Christian Science: Its Message of Joy
Louise Knight Wheatley Cook, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Delivered in Akdar theatre,
The lecturer was introduced by Mrs. Lucile Bicking, who said:
The loveliest experience I have ever had is my study of Christian Science. Those of you who have already made this investigation, I am sure, will agree with me, and those of you who have not, certainly have a joyous occasion awaiting you.
Christian Science has been applied to our many various problems for the past 20 years, and wonders have been performed through our reliance on the Truths, as given in the Bible and Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, by our revered leader, Mary Baker Eddy.
One of the activities of the
Christian Science Movement, as established by Mrs. Eddy, is the Board of
Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in
How I hope that this lecture may mean as much to some of you as a Christian Science lecture once meant to me! It was a long time ago, the first one I had ever heard. I could not grasp it all, but what I did understand was enough to make me want to go home and do some very serious thinking. It was no new thing. I had often heard it mentioned. Many of my friends were in it. I frequently passed the church without the slightest desire to enter. Why had I not taken any interest in it before? As a matter of fact, I didn't know. All I knew was that I suddenly began to see that I had been missing something, which I might just as well have had, in fact, the very best things in life, tremendously important and worth while. Other people had found them, for they were free, ours for the taking, like the air we breathe and the water we drink. They were all here. And God wanted us to have them, because He was our Father, and He loved us.
As the teachings of Christian Science gradually unfolded in my consciousness, I began to realize that things are not always as they seem to be. A man may think he is very rich, and yet be poor. Another may think he is very poor, and yet be rich. For instance, suppose some poor miner living in a little hut, deep in the snows of a remote part of Alaska, should suddenly, by some strange twist of circumstance, become the heir to vast possessions. It is not inconceivable. These possessions, let us say, which are now his by right of inheritance, are in his native country which he left long ago. Fabulous wealth is his for the taking, and yet he sits in his hut in the snows, beside his one little flickering candle, and doesn't know a thing about it. But does that alter the fact? Now, let us suppose that a day comes when those in his own country, who have long been trying to locate him, finally succeed in getting the information through, and he is told of his inheritance. All is his. He has only to return home, and take possession. For a long time I was like that man. The Father's abundance had been mine, but I didn't know it. Yet it was all right there in the Bible. "Beloved," said the Apostle John, "now are we the sons of God." And John knew, because he had been with Jesus, and had learned these great truths of being at the Master's feet.
The Great Discovery
It is a strange sensation for one who has read the Bible since childhood to come upon an old sentence suddenly illumined; and yet the light which Christian Science throws upon the Scriptures does that very thing, renders some familiar passage so vibrant with new meaning that he can hardly recall ever having seen it before. The Bible had been for a lifetime the beloved daily companion of Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, who discerned within its pages the great truth of man's relationship to God, and embodied it, with other fundamental facts of being, in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." It is not hard to understand this book, which so lovingly explains man's true status and identity as the son of God. Such a little book to contain so much! But within its pages is found all that one can ever need, in conjunction with the Bible, upon which our whole religion rests, to find his way back to his Father's house, and his heritage of joy. If Christian Science today, however, sometimes seems to meet with opposition from those who do not understand it, what must have been the situation seventy years ago when a woman quietly walked out from among the green hills of New England, and laid down a challenge to the world? Accepted theories of science, theology, and medicine, with their time-honored codes and customs, had no power to deter Mrs. Eddy. God had shown her a more excellent way, and she did not hesitate to say so. Her own quick release by prayer alone from a serious physical difficulty of long standing, as well as the healing later on of countless others through her own efforts, rendered her conviction certain that she had laid hold of a system whose logic was incontrovertible. Yet the bitter opposition to which her discovery was subjected seems almost incredible to us today. On one occasion she received anonymous letters containing threats to blow up the hall where she was to speak; but she never informed the police, nor sought any human protection. She wrote in one of her Messages to her Church (Message for 1902, p. 15), "I leaned on God and was safe." Those were the days when to be a Christian Scientist was to become the object of general wonderment, of ridicule and persecution. But times have changed and in most communities Christian Science now stands upon an assured basis of tolerance and respect. In the very city where in those first difficult years she labored so long and lovingly to present her great discovery, there now stands a beautiful edifice, capable of seating five thousand persons, at times crowded to capacity, The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, while its many branches extend to all parts of the civilized world. Wherever these churches are to be found, there may be found one or more Christian Science practitioners, ready to prove their faith by their works, as well as Reading Rooms, free to the public, designed to meet the need of those who may desire to learn, through the authorized literature of our movement, just what Christian Science has to offer.
The Bible says, "He that cometh to God must believe that he is." That, then, is the first step – to believe in God; but the next and equally important step is to know God. We are told that He appeared to Moses as the great "I AM," but Jesus was the first to call Him "Father." Christian Science affirms that God also is "Mother," since the word "God," or "Elohim," in the original Hebrew is a plural noun. Our textbook (p. 587) defines Deity as "Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence." God is incorporeal, eternal, infinite, changeless, without beginning and without end. Since God is ever present, He is forever guiding, guarding, and protecting His spiritual creation, man and the universe. He is the one primal cause, the one supreme power, the one presence, the one Life, reflected in multitudinous spiritual ideas. He is impartial, having no favorites, and is not moved by the breath of praise, nor of pleading, to do more for one child than for another, since He loves all alike, and bestows on all alike His boundless blessings.
Turning to Spirit to supply our needs, no matter what the false material evidence of the difficulty may be, is really a very simple definition of what is called a Christian Science treatment. It is the prayer of grateful acknowledgment of God's perfection, and the realization that man, in God's image and likeness, is not advancing toward this point of perfection, nor has he the freedom and capacity to fall short of it, but he is at this point now. The harmony of his being was never interfered with, impeded, nor impaired. In thinking of this, those uninstructed in Christian Science may sometimes confuse the terms "man" and "mortal man," but they are not synonymous. Man is wholly spiritual; made in the image and likeness of Spirit. Adam, the Bible affirms, is a product of the dust of the ground, the objectified expression of all that is not God's image and likeness, a material mind calling itself "a mortal." And when one considers all the harrowing experiences through which this mortal is supposed to pass in his earthly pilgrimage, it is surely plain that an all-wise and all-loving creator could never be held responsible for so obvious a failure. He is indeed "born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward." Throughout the whole brief span of what he calls his life, he is pushed about, buffeted, bullied, brow-beaten, intimidated, tormented, tossed to and fro by circumstances, a helpless wanderer in a weary land.
Let us refuse to accept mortal mind's concept of itself, as divided into so many human personalities, with human frailties and characteristics, men and women, old and young, rich and poor, good and bad, sick and well, high and low, happy and miserable. Let us refuse to allow mortal mind to classify us after its own fancy, like specimens in a museum. Spirit knows but one classification: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." God knows us as we really are, not as we seem to be. Many a mortal has had his whole lifework blighted because he allowed himself to be labeled by human opinion. Many a talent has lain dormant because its possessor did not know that it was a gift straight from God. Our God is Love, and would it be like Love to give something to His dear child, and then refuse him the ability and the opportunity to use it? Let us enter our protest against all such unjust decrees, either for ourselves or for our brother. Banish the belief that God ever made a limited and circumscribed mortal, fettered by an unrighteous verdict. Refuse to give it power or presence. Look away from every false and entangling material evidence into the spiritual realm where man ever lives, moves, and has his being.
It is my deep desire that each one of you may go to his rest tonight with a clearer sense than ever before of the truth of Jesus' words, "I and my Father are one." Our Master made no claim that this oneness applied to him alone. We are all the sons of God, all at one with the same divine Principle. Because you, as man, are the complete expression of infinite intelligence, you can do whatever you need to do, and can do it perfectly. Mrs. Eddy says (Science and Health, p. 89); "Mind is not necessarily dependent upon educational processes. It possesses of itself all beauty and poetry, and the power of expressing them." Even the wisest and best man the world has ever known attributed no power to himself. In fact, Jesus once said plainly: "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise, For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel."
Nothing of ourselves! Our textbook says (p. 191), "By its own volition, not a blade of grass springs up, not a spray buds within the vale, not a leaf unfolds its fair outlines, not a flower starts from its cloistered cell." No matter what talent we possess – whether we write, sing, play the violin, sail a boat, drive a car, build a bridge, raise tulips, calculate an eclipse, conduct an orchestra, or paint a masterpiece – let us never forget that our ability to do these things comes straight from God, and is ours only by right of reflection. Then is there ever any excuse for pride in personal accomplishment, for vanity or self-importance? No, not if one knows anything at all about God! On the contrary, the higher the Christian Scientist rises in any line of human endeavor, the more humble he becomes, because the more clearly does he understand the truth of his beloved Master's words, "I can of mine own self do nothing." Even Jesus, who raised the dead, once said, "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." That which is called "invention" is just finding out something not previously known. The human being does not invent. He reflects enough of the divine intelligence to discern some fact which no one has ever seen before, and to apply it to some human need. He does not compose a piece of music. He listens, and then puts down what he hears. He has of himself no power of eloquence, but when the senses are silent, the divine Mind is heard. In view of all this, what becomes of that cruel lie of limitation called an inferiority complex? Why does any poor, deluded mortal ever struggle through life with all that useless baggage? Just because he is unaware of man's true selfhood as the son of God.
Our Father, God, bestows upon His children only that which is good and perfect, and He "giveth us richly all things to enjoy." In another place the Bible says, "It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." But human will and human planning and human outlining will not make these things appear. They must come to us just as something "added," because we were seeking first the kingdom, because we loved God most, and first, and all the time, and were willing to trust Him unreservedly to bring into our experience whatever was right for us to have. All we can ever need, or can possibly have, is already ours. True prayer is the constant, conscious realization of man's unity with God. "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine." Then why try to get it? Why not just thank God because we have it?
Christian Science brings to tired humanity a message of joy, and the world has come to recognize in many ways its gentle ministrations. It sees broken homes reunited, broken hearts comforted, broken hopes revived. It sees enemies transformed into friends, calamities turned into blessings, loss replaced by something better. And the world is thinking about it, I used to think about it, too. I used to say to myself: "How does the Christian Scientist succeed, even in little, trifling things? How does he do it? There must be a reason." Perhaps one way he does it is by knowing that in God's sight there is no little, trifling thing, because nothing in human experience is too small to be governed by His watchful care. Our religion teaches us that God is our helper. "He has mercy upon us, and guides every event of our careers" (Unity of Good by Mrs. Eddy, p. 3). If the Scientist is knowing each day that the divine Mind controls every act of his life, no matter how insignificant it may seem, he thereby places himself and his affairs under the government of divine law, and consequently will do whatever he needs to do, at the right time and in the right way. No step, taken under such circumstances, can ever prove inopportune or ineffectual. The real man, reflecting his divine Principle, knows no failure, no misdirected effort, no frustration. Under God's guidance all that really is now works with him, not against him, and will aid his journey; so he can go serenely on his way, calm, quiet, confident, and at peace.
Salvation Through Right Thinking
Each man and woman in the world
expresses his own thinking. Each one, humanly speaking, presents the composite
picture of what the passing years have brought him, for good or ill. A human
countenance is not seamed and lined and drawn and aged and hardened and
sharpened by the emotions of just one day. The picture we present may be the accumulated
evidence of all that the one possessing it believes that he has experienced.
And if our faces bear the stamp of these things, why should not other parts of
the body bear them as well, causing resultant physical difficulties? The face
is not the only thing upon which the marks of fear and anger, hate, stinginess,
dishonesty, or cruelty may leave their lasting impress, as every Christian
Science practitioner knows. Nor is the face the only part of the body which
becomes changed and softened and made fresh and beautiful, as human
consciousness rises higher, and responds to the transforming touch of Truth. The
more advanced members of the medical profession are beginning more and more to
stress the effect of thought upon the body. A physician who is regarded, and
justly so, as one of the ablest and most humane in the United States once
stated that worry kills more people than war. "Next to hate," he is
quoted as saying, "worry is the most devastating human emotion. Common,
everyday hate is a thousand times more dangerous to the hater than to the hatee.
It shortens life, breaks down the nervous system, ruins complexions." Dr. Wilhelm
It may be, however, that some here tonight are struggling with a situation which is not physical, but which is nevertheless causing them some concern. To these also Christian Science brings a message of joy. There is a way out. The right answer to every problem is already here, just as the right answer to every problem in a child's arithmetic is already worked out and printed in the back of the book, even before the child opens its covers. But to find that "way out" one must begin, just as in a case of physical healing, to claim his unbroken unity with God. Man is the perfect effect of a perfect cause, and consequently possesses no ability, opportunity, freedom, or capacity to express anything unlike that cause. Man's real individuality is "hid with Christ in God," in that secret place where the mesmeric arguments of aggressive mental suggestion can never reach him. Jesus once said to his disciples in that hour of doubt, fear, and uncertainty in the upper room, among the gathering shadows: "Let not your heart be troubled. . . . I go to prepare a place for you." And then he added, "That where I am, there ye may be also." "Where I am" – in Mind, not in matter; in Spirit, not in flesh; in Soul, not in body. He was showing them that the real man – the only man there is – lived where he did, where we all do, you and I and everyone – in Life eternal. "There is but one I, or Us, but one divine Principle, or Mind, governing all existence" (Science and Health, p. 588).
The Divine Us
Does this seem to anyone like a somewhat bold statement to make? It is bold and revolutionary to that sense which has for centuries thought of itself as the proverbial "worm of the dust," but it is simple and natural and inevitable to those who accept it as the basic fact from which to draw their ensuing conclusions. There sometimes seems to be a so-called humility which is not humility at all, but a spurious and baseless thing, the sort of mock humility which Jesus never countenanced for an instant. True humility was expressed by our great Master when he said he could of himself do nothing, and at the same time had dominion over every form and phase of matter, to the astonishment of the world for nineteen centuries. It was this very quality which gave him his mighty power, for he was so continuously aware that mortal selfhood could "do nothing" that he ceased to think about it at all. True humility is so absorbed in listening to God that it forgets to talk about itself. It is the Andrew of the mental realm, who brought his brother to the Christ, and then slipped away, content to be forgotten. Let us never lose sight of the great fact that, no matter what may be the nature of the difficulty to be overcome, the patient's real need is to realize his spiritual identity as a part of the divine "Us." That is the true process of salvation. Most of us feel, and rightly, that we may have a long way to go really to do this, but let no one be discouraged. One cannot always see from day to day the progress he is making. Because the daily routine sometimes seems dull and monotonous, that does not necessarily mean that nothing is being accomplished. The story is told of an overzealous teacher in a Christian Science Sunday School, who told her pupils that she hoped they would all have something to tell the class the following Sunday about some proof of God's care during the week. All responded to the request, and gave their demonstration with more or less enthusiasm. That is, all but one. She sat silently in her seat, looking rather sad. "Why, Betty," said the teacher, "haven't you anything to tell us too?" The child looked up with troubled eyes. "No, Ma'am," she said, "I haven't anything. I tried as hard as I could, but nothing happened."
Unlike little Betty perhaps we have had things happening to us which we would be most grateful to have ruled out of consciousness. Perhaps one subject which is uppermost in the minds of some just now is the thought of home. We may feel that in our case it is not the place of peace that it should be. In fact, it seems to hold within its precincts much of discord and dissension. But since we are sure that God knows no such distorted picture, we may be equally sure that man cannot know it either. Home is a right idea, a spiritual concept. Man can never have anything less than a perfect home. Because it is in Mind, not in matter, it cannot lack any good thing. It does not require any particular person to make it complete, nor can the absence of any particular person make it incomplete. To admit the absence of any good, anywhere, is paramount to admitting that God's universe is out of balance. A happy home and congenial and helpful companionship are undoubtedly right for us all to have. Until, however, they come into our experience through real demonstration, it may help us to bear in mind that, like Jesus, we have "many brethren," and we can find peace and joy in loving and serving them, and in being loved and served in return.
The So-called Past
Possibly the remembrance of some
experience long past lies heavily on the heart of someone, some bitter disappointment,
some mistake made in an hour of stress, something which he longs to forget, but
cannot seem to do so. If there be any such here tonight, let him rest assured
that Christian Science is bringing to him also its message of hope and courage.
Did something in the past try to rob you of your joy? It is quite possible.
Such things do seem to occur. But there is promise of relief from this hard
bondage. Mrs. Eddy says (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,
p. 12), "We own no past, no future, we possess only now." It is never too late
to be happy. Our religion knows no such term as "too late." Perhaps the
best years of your life are before you. You may smile a little ruefully at
that, but it cannot help being true, if you are knowing more about God every
day. And in the meantime, why look back? We know what happened to
Just here I am reminded of a little lady of three, of whom I once read, who is insatiably fond of stories. She likes best to tell them herself, and they all have the same ending – "And then he went home to his mother." Wild animals of all sorts, lions, tigers, bears, even elephants and crocodiles, pass through the most agitating and breath-taking adventures, but in the end they all go home to their mothers! If anyone in telling her a story should carelessly omit this very important point, there is a horrified exclamation, "You mean he didn't go home to his mother?" as though the very universe were tottering.
What a remarkable bit of wisdom from a small person of three! For does it not embody a great truth, the deep need felt by all of us in times of stress, when everything else seems to fail? Some of you, perhaps, may be amused or incredulous to learn how often that little story has helped me, when I have seemed tossed on the ocean of events, not knowing which way to turn. For we all seem at times to be but children, after all, wanting to go home and be comforted. And how we take heart again to remember that we have a Father-Mother God on whose love we may depend, the dear Father-Mother of us all, who is looking through and beyond those false evidences of mistakes and failures and misdirected efforts and fruitless struggles, to behold us as we really are, perfect, sinless, stainless, held forever in the tender keeping of Omnipotence. Is anyone facing what seems like a very grave problem? Go home to your Mother. Turn it over to God with implicit confidence, just as a child might get tired of trying to undo a hard knot in a snarl of string, and would turn the whole thing over to his parent, knowing that it would then be quickly undone.
Christian Science and Business
A thoroughly discouraged mortal once went to the office of a Christian Science practitioner for help on a business problem. He was the picture of despair. For many weary weeks and months he had been looking vainly for employment. His funds were low. His family was suffering. He must get a position. "But you can't," said the Scientist. The man stared at him in astonishment. "What do you mean?" he cried. "Everyone else has been telling me that, but I didn't suppose you would. Why can't I get a position?" "Because man can't 'get' anything," was the reply. "He already has all." And then he went on lovingly to explain his somewhat startling statement – that because the real man is the son of God, all that is God's is his, by right of reflected possession. To the visitor's frightened sense he might have seemed alone and forgotten, lacking almost everything, a buffeted and unhappy wanderer in a world of shadows, but that false concept of himself repeated a thousand times in a thousand different ways, would never make it true. The relationship between God and man still remained, unbroken and unbreakable. So the practitioner went on to tell him who he really was, not a discouraged mortal, but man, an individual idea of God, the highest, finest, noblest, greatest, grandest thing that God ever made, untouched by fear, discord, or lack. Mind's complete expression, the "climax of creation," as Mrs. Eddy has put it (No and Yes, p. 17). He does not need to get one single thing, because he already has all.
"Because you do not know this," said the practitioner, "that does not affect the fact. It is unalterable." For some time he audibly declared these absolute truths of Christian Science, as well as many others, but in so doing he was not looking at the shabby figure in the chair before him, nor thinking of it; but with the eyes of spiritual discernment he was seeing through and beyond the false evidence of the material senses into the realm of pure reality. Finally he said, "What I have told you is the truth, my friend." The two men rose, and the visitor held out his hand. "Excuse me if I don't talk," he said, "I'll see you again. I just want to go home and think." A few days later he was offered the best position he had ever had, which he still holds.
In these difficult days of unrest and instability, with universal world conditions seeming to change with almost every rising sun, there may be others who are also disturbed over their financial outlook. If so, the incident just related may give them reason to feel that the message of joy which Christian Science brings may include them also, should they appeal to it sincerely and with an open mind to readjust their human affairs. The trouble with most of us is that we have too long been accepting the wrong concept of ourselves, and a false premise inevitably leads to a false conclusion. Instead of knowing the truth about yourself, and your unity with God, you may have been accepting the counterfeit, the opposite. This, of course, is what the world in general has been doing all down the centuries. It knew no other way until Mrs. Eddy made plain the teachings of Christ Jesus along this line, and placed them in her book, so that all might see and understand their simple and provable logic.
Since you, as man, possess by reflection every attribute and quality of God, these must necessarily be as eternal as the Mind from which they emanate; so you can never lose them. You can never lose anything. You cannot lose a position, nor get back a position. You eternally have it; for it is the place you occupy in divine Mind. Hence it can never be subject to chance, change, business depression, human will, personal animosity, rivalry, jealousy, whim, injustice, competition, nor to that distressing thing called the world situation. Even an impending war cannot displace you from your position, for it is in God, hence invulnerable, unassailable, unalterable, safe, and sure. Mortal mind does not know where your real business is, hence it cannot attack it. It cannot find it to do it harm, nor to cause you fear and anxiety about it.
An old business does not have to go to the wall if the owner knows enough of his oneness with God to prevent it; and a new business may be safely launched, even in these so-called trying and uncertain times, if the owner knows enough of his oneness with God to protect it. If he works under divine direction his business cannot come down under the almost universally accepted belief of insecurity, uncertainty, or lack of opportunity. His business cannot be defeated, depleted, nor demoralized. Since it is really God's business, his own part in it is to keep so close to God in every thought and act, motive and desire, hope and aspiration, that he will almost feel it is as if he just stood aside and watched divine Principle carry it on. The less he is in the picture, the more there will be of God. If he has a firm conviction that his business will be a blessing to many, and is giving the world something it needs, he cannot lose his happiness in it, his faith in it, nor his success in it. Because of any passing event he cannot be robbed of his courage, his cheery optimism. He is the master of circumstance. In carrying on this business he cannot get overtired, overanxious, nor overwhelmed by anything which may occur. He cannot lose his strength, nor get back his strength. He always had it. He always has it. He can keep his sense of honesty, integrity, kindness, humanity, and justice untouched amid the noise and distracting turmoil of the world's mad money-making, money-loving, money-worshiping struggle for place and power.
Man exists at the standpoint of conscious realization that he is the inevitable and unalterable effect of a perfect cause. Hence his real individuality contains no destructive element, no disintegrating factor, no element of disruption, weakness, nor vulnerability. He is a complete unit, complete manifestation, knowing no limitation nor boundary. He can never be deceived, victimized, tricked, nor trapped by any subtle scheme of mortal mind's invention. His right mental processes know no interruption. His capital consists of the limitless abundance of spiritual ideas, upon which he can continually draw without fear of their depletion. Each spiritual idea which his business requires is instantly available the moment he makes his demand upon it. It cannot be diverted from its course, misappropriated, misdirected, misused, nor misapplied. It cannot fail to reach its goal, nor can it ever fall short of its divinely directed purpose. The greatest material enterprises in all the world, with their fabulous wealth and resources, can never even approach in scope and grandeur this business of his, because it is God's business, and hence the only business on earth which is absolutely unlimited.
Dear friends, this hour which we have spent together is almost at an end. I think the man in the snow hut is already well on his way, and the little candle he left behind on the table quite burnt out. But he will not need it any more, for he is now walking toward the light, and it will shine on his pathway, more and more, "unto the perfect day."
So may it be with all of us.