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THE FIERY PATH TO FREEDOM

From the October 1906 issue of The Christian Science Journal


In reading the account of the three Hebrew captives the impression generally received seems to be that nothing about them was touched by the fire. There was one thing, however, upon which the fire did seem to have some effect. The record says, "These three men, . . . fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace," and later the king exclaimed, "Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." They went in bound; they came out free. In this we have a beautiful and suggestive lesson.

There was great stress brought to bear upon these three champions for the true worship of the one and only God. Self-preservation and loyalty to their king seemed to demand obedience. To accomplish these might they not bow their bodies in seeming compliance, and thus appease the malice and jealousy of their foes, while they still worshiped God with their hearts? They, however, spurned all these suggestions of compromise so plausibly deceptive, and stood firm in their allegiance to Truth and in their reliance on God's power and readiness to deliver them; and, even if their faith were not strong enough to assure them of this, they would still stand by their convictions of right. All this is revealed in their dignified and uncompromising reply to the king: "O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." "Then," continues the narrative, "was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury."

Firmness in our adherence to Principle will always arouse the opposition and bitter hatred of personal sense, because such an attitude robs this sense of its power, overthrows its self-constituted authority. When the stand for right is taken, so-called mortal mind endeavors to bind Truth's brave champion with fear, doubt, and anxiety, and then to cast him into the furnace of ingratitude, betrayal, ostracism, hatred, and persecution. But these experiences only serve to turn him away from human hopes, mortal pleasures, and personal dependence, to the saving and sustaining power of Spirit. Then he finds and walks with the "Son of God,"—the divine idea. He also finds that his bonds of fear are removed, and he emerges from the furnace stronger and better than when he entered it.

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