William Henry Alton, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
capacities" lie deep in every individual, said William Henry Alton in a
Christian Science lecture on Sept. 24 in The Mother Church, The First Church of
Christ, Scientist, in
Every individual is under increasing pressure to draw more deeply on these "innate but undiscovered capacities," noted Mr. Alton, who is a member of the Board of Lectureship of the Church.
The breaking down of old barriers of time and space is only a hint of the greater possibilities which are inherent in each individual as a creature of God, he declared. Success in putting these higher talents to use determines "how well we fulfill our divine purpose here on earth and become masters of our destiny."
He told the audience that "all things are possible" to the man who is humble enough to develop his abilities through an absolute relationship to God.
Mr. Alton, who is an authorized
teacher and practitioner of Christian Science residing in
Real Talents Are Divinely Bestowed
A little over ten years ago, in
the suburbs of
A few years ago this man appeared before the Senate Finance Committee hearings in Washington to testify in connection with the social-security-revision bill. One intent of this bill was to lower the age limit for those medically regarded as permanently disabled uninsurable individuals. He contended that such a change would remove the incentive for disabled persons to search deeper for their innate but undiscovered capacities which could make them useful citizens. He pleaded for the right of these people to exercise their abilities and not their disabilities.
This is the right that we're concerned with this evening, the right of each one of us to exercise his abilities to the fullest extent. We can do this only as we discover that our real talents are divinely bestowed.
In today's fast-changing world, almost everyone is finding that greater demands are constantly being made upon him, whatever his sphere of activity. Some of us may be confronted with important decisions in selecting the right career: some may have social or companionship problems to work out: still others may have physical or financial difficulties. And the majority of us are deeply concerned over the state of the world - its dangers and its opportunities. Just how well we fulfill our divine purpose here on earth and become masters of our destiny really boils down to a single question, "How can we put to the fullest use the God-given abilities each one of us possesses?"
Mental Barriers Swept Away
The world generally believes a person's capacities and abilities depend on a number of human factors. Heredity is considered to be of primary importance. Through it the physical and mental characteristics of parents are believed to be transmitted to their offspring - for good or for ill.
Also environment, our physical and social surrounding, is believed to weigh heavily in influencing our nature. Education too is given much weight. In fact we're taught that for the most part an individual's heredity, environment, and education determine whether his future is to be a hopeful or hopeless one.
Now if all this is true, what's the outlook for the many people who are thought to be of the wrong race or those who live in the wrong environment? How about those who are underprivileged and have little education? What about the mentally retarded and those considered incapable of being educated? We've already spoken of the physically handicapped, whom many consider doomed to limited usefulness and productivity. What about the disabilities of fear, a sense of inferiority, a lack of confidence, all the many self-imposed limitations? All of us would like to live more effective lives than we do.
Shall we and our brothers who fall under these laws - because these limitations do act as laws to our experience if we accept them as fact - shall we settle for a limited, thwarted, or second-best sense of existence? Christian Science teaches the exact opposite, and with good reason. The Science of Christ, in agreement as it is with the Scriptures, teaches that the capacities of man made in God's likeness are God-derived, God-bestowed, God-maintained. And it teaches that in the degree that each of us claims this God-made man as his own true identity, understandingly and consistently, each one finds unlimited spiritual capacities appearing in his human experience in ways that are tangible and practical.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, puts it this way in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself, broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis" (p. 258). Our standpoint, then, is spiritual freedom, not mortal limitation!
There's much evidence throughout the world that even the human mind is relinquishing its sense of limitation. Inventions such as radar, telstar, more powerful telescopes and microscopes, giant computers, - all are helping to lift the limitations of the physical senses, and of time and space. We're being transported ever faster by jet plane. And here we are in the age of rocketry with dates set for interplanetary travel! In athletics, greater dominion over the human sense of body is seen in new world records, such as the breaking of the four-minute mile. All these advances indicate that there's a sweeping away of those mental barriers which are the source of mankind's bondage. People are increasing their abilities and capacities in every aspect of human experience, because they're expanding the horizons of their thought. However, human capacities, based on human learning and the physical body, the abilities on which mankind so generally depends, are limited because humanity still believes that it is subject to material environment, heredity, education, age, accident. Man's real talents, our real talents, are the divine capacities which belong to God and are inherent in spiritual man because of his relationship to God, divine Mind.
Jesus Nullified Material Laws
Our prime and supreme example of the utilization of man's divinely derived capacities is, of course, Christ Jesus. His mission was to demonstrate God's allness and man's perfection, freedom, and dominion. To illustrate this, he healed the sick, nullified material law when he walked on the waves and stilled the tempest, and he overcame death for others and finally for himself - to mention just a few of his works. Students of Christian Science accept the authenticity of such accounts of the demonstrations of divine power. And anyone who does accept them must name Jesus the most capable man who ever lived. Who else has given such evidence of unlimited capacities?
How did he do this? Jesus, more than all others, understood and obeyed God. He knew his own true selfhood to be spiritual rather than material. He accepted man's true nature as the Son of God, or the Christ. This understanding of his spiritual identity gave him the divinely bestowed ability to meet the demands made upon him, to meet every situation in God's way. And he did his works, such as walking over the waves, not as exhibitionism, but as evidence of man's dominion over material forces. And because walking on the waves was in fact the most intelligent and practical way to get where he needed to go! Jesus, more than all others, demonstrated man unlimited!
How can we learn to do this? The study of Christian Science tells us how. It reveals to each one of us the rule underlying Jesus' abilities - complete reliance on God through understanding man's nature as exact expression or reflection. He said. "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise" (John 5:19).
Our first step then, to perceiving what the Father does is to know Him, to seek that state of consciousness where God, infinite Spirit, is supreme, and all is under Spirit's control, perfect and harmonious. Because God is Spirit, all that is substantial and permanent, all that is real must be completely spiritual.
Actually, then, reality is a state of spiritual existence. In short, God, Spirit is All, and is everywhere! But how about material existence reported to us by the physical senses, where does it exist? Where does 2x2=3 exist? It exists where all false mental states are - in the thought of the false believer! Because the spiritual sense of existence is true, the material sense of existence, which is its opposite, must be untrue. Then, as false material concepts are replaced with spiritual facts, consciousness becomes enlightened. The restrictions of the material sense of things begin to fade, and human experience becomes happier, more harmonious and free.
The power of Spirit, Mind, is adequate to break any limiting human concept, and to replace material restrictions with the freedom and perfection of spiritual being, which exist right where the false concepts seem to be. This correcting and replacing of false material concepts with the spiritual facts is the regenerating and growing process by which the limited and mortal is put off for the unlimited and immortal! So Jesus, through awareness of these facts was ever about his Father's business of spiritual knowing. And a change in the evidence of the physical senses was the natural consequence. It was the illumination of spiritual understanding, destroying the darkness of mortal and material thought. This understanding revealed the divine capacities by which Jesus did his marvelous works. And this understanding will increasingly enable you and me to do so too. We too must know the Father in order to reflect His capacities.
Of prime importance is to understand more fully Jesus' statement already quoted, "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise."
This is one of the most profound statements ever made in regard to man's abilities because it so clearly establishes man's true nature as the expression or reflection of God. And what does Christian Science mean by reflection? Well, we all know how a mirror faithfully images or reflects the original object in front of it. Can you conceive of a person smiling and his image in the mirror frowning? Of course not! We know the reflection in the mirror is always the exact likeness of the original.
In much the same way God is the original and man is the reflection, or faithful likeness to all that God is and does. God and man are indivisibly one as cause and effect. Man can't be deprived of his divine perfection, of his likeness to God. Each one of us must claim this Christly selfhood and eternal relationship. Truly, "the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do." (John 5:19).
Then in order to develop our spiritual capacities, it's God-reliance that's called for rather than self-reliance, isn't it? The Bible gives many concrete examples of individuals who wholeheartedly depended upon God, the divine Mind or everywhere-present intelligence, to give them the ability to meet challenging assignments.
"Certainly I Will Be With Thee"
Many of us recall the story of
Moses, who was told by God to lead the children of
And then there was David, a
shepherd boy, whose dependence on divine intelligence inspired him to use his
human capacities wisely, and enabled him to save his people from the giant
Goliath and the Philistine armies. The Bible record also shows that when it became
evident that a new king would soon be needed to rule over
The apostle Paul took on an entirely new stature when a flash of spiritual light awakened him to a new view of the life and teaching of Christ Jesus. Paul's capacities then grew wonderfully as he turned in humility to the one omnipresent God, Love, to direct him. And in so doing he found the true way to serve God and his brother men. These newly discovered capacities made it possible for him to found and strengthen the early Christian churches and to guide them with his divinely inspired letters - letters which 2,000 years later are still serving as a cohesive and strengthening force in all churches! He healed the sick, was freed from prison through prayer, preached the Gospel, and contributed immeasurably to establishing Christianity over what was then a wide geographical area. Today his influence on the whole Christian world continues unabated.
Paul Explained Secret of Success
What was the secret of Paul's success? He summarized it simply but so profoundly in just one short sentence, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Phil. ). The Christ here referred to is the Christ, Truth, which the human Jesus taught and lived - the truth of God, of spiritual man, and of the spiritual universe. Here was no self-reliance in the usual sense of the term, but total reliance on God, the doer of all things! Here was a recognition of limitless God-bestowed capacities. Jesus knew man not as a limited mortal, but as the unlimited reflection, the spiritual child of God! Mrs. Eddy has stated it in this way, "The human capacities are enlarged and perfected in proportion as humanity gains the true conception of man and God" (Science and Health, p. 258). It's in the spiritually illumined teaching of Jesus that we find the true conception of God and man - the teachings of Christian Science.
Now Jesus didn't do his works just for himself. Quite the contrary, he did them to show the practicality of true Christianity. And he insisted that we do the same works. Divine power such as Jesus demonstrated is inherent in spiritual man. It's available to each of us to the degree that we claim with understanding that this spiritual man, or divine idea, is our own true identity, and think and live accordingly. We have only to claim divine power and put it to work as Jesus did through spiritual knowing and complete reliance on God. The understanding of God's healing truth gives you and me the capacity to repeat the works of Biblical days, and to meet today's challenges with assurance and finality.
Our real work, then, is spiritual knowing, or prayer. This is what assures our success in any worthwhile activity. And to the degree that we pray scientifically, the angel thoughts, or spiritual intuitions which enlighten consciousness, provide the answers to every conceivable human need. It's rewarding too, to discover that this spiritual knowing inevitably results in greater human achievement and happiness whether in school, business, the home, or whatever is unfolding in our daily lives.
Spiritual knowing pays rewarding dividends, whatever we're doing. It improves judgment, enables us to get along better with our fellowman, shows us how to overcome fear, and gives poise and assurance. Such prayer brings confidence that the spiritual ideas needed to solve daily challenges are always at hand, that they're unfolded by the one Mind which is ever making available to each of its children whatever is needed to fulfill their God-appointed, God-directed activity. Because divine ideas are unlimited, man is unlimited. Man includes all the ideas of God.
Man Expresses Divine Intelligence
Once when I was in business, I was asked to act as a consultant to help negotiate the sale of a large foreign corporation. Usually these transactions are difficult, long drawn-out procedures. This assignment was a new role for me. And there was just a weekend in which to come up with a plan acceptable to both the potential buyer and the seller. To complicate the situation I'd never seen the property, and had little information about its operations. Further, I had a previous engagement to visit friends in another city over that same weekend. During a four-hour train trip, I settled down to prayer. My first thoughts were of discouragement - I didn't even know where to begin. Then I realized that here again was an opportunity to call on the infinite capacities of the one Mind to furnish the right answers. I knew I had no real abilities other than those derived from reflecting the one Mind.
I refused to entertain thoughts about the assignment, the confusion, and the pressure. Instead I dwelt on the perfection of God and the completeness of His creation, in which there are no unsolved problems. I realized that infinite Mind includes all intelligence, and that as the image and likeness of God, I reflected the intelligence which would bring to thought the right answers. As the train rolled along, the pattern of the deal began to emerge. Before I arrived at my destination I sketched out all the potential terms. By Monday morning I had a plan for the whole transaction.
At the meeting of the prospective buyer and seller, this plan was discussed, but there was a complete deadlock. For almost an hour, while the discussion was getting nowhere, I just sat there silently praying, I knew that the one Mind, God, was the Mind of all of its ideas; that there were no conflicting or selfish minds, and that this Mind was revealing the intelligence which would bring the right answer - not necessarily my particular answer, but an answer which would be fair and equitable to all. Suddenly all the confusion disappeared, and within fifteen or twenty minutes an agreement was reached on all but a few minor points. Substantially on the basis of the plan I'd provided, the sale went through and it proved to be very beneficial to all concerned. My God-given capacity to tackle a new and complicated assignment had been demonstrated through spiritual understanding of the divine facts and complete reliance on God.
This isn't just an isolated experience. Anyone earnestly seeking divine guidance through the prayer of spiritual understanding - which isn't blind faith or just asking for what we'd like to have with our eyes closed - can approach any problem and find the answer. This understanding doesn't just relate to business problems. It's equally applicable to all activities and ages, and it solves all problems. How can we make it our own?
Jesus was able to do his works because he acknowledged, accepted and lived his Christ nature as the reflection of God. And this is what we can do. We must come to know our Father as the one intelligence or Mind directing and controlling His own creation, His sons or ideas, man, to the fulfillment of His perfect, eternal plan. The son, as idea, or expression, is obedient alone to the directives of the Father Mind. How wonderful that each of us can claim this Christly selfhood.
Selflessness and Humility Required
Only when we falsely identify ourselves as mortals, believing we possess a personal source of intelligence called brain, are we deceived into accepting inferior or limited abilities for ourselves.
When we think we're doing something of ourselves we're denying our God-derived capacities. We were never meant to do anything as of ourselves. Jesus said, "I can of mine own self do nothing" (John 5:30). It's the power from divine Mind that really does everything. A limited mortal concept of ourselves or another simply indicates a failure on our part to acknowledge God as omnipotent.
When Jesus said, "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (John 14:10), he was glorifying the ability of Spirit, and therefore the perfection of his own God-reflected capacities. We can do this too, since in our real being we can all say with Jesus, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30).
We can constantly deny the lying picture of ourselves presented by material thinking, that false mortal selfhood subject to human frailties, which represents all that binds and hinders us - that lying assertion which says we can't, argues imperfection, says we're too young or too old, not smart enough or experienced enough, not well enough, and on and on. How wonderful to awake to the realization that such arguments are all lies, dreams, illusions; that right where a limited material mortal claims to be, right there is our real spiritual selfhood, yours and mine, reflecting dominion over all the earth, expressed humanly as dominion over all the limited false concepts of mortal thinking.
We can drop the limiting, restrictive, false concepts of ourselves and claim with supreme confidence our God-bestowed individuality, and therefore our unique niche and activity now and for all eternity. And think of this. We can claim most for ourselves those divine qualities and capacities which the physical senses insist are most lacking in our experience! What a blessing it is to identify ourselves as God's expression, to claim our limitless God-given intelligence and divine direction. And what selflessness and humility this calls for! Why, even as a ray of the sun can claim no credit for its qualities, because they're derived from the sun, so God's expression, man, derived from the one intelligent Mind, can do and be only what Mind has forever created and intended him to do and be. Man can take no more credit than the sunbeam. Whatever man really has, he has as God's individual reflection. How grateful we can be for this.
Each Idea Is Necessary to the Whole
The apostle Paul saw clearly that we all have our own God-appointed activity and destiny throughout time and eternity. He says, "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph. 4:11-13).
In the measure that we clearly perceive and correctly understand our spiritual identity, we find and fill our place in the human sense of things in terms of intelligent, useful activity. As we spiritually understand and faithfully practice our God-bestowed capacities, this will remove for each one of us any limitations which would interfere with our progress, restrict what we have to offer, or prevent us from finding and filling our useful place in the world. No frustration is possible in God's kingdom, where the son is doing only what he seeth the Father do. The Father is forever perpetuating His own plan, and the son forever fulfilling it.
All God's ideas manifest opportunity, usefulness, joy, goodness, affluence, and success, and each is necessary to the whole. Why, even in the human sense of things we're aware of limitless individuality and usefulness. No two thumbprints are exactly the same even though there are billions of thumbs; no two leaves of a tree, no two human faces are exactly the same. They all differ, and yet each is useful and important in the human scheme, each echoing the infinite individuality of Mind's ideas. The Father is always saying, "All that I have is thine" (Luke 15:31). These truths realized counteract any false picture of human lack.
For example, a great deal is said and written these days about unemployment caused by automation, by increased technology, and age. We may even have encountered one of these problems in our own experience. But a radical insistence upon the scientific facts concerning the usefulness, purpose and spiritual capacities of each idea in God's plan, invokes in our behalf God's law, and assures correction of the situation. And it is our duty to know this for all. There are no exceptions to this divine law, only failure to apply it and to expect its fulfillment. The apostle Paul had something to say about this. "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal" (I Cor. 12:7). According to a modern Bible translation this reads, "In each of us the Spirit is manifested in one particular way for some useful purpose."
Mary Baker Eddy is an outstanding example of one whose capacities increased in proportion as she gained an understanding of God and her own spiritual identity. She truly sought to know God, and knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that "the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do" (John 5:19).
Scope of Mrs. Eddy’s Work Shown
Here was a woman who in 44 years from the time she discovered the Science of Christ in 1866, had founded and organized a world-wide religious movement, with more than 1,200 churches; it now has over 3,000. She'd written Science and Health which had run through many hundred editions and printings. She'd founded four religious periodicals, one the German edition of the Herald of Christian Science. There are now twelve editions of the Herald in languages other than English, and one in Braille. She'd established an international daily newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, which throughout its history has provided the world with a model of clean, unbiased, responsible journalism. And she created the Christian Science Publishing Society to care for all these periodicals.
Her talents for organization are illustrated by her Church Manual,
a remarkable document which can be considered the constitution for the Christian
Science movement, The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in
What a contrast between this Leader of a great worldwide religious movement in her latter days, and the lone, apparently helpless woman of forty-four years, in ill-health and without financial means! Here was a woman who caught a glimpse of the spiritual nature of true being, and by pursuing her search, developed remarkable ability to heal, to write, to speak, to organize, to administer, and, as well, to deal effectively with adversity. She abundantly fulfilled her divinely appointed mission. How? By understanding the nature of God as infinite Spirit, as tender Love, and as divine Principle, the source of all being and doing - and proving this through the power of true prayer!
Mrs. Eddy stands as an example to the world that the Science of Christ is not a mere speculative theory or rigid dogma, but is truly Science. Why? Because it's provable and practical wherever applied in daily affairs. And it enables each of us to be a healing influence wherever we find ourselves.
One day, a friend of mine, a Christian Scientist, ran into an acquaintance who was very troubled. She told him that her five year old daughter was quite sick with an aggravated illness. It had been diagnosed by the physicians as double mastoiditis. She said the physician planned to operate as soon as the child's condition permitted, although he was not at all encouraging about the outcome.
When the mother told my friend this unhappy news, he felt impelled to speak to her of Christian Science and its healing power. In her desperation she asked him to her home to talk to her about this religion. He gladly accepted. Here was someone in great need of what Christian Science had to offer, and he was thoroughly convinced of the power of God to correct any situation.
When they arrived at her home, the mother took him into the bedroom where the child was sleeping fretfully, obviously in great discomfort. My friend knew the omnipresence of divine Love. He understood Love's spiritual, perfect idea as man's true identity. He knew that Love's offspring is untouched by pain or disease of any sort. In a surge of great compassion, he talked to the child's mother of God and God's kingdom. He wasn't trying to heal the child. He had had little experience in such matters. He was just so convinced of the spiritual facts concerning the perfection of God and His reflection, man, that he was inspired to share them with this mother who so desperately needed to know them. Shortly afterward he left, with a great sense of peace about the whole situation.
Later the mother telephoned. In great excitement she told him that when the doctor had visited the child the next day, he was amazed to find that all the inflammation and fever had completely disappeared. The child was hungry and normal in every respect. That was the end of the illness.
Mrs. Eddy writes, "The spiritual power of a scientific, right thought, without a direct effort, an audible or even a mental argument, has oftentimes healed inveterate diseases" (Rudimental Divine Science, p. 9).
Great changes and great stirrings are taking place in human consciousness. How comforting to know there's no problem, no matter how complex or severe it may seem, for which there isn't a right answer known to the everywhere-present intelligence, God. We certainly need to know this. We're being called upon constantly for greater proofs of the Science of Christ, called upon to solve more perplexing situations for ourselves and for our brothers, wherever they may be. We have a continuing responsibility to know for them what we know for ourselves - that the Father is ever providing all of His sons with spiritual intelligence and Love-directed, peace-giving activity.
What a different sort of human experience we find when we think this way!
Spiritual Light Erases Darkness
Think of a lighthouse at night, a lighthouse in which only a single candle is used for illumination. The candlelight has little effect on the darkness surrounding the lighthouse. However, if the candle is replaced by a powerful bulb, a wide band of illumined sky and sea surrounds the lighthouse. No darkness can possibly enter the lighted area. So in our human experience, as consciousness is ever more spiritually illumined, mental darkness disappears. An ever more satisfying, shadow-free experience, begins to appear. We don't necessarily have fewer problems, but we have the God-given capacity to solve them. But equally important, we have the light of spiritual understanding to live by. And incidentally, we find ourselves called upon to play more useful and active roles in our colleges, our business, our community, and our churches. And they all need us.
As we seek to understand our true identity as the reflection of God, we discern ever more clearly our limitless capacities as the expression of Mind. And the darkness of the dream called mortal existence begins to disappear. And with it go the restrictions of matter which for so long have bound far too many of us. The light of spiritual reality is ever at hand. Our limitless capacities as the sons and daughters of God need only be claimed and utilized - now!
Mrs. Eddy summarizes it in this way, "Divine Love blesses its own ideas, and causes them to multiply, - to manifest His power. Man is not made to till the soil. His birthright is dominion, not subjection. He is lord of the belief in earth and heaven, - himself subordinate alone to his Maker. This is the Science of being" (Science and Health, p. 517).
Jesus said, "Verily I say unto you. If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you" (Matt, 17:20).
And nothing is to man, unlimited!
[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 25, 1964, under the headline "Unlimited Spiritual Capacities Lie Deep In Everyone".]