Christian Science: Utilizing Divine Power
Leonard T. Carney, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Leonard T. Carney, C.S.B., of
Deep in the heart of troubled humanity, we may hear the cry of an urgent need swelling into a mighty crescendo. It is this: "I want deliverance from danger, freedom from fear, liberation from lack, surcease from sickness; I want peace and happiness. All this I must have for myself and my loved ones." If in the midst of great need one were told that there is an invisible power, which has been tried and tested for thousands of years and never found wanting, and that this power is of God, would it not be considered strange if one should turn away and say, "It interests me not at all!"
The Discoverer and the Messenger
Great discoverers throughout
history have braved the scorn and scoffing of the incredulous, the anathemas of
the bigoted. Galileo,
"Bright, good, and pure, aye brilliant! I never before had a pupil with such depth and independence of thought. She has some great future, mark that. She is an intellectual and spiritual genius" (The Life of Mary Baker Eddy by Sibyl Wilbur, p. 83).
Throughout her lifetime Mrs. Eddy was one of the most consistent followers of Bible teachings that the world has ever known. In the light of her spiritual understanding, gained through revelation and the study of the Bible alone, she was able to heal others of sin and disease as well as to raise some from their deathbeds. Down through the centuries everyone has been free to follow Jesus' command to "heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils." But Mrs. Eddy not only heard this word of command, but obeyed. Thus she became the divinely appointed messenger of God, a messenger with a message, bringing to us the understanding of the Comforter, or Christian Science, the coming of which Christ Jesus prophesied in these words: "The Comforter . . . shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
No Personal Deification
For Christian Scientists to express gratitude to their Leader for benefits received through her teachings is not deifying her. If your purse were lost, the finder doubtless would be the recipient of your heartfelt thanks. If your life were doomed, the one who showed you how to recover it should likewise receive your profound gratitude. The manufacturer of a nationally known article once complained that Christian Scientists deified their Leader because her name is identified with the various activities of the movement. He was asked, "Why do you have your initial impressed on each item which you manufacture and sell?" He replied, "So the public cannot be deceived." Then said the inquirer, "For the same reason Christian Scientists identify the name of their Leader with her books, her organization, and followers, so that the public cannot be deceived by the counterfeits."
The Bible and The Textbook
The Bible of our forefathers is the basis of all spiritual healing. That revered and age-old volume of spiritual lore, replete with a nation's history, laws, biographies, letters, poetry, songs, and sermons, is woven through and through with the golden thread of spiritual revelation and the silver filament of divine mercy and love. Christian Scientists inevitably become daily students of the Bible. It is essential to their faith and works. To them the Bible is no longer remote but near at hand, no longer a fetish but a friend, no longer a fearsome volume of reproach but a tender counselor and guide. It is indeed the book not of yesterday but the Bible for today - and for all time.
Because of a lifelong devotion to the Bible, the Founder of Christian Science dedicated her skillful pen to elucidating its sacred meanings. Mrs. Eddy's unique volume, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," commonly called the textbook of Christian Science, though reasonable in price, is immeasurable in value. An understanding of its pages has healed countless numbers from life long suffering, preserved the dying, purified the sinful, supplied the poor, rebuilt character, restored peace and happiness. The textbook is the responsive friend to multitudes. To own and study this book is to possess the "pearl of great price."
The Availability of Divine Power
In a world in which impoverishment, instability, and warfare are increasing rather than diminishing the problems confronting mankind, is it singular that the individual should once again long for a Messiah or Christ-power to silence his fears, heal his troubles, and assure his weary hope?
Many have experienced benefits of an unusual nature which they have attributed to luck or chance, sometimes to miracles. Comparatively few have looked beneath the surface for a law causation, a source of good. One well-known public man who has been brought safely through more peril, perhaps, than any other individual, has said that he is convinced there is a divine power which controls and governs in times of danger, delivering men from jeopardy.
We read in the Christian Science textbook (p. 134), "There is divine authority for believing in the superiority of spiritual power over material resistance." When faced with sudden danger, many years ago, I proved this law for myself beyond cavil. I was driving a heavily loaded automobile over a steep mountain range in the Northwest. Part way up the mountain we encountered snow, rendering traction on the narrow unpaved roadway insecure. Within sight of the crest and on a long sweeping curve where the roadbed sloped faultily towards the outer edge, an automobile had slipped so that one rear wheel hung over the precipice. Only by skillful handling was it pulled out of the deep snow to safety by a crew of men operating a mountain truck. I started my car, increasing its speed, but upon reaching the dangerous point the car ceased its forward momentum and slipped backward and outward to the edge of the precipice in the tracks of the other car, the wheels without chains churning helplessly in the snow.
I then made firm and audible declarations of truth, that God is ever present, that His law is all-governing, that divine power is all-controlling, for "underneath are the everlasting arms." With my deep and instant realization of these truths, the tread of the tires, although snow-packed, ceased slipping as though in sudden response to a command.
With every declaration of truth they took firm grip on the roadway, and the car was brought back from peril into safety, thus illustrating our Leader's statement (Science and Health, p. 427), "Immortal Mind, governing all, must be acknowledged as supreme in the physical realm, so-called, as well as in the spiritual." Farther up the grade a similar hazard was faced, and again divine power proved sufficient for the need. Finally the summit was reached in safety. The exultant sense of gratitude and joy in having just witnessed such an immediate manifestation of God's power cannot adequately be described. This and other recurring proofs served to solidify a mounting conviction that the Bible teaching, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble," is based on an invariable law of divine power applicable in times of need. Many fliers and others in the present war have acknowledged their deliverance through prayer from situations far more perilous.
The Nature and Understanding of This Power
It is not possible within the limits of this hour to answer the question, "What is this power and how does it heal?" Only a devoted study of the textbook can fully answer that question. However in presenting some phases it may be remarked at the outset that the healing power is not that of one human mind over another; it is not will power, hypnotism, faith cure, and the like. It is the same deific power of the eternal Christ which activated the healings of Jesus and the apostles two thousand years ago.
To understand this power one must understand God. This requires humbleness of mind, the spirit of the beatitude, "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." Humility is strength, not weakness. It is the sturdy oak bearing the brunt of the storm; the strong piers of the mighty bridge spanning the torrent. Humility is the solid foundation of real success and true greatness. It is not self-depreciation, but a rightful sense of self-appreciation, a just estimate of one's real self as the child of God. One perched high on the pinnacle of self-adulation cannot move forward, nor can he make progress mired in the clay of self-condemnation. He who would reach the goal must travel the straight road of humility.
Words may seek to define God but only spiritual thought may rightly apprehend Him. Thought must ascend beyond earthly things to catch even a faint gleam of God. Experts spend years in arduous labor, exactly placing a telescope, mounting it far from habitation and artificial illumination, so that it may bring to view the unknown constellations of the stars. With the same intent, steadfast gaze away from earthly things one may look through the lens of Spirit and perceive the nature and character of God, the all-wise, all-loving, and eternal, infinite Mind, Spirit, Life, Love, which are all Biblical terms used to define the nature of God. God includes all that really exists. He is all-inclusive, all-embracing, all encircling, all-encompassing. God is All-in-all.
Its Utilization In Treatment
Such is the starting point, the beginning of Christian Science treatment. The nature of treatment is that of prayer. It is not beseeching God for earthly things, but is the recognition of spiritual things. This prayer, or treatment, acts upon the human mind, and this in turn governs the body.
Prayer is entering the divine presence, having audience or communion with God, approaching Him in humble adoration and worship. Just as one beholds with rapture the exquisite blooms of rare beauty adorning garden and landscape, so one may with joy view the spiritual ideas of God, man and the universe, perfect reflections of their Creator, the glorified offspring of ineffable Love. This uplifted state of consciousness is attained either by spiritual inspiration or by right reasoning and argument. This is denying the beliefs of the material senses such as fear, sin, sickness, symptoms, suffering, and death, and affirming the truths of spiritual sense.
In treatment one must hold thought steadfastly to God. The ship's compass, its needle pointing to the pole through the mountainous waves of storm and stress, is indicative of what steadfast clinging to God and His ideas which brings healing to the sick and sinning. We must adhere to the truth of being, cling to Mind's ideas, cleave to spiritual facts, stick to the realization that it is the divine idea which empowers us. To quote again from Science and Health (p.261), "Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts."
A Christian Scientist once found himself clinging by his hands to the almost perpendicular rock wall of a cliff, his toes on a ledge below, the uncertain pathway downward having disappeared. His small son was between him and the wall, his feet on those of his father. No further step downward was visible, no retreat upward possible. Great fear began to weaken the father's hold, when the little boy with assurance said:
"Daddy, God is right here. You don't need to be afraid." Then the father began to cling steadfastly to God, holding firmly to the truth that, as the child said, "God is right here." His hold on the ledge became firmer, his eye clearer, until a possible downward step, and then another and another appeared. Finally safety was reached fifty feet below. By holding thought steadfastly to God, fear was dispelled and the human footsteps were brought to light.
What is the point of contact between God and our daily needs? To light a city requires not only the powerhouse but the means of transmission as well. The old prophets looked for the manifestation of God's power which would bring healing to the world. Isaiah referred to it as "light:" "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: . . . upon them hath the light shined." This light of understanding, this manifestation of divine power, came to be known in the following centuries as the Messiah or Christ, the spiritual idea of God, which Jesus demonstrated so effectively.
To be worthy and valuable, our understanding of the Christ must do something, accomplish something, for the distinctive mission of the Christ is to heal us physically, financially, morally. If you understand God to be omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, invincible and irresistible Truth, then the Christ has come to you and it will heal. It silences fear, destroys pain, and restores normal action to the body. It removes whatever is erroneous and supplies that which balances and happifies existence. The Christ-idea is also the communicator of truth from God to man, instructing man in things divine. It comforts the sorrowing, satisfies the lonely, brings happiness and joy to earth. You will recognize it by the quietness and peace that comes to you.
The following incident illustrates the fact that neither severity of the disease nor distance of the practitioner from the patient lessens the effectiveness of the Christ-power to act upon the human mind and thereby govern and heal the body. It occurred in a family early in their experience in Christian Science. One member near and dear to them became afflicted with diphtheria in a most virulent form. The symptoms were clearly apparent and alarming indeed.
The Christian Science practitioner who applied the rule of healing was twenty-five hundred miles away. Despite the anxious fears of the family, they clung tenaciously to the spiritual facts of Life, as opposed to the fearsome testimony before them. For several days the disease raged, and then the symptoms subsided and the healing came. The Christ-power had opened the prison door of suffering and let the oppressed go free. This became an infallible proof to all concerned that clinging steadfastly to the spiritual idea of God heals the sick; that this may be done effectively even though the practitioner be far away, even as did Jesus when he healed the centurion's servant who was absent from him.
In order that the Christ may come to us, abide with us, and be available for our every need, we must be receptive to it. A closed door bars a welcome guest. The ever-present Christ will come to our understanding only as we are pure, patient, loving, and meek. It is elusive to the hard of heart; it enters at the door of those who are God-reliant, tender, and trusting. Selfishness, self-satisfaction, self-will, and sin close the door of receptivity; while humility, honesty, purity, faith, and understanding open it wide to the Christly visitant and it abides with us. If healing is delayed, it would be well to discover what bars our mental door against that which comes to bless and heal everyone, everywhere, every moment.
Disease a Product of the Human Mind
It may surprise some of us to
learn that sickness is as much a product of the human mind as is sin. In an Associated Press news story of
This is not news to Christian Scientists. For over three quarters of a century the Founder of Christian Science has been telling the world through her writings that the human mind induces organic as well as functional diseases, and that the healing of sickness, like that of sin, must come through a change in the human mind. If it is true that the cause of disease is a state of mind, as the news item indicates, then the one who believes that his difficulty is a state of matter is laboring under an illusion, or mesmerism, which must be removed before he can be healed completely.
The Mesmeric Nature of Disease, Fear, and Lack
The following is illustrative of
the deceptive and mesmeric nature of matter, causing something to appear to
exist when it does not. It is related
that some years ago a European professor, not a Christian Scientist, desired to
investigate the mental powers of a celebrated magician who performed his feats
in a large cave far up in the mountains of
He found nothing unusual. He firmly resolved that notwithstanding what he would see or experience during the test he should know that it had no place in a normal mind; that it was in fact an illusion, which he could prove to be so through his clear reasoning and resolve. Among the fearsome experiences to which he was subjected were those with cobra, savage animals, earthquake, falling into a chasm, storm at sea, hunger and thirst.
He met and mastered each difficulty. One trial is worthy of recounting by reason of its object lesson. As he followed the magician, there appeared suddenly between them a wall of rock across the path, as solid as the cave itself. Recovering from his surprise, he approached the wall, laid his hands upon it, then slapped, kicked, pounded it, and struck it with a rock. It was as unyielding as the walls of the cave. He then withdrew and reasoned with himself thus: "If there is no wall there, it is a mistake to kick, pound, or strike it, for that but adds to its seeming reality; I should treat it as nonexistent, and walk through it." He closed his eyes, stepped forward, and passed through the wall. On looking back he saw nothing except the path along which he had passed. There was no wall there.
How many of us today are striking and pounding vainly at the walls which human beliefs have raised - walls of fear, worry, grief, despair, discouragement, lack, limitation, disease, sin, and death. If we make a reality of the condition, feel it, deplore it, rail or strike at it, think or talk about it, it will appear to be as real and solid as the Rock of Gibraltar.
However if we lift our thought above and beyond the difficulty, fasten our gaze on divine Mind and its realities, take firm hold of God's hand, we shall walk through the illusion of a wall of error. Evil cannot raise a wall. It merely seems to cast a shadow. There is an old proverb, "The shadow of a dog cannot bite; the shadow of a sword cannot pierce; the shadow of death cannot kill." The twenty-third Psalm bids us "walk through the valley of the shadow." Refuse to be mesmerized by what does not really exist. God is the only reality; therefore evil has no real existence, no power to harm you
What if there appears to be a wall of fear! Although it be mountain high, yet it will be brought low; it will utterly disappear. Know the perfect Love that casteth out fear, as the Bible teaches; and know that fear cannot enter the consciousness filled with love alone. Be conscious of that Love which embraces humanity, enfolding it in the realization of Love's ever-presence and all-power.
If one believes himself to be facing a wall of lack, with business gone, the future dark, he should know that the wall is mental. Poverty is nothing more than a self-depreciated estimate of oneself. It has been said, "Poverty is thinking poor." That wall of lack will vanish through a correct self-appraisement. Thus you will ascend to a right evaluation of yourself as an affluent son of your heavenly Father. This rightful estimate of your true value, based on your relationship to God, will be accepted and honored by others and become the basis of restoration and recovery from the belief of lack and limitation. God's man is already well supplied in that which makes for happiness, contentment, and success.
Love Is Needed
The most urgent need in the world today is for a demonstrable understanding of Love. Love is the cement of the home and society, the bond of union in the world. Hatred, warfare, murder, death are its antithesis; harmony, activity, life are its essence. Love is the one thing with which we can do all things, the one thing we cannot do without.
The law of Love is the basis of true substance, the foundation of real structure. The earth revolves in space, and each particle of sand and soil in strict adherence to cosmic law. The mighty bridge bolted and riveted swings securely on its myriad wires twisted into giant cables. The bricks and stones in the towering building reaching skyward are held together by the particles of unassuming mortar. These wonders of human achievement symbolize the adhesion of spiritual elements, the strong supporting strands of Truth, the cement and attraction of divine Love.
Love is the vital part of Christian Science, its life-giving, life-sustaining element. Heart difficulties, somewhat prevalent, indicate the need for more attention to a pure affection, less to organism. One must turn away from self, be absent from fear and be present with the great heart of divine Love. This needs no medicine except that of fear-dispelling love for God and man. This is the true remedy.
Where revengeful, selfish, ugly traits are in evidence in others, it may seem difficult to obey the Scriptural command to "love thy neighbor." But to love one's neighbor means to love not the unlovely characteristics, but the Christ-idea, the man whom God, not error, created. That is the only man there really is.
One student learned the meaning of this command to love one's neighbor in this wise. He enjoyed looking through his office window, on occasion, to the park below to see the beautiful trees, the colorful beds of flowers, the vivid green lawn. One bright morning, following a day of dust storm from the desert, his gaze became arrested by the dirt upon the windowpane. On looking intently he also saw some defects in the glass of which heretofore, he had been unaware.
The unsightliness held his gaze for the moment until he realized that he might look through the defects to the attractive scene beyond. This he did and again appeared to him, undimmed, the beauty of scene, of trees and garden. In a similar way this one saw how he might look through the unlovely traits of character in his neighbor and see in Science the beauty of the real man. The evil in human character may arrest one's gaze for the moment. It may silence human affection. But it need not be for long. One may, if he will, look through the mortal sense of man with its unseemly traits, and see, resplendent, man's real spiritual selfhood, beloved as the child of God. This is loving thy neighbor as thyself.
Someone said to me years ago, "I like people." This person cultivated friends as a means of service, not a self-serving means. The greater the demand, the greater the service. To her, another's faults never outweighed the good. Her loving rebuke but stirred one to greater effort. To have a friend one must be a friend. Flowers grow better where the soil is stirred; and nothing so effectively stirs the soil where friendship grows as does frequent cultivation with deeds of kindness, constant tending it with thoughts of love. He who serves man lovingly, serves God best.
One of the commonest phases of wrong thinking is discouragement, presenting itself as depression, despond, heaviness, grief. It is usually draped in innocence and may be passed by as a harmless indulgence. But beneath its disarming exterior lurks the thief of confidence, and the debilitating tendencies to disease, poverty, and vice. When one places himself on the toboggan of discouragement, there are other downward tendencies equally injurious.
They invoke the loss of faith in
oneself, in one's ability and desire to do things, and above all a distrust in
God's ability to help him. Then the
bottom of despair is reached with its darkness, helplessness, and gloom. Would that the victim of discouragement might
know the remedy for this state of mesmerism - a remedy so easy of access, so
simple to apply. It is the same remedy,
that of gratitude, which Joshua used at
At the sound of hoof beats on the roadway he hardly turned his head. A wagon stopped beside him and a cheery-voiced farmer sang out, "Better get in and ride!" With no word of reply the peddler laboriously lurched himself into the seat beside the farmer, who started his team down the road whistling a merry tune. The farmer finally turned to the abject figure at his side, hunched over with the weight of his pack still on his back. "Why don't you put your pack down in the wagon and rest yourself?" he asked. The peddler sighed and replied, "It's easier just to carry it, than to put it down." And he probably still is carrying it, for he is more accustomed to discouragement than to gratitude. It is gratitude which lays down the load of care, makes all burdens light, and "bears a song away."
Gratitude is more than a mere "thank you." The word comes from the same root as the word "grace.'' Gratitude is not only for things received but for grace bestowed. We are grateful in order to obtain more grace, more spiritual blessings, not more things. To be ungrateful is to be unmindful of God's goodness.
An effective plan to overcome discouragement is the good old-fashioned way of counting one's blessings. It is an important factor in healing the sick. If we are not grateful for the material blessings we see, how can we be grateful for the spiritual blessings we do not see? John asked, "For he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" While God does not need our gratitude, still we do need to give it. The longer one is a student of Christian Science the more important this lesson of gratitude becomes; because it is a thing easily forgotten, and disastrous to forget.
One individual found himself in need of physical healing. In his confused state of thought he could comprehend only the simplest things. He began by thanking God for the cool sheets on the bed, the glass of water near at hand, the gracious light of day through the window, the tender, loving care of his family. This effort opened his mental door to the recognition of the healing Christ-power, and he was healed. But it did not stop there. He learned to thank God for the countless blessings around him as he went about his daily tasks. None were too trivial to escape notice. The tender blade of grass pushing its persevering way up through the hard soil became a symbol of power and life from God; each flower turning its face from dimness to light an object lesson of the joy in living and giving; sustenance, shelter, and raiment typified the heavenly Father's loving care. To think good is to thank God.
Safety for Those Under Arms
What has Christian Science to offer to those on the field of battle and to their loved ones at home? Because of the ever-availability of divine power, those at the front, as well as those behind, are equipped with the means of protection against which no devices of evil may prevail. We read in the Christian Science textbook: (Page 559), "The 'still, small voice' of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe's remotest bound." The power of Truth is instantly present and operative everywhere, every moment.
Your word of Truth, uttered and understood, reaches beyond human limits and brings peace, security, and safety wherever the need may be. Thus daily and hourly one may render effective support to those in need, whether they be on land, in the air, or on or under the sea.
The following is illustrative of
the manner in which Christian Science is being used by young men and women in
the armed forces all over the world. During
February of 1942, when the submarine menace along the sea lanes to
Suddenly another vessel northbound and off its course, looming straight ahead in the darkness, collided with it. The second ship sank immediately, most of her crew being rescued. The front end of the first vessel was completely removed, leaving only the single bulkhead to keep out the water. The extensive exposure of the inner ship to the power of the waves made the captain doubtful of the bulkhead's withstanding the surging sea; for such damage had sunk other vessels. The third engineer aboard ship was a young officer who was a sincere student of Christian Science.
At first he had encountered ridicule because of his faith, but several visible demonstrations had gained the general respect of many on board. As the ship lurched under the effect of the impact of the collision, this young officer hurriedly inquired of the captain, "What can I do?" "You go below to your stateroom and pray as you are taught," ordered the captain. The lad obeyed; and there in his tiny stateroom directly adjacent to the straining and bulging bulkhead, he opened the Christian Science textbook to the synonyms of God. Instantly he built his own spiritual sense of bulkhead with the foundation of it as Principle; its intelligence, divine Mind; its individuality, identity, oneness, as Soul; its substance, Spirit; its existence, Life; its everlastingness, Truth. This spiritual bulkhead was bolted and riveted in the cement of divine Love.
He held tenaciously to the truths he knew; the bulkhead held; and the vessel returned safely to port. The entire personnel then recognized that he was armed with a power of which they knew nothing. Their respect and gratitude were evident. After each subsequent voyage the captain ordered the young officer to go home, once with only two hours available, that he might receive again from his mother that replenishment of spiritual inspiration which was to make the voyage a safe one for the ship and her crew.
God is ever present, hence evil is not present and is not power. God's child cloaked in the mantle of divine Love is immune to hatred and violence. His inseparability from God means his inseparability from you, for individual identities are coexistent in divine Mind. Within the confines of infinite good, man is safe, harmonious, and eternal.
In conclusion: The purpose of Christian Science is to show mankind how to avail its self of divine power and how to utilize it in times of extremity and urgent need. It fulfills the command of Jesus to heal the sick and the sinning. It discloses the illusionary and mesmeric nature of disease and lack. It shows the life-giving, fear-dispelling power of Truth and Love. Again on earth the Christ-power is with men, comforting the sorrowing, healing the sick, reforming the sinner, and bringing peace and quiet to a troubled world.
In the words of the poet, John Greenleaf Whittier:
"Breathe through the pulses of desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
O still small voice of calm.
"Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from us now the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace."
(Christian Science Hymnal, No. 49.)
[Published in The Marion County Mail of Indianapolis, Indiana, Nov. 17, 1944.]