Christian Science: The Key to Self-Government (2)
John Sidney Braithwaite, C.S.B., of London, England
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
At the auditorium last evening, a large and representative audience listened with close attention and interest to a lecture on Christian Science, by John Sidney Braithwaite, M.A., C.S.B., of London, England. The lecture was under the auspices of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Mount Vernon, and was throughout, an occasion of importance and interest to all who were in attendance.
John Sidney Braithwaite, the lecturer, was introduced by Mrs. Lillian M. McAdow, who said:
"These are stirring times: It is pre-eminently an altruistic age. The people can no longer endure with equanimity the spectacle of war, future wars, injustice and oppression. A spiritual movement has become paramount in human consciousness that demands the rights and blessings of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Christian Science based on the principles of Jesus' teaching brings the message of love and healing as prophesied, by Malachi, "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings.''
Christian Science bases its testimony wholly upon the Scriptures. David said it is the Lord "who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases."
Jesus healed the sick by spiritual means and commanded his disciples to go and do likewise. The early Christians continued this natural and normal method of spiritual healing for some three or four hundred years after the crucifixion. Then slowly this Christian and scientific view of health became practically lost until the re-discovery to modern times by Mary Baker Eddy who set forth the Principle of divine healing in her text-book. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. It is significant that Mrs. Eddy placed the word "health" in the title to the text-book.
Mrs. Eddy wisely established a board of lectureship whose members are authorized to give a general idea of Christian Science and its mission to mankind. We have with us a member of this board of lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, Mass.
It is a privilege to introduce Mr. John Sidney Braithwaite, of London."
The lecturer said:
Whenever any form of religious teaching claims our attention it is clear that we ought to be ready with some kind of test — a mental touchstone — that we can apply to it to see how much truth it really contains. There are some words of an eighteenth century writer which seem to supply the needed requirement. He says, "That is the truest doctrine which hath a tendency to make thee live in the best and wisest manner." Christian Science nevertheless proposes a further test, for, it says that if such doctrine is based on the teachings of Christ Jesus, then it should be found to confer in addition the best health. It is just because Christian Science has helped so many people to a better and wiser manner of life, besides healing them of physical ailments and keeping them well, that so much interest has been aroused in it.
The essential sanity and health and optimism which permeate Christian Science are helping to lead human thought, and to supply the moral qualities that are needed to hold it steadfast in the midst of present storms and beating waves.
Need of the Hour
It is surely correct to say that the great need of this hour is for more constructive thinking. There is plenty of the destructive variety about. What seems to be needed is that kind of mental activity that has love for God and man as its impelling motive.
The first step in any such constructive thinking as this must unquestionably be individual self-government, and Christian Science is the key to self-government, as we expect to show in this lecture. Until one has learned how to govern himself, how can one be ready, as everyone of us should be ready, to take his part in the government of the people? Is it not clear that a nation or a movement will be safe when self-government is the first concern of the individuals composing it? The Bible says, "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city."
Mary Baker Eddy
Just as a book that has stood the test of time will often have by way of preface a short biographical note about the author, so it will not perhaps be out of place for me to begin with a word about the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy.
What is the place that she occupies in the unfoldment of Christianity to mankind? Can she be compared to other great religious teachers and reformers such as Luther, Calvin, Wesley or George Fox?
Well, there is this great difference between her work and theirs, that while each one of those men had his distinct message to the age in which he lived, and each one had a certain genius for organization, not one ever claimed the full measure of the Master's promises. It seems that they did not see far enough to associate his teaching with the word Science, neither did they dare to advocate physical healing as an essential part of the Master's instructions to his disciples throughout all time. They did not know how to do so, and, in some instances where healing occurred, they even feared lest it should result in a darkening of their message, through a building up of their own personality, in place of the Christ. And mind you, they were not very wide of the mark in estimating this danger, but Mrs. Eddy saw it too and faced it. She fearlessly insisted on healing as an essential feature of Christianity, but she also saw that nothing but strict adherence to the truth could qualify for this demonstration.
Mrs. Eddy brought to Christianity that which it had hitherto lacked — the Science of its teaching. Nothing could be added to the spirit of the Master's teaching, but the age is demanding its scientific explanation. Mrs. Eddy supplied both. Her book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," is the textbook of Christian Science, and her Church Manual provides the rules by which this healing system becomes an integral feature of the Church of Christ. These two books never can be separated nor superseded.
The story of Mrs. Eddy's own healing, which was occasioned by a sudden flash of illumination thrown on a passage of Scripture, has been so often told that I will not repeat it now, but it is perhaps not so generally known that it was a regular physician who urged her to embody her discovery in a book and thus give to the world her curative system of divine metaphysics. He had good reason for doing so, for he had seen her heal pneumonia instantaneously, when he himself had declared that the patient could not live.
One might dwell at considerable length on Mrs. Eddy's deeply spiritual nature, her unselfed and statesman-like leadership of the Christian Science movement, her far-seeing wisdom, her loving warning, her stern rebuke, and her gentle entreaty, but I think that the world today is more willing to concede these things than it formerly was and to give her her rightful place and so I will proceed to deal with some aspects of her discovery.
Back to the Bible
Perhaps the most important thing that Christian Science does for the real truth-seeker is that it gives him back his Bible. So many people have let their Bibles go in exchange for the more speculative and uninspired writings of would-be leaders of thought. They have wandered far into theories about health, human nature, death and the hereafter, in many cases only to return by the same door they went in saying as old Omar said:
"There was the door to which I found no key:
There was the evil through which I might not see."
And just as we may hear nowadays the call of "back to the land", reminding men of the essentials of existence, lost sight of in the rush and speculation of the city, so in Christian Science the cry is "back to the Bible." There you will find the door you seek to open, and here in Christian Science is the key to it. The very first of the tenets of Christian Science is "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life."
Text-Book as Key
The key which the Christian Science text-book supplies to the Bible brings to the one who is reading it a power of discernment hitherto unsuspected, so that he finds himself being released from those traditional interpretations that have neither Science nor common sense to support them and learning to think clearly, connectedly, first on the Scriptures themselves, and then on every phase of human experience.
One might illustrate the change that this key makes in one's thoughts about the Bible in this way; — Suppose that someone were to take you into a large room filled with furniture, books, pictures and other curios, but so dimly lighted that you could barely distinguish the various objects and certainly could make nothing of them, and then he should begin to tell you of their great interest and priceless value. You might say to him "all that you say about these things may be perfectly true, but it hardly interests me because I can't see them in this dim light."
But if the light were turned up it would all be quite different. You could see the things then, study them and form your own estimate of them.
That is what the Christian Science text-book does for the Bible. It turns up the light, so that one may read and understand passages that before seemed meaningless.
Health and Self-Government
It is through this very study of the Bible in conjunction with the Christian Science key that one finds a new health, and a truer sense of what health really means. And also one begins to learn something about self-government, and self-government brings with it a sense of authority, the authority which comes of right thinking. It was of this kind of authority, as illustrated in the life of the Master, that it was written on one occasion that the spectators were "amazed," and questioned among themselves, saying, "What thing is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits and they do obey him."
Christian Science explains to us that in the life of Christ Jesus, the Mind that created the Universe, and keeps it going, was become articulate in human experience, so that all false belief and materialism — knowing its hour was come, literally quailed before him. The divine Principle which holds all things in its orderly grasp was expressing itself in the thoughts and acts of one man. And Christian Science reveals to us that this same Mind, or Principle, which found such clear expression in Jesus, must inevitably be here also with us today, only waiting for us to give it expression as he did to prove its divine origin, and the unreality of all that seems opposed to it.
Consider what this really means — not that we are any longer to think of God as a man who has been here on earth and left it again for an indefinite period, not that He is a gigantic personalty living at an immense distance from His creation, nor again that He is a vast abstraction impossible to understand, but that He is divine Mind, or Principle, eternally unchangeable, present everywhere and all the time, the source and origin of all true law — only waiting to be understood to be found good, and applicable to the smallest detail of human experience, even to the fall of a sparrow, as Jesus put it.
In providing a new set of terms to denote God — Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love — Christian Science is not asking you to accept those words as though they contained in themselves some magical property. The value of these terms is that they bring to the material thought an intelligible idea of God which enables it to reach up and gain some spiritual light, where before all was darkness.
And in this process of lifting up the thought from the limited and material point of view to the purely spiritual, one may find harmony, peace and healing, for it is the prayer of faith in Christian Science. We can then see that we do not need another human being, whether in the guise of priest or doctor, to take care of our spiritual or physical welfare for us. Indeed, they cannot do so. We must work out our own salvation.
The first time I heard of Christian Science was some twenty years ago, when someone told me about the Christian Scientists as a new and strange sect of people that had started in the United States of America. I do not remember all the things he told me about them, but they were made to appear as wild optimists who worshipped Mrs. Eddy; who, when things were going wrong, looked the other way and declared they were all right; that they said that it was hot when it was cold and cold when it was hot; that it was not necessary to wash, and so forth, all of which was intended to present them in the light of a good joke. Some of you will have heard the same sort of statements, no doubt. It is quite likely that I smiled on hearing this, but I do remember also questioning the whole story in my thought. I said to myself, "Probably that is not at all correct, and if it should happen that there are some people who are taking a stand against the mesmeric suggestions of the material senses, and from this standpoint, and in the name of Christ, healing the sick, it is not at all unlikely that they have got hold of something approaching the truth, and I should like to hear more about it."
It was some three years later that an opportunity occurred for me to know more about Christian Science, when a friend kindly lent me a copy of the textbook. I had hardly commenced to study it before I saw that what had previously been told me on the subject was a mere caricature of the true statement of the case. I saw, too, that with this book and the Bible in his hands a man would not only be his own parson and his own doctor, but that he would, in fact, be far better able to look after his own spiritual and physical welfare than anyone else could possibly do for him. And all my subsequent experience has confirmed this view.
Source of Human Falsities
That Christian Science does take an unusual stand on the subject of the five material senses is not disputed, and I hope to make it very clear what the Christian Science position on this point really is. One might cite numerous passages from the Christian Science text-book by way of elucidation, but let one short one suffice. Mrs. Eddy writes in "Science and Health" (p. 489): "The corporeal senses are the only source of evil or error." I submit that this is a very profound statement, and when I use the word profound, I mean that it simplifies things for us enormously, because a really profound statement does always simplify.
Consider for a moment what an advantage it is to us to know the source of evil. Suppose we are sitting at home and we begin to get a smell of something burning about the premises, we don't just sit there and talk about the destructive nature of fire and all the horrors we can think of, but we go in search of the source of the smoke and promptly put it out, and it is the same with evil. If we are going to think and talk of evil as though it were some diabolical intelligence — some inescapable law — with which we can never expect to cope, our case seems hopeless: but if its source is traceable to the corporeal senses we know we can cope with them, if we care to take the trouble. "I keep under my body," wrote St. Paul, "and bring it into subjection," and what an example of freedom and self-government we have in him. It seems that he saw that one must subordinate the evidence of the senses in order to gain the facts regarding Life, Truth and Love, and he saw that every Christian would have to learn this lesson sooner or later. The fact is, that until we have learned in some measure to subordinate the evidence of the senses, we have not advanced far in the direction of controlling our thoughts rightly, because this evidence, being admittedly delusive, by accepting it unreservedly we become subject to its delusions. And let it be added that we frequently adopt other people's delusions in addition to our own.
Exposing A Fallacy
I can illustrate this last point in a very simple way. There used to be on a large house in London an effigy of a stone lion. It was in a walking position, with its tail extended horizontally. One day a man was observed in the street gazing up at the lion in a very excited way, and naturally, it was not long before a crowd had gathered round him. He announced to these people that he had seen the tail of this stone lion waving slowly to and fro. Of course, they all began to stare too, and it was not long before a number of them declared that they could see it waving too.
Now there's a very simple case of someone getting a notion based on an illusion of the senses, and then a number of other people catching it from him, just because they don't know enough to protect their own thinking with the truth.
It seems very important in these days that we should know how to do our own thinking, and do it honestly and fearlessly from the standpoint of the truth, for otherwise we are sure to be found adopting other people's notions, many of which are far from helpful. You can see this, particularly in times of panic or epidemic when thought passes from one to another and the unprotected thought becomes quickly submerged.
You see it, too, when you get a man preaching lawlessness or hate to the community. He is in the position of the man who supposed he saw the stone tail waving. He cannot see the divine Principle, the immutable law of love, and his thought has become inflamed with a fallacy of the senses, the fallacy that hatred and destruction can be used advantageously to promote some theory of social relationship. Those who become agitated as the result of his arguments are those who don't know enough to protect themselves from falsity and its consequent suffering.
And Christian Science says if you want to be free to do your own thinking for yourself you must know how to subordinate the evidence of the corporal senses. When once you admit the proposition that, in order to gain spiritual vision, you must rise above the evidence of the senses, it will not be long before you are ready to admit that the corporeal senses are the only source of evil, because you will see that it is they, and they alone, that stand between you and your realization of man's heritage of freedom — health, harmony and immortality.
Spiritual Thinking vs. Material
I read an article the other day in which the writer attempted to prove that the materialist was the real benefactor of the race, in that he stood for honest common-sense and practical plain dealing. The spiritually minded, on the other hand, he held up to ridicule and derision as being visionary and unpractical. But the whole article resolved itself into an exposure of the writer's ignorance of the terms he was using. He could not apparently see that honesty, love for God and man, and true common-sense are spiritual qualities, or that his friend the materialist, that is, the man who believes that matter is substance and that he can own it, and exercise power with it, is the more unpractical of the two, for he is pursuing an illusion of the senses. Matter, apart from what the senses tell us about it, has neither substance nor power.
That is a proposition which has been elucidated by many of the world's best thinkers, and you will find modern scientific experts upholding it. They often write in a very learned way about the power of mind over matter. But theories of this kind do little or nothing to diminish materialism, because they do not question the reality of sense-testimony. They question the generally accepted conclusions with regard to it but they do not question its reality. Christian Science, however, does diminish materialism, because it reiterates the fact that Jesus established, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth (maketh life) the flesh (material sense) profiteth nothing." If Spirit, or Mind, is the only substance or reality of being, then the characteristics which the material senses attribute to matter and give it the appearance of life cannot be real or substantial. Hence what we call sense-testimony is nothing more than a dream or illusion, and Jesus demonstrated that this is susceptible of proof. For instance, one speaks of water as unstable — instability is a characteristic of mortal thought, — of wood and stone as solid and unyielding — those also are sense-impressions. But it is altogether another thing to prove that these characteristics of mortal thought are illusions, and that is just what Jesus did prove when he walked on the water and passed through closed doors. Jesus was the greatest example of spiritual thinking and living that the world has ever seen. So clear was his perception that sin, disease and death are the outcome of false impressions regarding life and substance, that he could heal with a word all kinds of disease, and even raise the dead. Finally, he himself faced the darkest phase that human experience can offer — a cruel death with every man's hand against him — and triumphed completely over it in the experience known as the resurrection, thereby annulling matter's strongest claim — its claim to be able to kill God's children. That was his atonement, his proof that God's child lives for ever free from the so-called law of sin and death, his proof of man's at-one-ment with the divine Mind.
Jesus No Ascetic
What then does bringing the body "into subjection" really mean? Does it mean treating it with asceticism and contempt, and referring to it occasionally, in the words of the mediaeval saint, as "my brother, the ass"? This position may, no doubt, be achieved by an effort of the will and a considerable amount of self-denial, which latter of course is a good thing, but is it the scientific way along which Jesus of Nazareth was the first to tread?
There is nothing to show that Jesus was an ascetic. On the contrary, he seems to have been a very normal person in all matters to do with eating, drinking, clothing and resting. Yet no one will deny that he was the most unselfed man that ever lived. It seems that he knew that the real health, the real food and the real clothing of the real man come from the divine Mind alone, and that a present understanding of this fact brings an abundance of blessings. But while Jesus was tolerant and friendly towards a normal sense of good — a very different thing to the abnormal and self-righteous sense of it entertained by the Pharisees, which he again and again rebuked — he was not tolerant towards what mortals are accustomed to consider a normal sense of evil such as sin, disease and limitation are. These things he saw to be the outcome, of a misguided thought lost in the darkness of materialism — led on by a will-o'-the-wisp, a false sense of good.
When appealed to by a sufferer he recognized this turning to him to be an awakening out of the dream of the senses, and he encouraged the struggler in clear terms: — "According to your faith be it unto you." He knew it required faith to stop thinking about the body, and one can see how the sufferer looking away from his symptoms, the evidences of sin, disease and limitation to something higher, caught from him the divine light and found instantly what he sought. Neither health laws, so-called, nor physical necessities or disabilities, nor any argument of the senses could withstand this demonstration of the Christ — God's healing presence and power. For that is what the Christ is — the communicator of good, of health, purity and holiness to men.
Now it goes without saying that we cannot hear what anyone is saying to us if our thoughts are busy with something else, and neither can we receive the Christ communication if we are wholly preoccupied with self and the body. And this brings me to my point, namely, that keeping the body under, bringing it into subjection does not mean starving it or bullying it or anything of that kind, but it does mean dropping it out of thought — forgetting it — subordinating the evidence of the senses, whether it takes the form of pleasure or pain in matter, denying self and false appetites, and listening for God's message to man of Life, Truth and Love — i. e., for those spiritual realities which are the true heritage and birthright of every one of us, but which the corporeal senses conceal from our view.
Best Work Of All
And so you see when we speak of working in Christian Science, we really mean that mental effort that is needed in order to subordinate the evidence of the senses to the true facts of being
Of course, all work is that in a more or less degree, but as one advances in the understanding of Christian Science one can see that human effort becomes work only as it subordinates material energy to the Christ ideal, the idea of divine power. R. I. Stevenson said of work, that it was "God's greatest gift to man," and so it is in Christian Science which is the key to all harmony and health. Our Master told the Jews that the work of God was to "believe on him whom he hath sent." In other words, to subordinate the evidence of the senses — the judging after the flesh — until we are able to perceive the true idea of man as lived and demonstrated by Jesus. The senses always seem to be arrogating to themselves the right to judge about everything, as we have already seen, and to gain this true idea of man, him whom God hath sent, and to stop thinking of man as a fallen being — a sick and sinning mortal — calls for consecrated endeavour.
You will sometimes hear it said that Christian Scientists deny the divinity of the Christ, but surely it would be hard to find a statement further from the truth than that. Jesus revealed to man the divinity or god-likeness of the true idea of man, and that was his divinity because he lived it and proved it in his daily life, and so it will be our divinity when we live it and prove it in ours.
And when we do begin to grasp and apply this spiritual idea of man, which Jesus presented — so different from that material concept of man, which the senses are all the time offering to us — not only to our thought about ourselves but to our thoughts about all with whom we are daily and hourly thrown in contact, it seems that a great change begins to take place in our lives. That dark cloud of fear, envy, criticism which casts such a shadow begins to break, and a new, more radiant outlook begins to dawn.
You may sometimes hear it said that Christian Scientists are a very happy looking lot of people, and I think that, generally speaking, this is so, and it is because they have certainly gained in Christian Science a more joyous outlook than they formerly had. What you believe finds outward expression in your appearance and in all your actions. If someone were to place a basket of fruit in front of you, and some of the fruit you knew to be good and some you believed to be bad, you would be sure to eat the good and reject the bad. Your belief would express itself in your actions, and so it must always inevitably do.
That is why work in Christian Science is the most constructive form of mental activity, because Christian Science is offering to us the truth about God and man in a form that we can both understand and demonstrate.
Proofs Not Perfunctory
One who has followed me up to this point might perhaps interject the question, "But how am I to know that I am grasping the spiritual idea of manhood which Jesus presented? — that I do really believe?" To find the answer to this question we must turn to the Bible, for it is given there in the simplest and most unequivocal language. "And these signs (proofs) shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
These, then, are to be the proofs that we do really believe — a homely enough category when you come to examine it. Not, you will observe, the occupancy of positions of prominence, not wealth and popularity, or for that matter poverty and persecution; not holding communications with so-called dead personalities; not even ritual observance, but the casting out of devils (where are these devils or evils if not in our own thoughts? That's where we have to begin), speaking with new tongues (not being afraid to voice the truth), the handling of serpents (which clearly has a secondary meaning — that of showing up deceit, or error, sometimes calling for great poison (or epidemic germs), and the healing of the sick. And wherever the Christian Science text-book is being faithfully studied and applied today these signs are following them that believe. I know that many excellent people will tell you that they were never taught to regard these things as any part of their duty as a Christian today, regular attendance at Church being regarded as an adequate sign following Christian belief. But with that statement of Scripture before us it is difficult to see what justification there can be for setting aside the spiritual message of Christianity in favour of a purely material system of medicine. Is it because drugs have been found more efficacious than the truth, or is it because it is easier to have faith in an inert and unintelligent drug than it is to believe in the efficacy of the living truth?
How else are we to know that we understand anything at all about God unless we have proof of His omnipotence and omnipresence? And Christian Science says it is not intellectual proficiency that is needed, but spiritual understanding which comes through the unselfing of thought, through purity, humility and unselfed affection.
Based On Rules
Again the healing work in Christian Science is not an exhibition of faith in the supernatural, or in some divine interposition. It is based on the Master's own methods as taught and applied by himself, and that is the kind of healing that we are seeing in some measure revived today. Not the groping and experimental methods of "materia medica," not the blind faith in a good person or a good place or a good thing, which sometimes produces the same kind of faith healing effect that drugs produce — but the Christ Science, which turns the sufferer's thought away from himself and his body and its symptoms to Him "who healeth all (thy) diseases, who redeemeth (thy) life from destruction, who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies," i. e., to his divine Principle, God.
According to Christian Science, disease is not a law of God, it is not a law of anything, but, on the contrary, the law of God heals disease and is to be found in company with the true idea of man, that idea which Jesus taught and demonstrated.
What a waste of time it is trying to locate a diabolical intelligence in a tiny germ, equipped with a body so small that you can not see it, when the truth is that neither a germ nor any other suppositional manifestation of evil, or disease, can influence in the smallest degree a mind that has gained the secret of self-government. This secret brings detachment from the current fears and alarms, either in regard to health, supply or social conditions, and places us mentally where, in the poet's words,
"neither evil tongues.
Rash judgments. nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life
Shall e'er prevail against us or disturb
Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold
Is full of blessings."
The demonstration we are to make in Christian Science is that sin and disease have no real power because they have no real mind or intelligence to sustain them and that we, as children of the one Mind, can overcome these false beliefs through Christ of whom Paul writes that, if we look to him, he "Shall change our vile body, that may be fashioned like unto his glorious body."
Fallacy of Medicine
A fond delusion that seems to be gaining currency nowadays is that the health of the community may be improved through the systematic application of medical methods to the individual citizen. It is as if we were to become so much live stock awaiting the market — to be sold to the highest bidder.
"What is a man," asks Hamlet,
"If his chief good and market of his time
Be but to sleep and feed? a beast, no more."
There is something peculiarly abhorrent to most people in the notion that health is an animal property, dependent on matter. Have we not seen over and over again that man, regarded as a healthy animal, will be betrayed by animality. Samson would be a good illustration of this, and Hercules another. Both of them were brought to disaster by animality, the very thing that the doctors would call good health. Christian Science gives us back the right idea of man as the spiritual image and likeness of God, and not merely a healthy animal.
Christian Scientists have no quarrel with the doctors or with anyone, but they do believe that the notion that in order to understand health you must be a student of disease, has proved fallacious and very costly to the community. You might as well expect a gardener to spend his time studying weeds, or an astronomer the clouds. Investigation of disease has enormously increased the number of diseases. The study of health means the contemplation of that which is governed by law, and law is mental and moral, never material. The raising of the standard of living has improved health conditions and will continue to do so, but this is due to common sense and a higher morality, not to drugs or inoculation.
We are told in the Bible of one king, who "sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians," indicating that it was a matter of reproach that he did not seek his health from God. If that were the general thought today, we should not have such an enormous and costly system in our midst as that known as "materia medica," and undoubtedly great numbers of those unselfish workers whose motive is to alleviate the sufferings of humanity would not be seeking to cure material belief with drugs and hypnotism, but would be Christian Scientists, enlisted to lessen sin, disease, and death, in the Christ way, the way that Jesus taught on the shores of Galilee.
Only One Authority
We should never let ourselves be lulled into a false sense of security by statistics, or the statement that all the authorities are agreed. A recent writer in dealing with this latter contention humorously remarks: — "When I am told that all authorities agree, I feel certain that one of them has blundered, and the rest have followed him without enquiry."
Again, the argument that things have always been so, is no argument in their favour. Antiquity does not add venerability to false belief. The fact that they found loaded dice in Pompeii does not make cheating a right thing. The only authority for Christians is Christ Jesus and his teachings are independent of time or place. "Before Abraham was, I am." "Lo, I am with you alway."
Therefore they must be scientific and they must be the only test which can safely be applied to all the modern so-called sciences. If the latter do not stand that test, then they become as Paul said, "oppositions of science falsely so called."
You see how inevitably we are thrown back on to Christ Jesus for our authority in all matters. His kingship stands because it is impossible that any human authority can ever supersede it. We are safe if we hold to him, and Christian Science does not ask to swerve one hair's breadth from his teaching. Instead it confirms it and reinforces it at every point. We should ask ourselves whether, like the captain of a ship, we are steering our course according to the chart that he mapped out, or whether we are mere pleasure sailors going anywhere that the caprice of the moment suggests. And if we should find that the latter is the case, don't let us be deluded into thinking that that is self-government. It is merely self-will.
Self-government does not, of course, mean just having your own way in everything. "Man is properly self-governed," writes Mrs. Eddy ("Science and Health," p. 106), "only when he is guided rightly and governed by his Maker, divine Truth and Love."
To the degree that a man finds the truth in Christian Science, the law of God enters into his heart, and he becomes a representative of Principle. Basing his life on the First Commandment and the Golden Rule he finds himself naturally impelled to uphold law and order and to aid in the ejection of disorder or lawlessness. He becomes more compassionate and willing to share his new found freedom with those who are suffering from a false sense of law, that is, from disease or sin or limitation. He knows that what has healed him can heal others and he gladly brings to their notice the fact that the Christ method of healing is here on earth today, and that it is to be found embodied in the text-book "Science and Health," to which all may have access. It would probably be correct to say that more healing of disease and sin has resulted from the study of this book than from any other known method.
Christian Science is not Christianity made easy, it is not a philosophic link between mind and matter, neither is it any form of mental quackery. It is pure undiluted Christianity.
And let us never loss sight of the fact that it is our absolute right to worship God in the way that seems best to us, our right to seek health in any direction that we please, provided that we do not trespass on the equal rights of others in so doing.
In conclusion let me recite to you the short prayer given by Mrs. Eddy to Christian Scientists for their daily use (Manual, p. 41): — "'Thy kingdom come;'' let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin: and may Thy word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them."
True self-government first, and then the government of all mankind through "Thy Word."
May not each of us, however feeble and inadequate our footsteps have been hitherto, take up from today this vital question of self-government, and this is the proposition as I leave it with you — that Christian Science is the key to self-government, because while teaching us how to subordinate the false evidence of the senses to the true facts of being, it brings to light in us the same Mind that was also in Christ Jesus.
[Delivered Oct. 7, 1921, at "the auditorium," under the auspices of First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Mount Vernon, New York, and published in The Daily Argus of Mount Vernon, Oct. 8, 1921. The title of the lecture was not given by the newspaper but was ascertained by comparison of its text to the copy existing on this site.]