Christian Science: The Victory of Good Over Evil
Peter B. Biggins, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Peter B. Biggins,
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows;
Today there is a pressing demand for practical Christianity. Men and women, finding themselves in unforeseen situations, are turning to God for help. Christian Science is enabling large numbers to do this, with good results. While on one hand there is much that may occasion us grave consideration, on the other we see in recent times a widespread quickening of interest in spiritual things. This is gratifying, and it augurs well for the happiness and prosperity of humanity.
The life of Christ Jesus, our Exemplar, is the most victorious recorded in history. His triumph was a complete mastery of the belief in a selfhood separated from God. His victory lay in his conscious realization of his oneness with God.
One day, when Jesus was at Capernaum,
a Roman centurion asked him to heal his servant, who was lying at home sick of
the palsy. The centurion was confident that merely by speaking the word,
declaring truth, Jesus could accomplish the healing,
without needing to visit the patient. "Speak the word only," he said,
"and my servant shall be healed." The Romans had conquered
Christ Jesus came preaching the gospel of the kingdom of heaven. He proclaimed the good news that harmony is always present. He healed disease instantaneously, because he was wholly and overwhelmingly controlled by the spirit of Truth, the Principle of harmony. No disease, whether it was leprosy, paralysis, or insanity, could stand before his understanding and demonstration of omnipotent harmony.
Few intelligent people in our civilized communities will deny the vital fact which Christianity presents, namely, that there is a supreme intelligence governing the universe and man. This ever-present power, which is able to govern the sun and the earth, and all the other planets and stars, is able also to control all the affairs of men. When we recognize and yield to this omnipotent intelligence, which we call God, we have the basis for effectively mastering all difficulties. We are using the means whereby all human affairs may be harmonized in accordance with the law of Truth and Love. We are establishing the kingdom of heaven, the reign of harmony, on earth.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, tells how we may use this harmony which Christ Jesus utilized. Her teaching is simple, direct, effective. Christian Science enables us to prove that spiritual power is supreme. It reveals the fact that God, the divine Principle of being, is perfect, and that man always has been and always will be God's perfect image and likeness. It is, in short, the restoration of the method which Jesus taught and practiced. It reveals the supreme good, and how it may be attained. It is this superiority of spiritual power over the physical that Christian Science emphasizes at every point. Mrs. Eddy has written in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 130): "It is unwise to doubt if reality is in perfect harmony with God, divine Principle, - if Science, when understood and demonstrated, will destroy all discord, - since you admit that God is omnipotent; for from this premise it follows that good and its sweet concords have all-power."
Science and Health has proved to be a priceless aid to a large number of people in overcoming difficulties. It shows us how to think from the standpoint of Truth, spiritual reality. Presenting as it does important basic facts, it leaves each one free to utilize these truths in accordance with well-defined rules, as suited to the individual need. It teaches us how to affirm truth, and thus appropriate what is good.
Isaiah, in the midst of great national difficulties, raised his voice clearly and strongly, and proclaimed, "God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid." You and I are privileged to be learning day by day the practical significance of this statement. Divine Love is our salvation. Love saves from every difficulty and danger, from every ill. As we accept this fact habitually, we practice correct thinking. Trusting divine Love absolutely, we cannot fear, because, in the language of the Bible, "perfect love casteth out fear." Since God, good, is All-in-all, there is nothing in this universe of Love to fear. As we affirm and realize the truth, we are praying aright. When Job firmly resolved and declared that he would trust God whatever might come, he adopted a correct mental attitude which eventually resulted in his complete freedom from a serious physical ailment. It also brought to him a fuller measure of prosperity and happiness than he had before enjoyed.
With this growing realization of divine Love's ever-presence, we utilize the Word of God with greater authority. The clear sense of Truth, and how we may use the truth scientifically and exactly in its specific application to the solution of each problem, becomes plainer day by day, as we study the Christian Science textbook.
It is right to be happy, healthy, free from limitation, enjoying ample supply. Actually these blessings, according to Christian Science, are here in divine Mind for every one of us, in spite of the opposing evidence of the senses. We shall not impoverish others by appropriating what belongs to us, but actually enrich them; because, as each one lays hold of the divine riches - "the exceeding riches of his grace," to quote the words of Paul - more of these riches are being brought into evidence. The kingdom of heaven is here now, for Jesus said that it "is within you." In it there are not some rich and some poor, some wise and some unwise, some healthy and some sick. All express, in reality, the wisdom, health, and affluence of the infinite Mind, boundless Love. All have access to infinite supply. This is the realm in which we now dwell, and we are all the heirs of God, enjoying these boundless riches, these unlimited blessings.
A friend of mine, who as a young man was sentenced by his family physician on account of a supposedly hereditary disease, was quickly and completely healed through Christian Science. A few years later, in order to satisfy certain business requirements, he underwent a medical examination. The examining physician not only pronounced him in good health, but emphasized the fact that his physical condition was excellent. He has enjoyed still more blessings, as a result of his wholehearted devotion to Truth. Before he learned of Christian Science, his business was yielding unsatisfactory results. As soon as he gained a good understanding of this teaching through the study of Science and Health, and learned how to apply it to every detail of his experience, the returns from his business improved, and his supply was multiplied. Soon the way opened for him to enter upon a work of wider usefulness. He has progressed continually, and has carried on his work in good health and without interruption for many years.
The Bible is full of accounts of spiritual conquest. This gives to it its great value, vitality, and practicality. It is because of this that the Bible, which includes some of the most ancient literature extant, is at the same time the most modern of books. Its spiritual verities are "new every morning," as Jeremiah says. As the rising sun brings to us each morning new hopes, new possibilities, new joys, so the truths contained in the Bible come home to us, with new and practical meaning, as thought is awakened spiritually. When men in times of trial and danger turn to this "Book of books," they find therein the answer to their questionings, and the way to demonstrate the power of Truth to solve their problems. For them, then, never again can there be any gainsaying of this power.
When the Israelites were proceeding to the promised land, Moses sent forth twelve men to reconnoiter. This journey of the Israelites is symbolic of the progress of each one of us from a material sense of things to a higher spiritual sense. In this, as in all other Bible narratives, it is the spiritual meaning which concerns us most. These twelve brought back samples of the fruits of the land. Ten of them submitted to Moses a discouraging report. They were judging only according to the material senses. "We came unto the land whither thou sentest us," so they reported to their inspired leader, "and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great." And, as if to settle the question for all time, they added, "We saw the children of Anak there." Anak was a mighty giant. His three sons also were giants. They belonged to a wandering tribe that had taken temporary possession of this region.
But two of the twelve scouts,
Caleb and Joshua, brought back a favorable minority report, in which they
proposed that the Israelites go forward and possess the land. Forty years
later, Joshua succeeded Moses as leader. After the Israelites were established
In Science and Health (p. 242), Mrs. Eddy presents a practical means of overcoming evil when she writes, "In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error, - self-will, self-justification, and self-love, - which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death." In our upward journey from sense to Soul, whereby we find fuller freedom, health, and happiness, we each have our hill of Hebron to conquer. We have to subdue in our own consciousness these three sons of Anak, self-will, self-justification, and self-love. This scientific conquest of evil brings out a fuller sense of love for God and man, unselfed love. It enables us to practice true volition, active obedience to the will of God. It should enable us to justify ourselves on a right basis by seeing ourselves as the children of God, expressing our true spiritual selfhood. As these victories are won progressively, health rests no longer on the drifting sands of material belief, but is established on a true foundation, even as in the case of Caleb. We are enabled through the footsteps of enlightened faith to plant our feet on the permanent rock of spiritual understanding.
The overcoming of evil with good involves an awakening, as from a dream. Good is the reality, and it is always actually here, because God is infinite good. Evil is a dream, which all too often seems to be here. As the reality of good is declared and realized, the dream of evil is dispelled, even as darkness is dispelled by light. This may be illustrated by the following simple, but far-reaching proof of healing. A woman was suffering from a physical ailment, a serious heart trouble. One day while going to answer the telephone, she walked across the room with great difficulty, not knowing whether she could reach the telephone. It was her sister calling to tell of a visit to a friend who was seriously ill. She said that she had told this friend that he must awake. The words, spoken with authority and conviction, so aroused the listener that she left the telephone free and well. As it was proved when the centurion said to Jesus, "Speak the word only," so at this time, although the speaker knew nothing of her sister's need, the words spoken with clear understanding and positiveness brought healing instantaneously.
Throughout her entire teaching, Mrs. Eddy makes clear that the basis of healing in Christian Science is the conscious fact of the perfection of being. This basic fact is stated in the commandments of Moses and the gospel of Christ Jesus. Mrs. Eddy writes in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 67), "Above physical wants, lie the higher claims of the law and gospel of healing." Then, after carefully analyzing what is necessary in order to obey certain commandments - she enumerates the seventh, the eighth, the sixth, and the ninth in that order - she writes further, "Obedience to these commandments is indispensable to health, happiness, and length of days."
These commandments do more than require purity, honesty, love, and integrity. Obedience to these commandments imparts the ability to exemplify these qualities. The human mind needs something above itself to bring out good results. The divine Mind imparts what is needed. God has given to us the commandments for this very purpose. Obedience to these divine demands enables each one who obeys them to reach a higher standard of thinking and living.
The practical application of these precious rules of conduct may be illustrated simply by the following experience. One day a man who was looking around a counter in a stationer's store was observed by one of the clerks to pick up a box of stationery and make off with it. This clerk is a student of Christian Science, and she instantly declared mentally, "God never made a thief." Her recognition of the fact that man is made in the image and likeness of God supported her declaration, and the fact she declared was clearly realized. Soon the man returned, laid the box of stationery on the counter, and said, "I never did anything like that before." Can we doubt that this instant, practical use of the Eighth Commandment blessed that man? Can we estimate the value of that experience to him? Instead of succeeding in his wrong course, he was arrested in it. It was enough to teach him a lesson never to be forgotten, and to encourage him ever after to be honest. Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (p. 453): "Honesty is spiritual power. Dishonesty is human weakness, which forfeits divine help."
In humanity's progress from a material sense of things to a higher spiritual sense, the time came when it was necessary that the gospel of Christ should be proclaimed anew and spiritual healing be restored. As God had prepared Moses, Caleb, and Joshua through obedience to His law, as in a later age He had prepared Christ Jesus for his great work, so in this age God prepared Mary Baker Eddy for the work she had to do.
As a child she was taught to love and obey the commandments, and the First Commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," became her favorite. In the Sermon on the Mount, uttered by Christ Jesus, she found the answer to life's perplexing problems. The ninety-first Psalm assured her of protection, prosperity, and length of days, a promise made to those who trust God. She early became a member of a Congregational church, and retained this membership until she founded her own church.
Edward Rowland Sill, in one of his
whimsical poems, tells of a man named Yunus, who came
one day to a city called Gnostertown, in the
"O heretic! O hapless wight!
Can a thousand be wrong, and one be right?
For there's more of them than there is of you."
One Sunday, some time later, the court preacher delivered a sermon, in which he made the point that "truth . . . is not a thing of majority." Yunus, however, had not remained true to his convictions. He had made the mistake of following the line of least resistance, and yielding to the majority.
About the time when Sill wrote this delightful poem, Mrs. Eddy was pursuing her pioneer work as the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. The beliefs of the majority of the world's millions, trusting in the reality and substantiality of matter, were arrayed against the truth which she proclaimed. Unlike the fanciful Yunus, however, she stood her ground - alone as she was - and vindicated the precious truth which God had revealed to her. With dauntless courage she presented this revelation of God and man, which healed her, and through her has healed many others. Like Caleb, Mrs. Eddy could have said truthfully, "I wholly followed the Lord my God." In advance of others, she saw the promised land of Spirit and its great possibilities. Undismayed by the obstacles and difficulties which confronted her, she opened the way for all to enjoy the fruits of her discovery. When, in a crisis, someone stands up in the face of danger, and forgetting self, does a great and noble work, man, the real man in God's likeness, appears. Mrs. Eddy exemplified this true ideal of manhood and womanhood in an outstanding degree.
Mrs. Eddy's work as the Discoverer of Christian Science is set forth in simple and beautiful language in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." I shall always remember the impression this book made upon me when I first read it. The purity of its language, its beautiful concepts, immediately lifted my thought to a perception of God's presence. It is a work of eternity, however, for each one of us to rise demonstrably to the altitude of thought expressed in Science and Health. Nevertheless, so practical are its truths that even at our earliest stages of growth we find that these facts, when held to and faithfully utilized, work wonders for us in our human experience.
Our Leader's work in founding the Christian Science movement is preserved in the Manual of The Mother Church. In order to maintain a proper balance in our work, we need to heed the instruction this book contains, and avail ourselves of the guidance afforded by Mrs. Eddy in the Church Manual. This book contains the basis of our entire organization, and it furnishes helpful guidance for human conduct. The plan for all the activities of our movement is simply and openly set forth in this book. The order of services held in The Mother Church, and in its branch churches throughout the world, is embodied in the Manual.
Those who have been blessed by the healing ministry of Christian Science naturally take the logical steps resulting from their enjoyment of these blessings. They become identified with the organized work of our church, and lend their aid, according to their experience and ability, to the promoting of the Cause which has blessed them.
The benefits derived from
attending the services held in the Christian
Dwell, therefore, my friends, long and much on the fact of the present perfection of God and man. Take in what this means and involves. Let this fill your consciousness. Thus you will find that which will solve your problems and meet your needs. You will prove the divine power of good which dispels every suggestion of evil. One of our hymns says:
And hell in vain oppose;
in spite of all His foes."
(Christian Science Hymnal, No. 397.)
While the teaching of Christian Science is presented as a definite method, this in no way interferes with spontaneity. The very correctness and adequacy of its method ensures freedom of expression. It makes possible a fuller enjoyment of the spirit of Truth, the sweet influence of divine Love, which brings liberation and strength to humanity. It makes it possible to use the infinite divine resources, and to enjoy the continual unfoldment of good. This extends to everything we have to do, improving every activity.
In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy gives definite arguments as an aid in healing the sick and in overcoming evil of various kinds. At the same time she emphasizes the fact that the most important thing is to gain more and more of the spirit of Truth and Love. Students find that the declarations of Truth given by our Leader in this book guide them to use the specific affirmations needed in their own particular case. Her words, written on page 412 of this textbook, illustrate this fact: "You may vary the arguments to meet the peculiar or general symptoms of the case you treat, but be thoroughly persuaded in your own mind concerning the truth which you think or speak, and you will be the victor."
Today, the word "victory" is on many lips. The work that is essential to victory engages many willing hands. The ideals underlying this triumph are enshrined in many loving hearts. Never before has the necessity for united work toward a worthy end been so emphatically brought home to the consciousness of humanity as it is today.
The issue that confronts every thinking man and woman in the world has gradually defined itself. It is this: Can the ideals of Christianity survive, or will they be submerged in a flood of paganism? More simply stated; Can evil triumph over good? It is gratifying to find that on this simple fundamental issue there is such widespread, positive agreement. The best element in humanity everywhere arises and proclaims in no uncertain tone: Good is supreme over evil. Christianity is victorious over paganism. Truth is now and forever triumphant.
In the Middle
Ages many armed expeditions were made by those professing Christianity for the
purpose of recovering the
The crusade in which we are engaged
today is no "Children's Crusade." We are armed with the omnipotence
of Spirit, impregnable, irresistible armor. This crusade is to prove that the
forces of good cannot be overcome by so-called forces even more cruel than
those of the Middle Ages. The Saracens were then in
Christian Science makes clear that we cannot afford to leave evil alone. It must be overcome by good, and wisdom is needed in this process. It is the teaching of Christian Science that evil left alone extends its baneful activities. It must be arrested before its subtle influence can spread, claiming to overmaster good. True Christianity will never counsel a passive, supine altitude toward evil. It overcomes evil by positive, direct, and vigorous action.
The effort of evil to gain possession of this world has been a huge gamble. The stakes have been tremendous. Gambling, whether on an individual, a national, or a worldwide scale, is always unprofitable. The triumph of Truth is assured. Christian Science naturally leads one away from gambling or speculating of every kind, whether it be in theology, in finance, or in statecraft. Christian Science rests upon the demonstration of Truth and is capable of being proved. It promotes the quality of diligence; it awakens and keeps alive the faculty of effort.
Many an individual who has labored long with the effort of human will to overcome some enslaving habit, such as drinking or smoking, has won freedom as his thought has become spiritualized. The understanding that God is Spirit, and that man, in reality, is spiritual, changes every human experience for the better. This understanding spiritualizes the human consciousness. It corrects the tendency of mortals to rely on matter or material beliefs. Mrs. Eddy, with her keen insight into cause and effect, has written in her book "Miscellaneous Writings" (pp. 267, 268): "The predisposing and exciting cause of all defeat and victory under the sun, rests on this scientific basis: that action, in obedience to God, spiritualizes man's motives and methods, and crowns them with success; while disobedience to this divine Principle materializes human modes and consciousness, and defeats them."
In the course of the centuries, the idea of freedom has developed gradually and gained momentum continually. This has been exemplified in the conduct of men and of nations in a fuller expression and enjoyment of the democratic ideal. Human freedom gained an impetus when the English barons wrested from King John the charter which is known as Magna Charta. This has reached a fuller development on the American continent. The Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution with the Bill of Rights are the outgrowth of this liberating process.
It is plain that it is Christianity that has made the development of democracy possible. Today Christian Science is showing us how Christianity may be applied to the solution of all human difficulties, not only to our needs as individuals, but to our problems as nations. Thus Christian Science stands at the very forefront of the defense of democracy. This teaching makes clear that God, the one divine Mind, is governing this universe, including man, in perfect harmony, and that wicked mortal minds are powerless to overthrow, or even interfere with God's perfect and harmonious government. As those who are gaining an understanding of Christian Science use these unassailable truths, they are mightily aiding in the solution of the seemingly perplexing problems which confront us today.
The law of God may be likened to a stream. As demonstrated humanly, it grows continually in volume and strength. All who think truly, humbly, unselfishly, helpfully, are being borne onward on the current of this mighty river. To conform to the operation of this law, so that its influence may flow unhindered in human experience, always has been, and still is, the greatest privilege that man can enjoy. The currents and crosscurrents of mortal mind's propaganda can never stem the current of the divine law, nor turn it from its irresistible onward course.
The good work that Truth, infinite good, has wrought can never be undone by evil. Evil is not person. The ability to separate evil from person is essential to scientific victory over evil. Man in God's image and likeness is in perfect harmony with Truth. God's man loves the truth, and is continually expressing truth. Error has no intelligence, and throughout the centuries it has been proved that the power of Truth ultimately and inevitably prevails, while error destroys itself. Caleb, to whom reference has already been made, proved this. Through his obedience to divine law, he won a decisive victory over lawlessness. He overcame the pagan belief that advancing years bring decrepitude. He preserved youthful freshness and vigor. Happy is he, who, like Caleb, intelligently and consistently identifies himself with triumphant Truth.
In the seventeenth chapter of the book of Matthew, we read that at one time Jesus took three of his disciples, Peter, James, and John, to a high mountain. There he was "transfigured before them." "His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light." In this experience Jesus enabled his students to gain a clearer view of immortality, as expressed by Moses and Elias. As we discern the immortality of Moses, we understand better the enduring vitality of the Ten Commandments, or Mosaic Decalogue. It cannot be reasonably questioned that the present wave of juvenile delinquency and race hatred has resulted from putting aside the Mosaic Decalogue; and to the extent that the divine law is more fully obeyed, these present-day problems will be solved. It is the birthright of every child to have a sound moral training from his earliest years. It is his right to have wholesome surroundings in home and school, and to be kept free from erroneous educational methods and other harmful materialistic influences. We pay much attention to the development of our natural resources. Let us give more of the right kind of attention to the development and care of our most precious charges, our children. Obedience to the law of God will meet this need, and do justice to all individuals, races, and nations. This obedience will spiritualize and transform human experience. It will elevate society in general, "according to the pattern shewed . . . in the mount," and ensure the progressive victory of good over evil.
There are today those who claim that Christianity has had its day. They admit that it has accomplished much good, but insist that the time has come for a "new order." The good work done by Christianity stands, and will stand. What we need is a fuller utilization of that which Christianity makes possible. Christian Science has come in time to meet this need. Individuals, groups, nations - Christendom in general - may well give heed to the wise words written by Mrs. Eddy in "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 200): "What holds us to the Christian life is the seven-fold shield of honesty, purity, and unselfed love."
It was customary for the children of
The Revelator, speaking of the victory of Truth over error, writes: "And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying. Great and marvellous are thy works. Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. . . . For all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest."
Christianity, as restated and reinstated by Christian Science, teaches us how to demonstrate the power of Christ, Truth. It is the practical, satisfying religion of Christ, suited to the needs of the present, and perfectly adequate to meet every demand in the future.
Whatever the problem or difficulty may be, whether it be one of sickness, sin, or lack, whether it be individual or national, the victory is won through obedience to the law of God. At last, through the revelation of Christian Science, the application of the divine law to every human need can be made with scientific certainty. It rests with each one of us to learn this law, and gain experience in its application. We have the encouraging assurance of our Leader, Mrs. Eddy, written in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 105), "Christian Science is an everlasting victor, and vanquishment is unknown to the omnipresent Truth."
[Published in The Marion County Mail of Indianapolis, Indiana, May 4, 1945.]