statement. This foundation had been lamentably misconceived by the Jewish people; but nevertheless, however imperfectly, they still held by it, and from them this ideal has spread throughout the Christian world. Here also it continues to be lamentably misconceived, nevertheless it is still retained, and only needs to be recognized in its true light as a universal principle, instead of an unintelligible dogma, to become the salvation of the world. Hence, as affording the medium through which this supreme ideal has been preserved and spread, it is true that “Salvation is of the Jews.” Their fundamental idea was right but their apprehension of it was wrong–that is why the Master at the same time sweeps away the national worship of the temple and preserves the national idea of the Messiah; and this is equally true of the Christian world at the present day. If salvation is anything real it must have its cause in some law, and if there is a law it must be founded upon some universal principle: therefore it is this principle which we must seek if we would understand this teaching of the Master’s.
Now whether we take the Bible story of the birth of Christ literally or symbolically, it teaches one great lesson. It teaches that the All-originating Spirit is the true Parent of the individual both in soul and body. This is nothing else than realizing from the stand-point of the individual what we cannot help realizing in regard to the original creation of the cosmos– it is the realization that the All-originating Spirit is at once the Life and the Substance in each individual here and now, just as it must have been in the origin of all things. Human parentage counts for nothing–it is only the channel through which Universal Spirit has acted for the concentration of an individual centre; but the ultimate cause of that centre, both in life and substance, continues at every moment to be the One same Originating Spirit.
This recognition cuts away the root of all the power of the negative, and so in principle it delivers us from all evil, for the root of evil is the denial of the power of the Spirit to produce good. When we realize that the Spirit is finding its own individualization in us in its two-fold essence as Life and Substance, then we see that it must be both able and willing to create for us all good. The only limit is that which we ourselves impose by denying its operation, and when we realize the inherent creativeness of Spirit we find that there is no reason why we should stop short at any point and say that it can go no further.
Our error is in looking on the life of the body as separate from the life of the Spirit, and this error is met by the consideration that, in its ultimate nature, Substance must emanate from Spirit and is nothing else than the record of Spirit’s conception of itself as finding expression in space and time. And when this becomes clear it follows that Substance need not be taken into calculation at all. The material form stands in the same relation to Spirit that the image projected on the screen stands to the slide in the lantern. If we wish to change the exhibited subject we do not manipulate the reflection on the screen, but we alter the slide; and in like manner, when we come to realize the true nature of the creative process, we learn that the exterior things are to be changed by a change of the interior spiritual attitude. Our spiritual attitude will always be determined by our conception of our relation to God or Infinite Spirit; and so when we begin to see that this relation is one of absolute reciprocity–that it is the self-recognition of Infinite Spirit from our own centre of consciousness–then we find that the whole Secret of Life consists in simple reliance upon the Allcreating Spirit as consciously identifying itself with us. It has, so to say, awakened to a new mode of self-recognition peculiar to ourselves, in which we individually form the centre of its creative energy. To realize this is to specialize the Principle of Life. The logic of it is simple. We have found that the originating movement of Spirit from which all creation proceeds can only be Self-contemplation. Then, since the Original Spirit cannot change its nature its self-contemplation through our own minds must be as creative in, for, and through us as it ever was in the beginning; and consequently we find the original creative process repeated in ourselves and directed by the conscious thought of our own minds.
In all this there is no place for the consideration of outward conditions, whether of body or circumstances; for they are only effects and not the cause; and therefore when we reach this stand-point we cease to take them into our calculations. Instead we employ the method of self-contemplation knowing that this is the creative method, and so we contemplate ourselves as allied to the infinite Love and Wisdom of the Divine Spirit which will take form through our conscious thought, and so act creatively as a Special Providence entirely devoted to guarding, guiding, providing for, and illuminating us. The whole thing is perfectly natural when seen from a clear recognition of what the creative working of Spirit must be in itself; and when it is realized in this perfectly natural manner all strain and effort to compel its action ceases–we are at one with the All-creating Power which has now found a new centre in ourselves from which to continue its creative work to more perfect manifestation than could be attained through the unspecialized generic conditions of the merely cosmic order. Now this is what Messiah stands for, and therefore it is written that “to them gave He power to become sons of God, even to as many as believe on His Name.” This “belief” is the recognition of a universal principle and personal reliance upon it as a law which cannot be broken; for it is the Law of the whole creative process specialized in our own individuality. Then, too, however great may be the mystery, the removal and cleansing away of all sin follows as an essential part of this realization of new life; and it is in this sense that we may read all that the Bible tells us on this aspect of the subject.
The PRINCIPLE of it is Love; for when we are reunited to the Parent Spirit in mutual confidence and love, what room is there on either side for any remembrance of our past failures? This, then is what Messiah stands for to the individual; but if we can conceive a nation based upon such a recognition of its special relation to the Directing Power of the Universe, such a people must of necessity become the leader of the nations, and those who oppose it must fail by a self-destructive principle inherent in the very nature of the position they take up. The leadership resulting from such a national self-recognition, will not be based upon conquest and compulsion, but will come naturally. Other nations will enquire the reason for the phenomenal success and prosperity of the favoured people, and finding this reason in a universal Law, they will begin to apply the same law in the same manner, and thus the same results will spread from country to country until at last the whole earth will be full of the glory of the Lord. And such a nation, and rather company of nations, exists. To trace its present development from its ancient beginnings is far beyond the scope of this volume, and still more to speculate upon its further growth; but to my readers on both sides of the Atlantic I may say that this people is the Anglo-Saxon race throughout the world. I write these lines upon the historic Hill of Tara; this will convey a hint to many of my readers. At some future time I may enlarge upon this subject; but at present my aim is merely to suggest some lines of thought arising from the Master’s saying that “Salvation is of the Jews.”