W. John Murray
The Astor Lectures
Divine Science Publishing Assoc.
New York, 1917.
 The life of Jesus was a perpetual demonstration of man’s unity with God. He was the great Engineer of Spirit who built the first practical road leading from the world of Sense to the universe of Ideas. Jesus accomplished what other pioneers of Spirit had talked of as a remote possibility. He worked while others philosophized or slept. His life was a universal mission; He worked life’s sum aright for others that they might learn the principle underlying the problem of existence, but he never relieved anyone of the necessity of doing his own work. Nor did the Great Teacher free any of his scholars from a single responsibility.
Jesus proved his principles by his practices and established his divinity by his humanity. He vanquished the evidences of the sense, refuted hypocritical creed and Pharisaical laws, and established God as the only Cause, and Mind as the only Creator. A spring cannot transcend its origin, but, through the transcension of matter, Jesus proved that man originated in Spirit, thus reconciling humanity to divinity. Opposites are irreconcilable, but, by proving the omnipotence of God, the Christ Principle establishes the total absence of whatever seems opposed to the law  of Spirit. Jesus never acknowledged the existence of evil. He healed the sick and raised the dead by the simple art of realizing Good as the only reality. His life was his greatest rebuke to error. He came to do the will of his Father, and he spoke the truth regardless of his audience. His life was devoted to the perpetual vanquishment of the so-called codes of matter by the application of Spiritual Law.
His disciples brought the sick and the sinning to him, and he saw them whole and free from sin by the realization of the at-one-ment of God and man. The more he ignored evil, the more the disciples of that phantom strove to rid themselves of his presence. He was “despised and rejected of men,” but he prayed for his persecutors and loved his enemies. He knew that suffering preceded purification, that every material pang was a birth-throe in the travail of existence, a thraldom from which all must emerge here or hereafter. Only by the overcoming of belief in illusion do we transcend her imaginary realm.
Jesus never swerved from the path of righteousness, nor did he ever retrace a single step. He always seemed more close to the invisible than to the visible. To him existence was a crucible in which the precious metal of his character was being prepared for its conscious union with Spirit, and he suffered from the commencement of his journey until its triumphant close. He learned through tribulation; for the more difficult  the problem that lay before him, the stronger became his faith in himself, to meet every obstacle as its Master.
The mission of Jesus was to prove the divinity of man. The Great Teacher taught by practice as well as precept. Occasionally he worked out an example in life’s sum for a student as a means of illustrating to his followers the principle he taught, but he never relieved any from the necessity of solving a similar problem alone with the principle of Being. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, but later Lazarus had to face the problem alone.
Jesus was a Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief. He never spared one of his followers an experience necessary to his spiritual development. He knew that experience is the only reliable way of coming at the Truth,–the Truth by which he healed the sick, reformed the sinner, and raised the dead in substantiation of the principles he taught. Sorrow for wrongdoing is the first step towards amendment and the least difficult. To be effectual our repentance must be in proportion to our sin, and the only atonement for evil is the overcoming of the temptation to sin; this is accomplished by persistency in welldoing. The sinner alone can atone for his sin.
When Jesus said, “This is my blood which was shed for you,” he was not speaking of the red fluid coursing through his veins. Instead he referred to his life, the life he was pouring  forth into the world as he went about his Father’s business. Theology has sadly misinterpreted the teaching of the Judean Prince. The tale has been told so often that the blood of Jesus was shed for the remission of sins that those telling it have come to believe it. Yet it is an interpretation neither reasonable nor natural. Righteousness cannot atone for ungodliness. Though a million men should die to redeem one sinner, the sacrifice is made in vain. What affects one, affects all, but the one who transgresses must pay the debt of his transgression. To interpret the divine sacrifice as an atonement for the sins of transgressors is to turn the image of the cross into an effigy; believing that through the suffering of Jesus the penalty of their sin was remitted, men have gone on in a cycle of sinning and of being sorry. What a libel this teaching is on the mission of Jesus as well as an insult to the intelligence of men, for not even God could harmonize vice and virtue.
Error and Truth are irreconcilable. Jesus died to prove that men could transcend existence and put on divinity without passing through the transition called death. In other words, that death is not necessarily the medium to the end of resurrection. Jesus died that men might be raised from the illusion of sense through spiritual understanding rather than by death, through science instead of suffering; but the purpose of his life was hidden by its interpretation. The Master knew that a change of environment does not  constitute a change of mentality. “As the tree falleth so it lieth,” and no matter where mortals go they take the enemy of self with them. “The sense that sinneth, it shall die” said the patriarchs, and they saw that it was so. It was a rigorous dispensation, having for its only recommendation the prevention of moral contagion. Then a new light was diffused, and theology pushed the pendulum to the other extreme. All men were saved from the consequence of their sins by the murder of an innocent man. All that men had to do was to repent. Jesus had done the rest. So great is the mystery of this illusion that to this day there are those who believe that the mission of Jesus had no larger meaning than to save the sinner from the effect of his sinning. This misinterpretation of his divine sacrifice was the cross under whose weight the Nazarene staggered on the way to Calvary. Jesus lived to the glory of God and the advancement of mankind. He gave his life to the service of humanity.
His substance he distributed among the poor. He was the friend of sinners, and in all his busy life there is no record that he ever turned away an applicant for his bounty empty-handed. He wiped the tears from childish faces and he comforted the widows and the fatherless in their affliction. When he was maligned he opened not his mouth. When malediction was brought upon his goodness he did not complain. And what was his earthly reward? Despised and  rejected of men, he had borne the heat of a sin-sick world’s heavy burden, and yet this Prince of the House of Judah “had not where to lay his head.” In his last earthly vigil he was alone in a desert-garden –and yet not alone. All the demons of sense, all the phantoms of the brain were there to gibe and torment, to mock and to scorn the man who was so soon to lay down his life in behalf of his friends. Forsaken by all, maligned and persecuted by those he had helped, deserted by those whom he had raised from the dead, yet in spite of all the testimony of the senses, Jesus never wavered in his allegiance to the Invisible Principle that men call God. He knew that God is All in All, a knowledge which filled every void in that lonely, yearning heart. The tears of his agony fell like dew upon the earth, but Jesus, seeing with the eyes of the Christ, looked through the stars and saw the throne of God, and Good as the only reality. Sense had been vanquished by science. The world’s sharpest weapon had failed, and Jesus, delivered from the temptation of self-pity, had overcome evil.
Christ was crucified by creed. Two thieves were put to death with him, one on his right hand the other on his left. The people passing the scene of the royal murder, reviled the pain-intoxicated man saying,–“If Thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” The priests who envied the righteousness of the Son of Man, mocked him. “He saved others, himself he  cannot save.” “He trusted God; let God deliver him” said the priests, and the thieves on either side of the Son of God echoed the insults of these disguised politicians. But Jesus opened not his mouth. Suffering dignified his whole life. His crucifixion was the climax of the torture that characterized his career from its inception to its close. The agony of the crucifixion is beyond the concept of a less sensitive soul than was that of the Nazarene, but the more potent agony, the drop of gall in the bitter cup which Jesus drained to its dregs was the fact that his life’s work had been misunderstood. The sun was setting on Jesus’ worldly activity. He had been faithful unto the end. The consciousness partly liberated from the lacerated body was in the vestibule where the gold of humanity is exchanged for the pearl of divinity. Jesus was unconscious. He spoke in his delirium, and so great is the power of habit that, as was his wont when speaking to his followers, the words of David fell from his lips. “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” There is a startling resemblance in the life of David and that of Jesus. Both men were gifted with the Spirit without measure. What could have been more natural than that Jesus, in the moment of physical oblivion that precedes the flight of the Spirit from its corporeal prison, should reiterate a phrase that fell from the lips of the one man in  history whose character most resembled that of his own?
It has been said that Jesus, coming in the flesh, partly partook of his mother’s earthly condition, and that this accounts for his struggle in Gethsemane and on Calvary, [Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health], at the same time establishing him as the Mediator between God and Man. A stream cannot surmount its source. If the mother of Jesus had been endowed with less spirituality than her divine Son she could not have conceived so perfect a prototype of Spirit as Jesus proved himself by his life to be. Man in his spiritual essence is an idea of God, spiritual and perfect. Corporeality is an illusion or a mental phenomenon of which every effect is unreal and ephemeral. In the realm of Spirit, corporeality is unknown. In reality pain is an illusion.
Mortal existence may be likened to the night of eternal life, the night with its sleep in which strange images invade the mind; dreams with their pleasures and pains, their joys and sorrows, their loves and their hates, their bitter losses and trifling gains, are not real, but they seem so to the dreamer until he wakes. The illusion is as true as the imagination which contains it; therefore it is literally true that, while Jesus imaged himself as playing a mortal role, he “was acquainted with grief,” he recognized or consented to suffering. It was necessary that a guide should do so. Jesus was born of the Spirit and was the  idea of Mind. He entered the labyrinth of matter as a surgeon enters into a critical operation, to kill or to cure the appearance. He was in the world of sense as a Pilgrim and a Stranger. If he had ever entertained the image of a possible separation between Mind and idea, it would have darkened his spiritual consciousness and thus prevented his perfect demonstration. A defective link would have weakened the whole chain of his life’s work. The resurrection of Jesus was the climax resulting from a perfect life. If he had not met every problem of existence as its Master, he would have failed in life’s final examination. That he won the prize of high calling is sufficient proof that he was unhampered by the illusion of mortal birth.
In the last analysis everything will be found to have had its origin in Spirit, and all humanity will be recognized as the manifestation of divinity, but while man continues to wander in a maze of sensual seeming, he will not prove himself the heir of Spirit, and, therefore, will deprive himself of his birthright. Spirit cannot descend to the myth of matter, and man cannot ascend to the actuality of Spirit until he leaves the labyrinth of sense.
“My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken me?” was the reiteration of the royal prophet’s words, but they never betrayed a doubt in the mind of Jesus of his inseparable union with God, nor were they the evidence of human weakness. Spirit knows no lack of strength. Envy instigated  the crucifixion of Jesus. It has incited the priest to murder lesser disciples of Truth, for envy is the price of true superiority.
The cross was Jesus’ apprehension of the world’s misinterpretation of his mission. It will be the cross of all who attempt to live the Christ life. If the humanity of Jesus had not transcended itself and put on divinity before death, the Saviour could not have returned to the earth plane after his resurrection. Love is that Divine compassion which sacrifices itself for the salvation of others.
Man becomes Christ-like in the degree that he expresses the universality of Love without limit or partiality. Love is intelligent in its arrangements; it is wise in its adaptations. It is generous in its benefaction and gives according to needs instead of to merits, for Love leaveth judgment to God.
Love is incorruptible. It is the substance of all that is beautiful, of all that makes delight, and Love is everywhere. It is in the air, that “sea of glass like unto crystal” in which we live and move. You hear Love’s voice in the splashing fountains and singing brooks, aye in the moan of the sea, for Her voice is “as the sound of many waters.” You feel Love’s presence in the shady woods tremulous with newborn life. You see Love’s soul in the color of the rose and sense her spirit in its fragrance. Love is in the sunshine and in the sanctity of the gloaming, for Love is God. Jesus Christ was the universal Lover. Love is unselfed. You may  desert Her and build a wall of self which is impenetrable to its rays, but when you take down the barriers you will find Love waiting to flood your consciousness, to claim you for its own. The kingdom of heaven will be established upon earth when humanity learns to love. Love is the universal solvent. The adamant of hate is dissolved by her quickening rays. Whom the Lord loveth, He instructs. Chastisements are proof of God’s love, and in the shadow of affliction His presence is found. Nature is Love’s minister. She never accumulates. She receives and in return gives a hundred-fold. The fault is not in nature that her progeny are unsheltered, unfed. Her storehouses were never locked until man turned the key. The law of compensation is inevitable. As ye sow so shall ye reap–here or hereafter. If you sow to the world you shall reap its whirlwind of lust, “and the world shall pass away and the lust thereof,” but if you sow to the Spirit you will reap life everlasting.
Be not deceived; “if you were of the world it would love its own, but because ye are not of the world, therefore, the world hateth you. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. They shall put you out of the synagogues, yea, the time cometh that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” “But stand fast and in nothing terrified by your adversaries, which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of the salvation of God.”
When the priests saw Jesus on the cross they  thought they were rid of his selfless example which was so powerful a rebuke to their sensuality. The blindness of bigotry defeats her aim and therefore the priests did not see that in destroying the body of Jesus they were aiding him to complete in triumph the great feat of spiritual engineering whereby the liberated prisoners of sense might wing their way to the realm of Spirit. Neither did they understand the law by which they professed to be governed, or they would have realized that “the wrath of man is made to praise God.”
The transcension of existence is to the righteous man the commencement of the Spirit’s free life. Jesus’ death on the cross preserved from oblivion for all time the magnitude of his life, and magnified the might of his influence. His resurrection set the seal of God’s approval on every act of his existence and proclaimed him the manifestation of God. Jesus Christ taught the doctrine of non-resistance, well knowing that to oppose violence is to create war which is ruthless murder, always unwarrantable and never justifiable. Jesus supplanted violence with wisdom, and surely wisdom is better than weapons of war.
It was a doctrine of the Master that our bank account should be placed in heaven, in the bank of Divine Mind, “where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal”; where the supply is inexhaustible and the Banker is incorruptible.
Zeal is the corner-stone of sects, and zeal not  according to wisdom is savagery. The Pharisees represented the largest Jewish sect of Jesus’ time. They feigned to be what they were not, and they concealed what they were. They took to themselves the credit of virtue which they did not possess, and they concealed the vices in which they indulged. The scribes represented the advocates of the letter of the Law. With characteristic honesty and with utter disregard of public opinion Jesus denounced their practices as hypocritical and warned his followers to observe and do according to their law but not after their works. He taught the Law of Love in contradistinction to the Mosaic code and told the priests and Pharisees that the despised public officials and adulterous women would enter into the consciousness of Spirit before they would. It was thus that he forever severed himself from the approval of those in high places. Sects and personal opinions Jesus regarded as separate and apart from righteousness. He “knew what was in mortal man,” and that, when severity of manners is assumed as a cloak to sensual indulgence, it is one of the worst prostitutions of religion. There was no room in the mind of Christ for creed.
The life of Jesus was so consumed with fidelity to his divine mission that he had no time for ceremony which is, as has been nobly said,
Creating fear and awe in other men.”
 The Saviour proved that purity was not proof against calumny. This Man of Whom “the world was not worthy” was without spot or blemish. He bore the seal of God’s approval, and yet he was denied and vilified. The greatest proofs of his divinity were accepted as manifestations of the devil. When Jesus healed the sick, his opponents thought he was possessed of a devil; when he raised the dead, the priests knew it to be so. And if a follower of the sinless Christ is found worthy today to emulate in part the divine example and set the captives of sense free, it is not unlikely that he will drain Christ’s cup to its dregs.
Envy never changes her methods, and the followers of Christ will be baptized with the fire of calumny, but if, like him, they endure unto the end, they will be saved.
Martyrs belong to every century, but perhaps never in the world’s history was martyrdom so universally inflicted as in this age. The present century and the one just passed will figure in history as the age of martyrdom. Anyone is a martyr who sacrifices his life to sustain a cause. Some are born martyrs; others are made martyrs by kings and emperors.
Is added unto evil will and power,
No rampart can the people make against it.”
Envy killed the Man-God; she will kill you if you are found worthy, and “some will say, how  are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come? Thou mindless one, that which thou soweth is not made alive except it die.” It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body, and as we have borne the image of the earthly we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
It is thus that death is swallowed up in victory. Martyrs are the progeny of principles, and fire, sword, and hunger combined cannot eliminate the influence of righteousness.
Envy not infrequently uses creed to “trample the good and exalt the depraved,” and the higher one rises on the scale of the Spirit the more persistent and insidious becomes the attack of Envy. But be not weary in well doing, for when the sunshine of Truth evaporates the mist of illusion, you will see that your efforts have not been in vain. Every painful experience for Christ’s sake is a flashlight that illumines the realization of your unity with God. Suffering precedes purification, and every pang is a birth-throe in the travail of existence from which thraldom we must emerge in order to enter the larger life. The highest proof that man can give of his at-one-ment with his Maker is in his love for humanity. Love is the great destroyer of all that does not bear the impress of Christ. Perfection is the most potent rebuke to impurity whether it be physical or mental. “And these signs shall follow them that believe,they shall heal the sick.” True religion can never be separated from Spiritual  healing any more than a fruitful tree can be separated from its latent quality of productiveness. Jesus insisted on physical healing by purely spiritual means, and he did not put a time limit on the divine command. He healed by preaching, and, in the proportion to the approach you make to the Christ standard of perfection, you will heal the sick, cast out sin, and bind up the broken-hearted. Jesus never depended upon material means. Nor did he use or recommend the use of drugs. Truth was the only remedy that he ever administered.
Man will continue to sin until he commences to pay the price of sin. Therefore suffering because of sinning is essential to the overcoming of the sinful sense. Prayer cannot amend sin. “God ordaineth that the debt be paid” by man because,
And render him unlike the Good Supreme.”
Vices are like “smoke that vitiates” the divine rays, and sin must cease before “our number” will tally with the Eternal Proposition.” Sin does violence to man’s real self and for God to pardon it would necessitate that Deity contradict Himself. There are no contradictions in the Divine Law, and the only reparation for sin is amendment. The sooner mortals realize this, the sooner they will stop the practice of sin and thus revoke themselves the penalty for sin. It  is by overcoming error that we prove its nothingness.
God does not forgive sin; neither does he punish it. Sin is its own executioner. The sun does not recognize darkness nor does Omnipresence recognize nothingness. Neither are those who are in darkness conscious of the light, nor is the dreamer conscious of the nothingness of the dream until he awakens from its thraldom. It is in the transcension of sin that its nothingness is proven, even as it is the ascension after death to life. Realities are eternal. Whatever appears to exist that is not real is merely a shadow which fades before the light of intelligence in the fashion that clouds are dispersed by atmospheric warmth. Evil is the appearance of something other than Deity. Strictly speaking, if anything exists in any form whatever, even as evil, it could not be nothingness, for existence is something. Nothingness, therefore, may be likened to the effigy of something, and likewise sin to the effigy of goodness. Force is constructive energy, but if force is misdirected, it becomes destructive energy, proving that,
Is good, albeit good may be the wax.”
The Eucharist is a beautiful symbol, but if, instead of the blood of the vine to commemorate  the death of Jesus, the priests had understood the sacrament of the Last Supper to be the commemoration of the life of Christ, the Eucharist would not only be beautiful as an emblem, but it would be a true figure of the at-one-ment of the human and the Divine. It would be the true bread “which cometh down from heaven,” and the result on mankind would be reformative instead of commemorative.
Jesus translated his cross into a crown, he wept, and “weeping ripened that without which to God we cannot turn.”
In the gloom of the tomb Jesus proved that,
Than in the Mind Divine, wherein is kindled
The love that turns it, and the power it rains.”
And this was the mission of Jesus and is the mission of all the sons of God,–the “whereunto ye are called.”
Next: Faith, Hope and Love
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The Astor Lectures
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