Christian Science: The Comforting Law of God
Helen Appleton, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Today, the world as never before is looking hopefully to law for the settlement of all its difficulties. The world is beginning to realize that no lasting peace or security is gained through contention and war. Thus a long step is surely taken in the right direction. But until law is predicated on something more stable and permanent than human theories and practices, mere legislation will not satisfy the crying needs of men. Here, however, Christian Science comes to our aid, revealing to us the available, changeless, and comforting law of God, the divine law which Jesus lived and loved.
God the Lawgiver
God is the only lawgiver. Christian Scientists accept the word of the Bible as their guide and inspiration. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, in one of her writings (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 295) states: "The Bible is our sea-beaten rock. . . . It stands the storm. It engages the attention and enriches the being of all men." It is in the Bible that we first hear God spoken of as "lawgiver." Isaiah declares, "The Lord is our lawgiver,'' and the Apostle James, "There is one lawgiver." Let us consider, then, the nature, the character of God, the lawgiver.
God is good. This heartening truth is repeated many times throughout the Bible: "O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever" (I Chron. ). This admonition is given over and over. "The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble" (Nahum 1:7).
Is it conceivable that a good God, a God of mercy, could send forth a law that leaves in its wake unhappiness, sickness, and misery? Surely not! Ill effect cannot proceed from good cause. Effect must be like cause. In the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, there is this illuminating statement (p. 381): "God is the lawmaker, but He is not the author of barbarous codes." When we consider this statement in the light of Mrs. Eddy's definition of God, we can more easily see its truth (Science and Health, p. 465): "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love." This definition has helped untold numbers to gain a larger understanding of God, and it will continue to do so because of its fundamental truth.
God is Love. What a glow of comforting assurance we feel when we come to recognize that the changeless, governing Principle of our being is Love. Love enfolds, cherishes, protects, inspires, and heals. All sense of God as an avenging, despotic ruler, sending evil and disease upon His people, is completely wiped out by the understanding of God as Love. In the Bible, God is frequently referred to as shepherd. We all know something of the tender relationship of the shepherd to his flock; how dependent the sheep are upon him, and with what a loving sense of protection and security he enfolds them. In the incomparable twenty-third Psalm, David declares, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." And it is this sense of tender, compassionate shepherding that Christian Science reveals to us as we learn to know God as Love. "[Divine love] is my shepherd; I shall not want" (Science and Health, p. 578).
God is Principle. Mrs. Eddy's use of the word "Principle" as a synonym for God helps us to gain an understanding of His unvarying, changeless nature. And because God is Love and loving, we should never think of Principle as abstract, cold, or unknowable. Principle, divine Love, is knowable, warm, loving. God is always good, the same yesterday, today, and forever.
The fundamental principle of mathematics is changeless. It is not affected by human beliefs, by place, by age, nor by any other condition. We are confident of the right result when we apply the right principle. But if our application of the principle is faulty, we never think of blaming mathematics for the mistake that ensues; we patiently go back, apply the principle, and correct the error.
So, as we apply the law of divine Principle, the law of God, to our human problems, we find these problems solved through a higher understanding and application of Principle.
The Omnipotence of God
God's omnipotence and omnipresence have been conceded, by the world in general, for centuries. Yet how little have most of us realized the vast import of the tiny word omni, all. We cannot have more than all of anything. When we realize that God, being good, is all power and all presence, governing mankind with the unvarying, perfect law of Love, which casts out fear, need we ever be afraid − afraid for health, for business, afraid of world conditions, of social relationships? Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (p. 473), "God is everywhere, and nothing apart from Him is present or has power." May we rest in this comforting, healing thought, finding therein the peace and blessing that a right understanding of God always brings.
Jesus the Christ
Throughout the Old Testament the coming of a Messiah had been prophesied. There were those who expected he would appear as an avenging leader or king. This preconceived idea made it difficult for the people of his time to accept Jesus, the simple, lowly Nazarene, as the Christ. But how patiently, lovingly, and convincingly he demonstrated his right to the title of the Messiah, or Christ! Christian Science teaches that Christ is the divine nature of God which is humanly perceived and manifested in right ideas and actions. Jesus, more than all others before or after his time, embodied this nature of God, or Christliness. This embodiment came through his exalted understanding of God as Life, Truth, and Love, and through his understanding that he was himself the Son of God. This Christ enabled him to see man as spiritual and always and forever expressing the qualities of Spirit. He was fully aware of the timelessness of this Christ. He said, "Before Abraham was, I am," meaning that his true selfhood, the Christ, had always existed in God.
Wherever man is, there God is. And right there the Christ is, assuring health, safety, and abundant good. The definitions of Christ and of Jesus in our textbook are extremely helpful and illuminating. With what clarity Mrs. Eddy draws the distinction between Christ, the divine idea, and Jesus, the highest human concept of this ideal. How comforting to remember that in the definition of Christ, Mrs. Eddy tells us that Christ "comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" (p. 583). The Christ comes! This divine consciousness is present. It expresses itself in every loving, kindly, compassionate word and deed. This unseen, spiritual, eternal presence continues to bless and to heal one and all.
Jesus' Teaching Based on Knowledge of God
Jesus' teaching is based on knowledge of God. No Christian will disagree with the statement that Christ Jesus understood God − understood Him more thoroughly and more practically than has any other. Jesus was about his Father's business from early childhood − the business of knowing and expressing God. When he was only twelve years of age, he was in the temple with doctors of law both hearing them and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his answers. Later in his ministry he went into the temple and taught; and again his listeners marveled, saying, "How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" And Jesus answered their incredulity by declaring: "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself" (John -17).
Jesus referred to God as Spirit and as Truth. He taught that God is divine Life and stressed that God is divine Love. You will remember that to the lawyer who asked him which is the great commandment in the law, Jesus said: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment." Jesus considered loving God a law. And how gloriously he proved this law! The law of Love enabled him to heal the sick, feed the multitudes, cleanse the leper, raise the dead. Jesus saw man as God made him, perfect. Mrs. Eddy writes (Science and Health, pp. 476, 477): "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick."
The True Concept of Man
Who and what is this perfect man that Jesus saw, this true concept of man? He is the man spoken of in the first chapter of Genesis as made in the image and likeness of God. Because God is man's Father, the very source of his being, man is never for an instant separated from God's loving care and protection. God being Spirit, man, His reflection, must be spiritual, possessing the qualities of Spirit − health, strength, ability, freedom joy, immortality.
Our human experience has shown us how impossible it is for a reflection in the mirror to be any thing apart from the one in front of the mirror. In every way the mirrored reflection is like the original. Thus it is with God and man. The reflection of God is the man that Jesus, notwithstanding the material, mortal evidences of sickness, sin, and death that confronted him, saw perfectly.
Evil Never a Reality
Jesus saw that evil is never a reality. A clear perception of spiritual man, God made, enabled Jesus to begin his healing work with a prayer of gratitude. On one occasion he prayed audibly, "Father, I thank thee." Jesus thanked God in advance of the healing because he knew that what was apparent to the physical senses was not true, that it had no reality nor place in man's true being.
In her Message to The Mother Church for 1901 (pp. 12, 13), Mrs. Eddy writes, "Evil is neither quality nor quantity: it is not intelligence, a person or a principle, a man or a woman, a place or a thing, and God never made it." How completely the truth expressed in this statement does away with any claim of evil as person, place, or thing. Evil is never reality. Its claim to reality is but the unreliable testimony of the physical senses. Have we not all had sufficient evidence of the incorrectness of the testimony of these senses? A mirage which seems so real and attractive to the traveler in the desert that it lures him many miles out of his way, and which he eventually finds nonexistent, is an example of the deceitfulness of the human senses. Men's belief that the earth was flat limited them for centuries; and yet all that had to give way to correct the mistake was their belief. The earth was always round. Many such simple and telling illustrations could be cited to show that the testimony of the five physical senses is without foundation. Mrs. Eddy in Science and Health (p. 581) writes: "The higher false knowledge builds on the basis of evidence obtained from the five corporeal senses, the more confusion ensues."
Do you ask how we are to unsee and disbelieve all the evil that seems so rampant in the world today? Surely not by ignoring the error, but by facing it, facing it with the truth of God's omnipresence and omnipotence, and of man's eternal, unbreakable union with God, good. As we lift our hearts in prayerful gratitude that the creations of God alone are good and real, we find that evil is unreal, impotent, nonexistent; then it is destroyed, and it disappears.
Righteous prayer is absolute faith in the power and presence of God − good. Prayer is not pleading with God for some desired material thing. Rather is it the sure realization that the abundant good of God's creating is present and is available to each and every one of us. The opening words of the first chapter of Science and Health are (p. 1), "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things arc possible to God, − a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love." This kind of faith was expressed by a little six-year-old girl who had been brought up in the Christian Science Sunday School. She was away at a summer camp, and one day while out riding was thrown from her horse and received what seemed to be a serious injury. Her mother, being notified, immediately got in touch with a Christian Science practitioner. When the mother arrived at the camp, the little girl, now conscious, said, "Mother, every time I was awake during the night I knew that God loved me and would not let me die." A time limit had been set for the healing by those not interested in Christian Science. But when the child heard of the restriction, she looked up to her mother and said: "God could do this quicker than that. Will you help me know this and ask the practitioner to know it too?" And very shortly every condition was normal.
Jesus said (Mark ), "Whosoever shall not
receive the kingdom of
A hymn (No. 284) in the Christian Science Hymnal reads:
"Prayer is the heart's sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.
"Prayer is the simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try;
And prayer's sublimest strain doth reach
The Majesty on high."
Mrs. Eddy's Discovery
Mary Baker Eddy had been brought up from earliest childhood to believe in the value and the effectiveness of prayer. In her autobiography, "Retrospection and Introspection," she tells of an experience when, as a child of twelve, she was "stricken with fever." She writes (p. 13); "My mother, as she bathed my burning temples, bade me lean on God's love, which would give me rest, if I went to Him in prayer, as I was wont to do, seeking His guidance. I prayed; and a soft glow of ineffable joy came over me. The fever was gone, and I rose and dressed myself, in a normal condition of health."
Mrs. Eddy's faith in God's presence and power grew with the years as she became more and more certain, through study and experience, that materiality had nothing to offer, either as a curative agent or towards spiritual salvation.
At a time of great need, while she was reading her Bible, Mrs. Eddy was healed from the effects of an injury. God's healing presence had been revealed to her. From that moment she devoted all her time and energies to making this healing truth available to all mankind. The road was not easy. It required self sacrifice, the giving up of material pleasures, and strict consecration to this exalted work. How simple it would have been to have accepted her healing and gone her way, grateful to be well! But instead she showed her deep love for God and man by braving the censure and ridicule of the unspiritually-minded.
She wrote "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," thereby sharing with the world her faith and proof of God's omnipotent and ever-present love. Thousands have been healed simply by reading this book, and other thousands have gained health, strength, freedom, and joy through its study.
Is it any wonder that a great wave of gratitude goes out to Mrs. Eddy for her purity of thought and her unselfish devotion to God and mankind? She has brought to this age the Comforter, which Christ Jesus promised he would send in the Father's name. Surely no greater contribution could be made to the world's growth and peace than that which Mrs. Eddy has made, namely, the establishment by undeniable proof of the ever-operating, ever-available, comforting law of God and His Christ and man's unity with this divine law.
The Law of Healing
Christian Science has made understandable that all healing is the result of the operation of divine law in human consciousness. Divine law is ever operative and ever available to all. Man is not at the mercy of chance; he is not a victim of the vagaries and whims of mortal thinking. He is governed by divine law, by Principle, Mind.
Jesus said to his followers, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John ). Freedom is surely what the world is crying out for, freedom from fear, from doubt, from enslavement to false appetites, from oppression, from the ills of the flesh, in fact, from any and all the discordant conditions rampant in human thinking. Because of discordant thinking, the world remains in bondage. But the truth taught by Jesus brings freedom.
To Jesus' promise just quoted there is a preliminary condition given, namely, "If ye continue in my word." Of the several definitions of the word "continue" the following given by Webster are: to persevere, to persist in, to abide. As in academic education, so in the study of the things of the Spirit, perseverance and faithfulness are requisite. Jesus well knew that these qualities of thought are essentials to being made free by the truth.
Do any of you think it was just an incident or just mere accident that Jesus was enabled to accomplish his great works? Take, for example, his walking on the water. When Peter tried it, he began to sink; but Jesus reached "forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" What was it that Jesus knew that Peter did not know, ignorance of which made Peter a doubter? Obviously it was that Jesus knew the divine law that sustained him. He knew that it was not water nor earth that upheld him, but the supporting law of God.
Jesus promised that we should do the works that he did. This promise should be of continuing inspiration to each one of us. That we are not able at times to reach the heights of his understanding and demonstration must never discourage us. Mrs. Eddy comforts us in these words from Science and Health (p. 329): "Be thankful that Jesus, who was the true demonstrator of Science, did these things, and left his example for us."
Law Ever Operating
The law of God, of Life and of Love, is ever operating, ever cooperating. There is no place, no condition, no circumstance where we cannot invoke and successfully employ its healing power. Because God fills all space, constitutes all power, and because God is unvarying good, we can be confident and assured of His loving care. God's law is ever in operation. His law is not static, not something that exists merely as a theory; it is a living, palpitating force, available to all. It is motivated by Mind. Its operation is seen and felt wherever and whenever we call upon it in sincerity and truth. Remember Jesus said that we must know the truth. We should never sit idly by, hoping that some impulsion outside our own endeavor will carry us into the kingdom of heaven. Each one of us has a part to play in his journey Spiritward.
Love's reservoir of good is abundant and overflowing. Let us draw upon this inexhaustible source for wisdom, intelligence, health, peace, and ability. The Father's assurance is continually available, "All that I have is thine" (Luke ). Looking to God as the source of all supply and utilizing the qualities of the loving Father-Mother, God, strengthens our faith in the absolute supremacy of good and in our heritage of all good qualities.
The Psalmist declares (62:11), "God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God." God is good, and good only; and therefore the power that emanates from a good God must be good. It must be a constant quality and quantity. How prone mortals are to believe that power resides in finite persons, in material circumstances. This belief in humanly personal power accounts for men's trust in both good and evil and for maintaining in human consciousness the fear that at some time and in some way man can be deprived of good. Fear is the underlying cause of all evil. The fear of evil is based on the belief that creation is material. But God created man and the universe spiritual and good; He "saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Gen. 1:31).
Christian Science, the law of God, denies and destroys fear by demonstrating God's allness. Fear is constantly presenting to mortal thought the false claim of two powers, two creators, a belief in both a good and an evil man. This false claim, if accepted, causes doubt and confusion. Where there is only one God, a wholly good one, there can be no confusion, agitation, or torment. Let us make sure that we are not succumbing to the deceitful claim of a power or a presence apart from God, good.
The fact that there is only one power, good, and that good is constantly in operation was proved to me many years ago. A member of my family was suffering from an acute attack of lumbago. Lumbago was not a new experience for him; he had suffered from it periodically for years. At this particular time he was very desirous of attending a series of meetings that were scheduled for a few days hence. To a Christian Science practitioner who was calling he said, "You must get me out of this by next Tuesday." The practitioner said to him, "What is the matter with today? 'Now is the day of salvation.' " And before their talk was concluded the patient was well; and never again did he have another attack of this pain which he had believed to be a necessary periodical experience. Surely the word of God is quick and powerful. Healing of any and every form of error should not be postponed to some distant time. Now is the day for healing − for the manifestation of good to be seen and acknowledged.
Right Thinking Necessary
The important thing for each of us to ask himself is, "What am I thinking, thinking about myself, about others, and about the world in general?" How easy for us to think that if only this situation or that person were to be different, life would move on more harmoniously. But all that really needs to change is our concept of this situation or that person. What we are thinking is manifesting itself as our experiences. What do you think would happen if all nations and peoples suddenly dropped their attitudes of distrust, fear, hatred, greed, jealousy, selfish and stubborn aims, and turned wholeheartedly to divine Love for guidance, for inspiration and wisdom? The answer is obvious. Peace, harmony, brotherly love, and good will would reign. Some persons may say that even to mention such a change in the thinking of the nations is not practical. Not practical? Is there ever a time when good, when loving our neighbor as ourselves, could be rightly considered impractical? No, never! God, through the prophet Isaiah, promises: "I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory." And Mrs. Eddy assures us on page 565 of Science and Health, that "Christ, God's idea, will eventually rule all nations and peoples − imperatively, absolutely, finally − with divine Science." What a glorious goal!
No one can evade his responsibility. Each will reach this goal as he does his part. To reach this goal we must realize the government of the one and only Mind, the government of divine, universal Love.
Thus we can help to calm international suspicions and hatreds. We should know that the divine law of Love governs all efforts at peaceful solutions and is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, omniactive. Love never faileth. All disputes should be and can be adjusted peacefully. Against Love no seeming law of mortal mind can prevail. Oh, may the world join the pilgrim march Godward!
"March we forth in the strength of God
With the banner of Christ unfurled,
That the light of the glorious Gospel of truth
May shine throughout the world;
Fight we the fight with sorrow and sin,
To set their captives free,
That the earth may be filled with the glory of God
As the waters cover the sea."
(Christian Science Hymnal, No. 82)
Divine Mind is God. The Bible declares this to be true. Does not it say in Job, "But he is in one mind"? (Job .) We are all agreed, I am sure, that there is and can be but one God. Therefore it follows that there is but one Mind. The claim of minds many, your separate mind, my separate mind, and our neighbor's separate mind, is one of the fallacies of mortal thinking. It is the wedge that would separate us from our true source of wisdom, intelligence, and right activity. This fallacious argument of more than one mind would hinder and limit our every endeavor. It is constantly arguing our inability, claiming that mental gifts are unequally distributed, claiming that the brain is the origin of thought. Such reasoning is unsound; it is based upon the ignorant belief that creation is material. As thought is more and more imbued with the truth that man is spiritual, dependent only upon his Father-Mother God for every needful supply, thought begins to lose its fear of the reality of an evil mind. Then we gain a glimpse of ourselves as sons of God.
Resistance to the belief of minds many must be active, strong, persistent. No negative thinking ever results in progress. Only spiritual, affirmative, right thinking is progressive. "Truth is affirmative, and confers harmony" (Science and Health, p. 418). Declarations of the omnipotence of God and of the omnipresence of His law rout error. We can never affirm too often nor too positively that we reflect God, good, the one Mind, now, at all times, and under all circumstances. This truth closes the door to the claim of minds many and shuts out the errors that ensue from negative, unsound thinking. "Truth is affirmative, and confers harmony.''
Health a Spiritual Quality
Because God, Mind, is good, good health is a spiritual quality of ever-present Mind. Health is therefore a quality of man, God's image and likeness. Health, then, is not something that comes and goes, an uncertain quality and quantity. It is not a question of age, of physical assets and physical liabilities, not a question of weather nor of material wealth. Health is a spiritual idea. Therefore health is present in spite of any and every argument to the contrary. Through the understanding of God health is ever available. Under the word "health" in Funk and Wagnalls dictionary is the following quotation: "Health is something different from strength: it is universal good condition."
Good health belongs to man universally. Man is a unit, a whole idea. Man is complete, reflecting all the qualities of Mind. He is not part well and part sick. Such argument stems directly from materiality. Only by spirituality can it be eliminated. Error is constantly arguing separation, denying man's right to completeness, whereas Mind is constantly affirming unity.
The material belief that either sickness or health is governed by the body must be eradicated. Material belief, matter, being unintelligent, neither gives health nor takes it away. The material body does not constitute man, control nor govern man. When we come to know that man is a spiritual idea, expressing only the qualities of Spirit, we understand more fully Jesus' statement, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing." The arrogant claims of the physical body, or mortal mind, to enunciate law must be met with the firm declaration and understanding that no law is present but God's law − the law of health, joy, and harmony. God's law, the law of Life, renders impotent every so-called law of matter or the physical body. In Science and Health (p. 381) we read, "Let us banish sickness as an outlaw, and abide by the rule of perpetual harmony, − God's law."
Only by constantly applying the Principle of being, namely, perfect God and perfect man, are we able to reject the mesmeric spell of an opposing power or law. This, our work, we may not accomplish in a moment, but every least effort made helps to clear the pathway Spiritward. Effort need not be hard and toilsome. Mrs. Eddy gives a comforting admonition in Science and Health (p. 485); "Emerge gently from matter into Spirit. Think not to thwart the spiritual ultimate of all things, but come naturally into Spirit through better health and morals and as the result of spiritual growth." But let us note that we are to "emerge," be mentally active in coming into health and harmony,
Joy and Gratitude
This mental activity is one of the great joys that the teachings of Christian Science has made available to all. The clear, logical presentation by Christian Science of the Principle underlying all creation and of the rules to demonstrate this Principle gives to each one an understandable basis for working out his own salvation.
It has been said that no command in the Bible is given more frequently than to rejoice. This command is phrased in different ways: to sing, shout aloud, give thanks, lift up your heart, rejoice, be glad; but each and every one of these admonitions means one and the same thing − thanksgiving to God.
How many times we have thought or heard the expression, "I shall be grateful as soon as I am well." But this postponement of gratitude is often the delaying factor in the healing. Remember Paul and Silas, who had been beaten and ignominiously put into prison, and yet who at − typification of the darkest hour before the dawn − sang praises and gave thanks to God. And what happened? They were released from all their bondage − they, and the keeper of the prison as well. Thankfulness to God for His unceasing goodness to man is a very necessary step in our progress. We cannot, at the same time, be both grateful and miserable. Like the proverbial oil and water, they do not mix.
I know a woman who told me that as a child her mother would always admonish her not to be too joyful, for she would have to pay for it in an equal amount of sorrow. What an unhappy and unfortunate superstition! Christian Science teaches that "sorrow is not the master of joy; that good can never produce evil" (Science and Health, p. 304). The fear that joy can be turned into sorrow and suffering is directly traceable to a belief in the dual nature of God and men. Let us remember the stress the Bible puts upon the thought that God's nature is not dual: God is one, good. May I call your attention to a statement in Science and Health that definitely sets forth what Christian Science teaches about this one God (p. 140): "The Christian Science God is universal, eternal, divine Love, which changeth not and causeth no evil, disease, nor death." That this statement is true is vouched for by myriads who have proved its truth through release from the claims of sin, disease, and sorrow. The joyful acknowledgment of the supremacy and power of God and of His present availability to all mankind will open the way toward a fuller realization of good, here and now.
May we become aware, even as was Paul, that "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2).
Dear friends, this perfect law of life in Christ is the law of God, the law of your being and my being, forever intact, ever available, ever changeless, ever protecting, ever comforting. Let each one of us accept it, utilize it, be strengthened and healed by it. "Blessed be God, . . . the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God" (II Cor. 1:3,4).