Christian Science: Applied Righteousness
Frank Bell, C.S., of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Mr Frank Bell, C.S. of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, delivered an interesting and instructive lecture on Christian Science to a large and attentive audience in Scenic Temple on Sunday afternoon. The lecture was given under the auspices of First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Cambridge, and Mr. Bell was introduced by Mr. Robert E. Buffum, the First Reader of that church.
Mr. Buffum spoke as follows:
In behalf of First Church of Christ, Scientist, in this city I extend to you a cordial welcome. It always gives great pleasure to Christian Scientists to invite the public to attend these lectures and it is very gratifying to have them well attended.
Christian Scientists recall the good which they have derived in times past from these lectures. They well remember, with grateful hearts, when they were becoming interested in Christian Science, how many of their doubts and fears were destroyed and misunderstandings and misconceptions in regard to Christian Science were cleared away by the lectures which they attended.
In the case of many Christian Scientists it was a lecture on this subject that first awakened a desire for further enlightenment and instruction and caused them to begin an earnest study of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy. They found that this text-book was indeed a key to the Scriptures and that Mrs. Eddy's other writings and the various periodicals published by the Christian Science Publishing Society also furnished wonderful opportunities for spiritual enlightenment and for an ever increasing knowledge of Christian Science.
On page 224 of the Christian Science text-book, speaking of the need of more real Christianity in the world to-day, Mrs. Eddy says, "A higher and more practical Christianity, demonstrating justice and meeting the needs of mortals in sickness and in health, stands at the door of this age, knocking for admission. Will you open or close the door upon this angel visitant, who cometh in the quiet of meekness, as he came of old to the patriarch at noonday?"
To-day the "still small voice" is whispering this question to human consciousness and is beckoning all mankind onward and upward to the health, happiness and immortality afforded by the knowledge of Truth.
The one who is to address you is well qualified to speak on the subject of Christian Science, being a member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. I take pleasure in presenting Mr. Frank Bell C.S.
Mr. Bell said:
The subject that we are to consider has to do with issues that are vital to all mankind, with questions that go to the very heart of human affairs; questions which, by the way, involve consequences as important to those who may have given them little or no conscious attention as to the most profound thinkers along such lines.
Christian Science is defined by Mrs. Eddy on page 471 of her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,'' as "divine Science . . . reduced to human apprehension." The definition is of value in two special respects. In the first place, if to any of us the term Christian Science has come to mean merely the aggregated teachings of a particular religious sect or denomination, the term "divine Science" may assist us toward consideration of the subject in its broad and true meaning so that when we refer to Christian Science we shall be understood as having in thought not merely the words of a book or the doctrines of a church or the professions or practices of a body of persons, but rather the Science or knowledge of being, of Life, of Truth, of God; in other words, divine Science.
The second important phase of this definition of Christian Science as divine Science reduced to human apprehension, is that the broadened scope of the subject does not lead it beyond the range of our view or obscure its direct and practical relation to our affairs. Divine Science, or the correct knowledge of absolute reality and the immutable law thereof, is according to this definition capable of being apprehended by man and applied to human needs.
It is the mission of Christian Science to bring to light the fact that man's true selfhood is not separated from the intelligence that makes and governs all, and it is the purpose of this lecture to indicate in a simple and elemental manner some of the ways in which that surpassing fact may be demonstrated in individual experience, and is being thus demonstrated.
One Cause or Creator
Manifestly a working knowledge of divine law involves and requires a correct understanding of the nature and finalities of the cause or source of all things, the infinite intelligence or divine Mind, which is God. In the light of Christian Science man begins to acquaint himself with his Maker by processes as satisfying to reason as those by which the mathematician is assured of the basic elements of the science of numbers.
Christian Science makes it clear that there is a God, and that the Scriptural statements with regard to Him are correct, namely, that He is the one and only creator, having made all that was made; that His creation was and is spiritual and perfect and good, as He is spiritual and perfect and good; and that infinite Spirit is necessarily omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient; that is, the only power, everywhere present, supreme intelligence. In I John it is stated that "God is love," and Mrs. Eddy, on page 140 of Science and Health, says, "The Christian Science God is universal, eternal, divine Love, which changeth not and causeth no evil, disease, nor death."
It is needless perhaps to add that those to whom this definition of God is appreciable do not think of Him as in the nature of a magnified human being with a material form, occupying a great throne in the sky and dealing with His children in a manner that would be considered reprehensible even in a human parent, bestowing rewards on certain favored ones and punishing others for doing things He is supposed to have made them capable of doing. Christian Scientists learn to question the accuracy of any description of God that does not conform to the highest standards of justice, mercy, and love, to say nothing of intelligence. Therefore they are not expected to believe that God created evil or uses evil to accomplish good, or that He could put into the heart of man the capacity to yield to sinful temptation and then eternally torture man for succumbing to a God-bestowed tendency, or that an infinitely good God ever did or could destroy any of His children or even make them sick. In Christian Science God is revealed as a loving Father, whose love is real and tangible, ever operative, impartial and consistent. Christian Science thus honors Him supremely by showing that Deity is not directly or indirectly the author of or responsible for sin, disease, death, or any other form of evil.
The Nature of Evil
The question that naturally arises at this point is: What and whence, then, is evil? Increasingly large numbers of intelligent men and women are finding that outside of Christian Science there is no answer to this question that they can conscientiously accept. The theory for instance, which is sometimes offered for want of a better theory, that the devil made evil, can be entertained only in disregard of the difficulty of determining who or what made the devil. If there be a real, personal devil, the task of providing him with an ancestry would seem to involve the acceptance of one of two conclusions, — either that God made him, or that God is not the only creator. Small wonder, then, that the notion that there could exist in reality a being capable of upsetting God's plans, defying God's laws, interfering with God's purposes, enslaving God's children, and turning God's creation topsy-turvy, has been relegated largely to the realm of outworn superstitions. This represents progress, of course, but progress at a rate that is not particularly complimentary to the human mind, for it is now nearly nineteen hundred years since one whose statement ought to have settled the question immediately and for all time, so far at any rate as Christians are concerned, declared the devil to be "a liar and the father of it," and to have "no truth in him;" in other words, to be an utter deception existing by, through, and in false belief only.
Of course those who have abandoned the hoofed and horned concept of devil merely to substitute a belief in an incorporeal power or influence opposed to God, have not really advanced very far, though they may be said to shine as veritable fountains of light in comparison with those who still hold evil to be a part of the divine plan and essential to its proper consummation. Some of the advocates of this latter theory do not seem to catch the significance of the fact that an inherent sense of right often prompts them to try to stem the tide of the very evil which, if their belief be correct, is to serve the ultimate purposes of good. In Christian Science it is shown that the term devil is properly synonymous with the term evil, and that evil's source, origin, and field of operation is the human mind. To attempt to personify evil is to lose sight of what it is, and consequently of how to combat it. By presenting an explanation of evil that is consistent with the Scriptural assurance that "God is love," Christian Science has made it possible for many thinking persons to come out of unbelief.
Surely evil must be accounted for in a manner entirely in accord with man's natural desire to acquit infinite intelligence of having committed a blunder that would scarcely be expected even of the so-called human mind, namely, of having established a universe and then deliberately put into that universe the elements of self-destruction. What would be thought of an inventor who in working out an elaborate device for the accomplishment of a cherished purpose should knowingly insert in the delicate mechanism something that would be certain to disturb the harmony of its action and eventually reduce it to wreck and ruin? Would any one regard that as an act of intelligence, or even of sanity? Let us not deny to infinite wisdom the attributes of at least ordinary common sense.
Disposing of a Negation
And now since it is obvious that an intelligent and good God could not have made evil, and that to attribute to evil any other positive source is equivalent to contending for the impossible theory of there being more than one primal cause or creator, the conclusion necessarily is this: that evil is not an entity at all, but a negation. This may be illustrated in a simple way. Ignorance is one of the most pronounced types of evil. A very considerable proportion of human endeavor is directed to the overcoming of ignorance. Thousands of schools and colleges, hundreds of thousands of teachers, the tremendous facilities of modern printing, publishing, and distribution, are devoted largely to this service. The profession of the educator is honored among men, and the business of education is supported by untold wealth of public and private funds. And all this vast expenditure of talent and time and treasure is directed against what? Against ignorance, nothingness.
Would the educator succeed if he were to regard that against which he contends as a positive thing, with a real source and an actual presence and power? Is there a school anywhere whose curriculum includes a course of instruction in the origin and elements of ignorance? What would be the opinion of a college or university founded upon the theory that the best way to make a pupil wise is to keep his attention fixed on the opposite of wisdom? Though all educational effort is exerted to the overcoming of ignorance, such effort is based on full recognition of the fact that ignorance is not of itself anything but merely the lack of something, and that the one practical way to dispose of lack is by the positive process of supplying the needful thing.
We are familiar with the effects of ignorance on its victims, the hampering and demoralizing influences attributed to it in the conduct and affairs of those about us. Therefore can we truly say we are unable to comprehend the idea of a merely negative evil, which yet needs to be positively and vigorously handled and overcome?
In considering how divine Science is reduced to human apprehension we find ourselves now, therefore, in the presence of two facts of the utmost practical value to each and all of us, namely, that every quality of every element of good is positive, and that every quality of every phase of evil is negative. Good only is the presence of something; evil always is the absence of something. If you will take this simple rule and apply it as best you can to your daily problems, you will be agreeably surprised, I am sure, at the change that will come over you and your affairs.
Sickness Not To Be Ignored
Sickness is a phase of evil which needs to be considered from the standpoint of evil's essential negativeness, if it is to be handled intelligently. This of course does not mean that the practice of Christian Science consists of reiterating in the patient's ear that there is nothing the matter and he should just forget it, as we yet occasionally hear, even in this enlightened period. What it means is that if the sick man has been thinking disease to be something that it in fact is not, his difficulty doubtless lies very much in that direction, and he will be helped, not harmed, by learning to see disease for what it is. He needs not to shut his eyes but to open them. For instance, it would be difficult to conceive of anything more depressing than for the victim of suffering to believe that in some unaccountable way divine purpose is being accomplished by means of his painful experience. Therefore one of the things the sick man needs to know is that his Maker is not a party to his undoing, not in the remotest degree. With that thought clearly implanted in consciousness the journey healthward has been well begun and the succeeding stages should follow in natural sequence. He needs to know that since infinite intelligence in its very nature could not be the author of sickness, and since there is no other power that could be its author, the basis of sickness, like ignorance and other forms of evil, must be nonentity, or negation, not something but the absence or lack of something.
In this way, through the human apprehension of divine Science, the sick man may learn that disease is not the result of any real law, but is the expression, manifestation, or effect of certain erroneous modes or habits of human belief, which, though they may have been for ages formulating and fastening themselves upon an apparently helpless humanity, are found on examination to be utterly unlawful and abnormal, and without justification other than that mankind for a long time has been assenting and submitting to them.
To illustrate: It has not infrequently occurred that the people of a nation for years have permitted themselves to be governed by an enactment which they supposed to be a law, but which when finally tested in their higher courts has been discerned to be not a law, but an unwarranted assumption of power and authority. There never has been real occasion for any one to yield obedience to its terms, and those who were influenced to do so, in following the line of common consent and who suffered inconvenience and loss thereby, were at no time suffering from the workings of law, but always and only from their erroneous submission to that which was not a law at all, but the absence of law, a negation. Had these people been better informed as to their natural rights, they would have been disposed to resist rather than to submit. Resistance would have been of little avail, however, unless conducted on intelligent and well-defined lines. Thus, if those who first discerned the falsity of the alleged law were to have undertaken merely to defy it, without establishing their right to do so in accordance with the orderly processes for testing the validity of an enactment, they doubtless would have invited more trouble than they were for the time being capable of meeting. The citizen who is even half wise will not dispute points of law with the police officer who undertakes to enforce against the liberty of that citizen a rule or regulation that the citizen knows to be unwarranted. There is a proper and adequate way for him to obtain his rights, and the more he resists the policeman the less standing he may have in the court to which he must finally appeal. The policeman is not the law, but only an instrument thereof.
Orderly Resistance To False Law
Now Christian Science discloses to its students that the accumulated beliefs of the human mind commonly known as laws of health, but which might be termed more appropriately laws of disease, are not really laws, being directly at variance with the divine and true law, and therefore in their final analysis utterly impotent and void.
The Christian Scientist knows that he has a right to resist, but he knows that fighting in the street with the policeman, figuratively speaking, is not the way to make resistance effective. In becoming a Christian Scientist, therefore, it is not necessary for one to assume an attitude of strutting about with a chip on one's shoulder, challenging cold drafts, germs, accidents, neighborhood opinion, and other unpleasant things, to do their worst.
The genuine Christian Scientist is not a queer or spectacular person. He does not even seek trouble, though when trouble arrives he usually finds he can meet it with less fear than before, and with a better demonstration of the dominion over evil that is a natural attribute of his real self. The method he employs for annulling unjust enactments relating to the health of mankind is an orderly method, in which the beginning is not mistaken for the ending, nothing is assumed or taken for granted, nor is step number two attempted until step number one has been mastered. The factors which cause the human body to respond with a percentage of similar symptoms under similar circumstances, and which because of this tendency have been mistakenly supposed to be the result of physical law, but which Christian Science shows to be primarily mental factors, the fruit of perhaps centuries of wrong thinking, may not because of that be dismissed as with a wave of the hand. There must be a systematic and thorough undoing of the false mental processes by which these conditions have come about.
Fortunately it does not follow that because mankind has been ages in getting into this state an equal amount of time is to be required in getting out therefrom. On the contrary, when positive good is applied to the eradication of negative evil, the element of time may be considered as not necessarily entering into the operation at all. Who would say that man might not be "transformed by the renewing of the mind" in a very instant of time? But the important phase of the subject to us is, that without the renewing of the mind man cannot be transformed either in a moment or a century. One may overpower or evade the policeman, as it were, by drugging the pain or patching up the bodily effects of sick thoughts, and thus for the day or the week or the year enjoy a kind of immunity, but such a course can be of only temporary advantage at best, and for one's self alone; whereas he who proceeds in an orderly and effective manner toward the ultimate annulment of an oppressive and unjust law is thereby performing a service not merely to himself but to all mankind.
Must Look Back of Material Effects
It is observed in this connection that all systems of treatment for the sick take more or less account of the fact that a diseased condition of the body as it appears to the physical senses is only the effect of something else, but as a rule these systems are content to discern a cause possibly one or two or three stages removed and not a whit less physical than the outward manifestation of the disease. Such a so-called cause is itself only an effect. Correctly speaking, nothing in or of the material body could be the cause of disease, for matter cannot do anything of and by itself. Matter does not have initiative or intelligence or creative power. It cannot make itself sick or well, weak or strong, alive or dead. Matter is always subjective. The things it appears to do are done always by something else. If a dozen bricks be placed on end in a row, with certain regular intervals between, and brick number one be toppled against brick number two, all the bricks in the row will one by one fall. Number twelve brick clearly was knocked over by number eleven, which in turn fell because of number ten, and so on back to number one, and to the hand that toppled it. Material effects, every one of them. But what made the hand to move? We observe that we are here approaching the actual cause or source of the disaster to the row of bricks, and that it is not material but mental. Thus if every so-called physical action, whether in the human body or in that which we call nature, were traced to its absolute beginning, it would be necessary to go on back through successive so-called causes until one should come to either intelligence or its counterfeit, the positive or the negative mental element.
In this way is at least indicated the reasonableness of employing in the healing of disease a mental method by which we may look beyond the visible bodily effect for the actual origin of the difficulty. But it is evident that a system devoted solely to the healing of physical disease would not be entitled to be known as Christian Science. The fact is that Christian Science healing is spiritual healing, in which the physical benefit, notable as it may be, is but an incident. This healing is always and only the result of moral regeneration. It is the fruit of intelligent, applied righteousness. It can be practised best by those who are purest in heart, and its effects are invariably good.
Christian Science, therefore, is unique in both means and aims, and it does not resemble in any important respect systems, whether mental or physical, that strive only to make humanity comfortable in matter, that require no moral standard whatever, and that could be employed as readily for improper as for proper purposes. With these distinctions clearly in view one may understand how far removed is this spiritual healing from whatever might be attempted through the use of human will, mental suggestion, or any "mind-over-matter" process. Throughout many centuries there have been those who professed to ascribe to human will results wrought through spiritual understanding, but the history of the efforts to substantiate this theory, from the necromancy of the court of Pharaoh down to various latter-day attempts at combining hypnotism with religion and medicine, has been a history of manifest failure to achieve anything comparable with the good works accomplished through Christian Science.
Clean Thoughts and Good Health
In view of what has been here said it should be evident that Christian Scientists have no fanatical objection to drug medicines, or other material curatives, as such. The Christian Scientist dispenses with material medicines under no species of compulsion, but as a matter of voluntary choice, based upon observation and experience. If material remedies were capable of doing all that is claimed for them by their most enthusiastic advocates, they would yet fail to meet the requirements of the Christian Scientist, for the reason that the whole system of material medicine is devoted solely to physical conditions which the Christian Scientist understands to be only effects, not causes.
Consider in this connection the matter of germs. The bacteriologist for the time being occupies the center of the medical stage, and tells us that the chief foe to the well-being of humanity is an infinitesimal material organism called a microbe. Carried on the swift wings of fear, the germ theory has within a few years quite generally infected human thinking, and strong men everywhere tremble in apprehension of the ravages of these microscopic monsters. Fortunately a glimmer or two of light is discernible through this dark cloud. It is observed, for instance, that under certain "favorable conditions" of the body the germ is unable to operate, and it is beginning to be realized to some extent also that persons who live clean lives are least susceptible to contagion. Is it too much to hope that one day may everywhere appear the relation between clean thoughts and clean lives, and the further coincidence of purity of heart and that state of the body which is not "favorable" to the business of the germ. There would seem to be not a little significance in the fact that Christian Scientists, who put not their trust in filthy serums, enjoy an increasing measure of good health amidst the myriads of microbes.
The Germ Is Only An Effect
With all proper respect to the bacteriologists who are conscientiously striving to rescue the race from destruction, it may do no harm for us to be reminded that the germ at any rate is not a cause, but is an effect of something else, and that thus far all that has been said for the germ theory of disease has come from those who admittedly do not know what a germ actually is, or where or how it originated, or whence it derives the intelligence and power with which it is supposed to be endowed. The tendency of the human mind to be most afraid of things of which it knows the least is especially noticeable in the history of some forty centuries of experimental medicine.
However, we are not here for the purpose of criticizing the practice of medicine. Indeed we cheerfully acknowledge that medicine is affording relief from pain and suffering that might not be afforded by any other means in the present state of human thought. While we may smile at the exuberant advocacy of the latest theories, in view of the fate of the no less confidently championed speculations of the past, and while we sometimes find it necessary to assert rather vigorously our objections against attempts to legislate us into their point of view, we have no quarrel with the medical profession as a whole. Christian Science and material medicine are striving for ends entirely different by means utterly unlike: therefore no reason exists for antagonism between them, and there is no such antagonism where the nature of the work of each is fully understood.
As already stated, the healing of disease is incidental to and not the prime object of Christian Science practice. But because this is not generally recognized outside the Christian Science ranks, and because the healing is the phase most prominent in public thought with regard to Christian Science, and because the healings do constitute important proof of the correctness of its teachings, it is pertinent to refer briefly to some of the evidence that Christian Science does heal all manner of disease.
A World-Wide Movement
The extraordinary growth of the movement is in itself an impressive testimonial to the efficacy of its healing. Although the first Christian Science church was established less than forty years ago, there are today more than fifteen hundred such bodies in various parts of the world. While the largest numerical representation is in the United States, where Christian Science had its beginning, its churches are to be found quite numerously in England, Canada, and Germany, and also in France, Ireland, Scotland. Wales, Holland, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, China, the Philippines, Argentina, Mexico, Panama, the West Indies, and Bermuda. From virtually every quarter come reports of continuing and substantial growth, corroborative evidence of which is found in the fact that the demand for the authorized literature is increasing so rapidly as to tax the constantly enlarging publication facilities. In one large American city the Christian Science churches now number almost a score, and a leading newspaper in another large city recently estimated that the increase among the adherents of Christian Science in that city during the preceding year had been approximately one hundred per cent.
These data are cited because of their significance in the light of the fact that this movement, which in so brief a period has become world wide, has been recruited largely from among those who turned to it for healing. It is a fair inference that if these multitudes, or any considerable proportion thereof had found on coming to Christian Science that its promises of healing were fraudulent or mistaken, there would have been such a revulsion among its adherents that the movement long since would have passed into memory. The proposition of Christian Science from its beginning has been to all men, as it is to you, namely, that nothing need be accepted with regard to it that cannot be demonstrated to satisfaction in the individual experience of the student. Christian Science has no means of attracting or holding followers except its superior ability to meet their human needs and if it had failed to do this to any appreciable extent the closing chapter in its history would have been written long ago. So, then, the rapid, widespread, and steadily increasing growth of the movement constitutes inferential evidence of a peculiarly forceful character that Christian Science healing is a fact.
Thousands Testify to Healing
Then there is a mass of evidence of a direct and particular nature to be found in the individual testimonies of healing in the official publications of the Christian Science church. The Christian Science Journal, for instance, has been published monthly since 1883, being now in its thirty-third year. The Christian Science Sentinel, issued every week, is in its eighteenth year. Each issue of these publications contains statements of from eight to a dozen persons who testify to having been healed through Christian Science of ills that cover virtually the whole range of human suffering. If we allow a conservative average of ten testimonies per issue, we arrive at the conclusion that more than twelve thousand persons have been been so impressed with what Christian Science has done for them in the way of healing that they have voluntarily set out their experiences in writing and asked that these be published over their own signatures for the information of their fellow men. Care is taken to verify these statements before printing them. They are made as a rule by individuals who are well known in their respective communities, and if they were to any extent untrue that fact could be readily established, and doubtless in many instances would be. These testimonies of course represent but a small fraction of the cases of Christian Science healing in the communities from which they come.
Evidence of Christian Science healing has been accepted on various occasions in courts of law, being admittedly accurate and reliable. Of course official records are not really required by the average individual who wishes to learn what Christian Science is doing for the sick, for the reason that in almost every community of consequence the inquirer may obtain first-hand information from the beneficiaries of this healing method. The Wednesday evening testimony meetings in Christian Science churches everywhere are especially recommended in that respect.
Christian Science in Business
In the business world Christian Science has been found to be notably helpful. A sound body and a clear head are important assets to one upon whom devolves the direction or execution of affairs of trade and industry. But Christian Science does something for business itself as well as for the business man. For one thing, it takes fear out of business, thereby removing a prime factor of failure. The Christian Scientist in business will tell you that he has reason to be every day less afraid, because he is learning how to think, how to discern between the right impulse and the wrong, how to hold in check the aggressive suggestions of ruthless human will and pride and greed that would lead to mistakes of judgment; likewise how to put down the enervating arguments of timidity and self-depreciation, amid whose mists opportunity might pass by unobserved.
The Christian Scientist in business finds that he need not be a parasite, subsisting upon his fellows, a mere toll-taker on the necessities of others; but that he and his business may constitute a genuinely helpful element in the community life, substantial profit coming to him not at the expense of some one else but as his fair share of the enlarged prosperity of all. In such manner is being revealed the fact that the golden rule may be made to reign supreme in the practical affairs of life without detracting in the least from the just rewards of intelligent judgment, courage, alertness, industry, and economy, all of which qualities, and others of their kind, are enhanced through the study and application of Christian Science, as thousands of successful business men do most gladly affirm.
Discovery and Establishment
God's ways are not our ways. Many a mile-stone along the highroad of human progress is likewise the gravestone of some cherished human tradition. Epochs ever have entered contrary to schedule, in violation of the code. And so it was in keeping with historic precedent that just when the established order of things intellectual and ecclesiastical had settled itself complacently in the conviction that masculine mentality was the exclusive medium through which truth might be permitted to reveal itself to mankind, the aforesaid established order should be confronted with the, to it, shocking fact that divine Science was being reduced to the human apprehension of this age through the pure spirituality of a woman. The established order of thinking at first but arched its imperious brow, then smiled indulgently, then laughed outright; later it frowned, then scoffed, and finally let loose its batteries of persecution, both open and masked. All these failing, the established order is only now, after nearly half a century, showing signs of coming around to an acknowledgment of the fact that a woman, Mary Baker Eddy, demonstrated to mankind in this day that Christianity is scientific.
During forty years of almost uninterrupted invalidism Mrs. Eddy had been struggling toward the apprehension of the scientific rule and method that she firmly believed underlay the healing of the sick by purely spiritual means, at intervals throughout the recorded history of mankind, and especially during the first three centuries of the Christian era. The revelation came to her in an hour when death seemed almost at hand, and through it she was healed of her infirmity. The fact was established in human consciousness. How to make it available to her fellow men became the immediate problem. The pallid invalid was transformed in the glory of her task.
Years of consecrated effort brought forth the Christian Science text-book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." It was followed by a veritable library of collateral writings. Meanwhile it had been demonstrated that the knowledge could be transmitted to others. The good news spread. Students came in increasing numbers. Mrs. Eddy was equal to the task. She organized a church, established a system of teaching, launched a publishing house, founded and for a time edited a monthly journal, and afterward founded in their turn a weekly periodical, a second monthly publication, and a great daily newspaper. Although she had not entered upon her work until a period in life when many a strong man would have been contemplating retirement from active affairs, this frail woman lived to see the new movement spread its branches into hundreds of communities throughout the earth, lived to become the revered Leader of an army of regenerated men and women earnestly devoted to the saving of their fellows everywhere from the thraldom of sickness, sin, and sorrow. Mrs. Eddy was indeed inspired, but hers was the inspiration that is the natural heritage of man and is made manifest in proportion to one's apprehension of spiritual truth. Nothing supernatural is claimed for Christian Science or for the author of its text-book.
She Lived Her Religion
For one whose life was devoted to the welfare of mankind, Mrs. Eddy was compelled to bear vastly more than her portion of misrepresentation and ingratitude. But she demonstrated the quality of her religion by meeting it all with surpassing good will. Throughout the stormy years she answered malice with love, slander with a smile, and persecution with a blessing, and when she passed away left behind none who could truthfully say that in thought or deed she had done him a wrong.
Undoubtedly one of the most noteworthy phases of Mrs. Eddy's achievement was the extent to which she was able to detach her personality from her leadership, the result being that although throughout many years she had directed every branch of the Christian Science movement, her passing on was marked by no interruption in the forward march of the cause. The vast majority of Christian Scientists have had no acquaintance with Mrs. Eddy except through her helpful writings. To these she was never more truly present than she is today, and in that sense she will continue to be present as long as mankind shall find in that which she has written practical guidance in the way to health and holiness.
No Deep Mystery About It
And now, my friends, if there be any here who for the first time are possessed of a desire to share in the healing and regenerating influences of Christian Science, may I, for your benefit, offer a few words of advice, which I am sure if heeded will bring you the more quickly to the desired goal. In the first place, avoid permitting yourself to be overly concerned regarding what might seem to be the technicalities of the subject. Christian Science is simplicity itself. There is no deep mystery about it, except in the mistaken opinions of those who do not understand it. Consider, for instance, the teaching as to the unreality of matter. Be assured that to the Christian Scientist the mountains are as high, the skies as blue, and the ocean as broad as to any one else. Christian Scientists clothe, feed, and house themselves after the manner of their non-Scientist neighbors. And this is not inconsistent with that which you will in due time find to be the actual teaching of this Science as to the relative unreality of matter.
My purpose is not to imply by any means that Christian Science does not require a very radical departure from the old concept of material things. It does indeed involve a wholly changed attitude, but this change comes naturally and harmoniously, and with no sense of loss, but rather a realization of substantial gain. A familiar illustration may be helpful: A patron of a bank offers in good faith to deposit a coin which the expert banker detects to be counterfeit. The bogus thing never was money, but it had all the power of real money over the unsuspecting patron. He had given an equivalent of its supposed money value in exchange for it, and would have been quite capable of doing so again but for the knowledge that had come to him through the clearer understanding of the expert. By a purely mental process, the uncovering of a lie, the innocent patron has been released from subjection to a false claim of material power. The metal in the coin has undergone no change; it is the same as before, only the truth is out about it now, and it can no longer deceive.
Those who believe man to be material, life to be mortal, matter to be power, and true health to be dependent upon physical organisms, are like the individual who mistakenly relies upon counterfeit money to maintain his credit at the bank. If the latter were to say to the expert, "Why do you try to tell me this isn't real, when I clearly see a coin, and you can't deny that you see it too?" would not the expert reply: "Yes, you see a coin, and I see it too, but you do not actually see money any more than I do. We both see the same thing, only I see it for what it is and you for what it is not." And so, where the materialist thinks he sees that which is actual, the Christian Scientist, being better informed, discerns a counterfeit of the spiritual reality. The correcting process is not going to involve a change in anything except mental concepts and their effects.
Removing The Disguise From Evil
You may be wise also to put aside any question as to whether Mrs. Eddy has invented a new kind of evil, called animal magnetism. She in fact has done nothing of the sort. Her endeavor with regard to evil has been thoroughly to unmask evil, and she has accomplished this in a manner that dawns most practically and helpfully upon the consciousness of the student of Christian Science. The individual who still believes evil to be one or more persons or one or more things, very much needs to know what Mrs, Eddy teaches regarding the essentially mental as well as obviously animal qualities of evil, but he needs to learn some other things coincidentally with this, and the Christian Science text-book will supply this co-related knowledge in proper proportions. It may be said now, however, that the term animal magnetism as a definition of evil is helpful in emphasizing the important point that evil is primarily mental, must be thought before it is acted, and is a product of erroneous material sense and not of God. Mrs. Eddy gives her students much valuable instruction with regard to protecting themselves from injurious mental influences and tendencies, but she quite agrees with the Bible teaching that the things that defile are from within, not from without.
In case your convictions are such that you would voluntarily forgo the benefits of Christian Science so long as any doubt remained with you as to whether it was truly Christian, you may at least resolve to take the word of no one else as to this, but to pursue your own inquiry, frankly and without prejudice. In that event we shall confidently expect you to find Christian Science to be in full accord with the Founder of Christianity, who taught that religion should be judged by the fruits thereof; who said his true followers should not only preach the gospel but heal the sick, and that they should teach all men all things he had commanded them. It is not of record that he acknowledged any saving grace in profession or confession of doctrine or dogma, but his life and works are eloquent of the importance he attached to the propagation in the hearts of men of such simple graces as love, truth, fidelity, purity, humility, unselfishness. These are the fair fruits of Christian Science, and they have today the same relation to the healing of disease by purely spiritual means as they had nineteen centuries ago. It is significant that Christian Science tends to promote all the Christian virtues in the lives of its adherents.
Do not put off the day of your turning to Christian Science for needed help because of a feeling that possibly you are "not good enough." If you considered yourself "too good," we might concur in your decision to wait a while, for self-righteousness perhaps comes nearer to being an absolute non-conductor of truth than any other known quality of the human mind. On the other hand, a reasonable degree of humility makes fertile soil for all good seed.
Imitations Fall Short
Especially be careful to seek correct sources of information on this subject. Like all things that have succeeded, Christian Science has its imitators. We need not discuss them further than to say that some of them arrived early and some of them are still here, and that one and all they have consistently maintained the chief tradition of the imitator species; that is, they have failed to catch the true and vital quality of the object of their misguided attentions. If you need Christian Science at all, you need real Christian Science, and you need it from the very beginning of your quest.
In conclusion: The logical and practical application of that which has been here briefly set forth is, that what Christian Science has done for one it surely is capable of doing for another. The extent, therefore, to which each of us shall share in the blessings so abundantly at hand is for each of us alone to determine.
[Delivered March 5, 1916, at Scenic Temple under the auspices of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and published in The Cambridge Chronicle, March 11, 1916. The title of the lecture comes from a version published in pamphlet form by The Christian Science Publishing Society in 1918.]