The Law of the Good
Egbert Morse Chesley
The Spirit of The New Thought
Edited by Horatio W. Dresser
[An address at the convention of the International Metaphysical League, Boston, 1899.]
Does not the New Thought as well as the Old recognize the existence of evil in the world? Yes. Does not the New as well as the Old Thought recognize the serious consequences to soul and body of the deliberate choice of evil? Yes. Do not both the Old and the New Thought believe and teach that evil is to be overcome gradually by the power, the supremacy of the good? Yes. Wherein then is the difference? Wherein is the New Metaphysical Movement any advance on the older ethical and religious systems which have so long dominated the opinions of the world? Let us consider this question and endeavor to clear away certain doubts and misconceptions. Of course I can here speak only of a single phase of the subject. I must confine my remarks to this one point — the difference between the Old and the New Thought as to the establishment of good and the abolition of evil — the overcoming of evil conditions in mind, body and environment. There is then a very great difference between the Old Thought and the New. I am thoroughly well assured that the New Thought teaching will be found to be immeasurably superior to the older ethical and religious teaching along these particular lines. Let us see.
1. The New Philosophy of Health places an enormous emphasis upon the good. The good is the supreme reality and the eternal Law of the Good is the very heart of the universe and of us. The evil is but temporary and incidental. It belongs to the phenomenal, not the noumenal, order. There is no being, life or intelligence back of it. It arises from our ignorance, our imperfection, our non-realization of the truth. It is a vanishing element in the cosmos and is powerless in the presence of the realized good. It disappears as the darkness in the presence of the light. It is, in other words, a relative, and not an absolute, reality. It is the privation or negation of that which eternally is.
2. The New Philosophy of Health teaches, in season and out of season, not to dwell upon the evil in thought, for this confirms its reality and strengthens its power. It teaches us to ignore, as much as possible, the evil, to look away from the evil, and to fill our minds with the thoughts of the good. It teaches us to recognize the good everywhere, to affirm the eternal reality of the good, to believe in the good, to ally ourselves with the absolute Law of the Good. The New Philosophy of Health utters its decree that the good is always overcoming the evil that is in the universe; that it is infinitely stronger than the evil; and that it is the true and eternal nature of man, however far he may have wandered away in consciousness from his Source. Instead of the older view of the degradation, the moral inability, the natural sinfulness of man, the New Thought emphasizes the view of Leibnitz and Emerson that man is godlike and that all spiritual being is potentially within him. Its gospel is the gospel of hope. It brings tidings of great joy. It recognizes that the spirit of man is sinless, diseaseless and deathless, sharing the very nature of God and destined to immortal glory. It believes with Maurice and Erskine that every man is a child of God now, although he may not know it; that every man lives and moves and has his being in God now,although he may repudiate and deny the fact; that the Divine Love, infinite in tenderness, lies at the heart of every man, awaiting recognition and responsive trust and affection.
But the New Thought does not hold these sublime facts of man’s spiritual being as beautiful and cherished theories and ideals to be speculated upon and talked about. It believes in their realization here and now. It holds them as great practical truths to be demonstrated in the daily life in time. It believes in the regeneration and transformation of the old order of things, now hastening to its decay. We have had enough of vain and empty theory. We have had a surfeit of high-sounding phrases about the dignity and the divinity of human nature from our pulpits and in our religious periodicals. Now let us have life – the practical exemplification of our theories. Now, at length, let us have the courage of our convictions — the glory of actual achievement. The New Thought not only believes, but it knows, and has practically demonstrated, that man has a hitherto undreamed of power over his own psychical and bodily states, and even over the forces and laws of external nature. It believes and knows that we are on the verge of a new and wonderful era, and that we just beginning to enter into the possession and enjoyment of that marvelous inheritance which has always been ours from the foundation of the world.
3. The New Philosophy of Health has discovered the wonderful power of the great Affirmations of Being, both in the culture of the ethical and spiritual life, and in the overcoming of diseased conditions of soul and body. It has been proven in thousands of instances that their faithful and persistent use weakens the power of evil in the human heart, purifies the soul of its baser tendencies, and brings man into the realization of his royal spiritual nature, his divine sonship. Speaking from the plane of that spiritual nature, that great and transcendent Self which is common to us all, that Eternal Christ who is our life, we have the perfect right to affirm with all the energy and conviction of our souls: —
Absolute Good is the one supreme reality — omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient.
All evil is relative, a shadow of mortal consciousness — from the highest divine standpoint, unreality.
All things are working together for my good in the infinite Love of God. I rest in perfect peace.
God is my all-sufficiency in all things. I have no doubt. I have no fear.
I am one with the eternal Law of the Good and all is well.
In the eternal reality of my being all good things are mine now.
I am that great and divine Self — poised always in the Truth of Being, calm, serene and strong.
In me, the Self, are all the treasures of wisdom, life and power.
The power of my emancipated Will is omnipotent to overcome all errors, falsities and illusions.
I am rejoicing here and now in the freedom and the joy of God.
The persistent daily employment of such grand health-giving words, which are profoundly true of man’s spiritual nature, is not only perfectly legitimate, but is the means by which the living, developing soul unifies itself with its true and universal being. In this way the soul learns to know that it is alive with the life of the Spirit, strong with the strength of the Spirit, and wise with the wisdom that is infinite. The faithful, earnest use of these ideal affirmations will bring health, peace, joy and freedom.
Of course, all this presupposes a deep and earnest desire for that eternal good which is life and health and peace, as well as a willingness to renounce all known error and evil. Of course, the truth must be lived out in our practical relations with the world. But the continued use of these affirmations, these ideal suggestions, with right understanding and right conviction, will enable the soul to do this very thing, will give it greater and greater strength to overcome its native weaknesses, greater and greater wisdom to manifest the fair fruits of righteousness, peace and love.
The true prayer without ceasing is the perpetual realization and affirmation of the good. When seeming evil assails us, as it surely will, let us meet it instantly with the understanding of its unreality in the presence of the good, with the assertion that it has no place at all in the Truth of Being or in us. We shall at length become so poised and stabled in the good that all our thoughts and words will be based upon this principle and all we do will be done in the spirit of love which is the Spirit of God. To all those passing out of the old thought-life, with its baneful recognition of evil, into the new, times of testing will come. The power of old habits of thought is very great. They become a kind of second nature – ignorance crystallized in the subconscious mind. But in all our times of trial let us bold fast to the eternal verities and be undismayed. Error-thoughts may have taken root in the mind through many incarnations. Very well, then the conquest of them by this new and royal method is the greater glory. Let our declarations of the truth be the more positive and the more constant. Let our faith in the supreme reality of the good be the more unwavering. Let us stand firm in our footsteps and claim our divine inheritance. Let us realize that our redemption is always at hand, because we are united with the wonderful Law of the Good. Herein is the way of health, happiness and prosperity. Herein is the assurance of freedom and salvation from the ills of time. In this way we break the spell of mortal ignorance and error and begin to live the true and higher life.
The daily use of the great Affirmations of Being is the new method of prayer and thanksgiving, now rapidly gaining recognition in our world. I believe that it will ultimately largely supersede the older forms of seeking and worshiping the one Infinite Spirit. Its superiority consists in this: With earnest desire and aspiration for the good, it combines the greatest faith. The very form of affirmation in which we clothe our petition implies our perfect faith that all good things are already ours — that is, in the deeper realities of our being. This new form of prayer, therefore, fulfils the requirement of that sublime and mystical saying o£ Jesus: Whatsoever ye ask and pray for, believe that ye have received it, and ye shall have it. This word of the Master is one of the grandest statements of reality ever made since the dawn of human intelligence. The world is just beginning to understand it. The New Thought Movement endeavors courageously to put it into practice. The perennial consciousness of the absolute reality and universality of the good, which is one of the cardinal principles of the New Metaphysical Movement, promises to revolutionize our whole religious thinking. This consciousness is rapidly gaining ground in our Christian churches. The absolute Law of the Good, the eternal supremacy of the good, are being more and more revealed to all men everywhere in these closing days of our century. I believe that the general acceptance and practical application of this philosophy of the good will do more to banish war and injustice, sin, sorrow and sickness, from the world than all other agencies combined.
We can really affirm ourselves to be that which we most desire to be, and can actually achieve magnificent results. A man is essentially and fundamentally a consciousness. He may train and mold that consciousness in accordance with his highest ideals. How? Through the undreamed of power of the affirmations of truth, thousands of times repeated in the light of his highest spiritual intelligence. By the faithful use of these affirmations the lower mind may be thoroughly transformed and renewed. There is a well-known psychical law underlying all this. The spirit of man is creative. It may impress its wisdom, its power, its sense of freedom, upon the conscious and the subconscious mind, and may fashion them into the image of the truth. It may purify the outer vehicles in which the Immortal Ego functions and establish health and harmony in place of disease and discord.
The intelligent and persistent use of the great affirmations of Being can change those universal race-beliefs which have so long held us in bondage. It can destroy those widespread errors of thought into which we are all born, and which have become for us such sure and abiding realities. Many of the so-called laws of our physical nature are really not such at all. On the contrary, they are laws made by man himself, his legacy from the long past — the infantile stages of his evolution. They can be transcended by him who knows the Law, by him who has the spiritual wisdom to contradict and annul them. As has been intimated, the spoken word is very powerful. But of course the spoken word alone is not sufficient The spirit of our affirmations must get itself incorporated into our daily thinking and acting, working in us regeneration – birth from the old into the new kingdom of the truth.
These ideal affirmations, these assertions born of a higher knowledge, this abiding consciousness of the power and reality of the truth, this understanding and this practice of the presence of the good, — these, I repeat, are the most effective means by which we may recreate our whole being. No outside power will do this work for us. The work is in our own hands. We must be thoroughly convinced that we are co-creators with God. We must think and speak from the standpoint of the True Self. We must recognize under all circumstances our inborn divinity.
As we withdraw our consciousness, our recognition, from the old beliefs of error which have so long enslaved us, what happens? They gradually die out from lack of nourishment. They are not rooted and grounded in the truth, and so they are negative to the higher thoughts of the good. We are not to fight the old beliefs; we are not to fear them and make realities of them; but we are to concentrate our attention upon the high truths of spiritual reality. What are the high truths of spiritual reality? They are health, strength, freedom, life. As the old beliefs of sin, sorrow, sickness, failure, disappear from our conscious and subconscious mind, their effects disappear also from the body. Why? Body and mind are essentially one. The body is a perpetual expression of the soul or mind. Our general mental attitude is constantly affecting for good or evil every cell, molecule and atom, all the fluids and the tissues, of the physical organism. This is the physiological fact.
But more than this will take place. As a man steadfastly thinks the thoughts of the eternal truth, as he persistently and unfalteringly allies himself with the perfect Law of the Good, his whole environment begins to change also. He finds that the spirit within him has a kind of magical power over his external circumstances. When a man becomes consciously unified with the wonderful Law of the Good, he finds all things begin to go well with him, on all the planes of life. Ancient errors are dissolved out. The law of his evil fate or karma begins to be overcome by his knowledge of the truth, and he is carried forward swiftly in his moral and spiritual evolution. Such a man has entered into the vibrations of power, success and prosperity. He becomes more and more a center of attraction for all good things. He becomes a conscious sharer in the freedom and the opulence of God. Remember the teaching of Emerson, America’s greatest prophet and philosopher. A corresponding revolution in things, he tells us, will attend the influx of the universal Spirit. He assures us that we create our own circumstances, and that the kingdom of man over external nature is a dominion which is now beyond his dream of God, And the word of Emerson is true. The era he foresaw is just at hand. The New Thought Movement is the herald of this new and glorious day.
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought.” This profound truth, which we have received from the Orient, holds good through all our incarnations, through all the processes of our evolution from the beginning to the ending. Let us think, then, the thoughts pertaining to the eternal truth. Let us speak, then, the words pertaining to the eternal truth.
In all this that has preceded I have carefully distinguished between spirit, soul, and body. The spirit is our real being, the Self, the Indwelling God; the soul or mind is our present consciousness of our spiritual reality; the body is the outer expression or manifestation of the soul and spirit.
There are those who deny our right to use these high affirmations of our perfection, power, life, freedom, on the ground that they are not strictly true. Certainly they are not true of the outer personality, the growing, developing soul or mind; but they are profoundly true of the Higher Self, Man is really and interiorly a great and powerful consciousness, or rather superconsciousness. He determines largely his own destiny. He contains within himself an infinite order of life, by its very nature superior to growth and decay. He is the creator of countless forms or manifestations through which he, the Immortal Ego, functions through endless cycles of time. The supreme object of our life in time is this, — the gradual recognition of the God within us, the gradual restoration of this divinity to its rightful place and power.
Let the soul then continue, day by day, to sing the exultant song of the spirit. Let it identify itself with the higher ranges of its being — with the glory of that true and divine Self which is sinless, diseaseless and deathless. The supreme statements of spiritual reality are, to him who knows how to use them, the very manna and the wine of life, the secret of divine attainment, the sources of health and perfection to mind and body.
[The above discussion puts the leadership of Emerson in the right place, without attributing to him what he did not do. A recent writer has tried to make out that Emerson originated and first used the New Thought, since Emerson and Margaret Fuller referred to the transcendentalist philosophy
as “this new thought.” “Others took up the term,” says this writer, “and in the early days of the Unitarian Church its leaders referred to the Unitarian ideas as “this new thought.” “This new thought” was really the thought of religion as a fine art rather than as fine theology or philosophy. . . . Later came Quimby and his class of students who went a step farther and organized faith itself for practice. In other words, transcendentalism and Unitarianism began the New Thought, and Quimby and his class of students . . . carried the rearranging of religious into the purely metaphysical realm . . .”
To say this is curiously to misread history. Unitarianism did not lead to mental healing, and never has led to it. Although Quimby and the later followers came to think much like the Unitarians on certain points, they were one and all Orthodox in the beginning. To try to deprive Quimby of his work of discovery would be much like trying to discredit Christopher Columbus. It was the development of mental healing which made the New Thought possible, however many times the mere form of words “new thought,” may have been used, just as it was the voyage of Columbus that made possible the voyages of those who later settled in America. The term New Thought as now used came into vogue in 1894, in Massachusetts, and its use then became general. — Ed.]
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The Spirit of The New Thought
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