W7252 TO REV. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from Marie Laird
Jan 30 1928 [approximate date]1
To: Rev. Calvin McQuesten 'Whitehern' Hamilton, Ontario
From: 1720-11th St. W., Calgary, Alberta
It is New Year's Eve. I have been reading the passages you refer to in Isa. VII and IX and have been trying to picture Jesus--as he was -- as the New Testament reveals him. He was a man who went apart to pray in the mountains and in the desert, where no human influence could come between him and God. During prayer he acquired strength for action. More than any thing else he was a man who spent his life among others, talking with them, healing them. Wandering on long tours from place to place while he talked with them and taught them. He underwent an enormous amount of physical exertions without apparent weariness -- He was almost constantly walking. When he was not walking, he was healing the sick and preaching; often he was doing both at the same time. He frequently went without sleep and without food. He must have had a wonderful constitution, great physical endurance and muscular strength. His chest expansion was enormous, else how could he have preached for such long periods and have made great multitudes hear him in the open? In all probability he was strongly, even powerfully built and well poised in every way -- yet with deep refinement of bearing. He would be slender and muscular and swift and without any of the poisons in his physical body which practically all other human beings have.
I believe he was a man of vibrant and beautiful physical health. The long walks he took and the fasts would keep all poisons eliminated from his system. He even slept in the open. I believe that this freedom from physical poisons in his blood did quite as much toward enabling him to keep his thoughts pure and wholesome as did his periods of prayer and devotion.
We have heard of him as a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. There is no doubt that he knew the deep sorrow of being deserted and misunderstood by the people of his own house hold, and by the men of his native town and province. He knew the sorrow of seeing his beloved country men far removed in both thought and action from God -- but although he knew these sorrows, which are the greatest of all sorrows, his spirit was not crushed by them. He was still able to go ahead and to do his work for God and for his fellow men.
To picture Jesus purely as a man of sorrow, brooding over the wickedness of the world is to draw a very wrong picture of him indeed. His was not the sorrow which broods -- but the sorrow which spurs one to work harder than ever so that the cause of sorrow may in the end be removed.
He was a man of courage, wonderful, indomitable, far seeing courage. The courage which can go forward to do its duty regardless of every manner of temptation, obstacle, discouragement and disappointment. He was a man of COURAGE, a brave man, far more even, than he was a man of prayer or a man of sorrow -- I mean meditative prayer all his actions were a prayer, and his courage was a phase of prayer.
In our churches we have heard little about his courage -- yet the New Testament reveals countless instances of it -- beginning when we hear him speaking in His father's house at the age of twelve, at this early age, he knew exactly what his work was to be -- "His Father's business." Even before he was twelve he was preparing for this work and his course never swerved from its original purpose. Self-Knowledge, constancy of purpose, early recognition of that purpose, these were among the ingredients of his success.
His love for his mother was great. His last thought was of her. Yet she had never been able to turn him aside by a hair's breadth from the work he had to do. That she tried we know and his rebuke was as stern as it was possible to give. He was a man of fiery spirit, witness how he drove the money changers from the Temple and his rebukes to the Pharisees. He was haughty, it is hard to say which was greater, his hauteur toward the Scribes and Pharisees or His humility before God.
He spoke openly the convictions of his mind. He did not spare the feelings of lukewarm hypocrites. He did not bow to the rich nor seek to curry favour with those who could set him in high worldly places -- not he -- he believed in plain and honest speaking.
In contrast to this fiery, haughty, plain spoken manner we marvel at his gentleness with the publicans and sinners and his willingness to forgive the woman whom her fellow culprits would have stoned. Genuineness was the virtue which he liked and he found it more often in confessed sinners than in Pharisees and hypocrites.
Always he was willing to forgive those who honestly sought forgiveness and he commanded that it be granted seventy times seven. How could he have shown a greater
sympathy for human weakness than in a command like this? His gentleness and his sympathy, his willingness to forgive, were the result of knowledge. His understanding of human nature was perfect. This was because he mingled freely with all sorts of people.
He had perfect control of his emotions. He was able to love all men and all women in the same way, with a love entirely pure like the love of a father for his children, like the love of brethren for one another, like the love of a mother for her babe. This high pure love was completely possible for him because of the complete healthful cleanness of his physical body. This cleanness made his body a fitting temple for God and made it possible for him to be constantly directed by Him, so that always he could say. "The works which I do I do not of myself, but the Father who dwelleth in me, He doth the works."
In this assertion we also discern his humility. His willingness to take none of the glory, and to give it all to God.
They also reveal his constant recognition of the fact that God was dwelling in him, the indwelling presence of God.
His simplicity. His language, his companions, his ways of living, the contacts which he sought, his way of earning his daily bread, all were simple and easily understood.
His sternness -- to Peter "get thee behind me Satan" -- to his mother and father even at the age of twelve -- and later when he said "who are my mother and my brother" etc.
His mercifulness -- to the sick, to the sinful, to the bereaved, to the hungry, to his mother.
The ties of flesh and blood were strong in him and bound him in love and duty even as did his spiritual ties. His last care was for the mother who had never understood him.
He was able and willing to give simple, natural pleasures to simple people -- e.g. when he made wine at the wedding feast.
He realized that the flesh is weak and he did not despise or ignore this weakness -- when the multitudes were hungry he fed them. He prayed while his disciples slept and though he was sad, he understood and he did not awaken them.
He made use of the physical means at hand -- He used the few loaves and fishes the disciples brought to make food for the multitude. He plucked corn on the Sabbath and approved of lifting the ass (or the sheep?) from the pit on this day. In other words he did not attempt to make, meditation, prayer the exclusive means whereby to attain His object. He worked and made use of any other tools God had given him. With him action was an integral part of prayer.
I do not think the clay he put on the blind man's eyes during the process of restoring sight -- or the bathing of the lepers n Jordan -- I do not think these commands were mere empty ones. They were in the direction of making use of any natural help God had given, while praying for his spirit to do its work.
He knew what was going on in the minds of those around him -- Telepathy.
The past was an open book to him. He could foresee the future, so that his breadth of outlook was complete. Yet he went forward to death and to suffering without faltering, his own idea being to do what God required.
He asked God for nothing for himself. He worked for no reward either in this life or in the next. I mean that the reward was not his incentive. The incentive was love for his fellows, a love so great that he gladly endured everything to bring them into a knowledge of the love of God.
Unlike Lot's wife he had not one regret for the things he was giving up. He knew them for what they were -- dross and tinsel
Moreover, he knew himself. I do not believe that the devil is a wicked external creature let loose to tempt us. The devil is the badness in ourselves -- the impulses in us which tempt us to do evil. Jesus knew these impulses for what they were as soon as they appeared; and he ousted them at the very beginning before they had time to gain any power over him. How did he oust them? By thinking on the other side of the question, the true side -- the side wherein lay his allegiance to "His Father's business."
For us also this is the only way to drive out the thoughts we do not wish to harbour. We must learn to spot them in their very beginning in the imagination and to turn promptly and busily to other thoughts and to physical action.
This, no doubt, is a most unorthodox view of Jesus. I have not been reading about Him or trying to picture Him for a considerable time, and I am glad your letter brought these thoughts into my mind, whatever errors you may find in them from the theological standpoint. I do most distinctly not believe that Christ was either co-equal or co-eternal with God. Rather, He intended to teach (1) that God was greater than He. (2) That God dwelt in him and by this indwelling power did the works which Jesus appeared to do. (3) That all men can and should be led in a similar, (if incomplete) manner by indwelling God.
Now my very dear, I know it is lack of sunshine and lack of health which have depressed you and made the autumn months hard to bear. These months are over. Every day the sun will shine a little longer. It will be cold enough for winter sports and you will feel altogether better. Next year why not take your vacation in November in some sunshiny place, such as Carolina or Arizona or Colorado? You would escape all that trying period of depression. I am absolutely sure that you would. May God bless you in the New Year and enable you to do those helpful and kindly things which I know are always nearest to your heart.
Those who are not quite well have a harder struggle than those who are. God knows this. [?] good and pure one's thoughts may be in themselves, there is a sense in which they are not wholesome unless they can be expressed in action, and therefore we must not think them nor begin to think them, and perhaps part of our life work here is to learn just this.
The strength of God is in you more than is in most men. That is why you feel your shortcomings more keenly and suffer from them more. Do you remember how Peter suffered and yet how very dear he was to Jesus and to God, and how greatly he was trusted -- "on this rock do I build my church."
Your ever loving friend,
1 This letter is undated, but the clue to the date of this letter is in the correlation between this letter W7252 which is undated but signed, and W7868 which is dated but unsigned. It is likely that both letters were in the same envelope, but became separated before the Whitehern Calendar was compiled. In paragraph three of this letter W7252, the writer states that she wrote a letter on "New Year's Eve," that it contains Biblical material, and that she did not send it but is sending it now. This letter, W7252, begins: "It is now New Year's Eve" and contains many Biblical references. Also there is a strong correlation between the handwriting of both letters on the microfiche.