A True Teaching of Jesus
A sudden commotion was now seen among the people. All those that were reclining upon the ground suddenly sprang to their feet when their attention was drawn to the slope of the mountain before them. They then saw a body of men descend from a copse above, and when they came to the verge of the declivity they took up a position on the ledge of rock close to the edge, so that they were in view of the people beneath and around them. As soon as they took up their position, there was a loud shout of acclamation by the people and much commotion for a little while, but it gradually subsided as Jesus, standing alone in front of them, waved to and fro a branch of cedar, which intimated that quietness and order were required; then the multitude soon became as still as death.
Jesus appeared in his usual long blue garment open at the top, exposing to view the beautiful curves of his neck, throat and shoulders. His head being bare, displayed his glossy dark hair as it played around his neck and shoulders. He stood erect, with an air of the noble dignity of true manhood; his broad, high, spotless forehead, which seemed so expressive of majesty and wisdom, crowned his dark, fascinating eyes, which beamed with serene love and satisfaction with all around him. On his right side stood Judas, with due deference and humility expressed on his countenance, and John his personal attendant holding his tire and mantle, with James his brother by his side.
When quietness was perfectly established, Jesus commenced to address the people in a mild and melodious voice. His enunciation was slow and distinct at first, but as he progressed with his subject, he became more animated and rapid, more impressive, more eloquent and fascinating, so that people seemed to lose all consciousness of their identity and their locality so absorbed were they with the interest of the theme.
“My Friends and Brethren,” he said, “It seems, from the best knowledge we can acquire concerning the phenomena of nature that the whole universe is subject to change. That, though the principles by which God rules the universe seem to be the same, yet there is nothing that is not undergoing a change. With the social relations of man it is more particularly so. It seems that though the fundamental principles upon which man is constructed remain the same, yet as an individual or in society as a nation, he is ever undergoing a change, making progress towards a better state, or retrograding to a worse. It seems that God having made man with certain senses, faculties and propensities necessary for his wants in life, and given him a principle of intelligence, has left him to work out by his experience all that wisdom and power which his wants and pleasures may require or demand. Yes, my brethren, the intelligence and power of man comes through the experience of the past. That experience may be of a happy nature, or it may be sad. In general, it is a sad and painful one he goes through before he becomes impressed with intelligence to benefit him in the future.
“How has it been with our people as a nation? We have gone through a long historical series of sad experiences, from the dawn of our history to the present day. Great have been our afflictions, great our sufferings, and great our shame and misery, which continue along the roll of time without the prospect of an end. What have we gained from all this sad experience as a nation? Nothing but woe and discord as yet. Shall we always remain in this sad state as a nation? Shall we always remain ignorant of the cause of our weakness and misery? No, my friends, there are some persons prompted by the love of their fellow men, who have had boldness enough to look down that long vista of our historical career, who have been enabled to discover, and have been courageous enough to declare, that all our social compacts have been founded on error, ignorance, superstition and tyranny, instead of wise principles and good social laws, which our sad history ought to have taught us. Yes, my brethren, we have gone astray from the principles implanted in us by the God of Nature, and believed the false fabrications of a vile priesthood, who have flattered our vanities by telling us we were the chosen people of their God Jehovah, while they fastened the fetters of mental slavery the firmer upon us. Under such great errors and impositions we have been ruled through all our historical career by despotic priests and tyrannical kings, amidst anarchy, confusion, bloody wars, rapine and general destruction, in which our strength has been weakened, our substance wasted, our tribes lost, and we have been kept in continual ignorance of our natures, and now become vassals to a foreign power. O, my brethren, had it not been for the machinations of a vile priesthood, we might long ago have learned something of what we are and the phenomena of the universe by which we are surrounded. We should have found out that we all are the children of the great God of nature, and not the chosen people of a fictitious God as represented by them. We should have learned that the true God placed us here on an equality of power and means, to bring our various faculties into exercise, to gain intelligence, improve and excel, so that as we advance from age to age, we should ultimately arrive at a state of excellence far superior to what we are now. Let us pass no more time in vain regrets, for if the past ages have been passed in folly and misery, there is yet hope for a different state of things. Let us shake off the scales from our eyes and look around us, for now the dawn of a new era is about to commence. The day star of hope announces the coming of a new day, which shall disperse all the darkness of the past, and shall reveal to us the various obstacles over which we have hitherto stumbled. It shall show us the little bright house upon the hill, and the path that leads thitherward.
“Now, my brethren, let me impress you with a few observations pertaining to you individually. The true God who made us has endowed every man and woman with a divine principle, independent of the common understanding. This principle is the source of all life, of consciousness and feeling. God has given it to us to cultivate and improve, that it may be productive of blessings in this life, and assure to us a more blessed one hereafter. If you take a seed and plant it in the ground, and cultivate it with tender care it will rise up and grow to a goodly tree, bearing rich fruit and giving you a comfortable shade. So it is with this divine principle which God has given you. If you cultivate it carefully it will expand and grow, bearing rich fruit all your lives, and overshadowing you with a celestial home after you have passed the confines of mortal death. But, my friends, whoever is neglected of cultivating this principle that is within him, but forgetteth that he has it, or is in ignorance of its existence, passing through a life of vice and wickedness, it will not grow up for him a goodly tree, giving him fruit or shade in a celestial home. My brethren, in order that you may know how to cultivate this divine principle, I will give you some rules or precepts concerning the most prominent and primitive duties of your social position, in the performance of which this divine principle is more or less dependent for its welfare:-
“Firstly, I will speak relative to our duties to our persons. Secondly, of duties to our families. Thirdly, of love and harmony among our relations of kin. Fourthly, of duties to our neighbors. Fifthly, of obedience to our government, if just. Sixthly, of duties to the world at large, making all men brethren. Seventhly, of our duties to ourselves. Eighthly, of duties to our enemies. Ninthly, of obligation to conform to the principles of nature. Tenthly, of our acknowledgment of the Heavenly Father.
“In accordance with the first duty, you must remember under all circumstances, that your bodies are not yourselves. The divine spirit which God has given you to cultivate is the man, and not the body. The body is but the vehicle in which you live, and have connection with the external world. It is the house as it were, in which you live during your residence on the earth. Therefore you must pay such respect to it only as something of less consequence than your inward selves, yet you must perform all the necessary duties to it that its nature shall demand to make it a comfortable and desirable location during the time your spirit shall need it while on earth. You must preserve it from all the inclemencies and ravages of the elements. You must keep it from all impurities without and within-being careful to perform all its private offices in due time and season. You must give it plenty of pure air, and pure water to quench the thirst of the blood, and perform all necessary ablutions. All necessary food must be supplied to it in due time and proper portion, giving sufficient to satisfy hunger and no more, choosing the most simple and wholesome, -remembering that you eat to live, and not live to eat; for if you eat and drink more than its nature demands, you will engender bad habits, which will engender disease and misery. If your bodies should be ailing through accident or otherwise, resort to pure water and fasting, and avoid taking all poisons under the name of medicaments; and thus by conforming to all other rules of prudence, your bodies will recover their usual health and vigor. Regular exercise is also necessary to insure tone, soundness and strength, the development of all its parts and functions until it shall arrive at maturity.
“One thing more I will observe on this head. When the impulses of certain passions are developed within you, study how to administer to their necessary wants, without accelerating or retarding them in the due course of their nature; but let all your proceedings therein be of a secret and chaste nature. By so doing, the body will become a fit habitation on earth for the pure spirit to dwell in.
“Secondly, are the duties incumbent upon us in relation to our families. The most sacred obligation of a man on earth is the relation between himself and family. God has considered it so necessary to the preservation and perpetuation of the species, that he has impressed this obligation upon every kind of animal on the earth. With all other animals it is instinct, but with man it is not only instinct, but a sacred moral obligation also; and whoever proves recreant to this sacred duty, is far inferior to any of the brute creation. It is God’s desire that man and woman shall enter upon conjugal love to procreate their kind, for he is desirous that the divine principle in man shall improve from age to age, until it shall arrive at its destined end of perfection. Thus it is that he has implanted in man and woman those divine instincts and moral obligations to induce them to take care of their offspring, and he rewards them in part for their tolls by giving them ineffable pleasure in performing their tasks. What man is there who has a spark of true manhood within him, who will not shield with his body and defend with his arm the wife of his bosom, who is the partner of his love, and the child, which is the fruit of this love? There is not one worthy of the name of man who will not. He will toll by night and day also to procure for them all the necessaries of food, raiment and shelter. He will even go so far as to deprive himself of what is necessary for himself rather than see them suffer. He will run hither and thither to serve them in time of sickness, smooth their pillows for their aching heads, and speak soft soothing words into their ears; and do all other things, though ever so humiliating, for their welfare. Such a man is worthy of a loving wife and good children. Such a man feels his spirit chastened, ennobled and exalted in thus performing his duties; at the same time he qualifies himself for an inheritance hereafter, where all the objects of his earthly love will again surround him in the heavenly world. My friends, be you then loving, kind and self-sacrificing one to another in your families, for such will meet the approbation of your heavenly Father.
“Thirdly.-There are duties and obligations that are due to other persons in our family relations, which call into play the noble feelings and sentiments, all of which improve and refine our natures. To your parents you ought to be obedient, if you are under the years of manhood, and deferential and respectful even after you are your own masters; taking care of them in their old age and soothing them under all the vexations of life, and leading them with as much gentleness as possible as they go down to the grave. And then there are, perhaps brothers and sisters who require your tender solicitude, love and assistance; to them you ought to administer all the tender and useful offices that are in your power, being kind and affectionate, slow and mild of reproof, and acting with them in all things for the family’s welfare. Many of you may have a little sister or brother whose parents have gone down to the grave. To whom should they look to supply the place of their parents but their elder brother. It is your duty to fulfill that office; therefore watch them, love them, and attend them with the care and affection of which you are capable. And when your younger brother shall need counsel or assistance, give it to him freely, with all thy experience, wisdom and disinterested affection; for he that does not treat his brother in this wise, is not worthy of the name and respect of a brother. To all your other kin, be you gentle, amiable and respectful; by so doing, you will establish harmony in your family, and gain the respect of good men.
“Fourthly.-My friends, are your duties to yourselves, which will embrace several points. The duties to your bodies I have already spoken on; the next is your duty to your understanding or mind, which is one of the most important dependent upon your care. It will become you to gain an intelligence of all things pertaining to your intended calling and circumstances in life that you may prove capable of undertaking all necessary matters of common occupations, acquainting yourselves with some of the beauties of nature’s phenomena. By thus acting you will enlarge your minds, gain your own self-esteem and the admiration of all good and wise men. Your next care will be to guard your reputation from the foul stings of slanderers and all evil workers who shall endeavor to injure your just fame. If your honor, honesty and manhood are abused, call forth the slanderer and argue the case before your neighbors, and if he be proved a liar and evil worker, take all just means to punish him; for the slanderer ought not to go unpunished; make him an example for others to dread. Your next duties to yourselves will be to care after your worldly interests, for, though it is not good for a man to be greedy after wealth, yet it is necessary for every one to seek after the honest means of support. Secure to yourselves some honest occupation as a means of gaining your daily dependence for bread, then pursue it with perseverance and be prudent in your expenditures, that your out-goings be not greater than your in-comings; and if possible, save a little against times of sickness or accidental misfortune. Thus you will render yourselves independent of others, and avoid many evils that others encounter. A sensible and generous man may thus act without becoming a miser, an usurer, or a greedy hearted man of riches.
“Fifthly.-Are our duties to our neighbors. All men as neighbors ought to be treated on social grounds with perfect equality of rights. Whatever we expect they shall concede to us, we ought to be ready to concede to them; for, as in the social compact, there is a mutual interest to support, so ought all our bearings and treatment to each other be mutual. Mutual rights, mutual respect, mutual affability and politeness, when perfectly understood and conformed to, will form a harmonious society. But there are instances that occur among neighbors, which come not under the mutual transfer of obligations, but which appeal to our sympathy, our sense of justice and charitable feelings. Such, for instance, if our neighbor be sick or poor, and needs assistance, he may have no right to demand a share of our wealth; yet it is our moral duty to sympathize with him, and relieve him to the best of our abilities. If he meets with an unforeseen accident, such as his house being burnt, he cannot by force or right compel us to restore him another house; but it will be well for our names and add greatly to our characters of benevolence, if we endeavor to restore his loss. There are many other ways by which a man can do good to his neighbors, and the best criterion by which he should judge how to do so, is to take the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would they should do unto you.”
“Sixthly.-Our duties to our government, they are conditional, and very simple in their nature. If the government be a just one, founded on rational and just principles of mutual protection of the people, their rights, privileges, lives and property, and in which the people have a voice in the selection of their rulers, then it becomes our imperative duty to implicitly obey all its laws, and respect its rulers; and should an enemy invade the country, then it will be the duty of every man when called upon to go forth to repel the foe; but on the other hand, should the government be one of tyranny, and the laws and rulers be oppressive and unjust, no man is morally bound to obey the one or the other; but he may do so to save himself. If he betray such a government he is no traitor; or if he fights against it he is no enemy of his country, but a patriot who wishes to abolish a bad government with the view and hopes of establishing a just one in its stead.
“Seventhly.-Are our duties to mankind at large. All nations of people are the children of our heavenly Father, wherever found or under what circumstances. Though there is some difference in their natures and appearances, no doubt, God created them with the same motives as he did us. They are born upon the same earth; the same sun shines upon them by day, and the same moon by night; therefore they have an equal right to live and enjoy this life that we have. Like us they are susceptible of pain and pleasure; like us they have the same motives and interests in life; and though their colors are different, and their habits, customs, language and ideas also, yet they are our brethren; they are entitled to the same sympathies, the same love and assistance we have one for the other. Therefore let there be no party or local distinction in our love for a class or nation of men, here or there. Let there be no local hatreds, prejudices or antipathies. Make an allowance for the difference of customs, habits and prejudices; and keep this ever memorable maxim in your minds, that the whole world is your country, and all mankind brethren.
“Eighthly.-Our duties to our enemies are but few, yet we have some to perform even to them. When a difference or dispute shall arise among nations our first duty is to keep cool, to prevent our nature from being aroused to a state of anger or irritability; for if we allow anger to overcome us it will prevent our seeing the difference in a just light. Our next duty will be to invite our enemies to an argument on the points of dispute, and then with prudence, circumspection and just principles, investigate the matter. If we find our party to be wrong, then concede so much in their favor; and if we find that they (the enemies) are in the wrong, we will draw a line, and say, ‘Thus far will we go and no farther; we will not war with you, but we will stand to our point. If you attack us, we will resist and defend ourselves, and the blood of the battle will be upon your heads.’ If war becomes inevitable then we can fight with a good heart in a good cause. If we conquer we ought not to demand anything more than the fulfillment of the principles for which we contended before the battle. When treaties are made between us, we ought to adhere to them with the inviolable truth and justice; our enemies will then learn to respect us on all future occasions.
“Ninthly.-Are our obligations to conform to our passionate natures. My brethren, many have told you to suppress or extinguish certain passions or principles within your nature. My doctrine, is that you do nothing of the kind, for God never made man with any passions or principles useless or destructive to him. Every passion, principle, or function has its specific duty to perform, all tending to the preservation and happiness of the individual; but it requires the exercise of prudence and patience to regulate them, that they shall not injure ourselves, or be detrimental to others. Therefore, my friends, neither accelerate nor suppress any of your natural passions or emotions; your nature knows how and when to display them, and when to arrest them. When a man is excited with pleasing emotions or ludicrous ideas, he laughs; then let him laugh, it will do him good; for if you endeavor to suppress his laughter he will laugh the more, or it will kill him. When a man is hurt in body or mind he may shed tears; then let him weep for his tears will ease his pain, or if he is excited to tears of sympathy at the distress of another, let them not be suppressed, for they will move him to good offices of charity and benevolence towards the distressed one. A tear of sympathy outshines the brightest of diamonds; its sparkling lustre will penetrate through space, extending to the realms of heaven where God will see it and feel pleased with the donor. If your brother or neighbor offend you and you become excited to anger, give vent to your anger; but first turn aside and take two stones, then beat one upon the other until your anger be subdued. It will be better for you to beat the stones to powder, than to smite your brother upon the check; but you must not suppress your anger, for it will generate hatred and the desire for revenge. If the development of your nature is such that the conjugal passion is dominant, then with prudence and circumspection seek for yourselves partners in your love, and give vent in a chaste and proper manner to your natural desires; but seek not to suppress them by celibacy, for it is an error entailing a thousand horrors. In all respects, my friends suppress not your natural passions or emotions, but so endeavor to regulate them that they shall not produce to you or others any evil results.
“Tenthly, and last.-Is our acknowledgment and love for our heavenly Father. When we investigate our own mortal bodies, we cannot help seeing how beautiful and wonderful they are made, and we cannot help inferring the wisdom and power of the maker. We know, therefore, that there is a supreme wise power in the universe above all other things; and when we understand that this body of ours is only the representative of the spirit within, how much more beautiful and wisely constructed must that spirit be. We, therefore, infer that this great Power has some great design in bringing us into existence, and though we know not what that design is precisely, yet we have reason to believe that it is a good one. We, therefore, hail this great Power as our heavenly Father-the true God of the Universe. The wisdom and magnificence of his works as displayed all around us, we cannot help admiring; and as we are enabled to perceive they all tend to something good, we have reason to believe that he is a God of Love. It, therefore, becomes our duty as rational beings when in contemplation or speaking of that God, that all our aspirations of sentiment and feelings shall be of a pure devoted love.”
Jesus paused for a few moments, and then concluded his address with the following remarks:
“Our ancestor, Moses, presented to his brethren a Decalogue or ten commandments, which he told them he had received from the God Jehovah at Mount Sinai for the government of the people. He was the first to break those commandments, for he dashed them to the ground, and slew three thousand of the people before he had made them acquainted with the nature of them. I also present you with a Decalogue, not coming from Moses or the God Jehovah; but mine is founded upon the principles of truth and wisdom, in conformity with the principles of nature. You will compare them, and decide for yourselves which is the best and most capable of adding to man’s happiness.”
Jesus, having concluded his address, stood aside, when Peter, whose former name was Simon, the fisher-of-men, advanced in front of the people and announced in a loud voice: “As the address of Jesus has been terminated, the people can refresh themselves for an hour, after which, if there are any sick among them, if they will come forward, Jesus will exert himself to relieve them by the laying on of his hands.”
This announcement was hailed with a great shout of joy by the people. Then a general commotion ensued; some running hither and thither to the woods and copses, but the greater part seated themselves upon the ground where they were, and immediately unpacked their small paniers of provisions for a repast. -Excerpt from The True Life of Jesus of Nazareth.
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