Christian Science: The Way of Life

 

Peter B. Biggins, C.S.B., of Seattle, Washington

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

The Lecture

In considering the true way to live, we are led to give attention to the true way to think. The wise man, who was king in Jerusalem many centuries ago, said, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." Attend to your thinking, for that determines your living. But Jesus put it better and more practically when he said, speaking of the Christ, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." Our Master presented the true way of Life, the right way to live.

Above the entrance to a hall in a well-known American college are the words, "Live to learn." Over the doorway at a companion entrance to the same hall is the legend, "Learn to live." It is necessary first to learn the truth about Life, then to live the truth we are learning. What is the truth about Life? It is that life which reflects Life, God, is spiritual; for Life is Spirit, and that man is the image and likeness of Spirit, the true expression of Life. How can we live this truth, when we seem to be in the midst of so much that is material? Firstly, by seeing clearly what the ideal is; secondly, by cherishing it; and thirdly, by putting it into effect so far as we can at each stage of growth. This can be done at once by everyone without interfering with any normal human activity or duty, but with great benefit in every way.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, has written in her textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 548), "Earth has little light or joy for mortals before Life is spiritually learned." This statement, expressing the clear spiritual vision of its author, points to the seeming cause of humanity's difficulties. Underlying all the mistakes, the ills, and the woes of the human family is a wrong sense of life, the belief that life is material. Supporting all the right and worthy achievement of upward-striving men and women is the conviction that Life is Spirit. As you gain this more spiritual sense of existence through Christian Science, you experience a newly found light, a freshly discovered joy, a realization that all human problems can be solved by this means.

You have the right to declare and realize that you, in reality, now live in God, in Spirit, and that you are capable of enjoying the perfect health, happiness, and freedom which belongs to you as the child of your Father-Mother God. As you declare these facts understandingly, you will enjoy the fruits in your experience in the measure of the persistence of your declaration and the clearness of your realization. While the material sense of things leads to inevitable disappointment, the spiritual sense will lead to the fulfillment of your highest legitimate hopes.

 

Jesus' Vital Teaching

In what sense did Jesus present the true way to live? Read his words, as contained in the New Testament, and you will find that they are very simple, yet profounder far than the depths of human philosophy. Love God and neighbor, forgiving without limit. Judge not unrighteously. Get rid of fear. Be awake to evil in all its phases, and conquer it. Trust God's unerring guidance, utilized through effectual prayer. Heal yourself and others by spiritual means. Obey implicitly all the divine commandments. These simple precepts sum up in a few words much of the Master's essential teaching. Obedience thereto opens the way to harmonious and successful living.

We may note one remarkable fact about these precepts uttered by Christ Jesus. They all call for strong, direct, decisive action. There is no time wasted in idle theorizing or vague speculation. They do not rest on mere doctrine or dogma. They demand demonstration. They do not insist upon the profession of any creed, or the repetition of any formula. They do require possessing the Christ-spirit.

We read in John's Gospel that on one occasion two of John the Baptist's disciples saw Jesus and said to him, "Where dwellest thou?" The Master replied, "Come and see." The narrative continues, "They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day." It was something more than a material dwelling of which Jesus spoke. It was his mental state, his elevated spiritual understanding of Life, that constituted his true dwelling place. It was in that higher sense of Life that these newly found followers abode with him, profiting as far as they were then able from his inspired teaching. In his conversations with his disciples he was continually presenting to them the spiritual idea of Life, shedding a clear light on the teachings of Scripture, and dispelling the mysteries which seemed to enshroud their sense of being.

The Master's invitation, "Come and see," called for action. It was as though he said: Be active in learning the practical truth of being; take the necessary steps in this direction. Use your God-given faculty of spiritual perception so that you may lay hold of the precious facts of being, which are even now within your reach; open your eyes to the beauty of holiness, and the perfection of spiritual being.

One day, as Jesus and his disciples were leaving the city of Jericho, a blind man named Bartimaeus sat at the side of the highway begging. He called out, "Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me." His appeal for mercy shows that he sensed his own need. He had doubtless heard of the healing wrought by the Master, and he must have seen, at least to some extent, that underlying that work was a marvelous compassion, a wonderful capacity to forgive wrongs, a boundless love for God and man; and so, conscious of his own great need, he cried out for mercy. Many of those around rebuked him for making this insistent appeal, but Jesus, heeding his request, called him and healed him. The healing was instantaneous. "Immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way."

A literal reading of this passage might indicate that he followed Jesus along the highway. It is not too much to conclude, however, that with this great blessing, the gaining of normal sight, he was awakened to see the way of life which Jesus' teaching opened up to him, and that he followed Jesus in this way.

Jesus' lifework has had a very definite effect on human thought. It has brought the most positive spiritual quality into fuller expression. It has influenced the speech and the literature of humanity. In fact, human thought has never been quite the same since Jesus lived and worked on earth. The new era which began with his appearing here was not merely new as indicated by the calendar of time. It was new in regard to the quality of thought and character it introduced. Before his coming, religion was largely a matter of outward form and ceremony. He required transformation of the heart.

 

The True Idea of Life

Christian Science is repeating the works wrought by Jesus and his disciples. To those who have seemed to lose their health, or to have suffered the loss or impairment of some faculty, Christian Science brings a comforting and assuring message. Health, holiness, wholeness is found in God, in Spirit, in divine Life, and these blessings are won and enjoyed by true thinking, by spiritual thinking, by the contemplation of the nature of God and his goodness, by the practical utilization of the divine law. This is not accomplished by a dreamy state of mind. It is the result of an active mental process, which invigorates all one's affairs. It brings new freedom, new enthusiasm, new joy. This harmonizing, energizing divine Principle of Christian Science revitalizes every legitimate human activity. It brings new life where stagnation has seemed to be.

Disease is a belief in death; it is a mortal belief. Therefore disease cannot even seem to exist where the true idea of Life holds sway. Jesus proved this, when, exemplifying the Christ, the true idea of Life, he healed all manner of disease.

The Psalmist showed that he had a working knowledge of the true law of Life, the divine law of Spirit, when he sang, "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord." Here he proclaimed a vital truth of being, and used it practically. Mrs. Eddy perceived the true import of such Bible truths, and throughout her writings she has made clear how to use them practically, how to affirm them and claim the benefits as our own.

Thus, on the same basis, you can consistently affirm the true sense of health cannot fail, because health is a quality of God, and man enjoys by reflection God's perfect health; man's true supply is always abundant, and can never be lessened, because man reflects the affluence of the one infinite Soul, God; man's real work is continuous and can never be stopped, because man expresses the omniactivity of the one ever-operative divine Mind. These scientific affirmations − made with humility and understanding − and their results, illustrate the nature of effectual, scientific prayer.

 

Mrs. Eddy's Teaching

Christian Science teaches how we may lay hold of the blessings which are truly ours. As people saw the revitalizing nature of Mrs. Eddy's teaching, they began to seek instruction from her. A woman whom I know, having received treatment from a Christian Scientist, and having been helped by reading Science and Health, wanted to learn more about this teaching from the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science herself. She wrote to Mrs. Eddy for this purpose. She told her that she was quite satisfied with her own religion and happy in it; and she went on to say that if it was necessary for her to be "a miserable Christian" in order to be ready to take this instruction, then she was not ready. Mrs. Eddy replied characteristically, "Come and see." This woman accepted Mrs. Eddy's invitation and was taught by her. She came and saw a new life opening up before her.

As in the case of others who were blessed by having class teaching from Mrs. Eddy, this student gained a demonstrable understanding of God and man, a new sense of being as spiritual instead of material, a more abundant sense of life. She was enabled to understand the inspired teaching of Christ Jesus as never before. She saw the erroneous nature of many beliefs which she had accepted as true. With the correction of these mistaken beliefs she became more useful, and better able to help others. This teaching has preserved this woman's health, and enabled her to bring happiness to others.

As Mrs. Eddy proceeded with her work as the Discoverer, Founder, and Leader of Christian Science, her remarkable character and ability were clearly seen by other able people of her day. Occasionally newspapers and magazines requested from her some sentiment on events of current importance. Such articles, as well as voluntary contributions expressing her views, were eagerly welcomed. Thus the Cosmopolitan at one time published an article written by Mrs. Eddy entitled, "Youth and Young Manhood." In presenting the article this magazine said editorially: "Not only Mrs. Eddy's own devoted followers, but the public generally, will be interested in this communication from the extraordinary woman who . . . plays so great a part in the world and leads with such conspicuous success her very great following. . . . Certainly, Christian Scientists, enthusiastic in their belief, are fortunate in being able to point to a Leader far beyond the allotted years of man, . . . guiding with remarkable skill, determination, and energy a very great organization that covers practically the civilized world" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, pp. 272, 273).

In this article Mrs. Eddy emphasizes the benefits of the divine law. She could speak from experience of the life-giving, life-preserving power of spiritual law, and of the health, success, and. prosperity resulting from obedience thereto. At the close of this remarkable message (p. 274), Mrs. Eddy wrote these words, which young people today are noting to their advantage: "Dear reader, right thinking, right feeling, and right acting − honesty, purity, unselfishness − in youth tend to success, intellectuality, and happiness in manhood. To begin rightly enables one to end rightly, and thus it is that one achieves the Science of Life, demonstrates health, holiness, and immortality."

Thus to humanity's legitimate desire and effort to act rightly, Christian Science adds the ability to think and feel rightly. True religion is a necessity in order that these good results may be assured. Before we can think correctly, we need to have a right beginning. In Christian Science we begin with God, our First Cause, our divine Principle, the one Mind, the only self-existent Life. This one Mind is the source, the creator of all true thoughts. These ideas are perfect, as perfect as their creator. Thus as we begin with a perfect premise, it is possible to reach the correct conclusion on every subject to which we need to give attention. We feel rightly as we gain a demonstrable understanding of divine Love, infinite Soul, and use it practically in our daily lives.

 

The True Way to Heal

The true way to live which Christian Science, in harmony with the teaching of Jesus, has brought to needy humanity, includes the true way to heal. The facts which have just been presented are basic in this healing work. Even a glimpse of the present perfection of God and the real man at once brings courage and hope to one who seems to be fettered by sickness or sin. In the light of this truth it is seen that disease, suffering, pain, discords of every kind, are no part of God's creation. These errors do not enter into God's perfect and harmonious plan. Oftentimes quickly, sometimes more gradually, these truths clearly seen bring healing even in the most difficult cases.

The method of healing in Christian Science is not a stereotyped form. It is best practiced with spontaneity, freedom, and joy. Patience, wisdom, and love equip the practitioner with spiritual power and bring to the patient the needed receptivity whereby he quickly awakens to his birthright of health and freedom. The healing work in Christian Science is not adding anything to man. It is revealing man as he is, in reality. A sculptor, producing a work of art, does not add to the block of marble in its crude state. He removes from it that which is nonessential, leaving only the beautiful image he has aimed to reproduce.

Healing, as understood in Christian Science, is much more than physical cure, although that is necessary and important. Healing in its broad sense includes the harmonizing of all one's activities and affairs. It extends to the home, to one's business, to all one's social duties − in fact, to everything that concerns all of us. Thus it is indeed far-reaching in its scope. The study of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy along with the Bible, as well as our Leader's other writings, affords the effective means of attaining that mental state in which healing becomes possible, in fact inevitable. So the study of these books is commended as essential in this great work. "For," to quote the words of the wise man, "they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh."

 

Life's Practical Lessons

One of the most pressing needs of humanity is that of knowing where one should live. There are those who feel that they are not in their right place, that they do not have the proper environment. At the same time they do not know how to correct this wrong condition. Christian Science affords the remedy. If you are in perplexity on this point, you can begin to declare and realize that in reality you live in God. Persevere along this line of thought, attending to each present task to the best of your ability. Then your sincere declaration and realization cannot fail to bring about better living conditions, as outwardly seen. After all is said and done, the quality of our thinking determines our environment and our progress in life. So we do well to begin with our thinking.

In an airplane you may fly above a city. You can observe where its boundaries begin and where they end, if you are sufficiently high and the visibility is good. Beyond the city on all sides you may see wide open spaces with green fields, running brooks, and pleasant woods. This serves to give freer scope to your thinking. Sometimes you may have found, when living in a large city with its skyscrapers shutting you in, with its many personal, business, and social interests occupying attention, that it seemed to be difficult to see above or beyond them. But as the true idea of Life, the spiritual idea of Life, takes possession of your thinking, it lifts you above this narrow, cramping environment. You breathe more freely mentally, and gain a better view of all things.

At this time when so much thought is being given to physical health, strength, and beauty, Christian Science has something of immense value to offer to everyone. It is not to give less thought to desirable attainments, but more, better, and higher thought on the right basis. One important step in the right direction is to stop thinking of these qualities as physical, and to gain the true idea. Health and strength are qualities of Mind, qualities of God, and man reflects these divine qualities; and with increasing spirituality it is possible for every individual to express these qualities more abundantly.

Believing that man is physical, and that the pursuit of Truth is aided by ceaseless investigation of physical phenomena, the human mind has become lost in its contemplation of matter. Thus it has gone around in a vicious circle, knowing not how to break the spell of this self-deceptive mesmerism. This hypnotic spell is broken by Christian Science, which unfolds the fact that God is one Mind, one Life, and that man is the reflection of this one Mind, the expression of this one Life.

Instead of letting thought dwell on the physical body, turn thought away from it to the contemplation of God as the one Mind. You will find that this liberates your thought and frees your body. It takes away fear of the body, and gives you more dominion over it. It will promote your health, your welfare, your happiness immeasurably. Thus you are finding your true being, your perfect spiritual selfhood.

We can accept all the good things which divine Love gives to us with joy and gratitude. So too, we can meet any difficulty or danger with the consciousness that where the difficulty seems to be, there is, if we meet it wisely and scientifically, a blessing of worth untold. So then, whatever comes or goes, we shall go forward with increasing serenity, ever-renewed joy, and an abiding consciousness of God's presence.

Many a languishing business has been revitalized, restored to activity and success, by the correct application of Christian Science. The scientific method which is applicable in healing physical disease is equally effective when used to promote success and harmony in a legitimate business enterprise. The business man who understands Christian Science refuses to let his business die or stagnate. By appropriate affirmations of truth suited to the need he utilizes the life-giving facts of being. When selfishness and the desire for gain give place to a more wholesome desire to give service, the foundation for prosperity is securely laid. When spirituality predominates in the motives animating business enterprise, success is achieved. The life of business is assured as one attends well to the important business of life.

In these days of intensive specialization, workers need the helpful balance which Christian Science affords. Specialists have been known to refer to themselves facetiously as those who are "learning more and more about less and less." The specialist is wise who, while attending to his useful duties, at the same time acquires a working knowledge of Christian Science. The spiritual facts of being thus gained help him to live more broadly. Thus he continues to learn more and more about more and more − to understand better the infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation.

In the practice of Christian Science it has been proved in many instances that where a healing has been temporarily delayed it has been because the patient was clinging to matter or the material sense of life, depending upon physical means for help or relief. Even if you have not wholly overcome your belief that material means will help you, even if there is still a lingering faith in the efficacy of matter, you can nevertheless cling persistently to the fact that spiritual means alone are adequate, and keep free from self-condemnation. This will correct the wrong belief, and bring the healing through absolute reliance on spiritual power. Many an earnest seeker for health and happiness has found these blessings, aided by the use of Solomon's humble prayer, "Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart."

Some time ago, in the course of my travels, a young man whom I met asked me about my work. When learning of my activities as a Christian Scientist, he indicated that he knew all about Christian Science, saying with assurance, "It's all in your mind." Christian Science does indeed make clear that all discord is mental in its origin, but it does not merely brush it aside by saying that it is just imagination. It is not superficial. It provides a definite means whereby the ills of humanity are overcome by intelligent utilization of the divine law. This involves diligent study and persistent application.

 

Relying on God's Guidance

Nothing can be more precious in life than the ability to depend definitely upon the unerring guidance of God. At times you may have considered a definite course of action, but for some reason that you can not understand, you have been prevented from taking that course. Under such circumstances, the Scientist realizes that if this is a right step error cannot hinder him from taking it, and that if it is not a right step Truth will prevent him from taking it. Thus he removes the question from the realm of mortal opinion and human will, and places it where it belongs, in the hands of God. He who is seeking to allow the divine Mind to govern all his affairs is saved from undue anxiety and fear regarding the outcome in any given situation.

A young Christian Scientist, engaged in what was to him at that time a very important undertaking, found that occasionally some contemplated step was delayed. A more experienced worker voiced the thought that this might not be obstruction, but God's guidance; and so it proved. The step contemplated was not a wise one; it was arrested until the right step was seen. Then events again moved smoothly. In the Bible we read that on one occasion, when Balaam was proceeding on an unwise course, the angel of God opposed him. Failing to see the danger signal, Balaam urged forward the ass on which he rode. The ass turned out of the way, finally rebuking him for the course he was pursuing. Then Balaam's eyes were opened to see his mistake. This illustrates in the symbolic language of the East, how trivial incidents may bring to our attention danger signals designed to arrest us in a course that is wrong, and turn us in the direction that is right.

 

The Value of the Bible

Christ Jesus over nineteen hundred years ago brought to our attention eternal Truth. He spoke of Truth as "the bread of life," the "living bread which came down from heaven." In noting what he said and did, we are not looking backward, as some people would have us believe, but forward. He was doing his great work not only for that time, but for our time and for all time to come. The facts which he presented were and are eternal, present realities. We have demonstrated as yet only a fraction of them. Spiritual progress will enable us continually to approximate the ideals which he presented and lived.

Many of the very people who say that we should not look backward to the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, and of the prophets and apostles, are using every day of their lives the discoveries of Euclid, who lived three hundred years before Jesus. In studying Euclid in order to apply mathematical truths, are we looking backward? Certainly not. Euclid presented facts which are as true now as they were when he enunciated them. So also, but in a much higher degree, with the truths taught and demonstrated by Christ Jesus.

The first forty odd years of the twentieth century have witnessed a remarkable progress in invention. It were well that the remaining fifty or more years of this century be devoted more specifically to the development of Christian character. In this way, these inventions will be used as servants, aiding humanity's welfare, not as disasters, threatening humanity's doom. Wise teachers have encouraged those of tender years to learn passages from the book of Proverbs. I know a teacher who did this, selecting a dozen or more simple passages, which his pupils memorized. As time went on, and these young people developed and matured, these truths became as a guiding star in their lives. They protected them in times of trial and temptation. This method is worthy of earnest thought and attention. It has indeed been developed still further in the educational system of Christian Science. As a result of the daily study of our Lessons-Sermons, Bible truths furnish the motive-power of the thoughts and acts of all who study them.

True religion vitalizes one's spiritual faculties and energies. It releases his highest capabilities, making possible progressively the grandest achievement. These God-bestowed blessings which were enjoyed in large measure during the first three centuries of the Christian era, began to wane from then on. As religionists began to adopt human doctrines in place of pure Christianity, the spiritual element was temporarily stifled. Theologians wasted time in speculating and disputing about the nature of Christ when they might have employed their time better in expressing the Christ-spirit. And while men wrangled in bitter debate over ecclesiastical questions, the poor clamoring at the gates for living bread went away hungry, sad, unfed. It was a momentous day for humanity when Mrs. Eddy, cutting through the tangled web of ecclesiasticism, restored the vital healing element which had lain dormant for so long. While theorizing about Christ temporarily shut out the true healing power, the practice of the Science of Christ has restored it, to be enjoyed forever, so long as the exponents of this Science are faithful to their trust. Thus Mrs. Eddy could write with conviction in her book, "Retrospection and Introspection" (p. 66): "Christian Science gives vitality to religion, which is no longer buried in materiality. It raises men from a material sense into the spiritual understanding and scientific demonstration of God."

 

Healing of the Nations

This priceless boon of true religion is coming to nations proportionately as it comes to the individuals who comprise the nations. No longer can it be asserted that religion is an opiate, deadening the faculties of man. This never could be said of true religion, but the indictment stands against the false. It is plain that many who have appeared to reject Christianity have not actually objected to the essence of Jesus' teaching. They have rebelled against the mistakes which have come falsely in his name. When they recognize the true religion of Jesus with its humaneness, its justice, its helpfulness to all, they are eager to embrace it, and adopt it as their basis for living. They awaken to the face that for harmonious and successful living there is no substitute for Christian morality. There is a deep longing in the human heart which nothing can satisfy but the helpful message of true Christianity. Just as the rousing message of scientific Christianity is bringing healing to individuals, so also today it is bringing healing to the nations. Agnosticism and infidelity are giving place to the true understanding of God and His law, and thus a higher standard of living is reached.

 

Grandeur of True Life

In the light of Christian Science we see that Life is not a mere dragging out of a material sense of existence, but the consciousness of power, love, and joy − the actual enjoyment of all that is good − here and now. Life is something grand to be enjoyed, not something painful to be endured. To this higher, nobler view of Life Christian Science summons us today. From every department of human affairs comes the imperative call for alert, wide-awake thinking and intelligent action, for the putting aside of outgrown theories and methods, which only cause stagnation, and worse − retrogression. The spiritual ideal presented by Christian Science is the remedy.

It is no crime to enjoy life. It is our God-given privilege to do so. The difficulty has been that too many have believed that they enjoyed what they falsely believed to be life, an erroneous material sense of existence. This false sense of enjoyment leads only to difficulty and disappointment. To enjoy Life, God, is not only wise but essential. Man exists to express God. The Bible tells us that God delights in His perfect creation; and so man by reflection delights in his perfect creator, God. This is the golden key to human happiness here now. The individual who is realizing his unity with God knows what true happiness is. No mistakes of others can interfere in the least with one's enjoyment of harmony, because it is born of God and sustained by God.

In the book of Revelation, John presents in symbolic language the fuller appearing of the Christ-idea, the spiritual idea of Life and Love. The Revelator tells of a book sealed with seven seals. The Lamb of God, the spiritual idea of divine Love, alone is able to open this book. He is attended by four beasts and twenty-four elders, which may be interpreted as typifying the overcoming of all materiality with the spiritual sense of being. As the Lamb opens each of four seals one after the other, the four beasts, typifying this conquest of error, say, in turn, "Come and see." With each step in the process of spiritual revelation comes a clearer enjoyment of spiritual vision. Christian Science repeats the invitation so often given throughout the Bible, "Come and see." Come and acquaint yourselves with the practical power of the one divine Mind. See for yourselves how it operates. Let this open your eyes to the grandeur of spiritual being, the perfection of God's creation.

In dealing with this important subject, the true way to live, we have seen that Jesus the Christ has shown us the way. We have noted how Mrs. Eddy, with her spiritual-mindedness, was able to bring back into active use the spiritual element so essential to Christianity. We have considered the application of this power in healing, in bringing harmony to all our activities. We know that all can learn and practice this Science and be blessed by so doing, A new era is opening up before humanity, an era of greater justice, kindlier consideration, wiser living. Christian Science has its important place in this great consummation.

Mrs. Eddy in one of her inspired poems, now used as a hymn, acknowledges the might of divine Love and Life in these words (Poems, p. 7):

 

"Thou to whose power our hope we give,

Free us from human strife.

Fed by Thy love divine we live,

For Love alone is Life;

And life most sweet, as heart to heart

Speaks kindly when we meet and part."

 

[Dec. 17, 1942.]

 

 

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