Christian Science: The Science of Spirit
George Shaw Cook, C.S.B., of Chicago, Illinois
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecture on "Christian Science" delivered at the Christian Science church on West Center street last evening by George Shaw Cook, C.S.B., of Chicago, a member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass., was listened to with marked interest by an audience that taxed the capacity of that edifice and necessitated the placing of chairs in the aisles. Many people were present from Rochester, Albion, Lockport and Middleport.
Miss Anthony, at the pipe organ, gave a delightful recital of five numbers, while the people were assembling. A large bouquet of pink Columbia roses graced the readers platform.
Mrs. Edgar Reynolds, of Middleport, First Reader of the Christian Science Church of Medina, introduced the speaker in a few well chosen and exceptionally well rendered remarks.
Mr. Cook's lecture is appended in full:
Orderly, intelligent, and profitable discussion of any subject must begin at the beginning. According to Christian Science, the beginning of all things is God. Satisfactory and logical conclusions with regard to the teaching and practice of Christian Science can, therefore, be reached only by starting from the premise that God, divine Mind, is the source and origin of all that exists. The first three verses of John's Gospel read: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." Christian Science, then, is Scriptural, in acknowledging God as the one and only cause and creator.
Only One Cause
Probably most thinkers would subscribe to the proposition that there is a great First Cause, although some would not be willing to agree with Christian Scientists that all causation is in God, or Spirit. Indeed, the study of material science, human philosophy, and scholastic theology would reveal the fact that in times past well-nigh everything has been regarded as the cause of existence, from dust to Deity. In spite, however, of differing views that previously have been entertained by them, it has been found quite possible for unnumbered thousands of thoughtful people to agree on the subject of causation, when the true nature of God was revealed to them in Christian Science.
Mrs. Eddy's Definition of God
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, has, on page 587 of her great textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," defined God thus: "The great I am; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence." God is all-knowing and is, therefore, infinite Mind, that which knows, comprehends, and includes all. God is all-seeing, the Spirit that discerns, or perceives, all that is real. God is all-acting, the source and Soul of all activity and power. God is all-wise, the one infallible, divine Principle. God is all-loving, the only invariable, impartial, universal Love. Thus it will be seen that God is infinitely good, the basis of all true goodness. Dr. Samuel Johnson, in his dictionary, defines God as a Saxon word meaning good, and points out that this meaning with slight variations obtains in all the Teutonic dialects. This definition agrees with Mrs. Eddy's statement, on page 286 of Science and Health, "In the Saxon and twenty other tongues good is the term for God." So, Christian Scientists think and speak of God as infinite, perfect, changeless good, — as being all good and always good.
Cause and Effect Good
A good cause could only be manifested or expressed in a good effect; hence we find in the first chapter of Genesis (first and thirty-first verses) these positive and definite declarations: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." For the reason that, effect must always be like cause, it follows with equal certainty that God being Spirit, His creation must be spiritual. Since God is Mind, infinite consciousness, that which thinks, He must of necessity be reflected by thought. The universe or creation of God is therefore a [thought-universe consisting of perfect spiritual thoughts or ideas. Thus it will be seen that the universe of] God is not material, nor could it have been evolved from a material basis. The universe of God, of Spirit, is the limitless expression of Spirit. It is the infinite revelation of Truth, the eternal activity of divine Mind as thought, or thinking, the sum-total of true, or spiritual ideas.
Universe, Including Man
The spiritual universe comprising all that exists by way of creation must, of necessity, include man — individual, spiritual man, created in God's likeness. And man being the exact likeness, the perfect reflection of Mind, or Spirit, must be and is, in his true nature, mental, or spiritual. Thus it will be seen that the real man is not black or white or red or brown, Man is not something which is so many feet tall or so many pounds heavy. "Man," as Mrs. Eddy says on page 475 Science and Health, "is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique." This man, the true spiritual man, created in God's likeness, is a necessary factor in the universe of God, necessary to its completeness and its continuity. Spiritual man, the real man, is then, eternally in his right Mind. He is eternally in his right business of expressing consciously and perfectly the divine qualities of health, happiness, harmony, activity, freedom, power, and dominion. This fact insures man's immortality and eternal security.
Of course, to the material senses man seems to be a human organism with a mind inside of it. It may be said, however, that this "mind," which is supposed to control and direct the actions and functions of the human body, has never been definitely located or satisfactorily explained. Indeed, it may be said that, from the standpoint of material scientific research and experimentation, there is no adequate proof of the existence of an indwelling "soul" or "mind." One of the more recent utterances on this subject was by Dr. George W. Crile of Cleveland, Ohio, and was to the effect that the human body is an electro-magnetic battery of which the brain is the positive, and the liver the negative pole. A well-known materialist is quoted by the London Spectator as saying in answer to his own question, "Can the brain think?" — "A brain is a creamy substance composed of about two tablespoonfuls of dust and a number of ounces of water." One does not find much in these statements to sustain the belief that matter is intelligent. Do they not, rather, turn one for satisfactory explanation to the truth revealed in Mrs. Eddy's wonderful "scientific statement of being" on page 468 of Science and Health, the first sentence of which reads, "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter;" and the second sentence of which contains this illuminating declaration, "All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all."
Having thus taken the first step in seeing that matter is non-intelligent, may we not proceed together to the point where we discern that matter is unreal — that it is without real substance, without entity? Nothing testifies to the existence of matter except the material senses and the testimony of these senses is demonstrably unreliable. Most people are familiar with many instances of the unreliability of sense testimony. Speaking of material sense, Jesus said, "He is a liar, and the father of it." And Paul, in his epistle to the Corinthians, said, "The things which are seen [cognised by the senses] are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." Material things, however, substantial, they may appear, are destructible and temporal, whereas spiritual ideas alone are truly substantial, because they are indestructible and eternal. Christian Science teaches that back of or underlying every object in what seems to be material universe is a true or spiritual idea of divine Mind. That which seems to the physical senses real and substantial is, therefore, a fleeting human concept — a mere counterfeit of reality. Of this counterfeit concept of reality, which to human sense seems real and, at times, beautiful and satisfying, Mrs. Eddy in her "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 87) says, "In our immature sense of spiritual things, let us say of the beauties of the sensuous universe: 'I love your promise; and shall know, some time, the spiritual reality and substance . . . of what I now [through you discern dimly; and knowing this, I shall be satisfied.'"
One would not, necessarily, discontinue] the use of figures in working out mathematical problems simply because he has discovered that figures are transient, whereas the numbers which they represent are permanent. Yet every thoughtful person knows that the figure is only a material representation of the number which is itself mental. One may, for example, think of the numbers seven and nine, and he may, if he chooses, represent these numbers on a blackboard by means of figures. These figures may be temporarily useful in working out a problem, yet all mathematical processes are essentially mental. When the figures have been erased, the numbers which they represented continue to exist only as thought. In like manner the human mind may continue indefinitely to objectify, for convenience or pleasure, its counterfeit concepts of those divine ideas that exist forever in divine Mind, but when all material objects and finite concepts have been destroyed, the spiritual ideas which they simulate will remain forever the thoughts of God, perfect, immortal, indestructible. Mrs. Eddy says, on page 310 of Science and Health, "Thought will finally be understood and seen in all form, substance, and color, but without material accompaniments."
Pain and Suffering Mental
Discernment of the unreal nature of matter may come gradually, but even partial recognition of the fact that matter is unreal has been found helpful and practical to students of Christian Science in their daily human experiences, especially in the overcoming of sickness and sin. In combating sickness it is particularly helpful to know that matter is unreal, because it enables one to see that disease is mental and not material. The knowledge that everything of which the senses take cognizance exists because of thought helps one to see that disease must be of mental origin, and that in the treatment of sickness it is futile to apply material remedies. Because sickness, according to Christian Science, originates in thought and exists as a condition of belief, it must be met, and can only be effectively destroyed, in the mentality or consciousness of the one who seems to be its victim. This can be accomplished successfully in no other way than by substituting in thought, or consciousness, the idea of health for the belief in disease, the idea of perfect and harmonious action for the belief in overaction or inaction. If, as Mrs. Eddy points out, there is no intelligence and no sensation in matter, it is obvious that matter cannot experience sickness or disease, and that if there seems to be a sense of pain and suffering, it must be in thought and not in the body. Many progressive medical doctors are recognizing more and more the mental origin of disease. They have said, for example, that fear, worry, hatred, and anger will produce sickness, and they admit that many cases of illness are due to the emotions of the human mind. Christian Scientists would agree with the physicians at this point but would go beyond them in declaring that all disease has a mental cause. In doing so, however, they do not contend that all disease is the result of conscious fear, nor of willful sin, but that back of every diseased or discordant condition of the material body there is some erroneous condition of thought which must be destroyed before there can be a permanent cure.
Matter Cannot Think
The human, or material, body, of itself, does not know anything. It does not, therefore, know whether it is hot or cold, sick or well. Take it, for the purpose of illustration, in connection with the impulse to sin. How impossible it would be for the hand to reach forth and steal if it were not for the desire to steal, the thought of theft. And Christian Science is convincing its students that not only voluntary action but miscalled involuntary action is controlled by thought either directly or indirectly. Realizing, as they do, the absolute control that the human mind exercises over what it terms its body, Christian Scientists also realize the need of making sure that their thoughts are controlled by Truth instead of error, by good instead of evil, by Love instead of hate, by Life instead of the fear of death. And so Christian Scientists are learning how to think their way out of sickness into health — out of the thought-conditions that mean hell into the divine state of consciousness that is heaven. Thus they are proving the truth of Paul's teaching that the body is transformed by the renewal of the mind, and are finding themselves willingly obedient to his admonition, Let that Mind be in you "which was also in Christ Jesus."
Only Healer, Divine Mind
Jesus healed all manner of sickness [and all manner of disease among the people of his time. He did this through the power of God as is evidenced by his own words: "I can] of mine own self do nothing." "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." The Master not only healed the sick, but he raised the dead. He walked on the water. He stilled the tempest. He multiplied the loaves and fishes. He passed through closed doors. More than that, he raised his own body from the dead and, finally, he ascended completely above the belief in matter and mortal existence. All this Jesus did by reason of his divinely bestowed understanding of the allness, the ever-presence, the instant availability of God, Spirit, Mind. This understanding of God's presence and power was Christ, or "God with us," and it was this to which Jesus referred when he said "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also." This declaration of Jesus shows unmistakably that the works he did were not miraculous, as they are often believed to be, but that they resulted from his understanding of divine Principle and can, at any time, be done by those who have gained a demonstrable knowledge of that Principle. The works of Jesus, then, were not miracles in the sense of being infractions of law, but were in fact divinely natural manifestations of the power and law of God, or Spirit, which he himself said he came to fulfill. Works approaching those of Jesus were done by his immediate disciples; also by Paul, and for centuries by the early Christians. The New Testament is full of records of healing through spiritual law, and many marvelous works are recorded in the Old Testament showing that Christ, Truth, was discerned and demonstrated to some extent centuries before, and for many years after, the earthly existence of Jesus, the Christ. Every so-called miracle from the translation of Enoch to the ascension of Jesus was a divinely natural manifestation of the power of God. The works done by the patriarchs and prophets of old may be said to have resulted from holy, uplifting faith in the power of God, whereas the works of Jesus, his apostles, and the early Christians should be regarded as having resulted from understanding of divine power, or spiritual law.
Jesus Lived Abundantly
The name of Jesus is often associated with the thought of poverty and limitation, but this is a mistake. Because of this mistake, poverty has, by many, been considered a Christian virtue. There is, however, nothing in the record of his life and ministry to justify this belief, any more than to justify the belief that his teaching sanctioned greed and avarice or the accumulation of things merely for the things sake. He said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you," which shows plainly that Jesus did not ignore human needs, but taught that those things which are needed in daily experience will be found through right-thinking, through seeking the kingdom, or knowledge of God, first. Jesus had that divine understanding of God as Spirit, or real substance, which must inevitably have expressed itself, in his earthly experience, as a supply of daily needs. The life of Jesus was not a life of self-indulgence or self-ease, but of self-sacrifice and helpful activity. Nevertheless, he always had what he needed when he needed it. "When the money was needed for taxes or tribute it was instantly found in the fish's mouth. When Jesus needed to be on the other side of the lake, he was immediately there. While it is said of him in the Gospels, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head," still it is inconceivable that one who knew and demonstrated as much of Truth as Jesus, could possibly have been without anything he actually needed. Must not this passage, therefore, have meant that he had no permanent place of abode? He did not need a house or an office, because he was always going about from place to place, preaching the Gospel and healing the sick. And as he went about, his needs were always supplied. His life was one of the utmost simplicity, but it was replete with true substance. His ministry was one not only of meekness but of might. Jesus was not a poor man. He was the richest man who ever lived; rich in knowledge; rich in the understanding of Spirit as true substance; rich in spiritual ideas. And Mrs. Eddy, realizing the true practical import of his teaching and example, says, on page 307 of her "Miscellaneous Writings": "God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. Never ask for tomorrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment."
Christian Scientists are proving that whether they manifest a sense [of dominion and abundance or a sense of limitation and poverty depends entirely upon the quality of their thinking, upon whether or not] they are thinking in the Christ-way. For Jesus, the Christ, said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." To have an abundant sense of life is to have an abundant sense of substance, for real Life and true substance are one, and that one is God, Spirit, the ever-present, all-powerful, always available, divine Mind, or Love, the only incorruptible indestructible substance, that is the same "yesterday, and today, and for ever." This substance does not vary nor fluctuate. There is as much Love today as there ever was or ever will be, and it is just as available to man as it ever was or ever will be, because of man's God-given ability to reflect Love. And when we reflect or express Love, we are not only expressing the one real substance but the only real Life. To love, therefore is to live, for, as Mrs. Eddy has said in one of her poems, "Love alone is Life" (Poems, p. 7).
The Promised Comforter Comes
It will be recalled by students of the Gospels that, in the fourteenth chapter of John, Jesus is recorded as saying, "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not." For long years the weary and heavy-laden waited for this Comforter, this "Spirit of truth," to come to them. During the Dark Ages, materialism and scholasticism so obscured the light of spiritual Truth that it was almost entirely lost sight of. With the Reformation the clouds began to lift, and after taking many progressive steps towards greater freedom of thought, humanity found itself more nearly ready for the coming of the Comforter. When, finally, the Pilgrims went forth from the Old World to establish in the New World a larger sense of religious freedom, they opened up the way for the discovery, by Mary Baker Eddy, that the Comforter promised by Jesus is indeed present with men to-day, saying to them again, in the words of the Master, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." That contemporary thought had reached the breadth and vision which enabled it to turn expectantly toward a new revelation of Truth, and had discerned that this revelation must come through a woman, is indicated by the fact that Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote, several years before the discovery of Christian Science, that "in heaven's own time, a new truth would be revealed" and continuing said, "The angel and apostle of the coming revelation must be a woman indeed, but lofty, pure, and beautiful; and wise, moreover, not through dusky grief, but the ethereal medium of joy."
Because of her deeply religious nature, her purity of thought, her love for mankind, and perhaps to some extent because of the suffering she had endured, Mrs. Eddy was ready to receive this revelation — this coming of Christ. When the healing Truth came to her receptive consciousness it proved itself, indeed, to be the promised Comforter, for it delivered her from a condition that had been deemed incurable. She proved in her own healing and in the healing of many others that the Christ-power which she had discovered was in fact the "Spirit of truth" which "the world" had not seen nor known, and she named her discovery Christian Science. Later, Mrs. Eddy wrote the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," and other works on the subject of Christian Science. Through the study of these books hundreds of thousands of people have since been healed of disease, sin, ignorance, fear and limitation, Thus they have proved in their own experience that the Comforter is here.
Mrs. Eddy's Leadership
Mrs. Eddy founded the Christian Science movement of which she became the revered Leader. She wisely provided for all the needs of this great movement, for its continuity, and for the protection of its varied and far-reaching activities. In 1908 she established an international daily newspaper which she named The Christian Science Monitor, and in which one may read constructive, helpful, and interesting accounts of what is going on in the world without being obliged to fill his thought with that which is harmful and degrading. The establishment of this paper is only one of many evidences of Mrs. Eddy's wisdom, foresight, and courage, and also of her love for humanity. That Mrs. Eddy was ever desirous of turning thought away from herself to her works is shown in a message which at one time she sent to a group of Christian Scientists of which I was a member. In this message she said, "Tell them they cannot know me in my personality, but in my books and my writings, and in my love for them and for all mankind."
[Christian Scientists, following the example of their much beloved Leader, are striving so to live that they may prove themselves not only willing,] but able to obey the command of the master Christian, "And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils." While Christian Scientists do not claim that they never fail in their application of Christian Science to human needs, still they find much in their experience for which to be grateful and they look forward to greater and more abundant success in their redemptive work for mankind as they become more faithful, more consecrated, and more obedient to spiritual law. It is but fair, however, to say that many well-authenticated cases of healing are constantly being published in The Christian Science Journal and the Christian Science Sentinel, and are being related weekly in the Wednesday evening meetings of Christian Science churches.
Christian Healing Not Mesmeric
Because the healing which is being done through Christian Science today is accomplished entirely through the activity of the Christ-mind, it should not be confounded with hypnotism, mesmerism, mental suggestion, psychotherapy, applied psychology, nor with any kind of so-called "drugless healing."
One of the principal advocates of auto-suggestion said in a published interview that there is no reason why auto-suggestion should not be employed in complete harmony with ordinary medical practice. This is well said, because one of these systems is as material as the other. Indeed all forms of mental suggestion, depending as they do upon the supposed healing efficacy of the human mind, are essentially material, for it might be said of that human mind, itself, that it is the essence of matter; whereas, Christian Science practice, depending upon the activity of the Christ-mind, Spirit, God, is essentially a spiritual Science and is known by its adherents as the one true spiritual method of healing. Of it, Mrs. Eddy has said on page 482 of Science and Health: "Christian Science is the law of Truth, which heals the sick on the basis of the one Mind or God. It can heal in no other way, since the human, mortal mind so-called is not a healer, but causes the belief in disease."
There is nothing new about mental suggestion. It has appeared at various times under different names. It is alluded to in the Bible, in the third chapter of Genesis, where it is called "the serpent," and its argument at that time was, substantially, "If you will acquire material knowledge, if you will but learn of me, then you shall be as gods, knowing both good and evil." And, today, the advocates of mental suggestion admit quite frankly that their system can he used for evil as well as for good, purposes. In comparatively modern times this old serpent of the Bible was discovered, or rediscovered in Germany by Mesmer, and named mesmerism. Shortly after Mesmer's discovery the King of France caused a commission to be appointed (of which Benjamin Franklin was a member) to investigate mesmerism, or animal magnetism. This commission, after an exhaustive investigation, reported that animal magnetism is an error of the human mind working largely through the imagination. In his introduction to an English translation of this report, Benjamin Franklin makes the following observation: "Truth is uniform and narrow. It constantly exists. Error is endlessly diversified. It has no reality, but is the pure and simple creation of the mind that invents it."
World Conditions and their Remedy
It seems hardly necessary to call the attention of an intelligent audience to the unsettled conditions that exist in the world today. All are familiar with the strife and turmoil that seem to confront us on every hand. The effort to account for these conditions is convincing many that they exist solely because of what Mrs. Eddy terms "conflicting selfish motives" (Science and Health, p. 447) and some are beginning to realize that there is no adequate remedy for the situation apart from divine Mind.
At the time of the Armament Conference in Washington, one of the British delegates, Lord Balfour, was invited by a group of Christian churches to make an address in Chicago. In declining the invitation he wrote a letter in which he said: "It would be vain for statesmen to diminish armaments and contrive treaties of conciliation in a world determined to fight. Even the unforgettable horrors of war do not prevent nations from rushing into mutual destruction. Wars are born of greed, of fear, of hatred, of suspicion, of pride, and of lust for domination. These are the enemy, and if we are to have peace on earth, there must be good will toward men." It is beginning to be seen that these evil emotions which are recognized by this great statesman as the cause of war exist to a certain extent in the [consciousness of every individual human being, however good that individual may consider himself to be or however good others may consider him to be. Since nations are but groups of individuals banded together for purposes of government, it becomes obvious that the causes of war can only be removed from the face of the earth through warfare with evil in the individual human consciousness. And this warfare must continue until every vestige of evil thinking is completely eradicated and destroyed. Then, and not until then, shall the nations of the world be ready to beat their "swords into plowshares" and learn war no more. For this reason it will be seen that peace and harmony cannot be established by legislation any more than health or goodness can be thus insured. Wise and right legislation may, and does, serve to restrain evil tendences of the human mind, until the individual is ready for reformation. But it is only through individual reformation, through the Christianization and spiritualization of the human consciousness that the kingdom of God can be established among men.
[There is cause for rejoicing that through the blessed ministry of Christian Science, the pure spiritual Science discovered and revealed by Mary Baker Eddy, the evangelization of the world has begun and will continue until the Christian warfare is fully accomplished and the peace of God, which passeth (human) understanding becomes a recognized and universal experience. From the great continents of the earth, and from the islands of the sea, a mighty chorus of thanksgiving to God is rising from the hearts of those who, through His messenger to this age, have found healing and regeneration in Christ. And you who, perhaps, are still in dire need may take courage in these hours which seem dark and so full of perplexity, discouragement and doubt, and remember the words of our Master, recorded in Luke's Gospel, "Look up, and lift up your heads: for your redemption draweth night."]
[Delivered May 9, 1924, and published in The Medina (New York) Daily Journal, May 10, 1924.
[The lecture title, though not provided by the Daily Journal, is well-attested by other copies of the lecture. The scan from which this lecture was transcribed is missing a few lines at the bottom of each of the first five columns and a larger portion of text from the sixth and last column. The missing text has been supplied from other copies of the lecture and placed within brackets.]