New Thought Library is an online public library with free eBook and audio downloads.
Links to downloads for Higher Powers of Mind and Spirit by Ralph Waldo Trine are at the bottom of this web page
Blessings abound for the spiritually aware.
Help connect like minded seekers with the Spiritual Resources
produced by the NewThought.NET/work
Jesus The Supreme Exponent of the Inner Forces and Powers: His People's Religion and Their Condition
In order to have any true or adequate understanding of what the real
revelation and teachings of Jesus were, two things must be borne in
mind. It is necessary in the first place, not only to have a knowledge
of, but always to bear in mind the method, the medium through which the
account of his life has come down to us. Again, before the real content
and significance of Jesus' revelation and teachings can be intelligently
understood, it is necessary that we have a knowledge of the conditions
of the time in which he lived and of the people to whom he spoke, to
whom his revelation was made.
To any one who has even a rudimentary knowledge of the former, it
becomes apparent at once that no single saying or statement of Jesus can
be taken to indicate either his revelation or his purpose. These must be
made to depend upon not any single statement or saying of his own, much
less anything reported about him by another; but it must be made to
depend rather upon the whole tenor of his teachings.
Jesus put nothing in writing. There was no one immediately at hand to
make a record of any of his teachings or any of his acts. It is now well
known that no one of the gospels was written by an immediate hearer, by
The Gospel of Mark, the oldest gospel, or in other words the one written
nearest to Jesus' time, was written some forty years after he had
finished his work. Matthew and Luke, taken to a great extent from the
Gospel of Mark, supplemented by one or two additional sources, were
written many years after. The Gospel of John was not written until after
the beginning of the second century after Christ. These four sets of
chronicles, called the Gospels, written independently one of another,
were then collected many years after their authors were dead, and still
a great deal later were brought together into a single book.
The following concise statement by Professor Henry Drummond throws much
light upon the way the New Testament portions of our Bible took form:
"The Bible is not a book; it is a library. It consists of sixty-six
books. It is a great convenience, but in some respects a great
misfortune, that these books have always been bound up together and
given out as one book to the world, when they are not; because that has
led to endless mistakes in theology and practical life. These books,
which make up this library, written at intervals of hundreds of years,
were collected after the last of the writers was dead -- long after -- by
human hands. Where were the books? Take the New Testament. There were
four lives of Christ. One was in Rome; one was in Southern Italy; one
was in Palestine; one in Asia Minor. There were twenty-one letters. Five
were in Greece and Macedonia; five in Asia; one in Rome. The rest were
in the pockets of private individuals. Theophilus had Acts. They were
collected undesignedly. In the third century the New Testament consisted
of the following books: The four Gospels, Acts, thirteen letters of
Paul, I John, I Peter; and, in addition, the Epistles of Barnabas and
Hermas. This was not called the New Testament, but the Christian
Library. Then these last books were discarded. They ceased to be
regarded as upon the same level as the others. In the fourth century the
canon was closed -- that is to say, a list was made up of the books which
were to be regarded as canonical. And then long after that they were
stitched together and made up into one book -- hundreds of years after
that. Who made up the complete list? It was never formally made up. The
bishops of the different churches would draw up a list each of the books
that they thought ought to be put into this Testament. The churches also
would give their opinions. Sometimes councils would meet and talk it
over -- discuss it. Scholars like Jerome would investigate the
authenticity of the different documents, and there came to be a general
consensus of the churches on the matter."
Jesus spoke in his own native language, the Aramaic. His sayings were
then rendered into Greek, and, as is well known by all well-versed
Biblical scholars, it was not an especially high order of Greek. The New
Testament scriptures including the four gospels, were then many hundreds
of years afterwards translated from the Greek into our modern
languages -- English, German, French, Swedish, or whatever the language of
the particular translation may be. Those who know anything of the matter
of translation know how difficult it is to render the exact meanings of
any statements or writing into another language. The rendering of a single word may sometimes mean, or rather may make a great difference
in the thought of the one giving the utterance. How much greater is this
liability when the thing thus rendered is twice removed from its
original source and form!
The original manuscripts had no punctuation and no verse divisions;
these were all arbitrarily supplied by the translators later on. It is
also a well-established fact on the part of leading Biblical scholars
that through the centuries there have been various interpolations in the
New Testament scriptures, both by way of omissions and additions.
Reference is made to these various facts in connection with the sayings
and the teachings of Jesus and the methods and the media through which
they have come down to us, to show how impossible it would be to base
Jesus' revelation or purpose upon any single utterance made or purported
to be made by him -- to indicate, in other words, that to get at his real
message, his real teachings, and his real purpose, we must find the
binding thread if possible, the reiterated statement, the repeated
purpose that makes them throb with the living element.
Again, no intelligent understanding of Jesus' revelation or ministry can
be had without a knowledge of the conditions of the time, and of the
people to whom his revelation was made, among whom he lived and worked;
for his ministry had in connection with it both a time element and an
eternal element. There are two things that must be noted, the moral and
religious condition of the people; and, again, their economic and
The Jewish people had been preeminently a religious people. But a great
change had taken place. Religion was at its lowest ebb. Its spirit was
well-nigh dead, and in its place there had gradually come into being a
Pharisaic legalism -- a religion of form, ceremony. An extensive system of
ecclesiastical tradition, ecclesiastical law and observances, which had
gradually robbed the people of all their former spirit of religion, had
been gradually built up by those in ecclesiastical authority.
The voice of that illustrious line of Hebrew prophets had ceased to
speak. It was close to two hundred years since the voice of a living
prophet had been heard. Tradition had taken its place. It took the form:
Moses hath said; It has been said of old; The prophet hath said. The
scribe was the keeper of the ecclesiastical law. The lawyer was its
The Pharisees had gradually elevated themselves into an ecclesiastical
hierarchy who were the custodians of the law and religion. They had come
to regard themselves as especially favoured, a privileged class -- not
only the custodians but the dispensers of all religious knowledge -- and
therefore of religion. The people, in their estimation, were of a lower
intellectual and religious order, possessing no capabilities in
connection with religion or morals, dependent therefore upon their
superiors in these matters.
This state of affairs that had gradually come about was productive of
two noticeable results: a religious starvation and stagnation on the
part of the great mass of the people on the one hand, and the creation
of a haughty, self-righteous and domineering ecclesiastical hierarchy on
the other. In order for a clear understanding of some of Jesus' sayings
and teachings, some of which constitute a very vital part of his
ministry, it is necessary to understand clearly what this condition was.
Another important fact that sheds much light upon the nature of the
ministry of Jesus is to be found, as has already been intimated, in the
political and the economic condition of the people of the time. The
Jewish nation had been subjugated and were under the domination of Rome.
Rome in connection with Israel, as in connection with all conquered
peoples, was a hard master. Taxes and tribute, tribute and taxes, could
almost be said to be descriptive of her administration of affairs.
She was already in her degenerate stage. Never perhaps in the history of
the world had men been so ruled by selfishness, greed, military power
and domination, and the pomp and display of material wealth. Luxury,
indulgence, over-indulgence, vice. The inevitable concomitant
followed -- a continually increasing moral and physical degeneration. An
increasing luxury and indulgence called for an increasing means to
satisfy them. Messengers were sent and additional tribute was levied.
Pontius Pilate was the Roman administrative head or governor in Judea at
the time. Tiberius Cæsar was the Roman Emperor.
Rome at this time consisted of a few thousand nobles and people of
station -- freemen -- and hundreds of thousands of slaves. Even her
campaigns in time became virtual raids for plunder. She conquered -- and
she plundered those whom she conquered. Great numbers from among the
conquered peoples were regularly taken to Rome and sold into slavery.
Judea had not escaped this. Thousands of her best people had been
transported to Rome and sold into slavery. It was never known where the
blow would fall next; what homes would be desolated and both sons and
daughters sent away into slavery. No section, no family could feel any
sense of security. A feeling of fear, a sense of desolation pervaded
There was a tradition, which had grown into a well-defined belief, that
a Deliverer would be sent them, that they would be delivered out of the
hands of their enemies and that their oppressors would in turn be
brought to grief. There was also in the section round about Judæa a
belief, which had grown until it had become well-nigh universal, that
the end of the world, or the end of the age, was speedily coming, that
then there would be an end of all earthly government and that the reign
of Jehovah -- the kingdom of God -- would be established. These two beliefs
went hand in hand. They were kept continually before the people, and now
and then received a fresh impetus by the appearance of a new prophet or
a new teacher, whom the people went gladly out to hear. Of this kind was
John, the son of a priest, later called John the Baptist.
After his period of preparation, he came out of the wilderness of Judæa,
and in the region about the Jordan with great power and persuasiveness,
according to the accounts, he gave utterance to the message: Repent ye,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Forsake all earthly things; they
will be of avail but a very short time now, turn ye from them and
prepare yourselves for the coming of the Kingdom of God. The old things
will speedily pass away; all things will become new. Many went out to
hear him and were powerfully appealed to by the earnest, rugged
utterances of this new preacher of righteousness and repentance.
His name and his message spread through all the land of Judea and the
country around the Jordan. Many were baptised by him there, he making
use of this symbolic service which had been long in use by certain
branches of the Jewish people, especially the order of the Essenes.
Among those who went out to hear John and who accepted baptism at his
hands was Jesus, the son of Joseph and Mary, whose home was at Nazareth.
It marks also the beginning of his own public ministry, for which he
evidently had been in preparation for a considerable time.
It seems strange that we know so little of the early life of one
destined to exert such a powerful influence upon the thought and the
life of the world. In the gospel of Mark, probably the most reliable,
because the nearest to his time, there is no mention whatever of his
early life. The first account is where he appears at John's meetings.
Almost immediately thereafter begins his own public ministry.
In the gospel of Luke we have a very meagre account of him. It is at the
age of twelve. The brief account gives us a glimpse into the lives of
his father and his mother, Joseph and Mary; showing that at that time
they were not looked upon as in any way different from all of the
inhabitants of their little community, Nazareth, the little town in
Galilee -- having a family of several sons and daughters, and that Jesus,
the eldest of the family, grew in stature and in knowledge, as all the
neighbouring children grew; but that he, even at an early age, showed
that he had a wonderful aptitude for the things of the spirit. I
reproduce Luke's brief account here:
"Now, his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the
passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem,
after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as
they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem: and Joseph
and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in
the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their
kinsfolk and acquaintances. And when they found him not, they turned
back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass that after
three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the
doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard
him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
"And when they saw him they were amazed: and his mother said unto him,
Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have
sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought
me? Wist ye not that I must be about my father's business? And they
understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down
with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his
mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in
wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man."
Nothing could be more interesting than to know the early life of Jesus.
There are various theories as to how this was spent, that is, as to what
his preparation was -- the facts of his life, in addition to his working
with his father at his trade, that of a carpenter; but we know nothing
that has the stamp of historical accuracy upon it. Of his entire life,
indeed, including the period of his active ministry, from thirty to
nearly thirty-three, it is but fair to presume that we have at best but
a fragmentary account in the Gospel narratives. It is probable that many
things connected with his ministry, and many of his sayings and
teachings, we have no record of at all.
It is probable that in connection with his preparation he spent a great
deal of time alone, in the quiet, in communion with his Divine Source,
or as the term came so naturally to him, with God, his Father -- God, our
Father, for that was his teaching -- my God and your God. The many times
that we are told in the narratives that he went to the mountain alone,
would seem to justify us in this conclusion. Anyway, it would be
absolutely impossible for anyone to have such a vivid realisation of his
essential oneness with the Divine, without much time spent in such a
manner that the real life could evolve into its Divine likeness, and
then mould the outer life according to this ideal or pattern.
Links to Additional Media for Higher Powers of Mind and Spirit by Ralph Waldo Trine such as audio and ebooks are located at the bottom of this web page.