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A very fresh and unusual type of book has recently appeared under the title, “By An Unknown Disciple.” It tells in a simple, direct, impressive way, after the manner of the Gospels, the story of Christ’s life and works and message. It professes to be written by one who was an intimate disciple, and who was therefore an eye-witness of everything told in the book. It is a vivid narrative and leaves the reader deeply moved, because it brings him closer than most interpretations do into actual presence of and companionship with the great Galilean. The first chapter is a re-interpretation of the scene on the eastern shore of Gennesaret, where Jesus casts the demons out of the maniac of Geresa. A man on the shore of the lake told Jesus, when he landed there with his disciples in the early morning, that it was not safe for any one to go[16] up the rugged hillside, because there were madmen hidden there among the tombs: “people possessed by demons, who tear their flesh, and who can be heard screaming day and night.”
“How do you know they are possessed by demons?” asked Jesus.
“What else could it be?” said the man. “There are none that can master them. They are too fierce to be tamed.”
“Has any man tried to tame them?” asked Jesus.
“Yes, Rabbi, they have been bound with chains and fetters. There was one that I saw. He plucked the fetters from him as a child might break a chain of field flowers. Then he ran foaming into the wilderness, and no man dare pass by that way now....”
“Have men tried only this way to tame him?” Jesus asked.
“What other way is there, Rabbi?” asked the man.
“There is God’s way,” said Jesus. “Come, let us try it.”
As Jesus spoke, “His gaze went from man to man,” the writer continues, “and then his eyes fell upon me. It was as if a power passed from him to me, and immediately something inside me[17] answered, ‘Lead, and I follow.’” The narrative proceeds to describe the encounter with the demoniac man whose name was “Legion.” “He ran toward us, shrieking and bounding in the air. He had two sharp stones in his hand, and as he leaped he cut his flesh with them and the blood ran down his naked limbs. The men behind us scattered and fled down the hillside; but Jesus stood still and waited.” The effect of the calm, undisturbed, unfrightened presence of Jesus was astonishing. It was as though a new force suddenly came into operation. The jagged stones were thrown from his hands, for he recognized at once in Jesus a friendly presence and a helper with an understanding heart. His fear and terror left the demoniac man and he became quiet, composed and like a normal person. Meantime some of the men who ran away in fear, when the madman appeared, frightened a herd of swine feeding near by, and in their uncontrolled terror they rushed wildly toward the headland of the lake and pitched over the top into the water where they were drowned. “Fear is a foul spirit,” said Jesus, and it seemed plain and obvious that the ungoverned fear which played such havoc with the man had taken possession also of the misguided swine. It was the same[18] “demon,” fear. A little later in the day when the companions of Jesus found him they saw the man who had called himself “Legion” sitting at Jesus’ feet, clothed and in his right mind—a quieted and restored person.
We now know that this disease, called “possession,” which appears so often in the New Testament accounts, is a very common present-day trouble. The name and description given to it in the Bible make it often seem remote and unfamiliar to us, but it is, in fact, as prevalent in the world to-day as it was in the first century. It is an extreme form of hysteria, a disorganization of normal functions, often causing delusions, loss of memory, the performance of automatic actions, and sometimes resulting in double, or multiple, personality, a condition in which a foreign self seems to usurp the control of the body and make it do many strange and unwilled things. This disease is known in very many cases to be produced by frights, fear, or terror, sometimes fears long hidden away and more or less suppressed.
The famous cases of Doris Fischer and Miss Beauchamp were both of this type. They were only extreme instances of a fairly common form of mental trouble, generally due to fears, and[19] capable of being cured by wise, skillful understanding and loving care, applied by one who shows confidence and human interest and who knows how to use the powerful influence of suggestion. Dr. Morton Prince, who has reported these two cases, has achieved cures and restorations that read like miracles, and his narratives tell of minds, “jangling, harsh, and out of tune,” broken into dissociated selves, which have been unified, organized, harmonized and restored to normal life. Few restorations are more wonderful than that effected upon a Philadelphia girl under the direction of Dr. Lightner Witmer. The girl was hopelessly incorrigible, stubborn, sullen, suspicious, and stupid. She screamed, kicked, and bit when she was opposed, and she utterly refused to obey anybody. So unnatural and dehumanized was she that she was generally called “Diabolical Mary.” She was examined by Dr. Witmer, underwent some simple surgical operations to remove her obvious physical handicaps, and then was put under the loving, tender care of a wise, attractive, and understanding woman. The girl responded to the treatment at once and soon became profoundly changed, and the process went on until the girl became a wholly transformed and re-made person.
The so-called shell-shock cases which have bulked so large in the story of the wastage of men in all armies during the World War, turn out to be cases of mental disorganization, occasioned for the most part by immense emotional upheaval, especially through suppressed fear. The man affected with the trouble has seemed to master his emotion. He has not winced or shown the slightest fear in the face of danger; but the pent-up emotion, the suppressed fear and terror, insidiously throw the entire nervous mechanism out of gear. The successful treatment of such cases is, again, like that for hysteria, one that brings confidence, calm, liberation of all strain and anxiety. The poor victim needs a patient, wise, skillful, psychologically trained physician, who has an understanding mind, a friendly, interested, intimate way, a spirit of love, and who can arouse expectation of recovery and can suggest thoughts of health and the right emotional reactions. This method of cure has often been tried with striking effect upon the so-called criminal classes. Prisoners almost always respond constructively to the personal manifestation of confidence, sympathy, and love. Elizabeth Fry proved this principle in an astonishing way with the almost brutalized prisoners in Newgate.[21] Thomas Shillitoe’s visit to the German prisoners at Spandau, who were believed to be beyond all human appeals, though not so well known and famous, is no less impressive and no less convincing.
There was perhaps never a time in the history of the world when an application of this principle and method—God’s way—was so needed in the social sphere of life. Whole countries have the symptoms which appear in these nervous diseases. It is not merely an individual case here and there; it takes on a corporate, a mass, form. The nerves are overstrained, the emotional stress has been more than could be borne, suppressed fears have produced disorganization. There are signs of social “dissociation.” The remedy in such cases is not an application of compelling force, not a resort to chains and fetters, not a screwing on of the “lid,” not a method of starving out the victims. It is rather an application of the principle which has always worked in individual cases of “dissociation” or “possession” or “suppressed fear”—the principle of sympathy, love and suggestion—what Jesus, in the book mentioned above, calls “God’s way.” The “dissociation” of labor and employers in the social group, with its hysterical signs of strikes and[22] lockouts, upheaval and threats, needs just now a very wise physician. Force, restraint, compulsion, fastening down the “lid,” imprisonment of leaders, drastic laws against propaganda, will not cure the disease, any more than chains cured the poor sufferer on the shores of Gennesaret. The situation must first of all be understood. The inner attitude behind the acts and deeds must be taken into account. The social mental state must be diagnosed. The remedy, to be a remedy, must remove the causes which produce the dissociation. It can be accomplished only by one who has an understanding heart, a good will, an unselfish purpose, and a comprehending, i.e., a unifying, suggestion of co?peration.
This way is no less urgent for the solution of the most acute international situations. It has been assumed too long and too often that these situations can be best handled by unlimited methods of restraint, coercion, and reduction to helplessness. Some of the countries of Europe have been plainly suffering from neurasthenia, dissociation, and the kindred forms of emotional, fear-caused diseases. Starvation always makes for types of hysteria. It will not do now to apply, with cold, precise logic, the old vindictive principle that when the sinner has been made to suffer[23] enough to “cover” the enormity of his sin he can then be restored to respectable society. It is not vindication of justice which most concerns the world now; it is a return of health, a restoration of normal functions, a reconstruction of the social body. That task calls for the application of the deeper, truer principles of life. It calls for a knowing heart, an understanding method, a healing plan, a sympathetic guide who can obliterate the fear-attitude and suggest confidence and unity and trustful human relationships. Those great words, used in the Epistle of London Yearly Meeting of Friends in 1917, need to be revived and put to an experimental venture: “Love knows no frontiers.” There is no limit to its healing force, there are no conditions it does not meet, there is no terminus to its constructive operations.
Was there ever such a short-story character sketch as this one of the prodigal son! No realism of details, no elaboration of his sins, and yet the immortal picture is burned forever into our imagination. The débacle of his life is as clear[24] and vivid as words can portray the ruin. Yet the phrase which arrests us most as we read the compact narrative of his undoing is not the one which tells about “riotous living,” or the reckless squandering of his patrimony, or his hunger for swine husks, or his unshod feet and the loss of his tunic; it is rather the one which says that when he was at the bottom of his fortune “he came to himself.”
He had not been himself then, before. He was not finding himself in the life of riotous indulgence. That did not turn out after all to be the life for which he was meant. He missed himself more than he missed his lost shoes and tunic. That raises a nice question which is worth an answer: When is a person his real self? When can he properly say, “At last I have found myself; I am what I want to be?” Robert Louis Stevenson has given us in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde a fine parable of the actual double self in us all, a higher and a lower self under our one hat. But I ask, which is the real me? Is it Jekyll or is it Hyde? Is it the best that we can be or is it this worse thing which we just now are?
Most answers to the question would be, I think, that the real self is that ideal self of which[25] in moments of rare visibility we sometimes catch glimpses.
“All I could never be,
All, men ignored in me,
This, I was worth to God, whose wheel the pitcher shaped.”
“Dig deep enough into any man,” St. Augustine said, “and you will find something divine.” We supposed he believed in total depravity, and he does in theory believe in it; but when it is a matter of actual experience, he announces this deep fact which fits perfectly with his other great utterance: “Thou, O God, hast made us for thyself, and we are restless (dissatisfied) until we find ourselves in thee.”
Too long we have assumed that Adam, the failure, is the type of our lives, that he is the normal man, that to err is human, and that one touch, that is, blight, of nature makes all men kin. What Christ has revealed to us is the fact that we always have higher and diviner possibilities in us. He, the overcomer, and not Adam, is the true type, the normal person, giving us at last the pattern of life which is life indeed.
Which is the real self, then? Surely this higher possible self, this one which we discover in our best moments. The Greeks always held that sin[26] was “missing the mark”—that is what the Greek word for sin means—failure to arrive at, to reach, the real end toward which life aims. Sin is defeat. It is loss of the trail. It is undoing. The sinner has not found himself, he has not come to himself. He has missed the real me. He cannot say, “I am.”
If that is a fact, and if the life of spiritual health and attainment is the normal life, we surely ought to do more than is done to help young people to realize it and to assist them to find themselves. We are much more concerned to manufacture things than we are to make persons. We do one very well and we do the other very badly. Kipling’s “The Ship that Found Itself” is a fine account of the care bestowed upon every rivet and screw, every valve and piston. He pictures the ship in the stress and strain of a great storm and each part of the ship from keel to funnel describes what it has to bear and to do in the emergency and how it has been prepared in advance for just this crisis. Nansen was asked how he felt when he found that the Fram was caught in the awful jam of the Arctic ice-floe. “I felt perfectly calm,” he said. “I knew she could stand it. I had watched every stick of timber and every piece of steel that went[27] into her hull. The result was that I could go to sleep and let the ice do its worst.” With even more care we build the airplane. There must be no chance for capricious action. The propeller blades must be made of perfect wood. There must be no defect in any piece of the structure. The gasoline must be tested by all the methods of refinement. The oil must be absolutely pure, free of every suspicion of grit.
But when we turn from ships and airplanes to the provisions for training young persons we are in a different world. The element of chance now bulks very large. We let the youth have pretty free opportunity to begin his malformation before we begin seriously to construct him on right lines. We fail to note what an enormous fact “disposition” is, and we take little pains to form it early and to form it in the best way. We are far too apt to assume that all the fundamentals come by the road of heredity. We overwork this theory as much as earlier theologians overworked their dogma of original sin from poor old Adam.
The fact is that temperament and disposition and the traits of character which most definitely settle destiny are at least as much formed in those early critical years of infancy as they are acquired by the strains of heredity. Education,[28] which is more essential to the greatness of any country than even its manufactures, is one of the most neglected branches of life. We take it as we find it—and lay its failures to Providence as we do deaths from typhoid. It must not always be so. We must be as greatly concerned to form virile character in our boys and girls and to develop in them the capacity for moral and spiritual leadership in this crisis as we are concerned over our coal supply or our industries. There are ways of assisting the higher self to control and dominate the life, ways by which the ideal person can become the real person. Why not consider seriously how to do that?
He that overcomes, the prophet of Patmos says, receives a white stone with a new name written on it, which no man knoweth save he that hath it. It is a symbolism which may mean many things. It seems at least to mean that he who subdues his lower self, holds out in the strain of life, and lives by the highest that he knows, will as a consequence receive a distinct individuality, a clearly defined self, instead of being blurred in with the great level mass—a self with a name of its own. And that self will not be the old familiar self that everybody knows by traits of past achievement and by the old tendencies of[29] habit. It will be the self which only God and the person himself in his deepest and most intimate moments knew was possible—and here at last it is found to be the real self. The man can say, “I am.” He has come to himself.
We ask, at the end, whether it may not be that the world will soon come to itself and discover the way back to some of its missed ideals. Here on a large scale we have the story of a desperate hunger, squandered wealth, lost shoes, lost tunics, and even more precious things gone—a world that has missed its way and is floundering about without sufficient vision or adequate leadership. If it could only come to itself, discover what its true mission is and where its real sources of power and its line of progress lie, it would still find that God and man together can rebuild what man by his blunders has destroyed.
Nobody ever amounts to anything who lives without conflict with obstacles. It seems to be a law of the universe that nothing really good can be got or held by soft, easy means.
The Persians were so impressed with this stern condition of life that they interpreted the universe as the scene of endless warfare between hostile powers of the invisible world. Ormuzd, the god of light, and Ahriman, the god of darkness, were believed to be engaged in a continual Armageddon. There could be no truce in the strife until one or the other should win the victory by the annihilation of his opponent. This Persian dualism has touched all systems of thought and has left its influence upon all the religions of the world. The reasons why it has appealed so powerfully to men of all generations are, of course, that there is so much conflict involved in life and that no achievement of goodness is ever made without a hard battle for it against opposing forces. But if all this opposition and struggle is due to an “enemy,” we certainly ought to love this “enemy,” because it turns out to be the greatest possible blessing to us that we are forced to struggle with difficulties and to wrestle for what we get.
“Count it all joy,” said the Apostle James in substance, writing to his friends of the Dispersion, “when you fall into manifold testings, or trials, knowing that the proving of your faith worketh steadfastness, and let steadfastness have[31] its perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing.” St. Paul thought once that his “thorn in the flesh” was conferred upon him by Satan and was the malicious messenger of an enemy; but in the slow process of experience he came to see that the painful “thorn” exercised a real ministry in his life, that through his suffering and hardship he got a higher meaning of God’s grace; and he discovered that divine power was thus made perfect through his weakness, so that he learned to love the “enemy” that buffeted him.
The Psalmist who wrote our best loved psalm, the twenty-third, thought at first that God was his Shepherd because he led him in green pastures and beside still waters where there was no struggle and no enemy to fear. But he learned at length that in the dark valleys of the shadow and on the rough jagged hillsides God was no less a good Shepherd than on the level plains and in the lush grass; and he found at last that even “in the presence of enemies” he could be fed with good things and have his table spread. The overflowing cup and the anointed head were not discovered on the lower levels of ease and comfort; they came out of the harder experiences when “enemies” of his peace were busy supplying[32] obstacles and perplexities for him to overcome.
It is no accident that the book of Revelation puts so much stress upon “overcoming.” The world seemed to the prophet on the volcanic island of Patmos essentially a place of strife and conflict—an Armageddon of opposing forces. There are no beatitudes in this book promised to any except “overcomers.”
“Not to one church alone, but seven
The voice prophetic spake from heaven;
And unto each the promise came,
Diversified, but still the same;
For him that overcometh are
The new name written on the stone,
The raiment white, the crown, the throne,
And I will give him the Morning Star!”
But the conflict that ends in such results can not be called misfortune, any more than Hercules’ labors through which the legendary hero won his immortality can be pronounced a misfortune for him. Once more, then, the saint who has overcome discovers, at least in retrospect, that there is good ground for loving his “enemies”!
The farmer, in his unceasing struggle with weeds, with parasites, with pests visible and invisible,[33] with blight and rot and uncongenial weather, sometimes feels tempted to blaspheme against the hard conditions under which he labors and to assume that an “enemy” has cursed the ground which he tills and loaded the dice of nature against him. The best cure for his “mood” is to visit the land of the bread-fruit tree, where nature does everything and man does nothing but eat what is gratuitously given him, and to see there the kind of men you get under those kindly skies. The virile fiber of muscle, the strong manly frame, the keen active mind that meets each new “pest” with a successful invention, the spirit of conquest and courage that are revealed in the farmer at his best are no accident. They are the by-product of his battle with conditions, which if they seem to come from an “enemy,” must come from one that ought to be loved for what he accomplishes.
These critics of ours who harshly review the books we write, the addresses we give, the schemes of reform for which we work so strenuously—do they do nothing for us? On the contrary, they force us to go deeper, to write with more care, to reconsider our hasty generalizations, to recast our pet schemes, to revise our crude endeavors. They may speak as “enemies,”[34] and they may show a stern and hostile face; but we do well to love them, for they enable us to find our better self and our deeper powers. The hand may be the horny hand of Esau, but the voice is the kindly voice of Jacob.
All sorts of things “work” for us, then, as St. Paul declared. Not only does love “work,” and faith and grace; but tribulation “works,” and affliction, and the seemingly hostile forces which block and buffet and hamper us. Everything that drives us deeper, that draws us closer to the great resources of life, that puts vigor into our frame and character into our souls, is in the last resort a blessing to us, even though it seems on superficial examination to be the work of an “enemy,” and we shall be wise if we learn to love the “enemies” that give us the chance to overcome and to attain our true destiny. Perhaps the dualism of the universe is not quite as sharp as the old Persians thought. Perhaps, too, the love of God reaches further under than we sometimes suppose. Perhaps in fact all things “work together for good,” and even the enemy forces are helping to achieve the ultimate good that shall be revealed “when God hath made the pile complete.”

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