Before Bill Wilson’s 1939 publication of A.A.’s book Alcoholics Anonymous Bill and the early A.A.’s listened to Emmet Fox’s sermons and used his book “Sermon on the Mount,” as one of their devotional books. The following passage is excerpted from Fox’s Sermon on the Mount: The forgiveness of sins is the central problem of life. It is, of course, rooted in selfishness. It is essentially an attempt to gain some supposed good to which we are not entitled. It is a sense of isolated, self-regarding, personal existence whereas the Truth of Being is that all humans are but one cell of a greater body. Our True selves are at one with God, undivided from the dynamic thinking of that Mind. Because we are all one with the great Whole of which we are spiritually connected, it follows that we are one with all men. Just because in Him we live and move and have our being, we are, in the absolute sense, all essentially one, and to harm another cell is to harm the greater Whole which has a negative effect on all the cells including the one harming others.
Evil, sin, the fall of man, in fact, is essentially the attempt to negative this Truth in our thoughts. We try to live apart from God. We try to do without Him. We act as though we had a life of our own; as separate minds; as though we could have plans and purposes and interests separate from His. All this, if it were true, would mean that existence is not one and harmonious, but chaos of competition and strife. It would mean that we are quite separate from our fellow man and could injure, rob, or hurt him, or even destroy him, without any damage to ourselves, and, in fact, that the more we took from other people the more we should have for ourselves. It would mean that the more indifferent we were to the welfare of others, the better off we should be. Of course it would then follow that others should treat us in the same way, and that accordingly we might expect many of them to do so. Now if that were true, it would mean that the universe is only a chaotic jungle and that sooner or later it must destroy itself by its own inherent weakness, wickedness and anarchy. But, of course, it is not true, and therein lays the harmonious joy of life.
Undoubtedly, many people do act as though they believed it to be true, and a great many more, would be dreadfully shocked if brought face-to-face with that proposition in the reality of cold blood. They nevertheless, have a vague feeling that such must be very much the way things are, although they, themselves, are personally above acting in accordance with such a notion. Human self-will run-riot is the real basis of sin, of resentment, of condemnation, of jealously, of remorse, and all the evil brood that walk that path. The belief in independent and separate human existence is the arch sin, and before we can progress any further, we must understand that all humans are interconnected. Jesus knew this, and with this definite end in view he inserted at this critical point in the “Disciples Prayer,” a carefully prepared statement: “Forgive Us Our Trespasses, as We Forgive Them That Trespass against us.” He inserted a trip clause with no loopholes. He drafted a declaration which would force us, without any conceivable possibility of escape, evasion, mental reservation, or subterfuge of any kind, to execute the great sacrament of forgiveness in all its fullness and far-reaching power. As we intelligently repeat the Great Prayer, considering the meaning of what we say, we are suddenly, so to speak, caught up and grasped, as though in a vise, so that we must positively and definitely extend forgiveness to everyone to whom it is possible that we can owe forgiveness, namely, to anyone who we think might have injured us.
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