Christian Science: Its Practical Appeal

 

Gavin W. Allan, C.S.B., of Toronto, Canada

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

There are days in which the question is asked concerning every discovery, Of what use is it? Were you, having never seen, or heard of, any such instrument, shown a radio receiving set, you might content yourself for a time with examining its appearance, structure and so forth, but would soon come to the inevitable question, Of what use is it? And if you were told that it was a piece of furniture now coming into favor for house decoration, your interest in it might cease as suddenly as it began. But if it were demonstrated to you that by means of it the imperceptible and intangible waves we hear so much about could be picked up and so transformed that they could be heard, so that you might in the seclusion and comfort of your own library enjoy the program of a noted opera company in a distant city, or receive daily the reports from the market centers of your country, you might say to yourself, I should like to have one, and you might begin to plan when you could install such an instrument. It appealed to you because it "did something." So today I wish to present the subject on which I have been asked to speak, from that angle, the aspect of its accomplishment, its practicality, its use.

In the discussion of this subject, as of any other that may be new to some of those who are listeners, one should begin with fundamentals. Therefore, a lecture on Christian Science, in order that it may be understood by those who know little about the subject, should include at least a brief statement of the fundamental teachings of Christianity, because Christian Science has its roots in the Bible, its teachings are entirely scriptural, and it is an outgrowth of the words and works of our Master, Christ Jesus.

 

The Moral Law

In his first discourse to his disciples, as recorded by Matthew, Jesus said, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil," and in this connection called their attention to certain moral precepts of the Mosaic code. Not only did he quote the commandment as given in the Decalogue, but he broadened its application.He took the commands of Moses which related to specific acts and translated them into terms of thinking. Referring to the sixth commandment he said, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shall not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment; but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother . . . shall be in danger of the Judgment." He did the same with the seventh commandment. He pointed out that it was not sufficient to refrain from doing certain specific and objectionable deeds, but that harboring the desire to do them is in itself a violation of the spirit of the law; that the moral law applies as directly to the operations of the mind as to the deeds of the body.

Not only did he translate the commands prohibiting certain deeds into commands prohibiting certain thoughts but he translated the ten prime commands of Moses into two affirmative commands, the "Thou shalt nots" of the Decalogue into two "Thou shalts": thou shalt love God and thou shalt love man. In all this Jesus by no means destroyed the law, he extended it. He made it more inclusive. A command to "do" or to "be" includes much more than any number of "don'ts". So Jesus' two "shalts", his two commands to love, were much more inclusive, covered a much wider range than the "shalt nots" of the Mosaic code.

 

Love God

When Jesus was asked, "Which is the great commandment in the law?" he replied, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." How can this be done? How can we love God? If we believed God to be an unapproachable, unknowable, distant despot, utterly devoid of tenderness, compassion or affection, it is quite likely we would have difficulty in loving such a being. But were God believed to possess these kindly qualities to an unlimited degree, believed to be infinitely loving, compassionate, and tender, the probability of our loving Him and the ease with which this might be accomplished would be very greatly increased.

The first step then toward our obeying this command would be to find out what God is; what is the Truth about Him. Where shall we look for this? Where shall we find His highest, truest expression or revelation? Surely in the life and works of our Master. No one had revealed God as fully as did our Master, Christ Jesus. He illustrated and demonstrated the fact that God is wholly loving, that He is Love itself without an opposite quality.

Many of us have had the record of our Master's words and works before us since childhood, and yet it has been the experience of thousands of those who are now called Christian Scientist's that they had little conception of God's true nature until they had read the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, wherein the truth about God is so simply, so clearly, and so convincingly set forth that they have seen for the first time the real truth expressed by the beloved disciple, that God is Love, not merely that God has love, but that God is Love itself. When this is seen love involuntarily wells up in one's heart for our loving heavenly Father, who cannot possibly entertain the slightest ill-will toward any of us, but whose kindness exceeds infinitely the tender loving-kindness of the most unselfed human mother.

Not only is this true, but (and this may carry consolation fully equal to the former), it will never be possible for us to drift beyond, to escape, or to be separated from the love of God. Paul saw this when he wrote that nothing "can separate us from the love of God." A poet of the last century, Whittier, had a vision of this fact when he wrote:

 

"I know not where His islands lift

Their fronded palms in air;

I only know I cannot drift

Beyond His love and care."

 

And in a poem of more recent date, Francis Thompson's "Hound of Heaven," the poet recites the impossibility of man's escape from the love of God, though such an escape were sought diligently and with unusual ingenuity. These have glimpsed and recorded a great fact, but it has been left to Christian Science to reveal unmistakably, to present convincingly, and to demonstrate conclusively, the fact of Godís, Love's, ever-presence, and this has been done in thousands of instances when doubt was dark, when hope was dim, when pain was almost beyond enduring, when life itself seemed almost at an end. Yes, it is true, as Mrs. Eddy has stated with characteristic clarity in the Christian Science textbook, (p. 494), "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need."

 

Love Thy Neighbor

But how are we going to love our neighbor? In the same way. By first learning the truth about him. As we learn that man is God's likeness, as stated in the first chapter of Genesis, God's child, expressing only the good qualities of God Himself; that our sense of man as a material, physical being, expressing self-righteousness or self-condemnation, pride or worthlessness, hatred, meanness, or lust, is wholly false, we shall begin to love him as a beingapart from these masks. And as we continue to clear our minds of these false concepts of him we shall love him more and more. The teachings of Christian Science have made scientifically practical this heretofore difficult task.

 

Love Your Enemies

But some one will say, "That may be possible with the ordinary, every-day neighbor, but how about my enemy? I have an enemy. He hates me and I hate him, and I have rather prided myself on being a good hater. How am I going to love him?"

In this connection, Ruskin many years ago gave this sage advice. He said that justice is a foundational element of human thinking upon which love is reared, and that we cannot well have the spire without the foundation, the top without the bottom. So he said, "Do JUSTICE to your brother (you can do that whether you love him or not) and you will come to love him. But do injustice to him because you do not love him, and you will come to hate him," and his statement of the case is well worth considering. However, the Master's command is upon us, "Love your enemies." How can anything so seemingly impossible be done? We turn to Christian Science for an answer.

Through Christian Science we learn to apply to the teachings of Christianity systematic, accurate, exact and efficient thought processes; in other words, to apply Science to Christianity. Let us then reason on this subject regardless of personal feelings. Let us follow truth fearlessly wherever it may lead.

The Scriptures teach that God is Love, not merely that God has love but that God IS Love. They also teach that God, Love, is everywhere present. They teach that man was made in God's likeness and that he was never given power or ability to be or become less. God being his Father, it is his very nature to express only God qualities. Therefore hatred, that is not a God quality, never was, is not now, and never will be a part of his real being. As we see this we will refuse to permit anything so foreign to our nature as hatred to enter our thought, and if we refuse to hate, to entertain enmity, can we have an enemy? So we see that Christian Science is not only reconciling man to God, but man to man, and is daily dispelling misunderstandings, ending feuds, and so unifying men that it is measurably bringing about that peace on earth which has been so long and so much desired.

Let us follow this subject a step further. Many Christian Scientists have enjoyed the privilege and experience of meeting and conversing with other Christian Scientists fromall parts of the world, and when in their conversation with each other such a subject as church government, for instance, has arisen, they have as a rule found themselves at oncein agreement as to right methods of government. If men and women from the ends of the earth find themselves through their study of Christian Science alone, at once, upon their first meeting, in instant agreement as to right methods of government, what may not the end be, in national and international relations, when all shall have availed themselves of the privilege of this righteous education?

 

Liberty

But there is another question which is very much to the fore these days. Wherever men are thrown casually together into groups, conversation does not usually drift far before it touches the question of personal rights, or personal liberty. But as one listens, as in many instances he is obliged to, one becomes aware that liberty in the opinion of many is "freedom to do as one likes."

Now, if a man begins to do as he likes, and continues to do as he likes irrespective of what that is, he may find that what he calls freedom ends in bondage; that is, he begins by feeling free to do as he likes, but later is brought face to face with the conviction that he does not feel free to stop.

Such a freedom is not to be desired; liberty that ends in bondage is not liberty. Liberty, in order to be real and desirable, must continue to be liberty.

The Psalmist saw clearly the difference between liberty and what should be called license when he wrote " I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts." Law and freedom are ever united; that is, obedience to law leads to freedom. In this respect the artist is as rigidly ruled as the mathematician. To take an illustration which is not new: "To hear some master improvise at the organ is a delight, but we find little satisfaction in the unrestrained effort of the novice. The master has achieved freedom by the obedience of a lifetime. He can do as he likes because he has made himself a free citizen of the world of music by years of unswerving obedience to its laws." He walks at liberty because he obeys its statutes. Or to take another illustration: You plant a young tree on your lawn, and for its support put an iron cage around it. Let us suppose that the young sapling resents the humiliation of that curb and wants to be free. It is plain that if the only freedom the tree desires is release from that restraint, the only freedom it would achieve would be the freedom to fall over when the wind blows.

The first step toward real freedom for that tree is to grow deep roots of its own on which it can depend. If it roots itself and develops as is intended, it will never come into contact with the curb. Similarly, what man resents the existence of the command, "Thou shalt not kill?" Not the upright man. His life never comes in contact with it as a restraining factor. He is unconscious of any such restraint. Obedient to the law of his being, he does not come into collision with any of the "Thou shall nots."

Freedom to him is the opportunity to be himself, the man God designed him to be. It is not merely the removal of external restraints; rather is it the development of self-control, self-government.

But what is self-control? Is it while harboring the desire to indulge the appetites or passions, restraining that desire only through fear of the consequences? Is it merely restraining through fear the acting out of wrong desires? To be sure such restraint is much better than the indulgence of those desires; but it is not self-government at its best. What, then, is self-control? Again we turn to Christian Science for reply, and on page 106 of the Christian Science textbook we read, "Man is properly self-governed only when he is guided rightly and governed by his Maker, divine Truth and Love."

We are beginning to see, are we not, that whatever our problem may be, if in our effort to solve it satisfactorily we enlist the aid of Christian Science, we will find that Christian Science turns invariably to God for its solution.

 

Tolerance

This question of liberty, however, has another phase. We fervently desire liberty for ourselves, but how much are we ready to accord to others? In this we are reminded of our Master's words "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets." Strange as it may seem, in no department of men's activities has this rule been more frequently broken than in the realm of religion. There intolerance has been sadly the rule.

But tolerance, not its opposite, is the subject under discussion. Tolerance is the willingness to include within the organization those of good will to it, even though they exhibit diversities of opinion. Tolerance applies to those of good will only. It does not imply the inclusion of those of evident ill will. Our Master, himself, spoke quite severely about the scribes and Pharisees, those of evident ill will to his cause, but he included within the innermost circle of his associates those of good will to him and his cause, though their opinions as to methods were at times diametrically opposed to his, for example, the sons of Zebedee. You remember their strange request. These young men, James and John, had been with the disciples for some time. They, with Peter, had the privilege of being with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration. Yet, they, with their mother, came to him with a strange request - a requisite that they be given preferred positions, that they might sit the one on his right hand and the other on his left in his kingdom. How did the other disciples view this? We read, "When the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren."

It is quite probable that if Jesus had regarded only the divergence of their plans and opinions from his own he might not have continued to include them in the innermost circle of his associates.

What did Jesus do? What attitude did he continue to manifest toward John? Let John himself describe it. He calls himself "the disciple, whom Jesus loved." He does not say, the disciple who loved Jesus, but the "disciple, whom Jesus loved.'' And, with what effect? This - a transformed John. The selfishly ambitious John transformed into a John who has given us the most spiritual of all the gospels; the John who has stressed love, and the need for our living it, more than any other writer of the New Testament: John, an outstanding example of the transforming power of love upon human character.

Tolerance has been unused largely because it has been believed to savor of weakness. It possesses no such quality. True it involves not a fight with others (usually considered a courageous thing and all too eagerly entered upon), but a fight with self. Ah! Thereís the rub.

The solution of many a problem in religious organization might be found in the following four lines from Edwin Markham:

 

"He drew a circle that shut me out Ė

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But love and I had the wit to win,

We drew a circle that took him in."

 

Tolerance is unconquerable. It is the putting into practice of the Golden Rule. It is the ascendancy of good will over differences of opinion.

Few in any period of the world's history have been called upon to face such persecution as did Mary Baker, the Founder of the Christian Science movement. In her experience of founding a religion based upon not only the words, but the works of the Master, she met with almost every phase of persecution which intolerance dare employ, and in the very height of denunciation by pulpit and press wrote the following, which is not only a splendid definition of tolerance, but clearly sets forth the Christliness of the spirit which ever actuated her in her dealings with others. She said: "The only justice of which I feel at present capable, is mercy and charity toward everyone, - taking special care to mind my own business," (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 13).

Far from seeking power for herself, she took just the steps that made it impossible ever to build up within the Christian Science organization an ecclesiastical despotism. Her every effort displayed not only supreme wisdom, but such selflessness as could come only from a life divinely directed. Her admonition to her followers was never "Follow me," but ever "Follow your Leader, only so far as she follows Christ" (Message to The Mother Church for 192, p. 4.)

 

Christian Science Movement

How did this great Christian Science movement begin? When did it start? What brought it about? It is very difficult to point to a specific moment and state definitely that then and there this movement had its birth. Mrs. Eddy has told us (Science and Health, p. 107), that she "discovered the Christ Science or divine laws of Life, Truth and Love" in 1866, but she has told us also that God had been preparing her during many years for the reception of that revelation,

There is however, an incident which occurred early in 1866, an incident that was recorded in the public press of that day, which was outstanding in the inception of this movement. On Saturday, February 3, 1866, the Reporter, a newspaper of Lynn, Mass., contained a news item concerning Mrs. Eddy, which stated that she fell upon the icy street on the evening of Thursday, February 1, and was severely injured; that the doctor who was called found her injuries to be internal and of a severe nature, and that she was removed to her home the following day, though in a very critical condition. After the doctor's departure on Friday she refused to take his medicine, and, as she later expressed it, lifted her heart to God. It was natural, perfectly natural, that a woman who had been from her very childhood deeply religious should turn, in her extremity, to God.

So on Sunday she called for her Bible and began reading the account of the healing, by Jesus, of the palsied man; and as she read a great spiritual experience was hers, the realization then and there of the presence and power of God. In that moment all pain vanished. She rose from her bed, dressed, and walked into the parlor, where her clergyman and a few friends were sitting - friends who had withdrawn but a few moments before from what they supposed was her death chamber. In that moment Mrs. Eddy did more than experience a cure; she received a revelation for which she had been fitting herself all her life. But to be healed herself was not enough. She must know the Science of this healing in order that others might be healed. For three years, Mrs. Eddy says, she "sought the solution of this problem of Mind-healing, searched the Scriptures and read little else, kept aloof from society, and devoted time and energies to discovering a positive rule" (Science and Health, p. 109). She discovered the long-lost Science of healing, and submitted it to the very broadest practical tests in the healing of disease of every kind for nine years, before writing the Christian Science textbook. She proved that there is a Science of healing that is applicable to every human need.

Before considering the practical application of this Science to problems of physical disease, let us consider first the kindred subjects of fear and evil, because these are frequently regarded as causes of disease.

 

Fear

Webster defines fear as "the painful emotion characteristic of the apprehension of evil," and he defines apprehension as anticipation, mostly of things unfavorable.

We, human beings, divide what we call time into three divisions - past, present and future - and frequently cause ourselves much unhappiness as a result of this classification. For instance, have you ever found yourself dwelling in thought for moments or hours at a time upon some untoward incident of the past, or, on the other hand, have you ever caught yourself occupying the moments as they pass with fearful anticipation of unfavorable things you imagine might occur in the future? In other words, have you found yourself living mentally in the past or future? Or, to put it differently, have you almost wholly neglected the present, wasted its moments, unused its opportunities, while as Burns puts it:

 

"I backward cast my e'e on prospects drear

And forward, tho' I canna see, I guess and fear."

 

Now, if we live in the past we are apt to live in regret; and if we live in the future, we are frequently living in fear. But there is really only one time in which we can actually live, the present, the NOW. As Mrs. Eddy has said, "We own no past, no future, we possess only NOW." (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and, Miscellany, p. 12).

In this connection we might remind ourselves of one of Jesus' statements, "Except ye . . . become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." One of the outstanding characteristics of the child-like mind is its ability and willingness to live in the present. As Mrs. Eddy has written of children: "The good they desire to do, they insist upon doing now. They speculate neither on the past, present, nor future, but, taking no thought for the morrow, act in Godís time" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. l2).

The importance of the present has been beautifully expressed by a modern writer, thus;

 

"The future and past are man's,

The Present belongeth to God.

Man visions and fears for his plans,

The future and past are man's.

Regrets, and his failure bans,

Till peace is a path untrod.

The future and past are man's,

The Present, belongeth to God."

 

Should, we ever find our thoughts dwelling regretfully upon the past, or traveling fearfully forward into the future, let us bring them right back to the present, to the NOW, to "God's time," to the presence of good, to the consciousness of God's, Love's, ever-presence. There, and there alone, can peace be found.

John gave us the remedy for fear when he said, "God is love; . . . there is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear." This remedy has been before us since childhood, but few of us have used it as such, before we came in touch with Christian Science. Then because of the wondrous light shed by Christian Science upon the truths of the Bible, especially upon its teachings about the nature and ever-presence of God, we were enabled to see for the first time that because Love completely surrounds, completely enfolds us; because we live, move and have our being in Love, there is nothing to fear. Fear gave way to understanding. A most natural, most normal thing occurred: knowledge replaced it - it was gone.

 

Evil

Let us now turn our attention to the other subject we intended to consider, namely, evil or devil. Whether you have regarded the devil as an individual, or an impersonal evil, may I ask, do you know of any record of his creation? The Bible states plainly that "God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good." If God was his creator, he must be good - no devil. If God did not make him (and God is the sole creator), he is not made.

But let us take this subject out of the realm of religion altogether, out where we can the more easily get an unbiased view of it.

Suppose, for example, that you took your child to a teacher for instruction in mathematics and you found out later that the child's instructor or master had told him something like this: "Four times four is sixteen, always has been sixteen, and always will be sixteen, but whenever you try to think of four times four a little devil will come to you and whisper to you that it is fifteen, seventeen, or anything else that is not true. In other words, though the principle of mathematics is always present and always available, there will always be an ever-present influence inducing you to think wrongly, and its temptations will be so plausible, so alluring; and so persistent, that it will be extremely difficult for you to solve your problems, to think mathematically."

Suppose the teacher said further, "Should any other member of the class get into the habit of thinking at variance with the principle of mathematics, in an unprincipled way, you will be in great danger of catching that condition from him, and for days at a time you may be quite unable to be a normal mathematician."

Suppose that in addition to this, he said, "As you grow and develop in your study and practice of mathematics, the efforts of that evil influence will become more aggressive, more persistent, and its power will so increase that it will undoubtedly, yes, inevitably, overcome entirely your ability to think mathematically, that your mathematical†† existence will cease, you will be mathematically dead, and that not until you are mathematically and thoroughly dead, can you be mathematically content and thoroughly happy."

What would the child think of such instruction? He would likely say, "What's the use? What is the use of my beginning a long, continuous fight, if I know when I begin that I am going to be beaten, no matter how hard I try?"

What would you think of such instruction? You would think that that teacher's mathematics possessed far more devil than principle; that his limited sense of principle and his belief in its opposite assigned to his pupils insuperable fetters; in short, that he possessed and taught no science at all.

But is not this akin to what many of us have been taught in the realms of religion and life? that evil is ever-present, persistent and powerful; that it is contagious; that death will overcome life; and that not until we are thoroughly dead is it possible for us to be thoroughly content and happy?

Many teachers of religion have had more faith in the vitality of evil than the Principle of Being - in short, they have neither possessed nor taught a Science of Being at all.

Not so did Jesus, the Master. To him Christianity had one omnipotent God, and one invariable law. He not only taught, but proved, the omnipotence of good and the impotence, the nothingness, of evil. To him Christianity was an understandable, practical, provable Science.

We have had the record of our Master's words and works, his demonstrations of the impotence of evil, before us all our lives, but strange as it may seem, we have not recognized how truly scientific were his teachings and demonstrations until their Science was revealed through Mrs. Eddy's wonderful discovery of the Science of Christianity, or what has come to be known throughout the entire world as Christian Science.

Through the light Christian Science has thrown upon the teachings of the Bible we are enabled to grasp in some measure the great truth of the omnipotence of God and the impotence of evil. But some one may ask, "Does it make very much difference whether we are taught the reality or the unreality of evil, seeing that we seemingly have to contend with it anyway?" It matters very, very much. It makes a vast difference in our attitude toward it, and in the whole-heartedness of our endeavor to overthrow it.

Christian Scientists do not claim that the belief in evil as a presence and power is overcome simply by saying there is no evil. They must prove it by refusing to give it place in their lives, and they know that this cannot be done without singleness of purpose, constant watchfulness, and the utmost faithfulness of endeavor. But they have enlisted to lessen evil, and there is abundant evidence that they are measurably succeeding.

 

Disease

Although our Leader, Mrs. Eddy, has said, "Healing physical sickness is the smallest part of Christian Science," and that "the emphatic purpose of Christian Science is the healing of sin," (Rudimental Divine Science, p. 2), yet it is true that by far the greater number of those who have come to Christian Science have come for relief from disease. Of these, thousands upon thousands have been healed of organic and functional diseases solely through the unprejudiced reading and receptive study of the Christian Science textbook and the Bible. Doubtless this may sound strange, almost unbelievable, to those who have been taught that disease is largely or wholly a condition of matter, and that the only possible remedy is either the application of matter to matter or else the removal of that portion of matter which is considered to be diseased.

In their opinion, the best possible preparation for the successful treatment of disease would be an exhaustive study of disease, and this opinion has been widely and thoughtlessly accepted. In order, however, to get a view of this situation from another angle, let us consider a similar proposition in the realm of mathematics. Suppose that you desired to so equip yourself that you would be able readily to detect and correct errors in arithmetical computation, how would you go about it? Would you begin by studying the mistakes in the application of the principles and rules of mathematics? Would you study the effects of ignorance or willful error in that realm? Would you go where all sorts of such errors might readily be found in abundance and make an exhaustive study of them? Really, I do not think that would be the course you would pursue. I am quite sure you would feel that the only way in which you could equip yourself for your work would be by an earnest study and practice of the science of mathematics. The only possible way by which you would be enabled to help others, or escape yourself the possible errors in computation would be to learn, understand and practice the mathematical truth.

The world has had but one perfect physician, our Master. He healed all manner of disease quickly and permanently. His equipment for his work was not the study of disease, but the very opposite. We are told that "he increased in wisdom . . . and favour with God and man"; in other words, he increased in the knowledge or understanding of God and of man, His likeness. And in exact proportion to his understanding of the truth about God, and man's relationship to Him as His child, His likeness, was he able to help others and to prove his own immunity from and dominion over every phase of discord and disease.

The method Jesus taught and demonstrated was practiced by his followers for some three centuries with dwindling success as the material and personal elements crept into their religion, until finally Christís Christianity and its power to heal was lost. That Christianity has been discovered in this age and that its lost element of healing is being restored there is today overwhelming proof.

The question then arises, How does Christian Science deal with disease? Briefly, on the basis of its unreality. That statement, however, requires explanation. Let us suppose, for example, that you needed to remove darkness from a room. Would you try to drive it out by applying some pressure behind it? Would you attempt to dissolve it by spraying some solvent upon it? Would you endeavor to cut it out in pieces? You know there is only one way: Let the darkness alone. Bring a light.

This is just what Christian Science is doing. It is bringing to the ignorance, the darkness of the human mind, the light - the truth about God, and man as His likeness, the Christ, and this Truth dispels the ignorance, fear and sin which are the sole and only causes of disease. When the cause, the so-called life of the disease is gone, what remains of the disease? Today is being fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined."

You will have seen that the Christian Science method of healing the sick is neither material nor humanly mental. It is neither a system of material medication nor can Christian Science healing be accomplished through hypnotism or suggestion. It is the exact opposite of these. Its method, is wholly spiritual. The healing is made through an understanding of divine Principle: "The Father .. . doeth the works." Viewed from the human standpoint, Christian Science healing is accomplished solely through prayer. What then is prayer?

 

Prayer

Lot us turn again to Jesus' discourse with his disciples. At that time as recorded by Luke, they asked him to teach them to pray. Such a request surely implies that the disciples believed prayer to be much more than the mere wishing for something, and much more even than the formal or accurate wording of their desires. It implied a yearning to know what Jesus knew: the exact truth about God and man's relationship to Him, - a knowledge they had seen evidenced in the marvels he had wrought in their presence but a few days before, when, it is recorded, he healed "all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people."

Beginning his instruction upon this subject, Jesus first told them what prayer is not. He told them that prayer is not the saying of some selected sentences over and over and over. This no doubt pretty accurately described a concept of prayer not uncommon at that time, but Jesus called it "vain repetitions," and warned his disciples against it. He told them further that prayer was not doing something by which they would appear unto men topray, something to be seen or heard by others.

Then he told them what prayer is. He said, "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.'' He implied that prayer is so intimately personal that it is never intended for othersí eyes or ears; that it belongs to the realm of consciousness alone; that the whisperings of the carnal mind should be silenced in order that the "still small voice" of Truth might be heard; that prayer is a thought-process based on an understanding of Truth, and also a yearning for a deepening of that understanding, a recognition of God's Allness, and His ever-present availability to meet every man's need.

He then gave his disciples six brief sentences which have since come to be known as the Lord's Prayer. This, however, does not imply that Jesusí prayers were always a repetition of these words, nor that he intended that they should be used as a formula to be endlessly repeated in the belief that the number of repetitions would add to their efficacy. Rather were they a few words aimed to instruct thought in the ever-present availability of God's eternal goodness.

You have known the words, the actual words of this prayer since you learned them at your motherís knee; but should you desire additional light upon it, should you desire to acquaint yourself with the spiritual sense of that prayer, which used understandingly has healed so many, many people, - let me recommend to you the study of the chapter on Prayer in the Christian Science textbook, which closes with the Lord's Prayer and its spiritual interpretation.

Through the study of this book very many people have learned, and many are daily learning how to pray; how to pray that "prayer of faith." which James tells us "shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up." They are learning the need of prayer for themselves, the importance of prayer and the practicality of prayer. They know that right prayer is answered as Jesus himself promised, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."

 

 

Regeneration

That sickness has been healed through Christian Science is now widely admitted. Friends of those who have been healed have witnessed the change, have marveled, have pondered, have accepted, have praised, and though they may not have felt the need of testing its efficacy for themselves, they have confidently recommended it to others in time of need.

But, the healing of physical ills is, as our Leader has said, "the smallest part of Christian Science," (Rudimental Divine Science, p. 2). Its message is largely overlooked if its adoption does not work a change in human character, from selfishness to selflessness, from self seeking to self abnegation, from my will be done to the ''Thy will be done" of the Master.

We come to Christian Science with the education of few or many years, an education in which self interest has been largely stressed, and we become what are called Christian Scientists with many of the carry-overs of this former training, and in the measure that we still cling to and manifest these traits, it may be safely said, we are not Christian Scientists; for Christian Science, if it teaches anything, teaches the overcoming of self, its egotisms and dominations.

It has been my privilege of late to visit scores upon scores of Christian Science organizations, and I can gratefully testify that Christian Science is measuring up to this test; that all over this land are outstanding proofs of its effect upon human character as seen in the transformed and regenerated lives of men and women who are now selfless workers for the good of mankind. These are its truer representatives. These are they who are displaying what our Leader calls "the gold of human character" (Science and Health, p. 565). These are they who are arriving. These are they who are at once the effect and the hope of our cause. Christian Science is no failure. It is pronouncedly a success in this, its supremest test.

 

[Published in The Chicago Leader, Oct. 7, 1928.]

 

 

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