Christian Science: Divine Affluence and the Human Need
Lucia C. Coulson, C.S., of London, England
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
"Christian Science: Divine Affluence and the Human Need" was the subject of the lecture given by Miss Lucia C. Coulson, C.S., of London, England, Sunday afternoon at Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist, in Irvington. Miss Coulson is a member of The Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. She was introduced by Richard O. Shiner. The lecture follows in full:
During the last few years the world has gone through an economic upheaval, which is perhaps unparalleled in history. The heritage of strife is always want, and want is always expressed in limitation. To find the way out of limitation into the fullness of experience, the fullness of opportunity, the fullness of success is the goal of most people, individually and collectively, and therefore whatever promises the overcoming of limitation should find a warm welcome today. I am going to speak to you this evening on this subject, and I am going to be bold enough to state at the outset that there is a Science, the Science of Christianity, which leads out of all limitation, which will enlarge your scope of thought and your scope of action, will widen your outlook and your experience, will release you from that which is small, sordid, and conventional, and leave you unfettered and untrammeled to exercise the inherent capabilities for good which belong to every one of you.
I do not hesitate to make such a sweeping statement as this, because I know that it can be proved. I have proved it in my own experience, and so I know that it is scientific. Whatever is scientific is demonstrable, and so Christian Science declares that its every statement can be proved by demonstration. That is its method, its scientific method, and its purpose is to heal; its purpose is salvation.
Christian Science heals the sick! Do you ask what sort of sickness does it heal? All sorts. It heals sickness of the body, functional and organic. It heals sickness of the heart. It heals a sick, unhappy disposition. It heals unhealthy mortals, and it heals a sick business. Then does it heal poverty also? as an incredulous friend once asked me. Yes, it does! It heals it perfectly and completely; for Christian Science takes as its premise that man is the image and likeness of God.
According to this premise poverty is as much an error as is sickness, for both of them are unlike God, and reasoning from this premise, I shall hope to show that we obtain satisfactory conclusions. Now the Christian will probably accept this premise from the start; but the man who is not a religionist, who does not believe the Bible or who at least does not consider it as inspired, will probably reject it. He will not, however, reject sensible evidence; and I shall hope to show, as I said before, that reasoning from this premise, we do obtain certain satisfactory evidence.
In the first place, then, let us get some clear idea of what God is, that we may be able rightly to conceive His image. Before we can say of a picture that it is a good likeness, we must have known the original. Science and Health tells us that God is Mind, and moreover that this Mind is infinite, the divine Mind. Does this seem reasonable? Well, what is the greatest power that we ourselves possess? The power to think. Without it we can do nothing. You could not walk in this hall, you could not exercise free-will, you could not run a car or make a pudding, or even sit down in a chair unless you were able to think. Your every action is directed by some thought - not a very high order of thinking, possibly, in some cases, but still in every instance it must be thought translated into action. Then we are certainly mental beings, are we not? So we must certainly be the product or consequent of Mind.
"Back of the beating hammer,
By which the steel is wrought,
Back of the workshop's clamor
The seeker may find the thought,
The thought that is ever master
Of iron and steam and steel,
That rises above disaster
And tramples it under heel!"
Berton Braley. (From The Christian Science Monitor)
But, one may ask, why do you insist that the Mind which creates is divine, or in other words, Deity? Is it conceivable that the universe should be the product of the human mind? Can that mind control the planets or the stars in their courses? Can it add one cubit to your stature? Surely the Creator must be able to govern His own universe. It is still more inconceivable to assume matter, unthinking matter, to be the creator of mind. Even the theory of evolution by atomic force only pushes the question further back, to seek the cause of that force or energy with its intelligent design. Thus we are forced to seek a higher intelligence as Creator.
In that tremendous statement known to Christian Scientists as the "scientific statement of being," on page 468 of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mrs. Eddy makes this startling announcement, "All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all." Infinite!† That is, without limits, without bounds. What does Mind consist of? Ideas. Then these ideas must partake of the nature of Mind, they must be without limit, infinite. Those are the riches of Mind, of God. He is rich in ideas, rich in thoughts. Then His image, or man, partakes of and reflects infinite intelligence.† Now intelligence is power, even humanly. Any man who knows more than his fellows along any line, however humble, will lift himself to a position of influence in that particular line; he will possess greater power than his fellows in that direction. The whole progress of mankind has consisted of the discovery and application of right ideas or true knowledge, and the glory of ideas is that they multiply by being shared. The discovery of radio did not merely enrich its discoverer; it continues to enrich us all impartially. Fundamentally poverty is a dearth of right ideas, and Christian Science shows us that there can be no such thing, for the source of all ideas is infinite Mind and the supply is inexhaustible. Then if you are in need, there is only one thing necessary and that is to gain these enriching spiritual ideas, these valuable ideas, which will literally bring you in the necessary supply, the necessary funds. You may think that your need is work, or money, or a home, but it is not!
The work might cease tomorrow, the money might be lost in a night, the home might be broken up, but the right idea of these things when once you possess it, cannot be lost. It is productive. It will produce and reproduce. The substance of ideas is eternal. Once it is yours, you can demonstrate right work, needful supply, a better home. You will not have to go without the visible manifestation of these right ideas; but the substance and continuity of them, that which produces them, consists in a right understanding that their source is spiritual, a right understanding that everything good and true exists as an idea in the divine Mind and that it is these ideas entertained which heal sickness, poverty, and sin. They must become a part of your consciousness, for once they are included in your consciousness they will be manifested in your experience. Do you ask how this is done? I will give you a simple illustration. The right idea of work entertained - the truth that all activity is spiritual, perpetual, harmonious, the birthright of every living creature - this truth entertained "expands into expression" as Mrs. Eddy tells us in Science and Health (p. 256). It manifests itself in better work, increased activity; it approximates the spiritual ideal of work, which is divine expression.
Even a child can readily understand and demonstrate this. I remember a wonderful answer being given me by a little boy in a Christian Science Sunday school. It was during the late war, when food was so short and prices so high, and the sense of lack seemed very great. I noticed that the children in my class were being affected by it, that it seemed very real to some of them. So I reminded them that Christian Science heals such conditions, and I told them a little story of some one who was in need and asked them to tell me just how Christian Science would help in such a case of lack. I asked each child in turn, and when I came to John, aged five and a half, he replied, "Let me think." So he thought for a minute or two: then he said, "God would give you an idea, and that would get you what you want." That babe came wonderfully near to our Leader's metaphysical statement in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 307), "God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies."
There can never be a shortage of ideas, for that which is wholly mental is without limit. It is not bounded by space, because ideas require no space. For example, take the science of mathematics. Figures are mental concepts. You can appropriate a million sevens at this moment without depriving me of appropriating millions more, and we require no space in which to house them. Therefore according to Christian Science supply is inexhaustible; for, as we have seen, God is the source of all supply, and so it has an infinite, inexhaustible source. Perhaps the best simile we can find of that which is inexhaustible is the air. Even the beggar does not have to save up air nor does he need to fear that he will run short of it. Freely he takes what he needs. To be logical then, if our source of supply is inexhaustible, we can have no need to hoard or spare or even consider the question of supply. Freely we can take what we need. This indeed is the actual truth of the situation; but as I shall show later, this truth must be worked out with wisdom and economy and applied to our human problems gradually, step by step. We can begin right now, however, by filling our consciousness with this absolute truth, and so gain the hope and trust which will enable us to demonstrate a better sense of abundance. Is not this exactly what Jesus the Christ taught centuries ago in that pre-eminently practical and intelligent as well as spiritually profound discourse, the Sermon on the Mount, which men have always refused to make practical? Did he not tell us there is no need to be anxious for the morrow, far less to worry over it, because it is our Father's business to provide for it, and He is able and willing to give us enough and to spare? Listen to his words: "Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? . . . And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. . . . Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? . . . For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." And again, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."
Now Christ Jesus was not using fine sounding phrases. He was not simply making beautiful ethical statements. He was uttering a law, a fixed and eternal law which divine intelligence had revealed to him and which offered all who would avail themselves of it a wonderful opportunity to prove its practical benefits.
I know of a man, a manufacturer in Europe, who at the end of the war was faced with a prospect of lack on every side. Few contracts were coming in, and there seemed little chance of more. Ready money was scarce, prices high. In these conditions the only remedy seen by most employers was to lower wages. But this man I am telling you about believed in the Golden Rule and was trying to practice it in his daily living. He proceeded therefore to raise the wages of all his workmen on the grounds that prices were so high that this was the only just thing to do. He did not know how long he could carry on, but he took the right step as he saw it. Two days later he received an order for the largest contract in the whole country, and his business has flourished ever since.
Now this was not a coincidence; there have been too many of such instances to call them by that name. No! That man had come into touch with a law, certain, invariable in its operation; and it has instantly taken effect.
There was a widow in the days of Elisha the prophet who was left very badly off, as we would say, and was pressed by her husband's creditors. Evidently he had failed and left her nothing but his debts. In her extremity this woman turned, not to the lawyers, but to the man of God. He asked her what she had in the house, and she told him only a pot of oil. He counseled her to borrow many vessels of her neighbors and to give what she had, to pour out the oil. She seemed to have to little to pour, but she obeyed. She "poured out" and soon one vessel was filled. She poured and poured and poured until all were full. Then the people for whom she had poured forth her oil without stint gave to her again without stint, and so the debts were paid. It is interesting in this connection to remember Mr. Eddy's definition of oil (Science and Health, p. 592), which consists, in part, of "charity; . . . prayer; heavenly inspiration."
It is this spirit of giving in contradistinction to the spirit of selfish getting which is needed to solve the problem of capital and labor. When this righteous spirit is seen also to be good business, there will be reconciliation. To take a simple illustration: Suppose a man is out of work. He naturally feels he must get a job, he must get help, he must get employment; and that is most natural, because the truth of man's being is perpetual activity. But if he would start out with the thought of what he has to give, that no matter how humble his trade, he has something to give which his employer needs, which he is going to give to the very best of his ability, he would be so much more successful. It would place him on the credit side, so to speak. On the other hand, if the employer, instead of trying to squeeze all he can out of his employees and give as little as possible in return, if instead of holding such an attitude of thought, he would realize that just and generous giving would enrich his business, and that it would enable him to get ten times as much out of his workmen, what would become of the conflict between capital and labor? It would be on a fair way to solution. God lives to give, and man, Godís reflection, lives in giving!
In the Christian Science textbook we read on page 79 that "giving does not impoverish us in the service of our Maker, neither does withholding enrich us." The "service of our Maker"! That is the crux of the whole matter. Every business can be made the Father's business, if we look to Him to govern and direct it.
There never was a greater giver than Mary Baker Eddy. She gave without stint of her time, her thought, her life's blood. There is a picture of Mrs. Eddy which those who knew her say is indicative of her nature and her attitude towards humanity. She stands on her balcony at Pleasant View, as she stood to greet her followers one summer's day, and her hands are stretched out, open, as one would stand who scatters largesse. Thus in old day, the king's gold was given, scattered freely amongst the poor, the aged, the infirm, the destitute. And thus, in modern days, this woman gave of the gold of her inspired healing thoughts; gave to the sick and heavy laden, gave to those destitute of joy and health, to those beggared of reputation and success and thousands there are in this and other countries who bear witness to the fact that her thoughts and words have healed them.† Yes, thousands upon thousands today rise up and call her blessed.
For to this woman was given to discover a great Science, to found a great religion, and she was the first woman in all history to do either. In the early sixties woman was hardly emancipated. If she wrote at all, it was under a nom-de-plume, and she chose a man's signature in order to give her work a chance of success. Moreover, let us take into consideration the environment in which Mary Baker Eddy lived and write; a New England town, filled with simple, unlearned people for the most part, and governed largely by prejudice and convention. In an upper room, a little attic room of a modest house in that town, this woman sat and wrote from early morning until the sun went down. She had an open Bible before her and the thoughts came to her quickly. When night came, she tells us, the thoughts stopped coming, and then she would turn to the Bible, reading and pondering the Scriptures. So for three years she wrote and studied, and at the end of three years there came forth from that little room, in Lynn, a book which ran contrary to every accepted theory, a book which met with ridicule and resistance in all directions, and yet a book which has to a great extent revolutionized modern thought, a book for whose sake (while it has been translated into two languages) many, many people in foreign lands are today studying the English tongue in order that they may read it in the original. Is it too much to say that without an unconquerable faith in her divine mission, without divine aid, such a result would have been impossible?
It was the mighty truth which had been revealed to her, the Science she had discovered, which enabled her thus to achieve, and it is here today to lift us to achievement.
Now I said that the truth of the inexhaustible nature of supply must be demonstrated gradually, and there are several reasons for this. One is that the human mind is apt to run to extremes, and when told that supply is inexhaustible is inclined to be wasteful. Wastefulness prevents demonstration, because it is not in accord with divine law. When Jesus had just manifested his perfect understanding of supply, when he had produced food for the multitude, then, right then, he commanded, "Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost." There is no room for waste or for extravagance in divine idea, for that word means judicious expenditure, and however plentiful our supply, expenditure must always be judicious.
Another requisite for scientific demonstration is honesty, scrupulous honesty. If a man gives to himself and withholds from his brother, he is disobeying the Golden Rule, that most successful of all business policies, which brings a sure reward to all who practice it. Then man who is not strictly honest and yet talks of "demonstrating supply" can never succeed, even materially.
The businessman or woman is often apt to keep his finger on the pulse of his business, so to speak; apt to watch it all the time, so as to be quite sure how the debit and credit columns stand. Now in turning to Christian Science for healing, the first thing the student learns is to "look away from the body into Truth and Love," as Science and Health tells us (p. 261), to turn away from the material evidence and fix the thought on the divine perfection. In the proportion that he is faithful in this effort, does he receive healing. There is the story of the little boy who was given a watch. After a very short time the watch stopped going. Then it was discovered that every half-hour or so the boy took it to pieces to see how the works were getting on.† If the businessman or woman would look upon their business as a means of self-expression and leave the results to God, they would give divine Principle a chance to operate.
And now let us return for a moment to the thought with which we started, the thought of God as source to whom alone we must look in working out our problem. If you are a child, your supply does not come primarily from your parents. If you are a businessman, your supply does not come primarily from your business. If you are a Christian Science practitioner, your supply does not come primarily from your patients. In every instance it comes from God alone, although He may choose these ways of conveying it to us. When we see this, we begin to worry less about ways and means. Worry is a habit of thought, and a very costly one. Confidence can also become a habit of thought, and it pays! Why should this thought of God as source fill us with confidence and assurance? Simply because this infinite Mind is also Love unspeakable. Have you watched a mother's solace for the comfort of her babe? Have you seen her eager ministry to its needs? Tenderer than the tenderest mother's care is divine Love's ministry to its own - the affluence poured forth upon its children. There was once a blind man who was very poor, so poor that he sat by the roadside begging.† Many there were who passed by and paid no heed to him; but at length, one day he heard the sound of a large crowd of people approaching, and he asked some one standing by what it meant. The bystander told him that "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by." At those words the blind beggar roused himself and, standing up, he cried, "Thou son of David, have mercy on me!" The people who were escorting the procession turned on him with indignation and told him to stop shouting and hold his peace. But that poor man was rich in some respects. He was rich in courage, rich in determination, rich in faith. The scorn of the multitude could not silence him. The more they rebuked him, the more he cried out, "Thou son of David, have mercy on me!" And then something unlooked for happened. The central figure of the procession suddenly stood still, and with the authority that characterized his speech, commanded the man to be brought to him; and when he was led up to him asked, "What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?" And the blind man answered, "Lord, that I may receive my sight." Then said Jesus, "Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee."
Now, why did Jesus ask that question? Any one might have guessed that the man wanted healing of his blindness and Jesus must have known that. The reason for the question was, I think, made plain in the statement, "Thy faith hath saved thee." For Bartimaeus' faith was being tested, and how did it stand the test? He did not ask an alms. He did not say, "Do something for me if you can," or even, "If you are willing, no doubt you can heal me." No, he asked instantly for the one transcendent gift of sight, the complete restoration of that which he lacked. He claimed it all and was evidently certain that it could and would be bestowed, and in this respect he gave us an example of true prayer. How seldom we claim enough! How seldom we pray with the certain conviction of a Bartimaeus that our prayer will be answered!
The absolute truth for every one of God's children is infinite perfection. In our prayers we must always claim that and nothing less, for in Christian Science prayer consists more largely of affirmation than petition; even as Jesus the Christ at the grave of Lazarus exclaimed, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me," before Lazarus had risen from the tomb. Again, by the bedside of Jairus' daughter he declared, "The maid is not dead, but sleepeth." So the Christian Scientist thanks God that He has made him whole, and in that sense he declares, I am not sick, because God made me in His image, and the Christ, Truth, is here to waken me to life and health. For the Christ is without beginning of years or end of days. The prophets of old perceived this Christ or Truth sufficiently to heal in many instances the sick and sinning. In this age the incorporeal Christ, whose mission is to redeem mankind from every ill that flesh is heir to, has become better understood and demonstrated. Therefore affirm your birthright!† Claim more; expect more. Ask not merely for improved health, but claim your wholeness. Ask not for just enough to make both ends meet, but affirm the infinite abundance. Claim not just a job, but the very best work in all the world for you, that which will give you infinite scope, infinite opportunity. We cannot make our claims too large, because we cannot even begin to desire as great and infinite a blessing as is already ours in truth of being, in the realm of the real, the infinite and unlimited universe, where our work is to experience and express and enjoy infinite good, infinite liberty, infinite Love, infinite power. Thinking along these lines may not lift us all instantly into the full realization of our birthright, but it will begin to widen and enrich and enlarge our present experience.
Today the Science of Christianity, repeating in some measure the works of the healing Christ, calls aloud, "What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?" Let us make our demands large enough! What if at first there may seem no answer? What if those around us instead of encouraging us should frown upon us? Remember Bartimaeus was rebuked and Jesus at first was silent. Therefore persist!
"What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee?" And the answer should be the same. There is in reality only one need. That we may receive our sight! That we may see past the suggestions of lack, past the supposition of sickness, deep into the truth of being. That we may look through the apparition of matter, and discern the present divine reality. That we may brush aside the mist of sense-testimony and see things as they are, - look from God's side upon the universe, and see that it is good! There is no lack visible to that cleansed and spiritualized vision. No sick and suffering mortals mar its view, - only the sons and daughters of Elohim, glad with the joy of Life eternal, radiant with the shining of a love that is universal, Love that is Life, and lives in giving and in blessing, Love that is substance, because our God is Love!