Christian Science: The Good-Will of God
Lucia C. Coulson, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Miss Lucia C. Coulson, C.S., London, England, a member of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship, delivered a lecture on Christian Science, entitled "Christian Science: The Good-Will of God," last evening under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass., in the church edifice, Falmouth, Norway, and St. Paul streets. The lecturer was introduced by Bliss Knapp, C.S.B., First Reader in The Mother Church, who said:
Many people accept their religious and political beliefs by inheritance. They go to the church of their ancestors and join the political party to which their fathers belonged. They seem to think that what is good enough for the father must be good enough for the son. Among their inherited traditions is the belief that if a man is sick, it is the result of God's will.
Now it is quite as impossible for a Christian Scientist, on the other hand, to inherit his religion as it is for a mathematician to inherit an understanding of addition and subtraction. The Christian Scientist must prove every step of the way. He accepts the healing work done by Jesus and the early Christians as sufficient evidence that it is God's will to save men from sickness and sin. By learning how to pray, as our textbook teaches, the Christian Scientist has found in the proof of healing that God never made a man sick or sinful.
The healing message of Christian
Science has spread over the whole earth, and it is with especial pleasure that
we welcome the lecturer of the evening who comes to us from London,
The lecturer spoke as follows:
It is said of the Messiah in the book of Psalms, "Lo, I come . . . to do thy will, O God," and Christ Jesus proceeded to show forth that good-will of God by healing the sick and the sinner, feeding the multitudes, and even raising the dead.
Message of Present Salvation
It may be said of Christian Science also that it is come to do the will of God and that it is showing forth this good-will in the same manner. It has come with a message of present salvation. It has come to show us that the will of God for everyone is always happiness. It has come to say to a world that is torn with strife, bowed down with cares, sick at heart with loss and poverty: These things are not the will of God! Are you sick? God's will for you is health. Are you poor? God's will for you is plenty. Are you sad? The will of God for you is happiness. Are you discouraged? The good-will of God for you is comfort and success. Is anyone without a God? Then Christian Science offers you a God who is both Father and Mother, who "is closer than breathing and nearer than hands and feet." If there is anyone here who doubts this, I would say to him, Try and see: for Christian Science does not ask you to believe these things, but to prove them. Unlike any other religion I know of, it does not ask you merely to believe anything, but shows you how to prove its every statement every step of the way. Its whole appeal is based on proof and demonstration. There is something stimulating, something encouraging in the very fact of being told that we can prove things for ourselves. It kindles hope, it arouses energy. It awakes the spirit of dominion, which was God's gift to the man He created. The Bible says that God gave man "dominion . . .over all the earth." How many of us are conscious of that dominion? And if not, why not? It is God's will for us. Think for a moment what it really means to have dominion over all the earth! It means the overcoming of everything that torments or limits or restricts you. It means the conquest of that "sin which doth so easily beset" you. It means to be the master of your circumstances, the master of your body. It means salvation from fear and from disease. It means that you can be a law to yourself of health and harmony and prosperity. It means to lift up your face to heaven, unafraid and unashamed. Now Christian Science has come to teach us this dominion. Christian Scientists are beginning to learn this dominion. They are beginning to know that God's will is good; because rich blessings have begun to come into their lives, as they have resisted the belief that misfortune must come to them in fulfillment of God's will, and as they have clung to the fact that His will is fulfilled in goodness only.
I remember that when I was a child I sometimes heard the grown-up people round about me saying, in resigned accents, "Ah, well, it is God's will;" and when I heard that expression I always shuddered, for I felt sure it meant that something terrible had happened! And invariably it had been used with that meaning – to explain away some calamity. Never did I hear that expression used to explain some of the good and beautiful happenings of the day. My friends, what an unreasoning tyrant many of us have set up and called by the name of God! And yet, the one who came to do the will of God, who said of himself, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father," overcame calamity of every description and went about doing good. His gracious answer to every one who came to him and asked for healing was always: I will, be thou whole! Was there a storm and a danger of shipwreck? Christ Jesus commanded the winds and the waves and there was a great calm. Was there a shortage of food, or even of wine at the marriage feast? He supplied them instantly. Was there a lack of money? He found it in the fish's mouth. When sinners came to him caught in the maelstrom of human passions, he freed them instantly. When death itself, the last enemy, appeared, it fled at his command. "He spoke the word and raised the dead." No wonder that we call him the Master!
God as Love
Thus, evidently, the Master knew
it was God's will that men should be well and happy, that they should have
enough, and to spare, that conditions should be harmonious, that destructive
storms should cease, and finally that men should live. Not die, but live!
"Why will ye die, O house of
Equally "the great First Cause" must be good, because we are all conscious of some good, and finally "the great First Cause" must be Love, and for this reason, that Love contains no element of destruction. Only that which is devoid of any element of discord or friction is eternal. Were it possible to conceive of a first cause that was evil, it would, long ago have destroyed itself. On the other hand, physical scientists tell us that if we could eliminate all friction, the human body could live forever. The theory of perpetual motion has not yet been demonstrated because it has not been found humanly possible to eliminate all friction in any instance.
If then we concede that God is Love, what would naturally be the will of Love? It is the nature of Love to give, to bless. Let any mother in this audience ask herself whether she desires the best for her children. What then, of the infinite Mother, the divine Love that is God? This divine Love lives to lavish its rich blessings upon its offspring. Love has only love to bestow upon all equally. It says to each individual problem, to each individual heartache, My will for you is bliss. I will, be thou whole! When we know this the sick are healed.
And what must be the nature of the universe created by this divine Love that is also all power? Mrs. Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, tells us in one of her works (Message for 1902, p. 6) that "God is infinite Love, including nothing unlovely, producing nothing unlike Himself, the true nature of Love intact and eternal." She also says in her book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 247): "It is Love which paints the petal with myriad hues, glances in the warm sunbeam, arches the cloud with the bow of beauty, blazons the night with starry gems, and covers earth with loveliness." At this point the question naturally arises: How is this teaching to be reconciled with what we see around us? What about the sickness and the sorrow; where did they come from? To these questions Christian Science answers, These things are the negation of God's creation; they are the results of ignorance, an ignorance which yields, as all ignorance must of necessity yield, to true knowledge, true education.
The Availability of God
To illustrate, we shall all agree that the multiplication table is an omnipresent idea. If you found yourself on a desert island, the multiplication table would be there. If you should visit Mars or any other planet, you would find the multiplication table just as near and available, should you require it. You carry it with you wherever you go. It is comprised in your consciousness, and so you can never lose it or be separated from it. But to the savage or the uneducated, the multiplication table would not be present or available. Their ignorance of it would make it seem absent and useless to them. Again, electricity is always at hand and available, and through right application affords us light, heat, transportation, and numberless good things. Yet to our ancestors and to the savage of today electricity was and is unknown and unavailable, absent instead of present, because of their ignorance. I will not weary you by enumerating other instances, but will take these two to serve my purpose of illustration. Now what is the result of ignorance of the multiplication table? Confusion, stagnation. Civilization could not exist without it. The savage cannot compete with the civilized man, on account of his ignorance of it. Similarly, ignorance of the laws that govern electricity would deprive us of light and heat and speed and other conveniences. Then, if such conditions of ignorance afflict and penalize us to such an extent, what, we may well ask, is the result of ignorance of God Himself? Just here, let us remember that to the savage on his island the multiplication table is absent and invisible, practically non-existent, while to the educated man who stands beside him, it is present and available, although equally invisible. Just so it is with us concerning spiritual good. We stand on our islands of limitation and disease, and say: Good is absent and helpless to relieve us; love is nowhere to be seen and we do not know how to apply it.
Again, how much of the multiplication table is ours to use as we require it? A fraction of it? Why, all of it! Is there ever any fear that the multiplication table will not go round? Every one of us can use the whole of it without depriving any one else of any part of it. We have only to claim and apply it, because it exists as idea in the mental realm and is, therefore, not limited. How much, then, of spiritual good, how much of God's love can we claim? Why, my friends, all of it! All of the tender care, all of the rich benefits of our Father-Mother God are ours for the asking, ours to claim and to apply, and in doing so we shall never deprive another of an equal share.
Supply Mental and Spiritual
Probably the majority of us here believe the Bible and when asked if God made man in His image would reply in the affirmative. Then let me inquire if any of us would say that God is poor? The very question is absurd. He is the source of all supply. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof." Then, if we are His image, we are the rich children of a rich Father. Now, how can we prove this in our business and make it practical for our daily needs. First, let us discover what God's riches consist of. He is Mind, Spirit; therefore, His riches are mental or spiritual. He is rich in ideas, in thoughts. Well, even on this material plane we know that it is the man who has ideas who succeeds, that whatever invention, whatever progressive step is taken, succeeds because of the idea it presents – some right idea. Therefore, it is always the idea which brings us gain, which enriches us.
Suppose, then, that there is a great wave of lack and shortage, that business is in a bad way. What is the matter? Why, evidently there is a lack of right ideas, of productive thinking – and there is one thing which above all others prevents productive thinking and causes a financial standstill and that one thing is fear. The world's thinking seems full of fear at present. Most of the nations are believing that there is not enough of anything to last out. That is because they think that supply is material. Let them lift their thinking into the spiritual realm, and they will find that there are plenty of ideas for everyone to draw upon, for their source is infinite Mind, and the supply is inexhaustible. Let the man or woman who is in need, gather these right ideas from the divine Mind, and he will find that they are productive, that they are profitable, and that they enrich his consciousness. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he;" therefore, let us become in some degree conscious that we are the rich children of a rich Father, that we possess valuable ideas, that we have something to give to the world, and in response to this better thinking our outward conditions, our business problems, will automatically improve and become more prosperous. As a Christian Scientist has written, "When an idea begins to work in thought, it furnishes all that is necessary for its establishment, equipment and nourishment."
The Divine Motherhood
What then do we need? Simply
enlightenment, simply education, and above all, the discovery of those laws which govern health, harmony and
prosperity. This discovery has been made; and it was made by a
It has sometimes been objected to
Christian Science that its Discoverer was a woman, and yet if we consider what
this discovery entailed, we shall find that it was supremely natural. It needed
the patient cherishing of this new idea, in the face of pitiless scorn and
merciless attack. Christian Science is so contrary to the established beliefs
of mankind, so upsetting to conservatism and tradition that it naturally
encountered ridicule and opposition in every direction. There is one type of
human affection which gives without seeking a return, that is constant under
all provocation, and that will lay down its life for its young. I came across
an instance of this not long ago, in one of our big
Now this discovery of Mrs. Eddy's came to her as a revelation, and it was the revelation of another aspect of God, if I may so call it. Christ Jesus came to teach us that God is our Father. Christian Science has revealed to us the Motherhood of God. All that makes for sweetness, tenderness, and protection is associated with the word "mother" and comes to us primarily from our mothers. No human mother can bear to see her child suffer, and even in the animal world the mother will frequently lay down her life for her offspring. Then to know God as Mother is to be certain beyond all possibility of doubt that He never sends sin, disease, or death upon His children, but is available to heal them. When through Christian Science I learned to know God as Mother, the whole world was
changed for me. I lost the sense of a stern Judge, waiting to condemn me for every wrong thought or deed. I ceased to dread an inscrutable wisdom that would send calamity upon me for my good; I no longer feared that I might be the sport of circumstances or the victim of relentless fate. I learned that I could go to God as my Mother in every trouble, and I saw that I might not be able to plan well enough for myself, but that the divine Mother would give me my "heart's desire."
Here someone may say, Well, that sounds very comforting, but how can we prove it to be true? Now that is the very purpose of a Christian Science lecture, to show in some degree how these things can be proved. Consoling phrases are of no account unless they can be made practical in our everyday lives, and it is its practicality which gives Christian Science its tremendous value.
How, then, can we prove that the Father-Mother God does not send sin, disease, and death, but heals them?
In the first place we must understand that God is not made of flesh and blood, and He is not confined to any place. He is Mind, because only Mind could create intelligent beings, and only Mind could be present everywhere, and you have already agreed with me that an idea can be omnipresent! Now if an idea is present everywhere, then the Mind which originates and includes the idea must be present everywhere also. You remember how we saw that the educated man could find the Principle of mathematics everywhere and apply it with sure and certain results, and that he had this advantage over the savage, simply because he knew more. So we have this healing Principle present everywhere to apply with just as sure and certain results as the principle of mathematics. And we have this advantage over others simply in proportion as we know more about it.
In the first place, Christian Science takes as its premise that all cause and effect are mental. We have touched upon the fact that the first cause must be intelligence, Mind, since only Mind could produce intelligent beings, and that Mind is good, or Love. Therefore, the effect or outcome of divine Mind, Love, must express these same qualities, since like produces like. A perfect creator implies a perfect creation. In the language of Genesis, God made "man in his own image." The image of good must be good; the image of Spirit must be spiritual. There is no escape from this simple logic. If we believe that God is, and that He is Spirit, then the man whom He made in His likeness must be just like Him – must be spiritual. It was this truth about man's relationship to God which Jesus came to teach. His consciousness of divine sonship was the Christ which animated him and which he declared to be "without beginning of years or end of days" (Science and Health, p. 333) when he said, "Before Abraham was, I am." In his human nature Jesus "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin," because the healing Christ then as now "taketh away the sin of the world." It was his knowledge of this divine sonship which enabled him to do his mighty works, which enabled the Son of man to make manifest the Son of God.
This is the Christ, Truth, a knowledge of which Jesus said would make us free. Free! What a glorious word that is! What does it mean to be free? It means to be in bondage to no man and to no thing, to no habit, and to no circumstance. Watch the flight of a seagull, bearing up against the wind. Mark the poise, the control, the swift dart upwards, and the perfect rhythm of its wings. It has the mastery of the elements. In the mastery of the elements of error largely consists our freedom. This freedom is won by claiming the spiritual selfhood which belongs to each one of us, and by acknowledging that we are God's perfect spiritual children, made in His image.
Yet on every hand the senses bear opposite testimony. Consequently, Christian Science bids us deny the evidence of the senses. This is where many have taken issue with Christian Science; and yet we are denying the evidences of the senses every minute in some respects, for these same senses tell us that the earth is motionless, that the sun rises and sets, that the earth and sky meet on the horizon, et cetera. Now if these senses testify falsely in these instances, is it not reasonable to conclude that they may do so in others? The earth feels very still, but that feeling is a mistake.
In Christian Science we are asked to deny sense evidence in order to obtain higher evidence. It is not Christian Science to sit down in the midst of discord with a contented smile and say that all is harmony. Nor are we told, as has sometimes been said, to "imagine" ourselves well. Nor has Christian Science treatment anything to do with willing the sick to recover. It is, in fact, the very antithesis of will-power and has nothing in common with autosuggestion or self-mesmerism. It is not the action of one mortal mind upon another mortal mind. It is the utilization of the truth about God and man. It is the absolute conviction that God is – that He is not a name but a fact, that He is good, that He is power, and that He is present everywhere, the divine Principle for us to understand, apply, and utilize in the healing of sin and sickness. It is prayer in the highest sense of the word, for Christian Science treatment, which has sometimes been called mysterious, is simply prayer – the prayer of faith and understanding. It is true that the prayers of Christian Scientists contain less of petition and more of affirmation than the prayers of those belonging to other denominations, but in this they follow the example of Jesus the Christ. Before Lazarus was raised he said, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me." And again, that wonderful prayer in the seventeenth chapter of John consists largely of the affirmation or declaration of Truth.
It has sometimes been said that Christian Scientists have another Bible, a Bible of their own. A more mistaken, a more untrue statement, could not be made. Christian Science is founded upon the Scriptures. Mrs. Eddy tells us that in following the leadings of scientific revelation the Bible was her only textbook, and a study of the Bible is a necessary corollary of the study of Christian Science. It is named as one of our textbooks, and the purpose of our other textbook, Science and Health, is to act as a key to the Scriptures. Moreover, all Christian Science services begin with the statement that the Bible and Science and Health "are our only preachers." I remember that when I came to Christian Science, the first thing which happened was that the Bible became a new book to me. Formerly, I had always thought of it as so much beautiful literature, but it suddenly became practical and demonstrable, the living Word, full of golden promises, capable of present fulfillment. This experience of mine is generally true of most students of this Science. To return, however, to the subject of prayer. On the first page of Science and Health the following statement is made: "Desire is prayer," and right desire coupled with right knowing, or true knowing, may be said to constitute a Christian Science treatment. Now this knowing is power, and Christians of today need to learn the joyful fact that prayer is indeed a power.
Let us take a simple illustration. Suppose some one to be seized with fatigue and weakness, so that he seems unable to continue his work. What should he do? Let him realize that God is Life and that God is his Life, and that this sensation of weariness is no more true than the sensation of the motionless earth; that God the creator "falnteth not, neither is weary," and that since man is made in God's likeness, he cannot be weary either. Further, let him remember that God is his strength, and that he can claim and call upon all the strength of God for his support. Then let him rejoice in this truth and stick to it, and he will feel the benefit.
Therefore, when confronted with discord of any description, the mentally alert Christian Scientist declares unswervingly the perfection of man and the universe as created by God, and also the power and availability of divine Love to overcome the evil, until the discordant evidence begins to abate and some evidence of health and harmony appears.
If the case be one of sickness, the patient sees the symptoms change, feels the physical improvement, and so has the witness in himself that the truth which has been declared "does things," that it has effect, good effect, and he begins to realize that he has found the key to the mastery of all human problems. As he continues the study of Christian Science, he finds also that it is wrong thinking of some description that has caused his troubles, and that right thinking corrects them. Fear, worry, sorrow, sin, discouragement, – all these things deplete and destroy us, but the worst of these is fear. Think for a moment of the physical effects of fear (which is, mark you, wholly a state of mind) upon the body. Fear will blanch the cheek and make the teeth chatter. It will cause the strongest man to tremble like an aspen leaf. It will change the action of the heart and affect the voice. Sudden fears, as the poet Byron remarks in his "Prisoner of Chillon," have made the hair grow "white in a single night." Surely, it should make us stop and think when we see how a mental state, an emotion, claims to control and derange all the functions of the physical body. We shall agree, in the instances just given, that the colorless face, the whitened hair, the altered circulation of the blood, had a wholly mental cause, that the action of the mind upon the body produced these violent effects. It would seem both natural and intelligent to pursue such a conclusion a little further. If this be true of one mental condition, may it not be true of all, and may we not find that hidden, secret fears are the cause of half, if not all, the sickness and limitation we see around us? Of what paramount importance is it, then, that we should find an antidote for fear, that we should find a way of eliminating it from our consciousness.
My friends, there is a remedy. It is to learn to be aware of the Motherhood of God; it is to learn to understand the tender good will of God to us. Much that has been taught us in the name of religion has only served to increase our fears. The God of mistaken theology is a punishing God. The God that Christian Science reveals is a God of infinite compassion, who does not condemn, but heals, and who causes His sun to shine on the just and on the unjust.
Here let it be said that Christian Science does not condone sin in any instance, but destroys sin, by destroying the false desire which produces it. It condemns the sin, but not the man. Nor is this teaching in any wise new or anti-Christian. Eighteen centuries ago, the master Christian, when asked to sit in judgment on a woman, first silenced her accusers and then uttered that divine verdict, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."
It is plain that there is implied in such forgiveness the true healing of sin, which is the destruction of sin. In like manner, Christian Science enables us to wipe sin out forever in the most effectual way, because it heals the wrong desire which is its cause. Too much stress cannot be laid upon the fact that Christian Science frees us from wrong desire. It is one thing to tell the drunkard that he must fight against his false appetite. It is quite another to destroy that false appetite through the realization that it confers no pleasure and that God has endowed man with dominion.
There is nothing so stultifying as condemnation, nothing so disabling. The very thought of being God condemned induces fear and depression. Now Christian Science has come to teach us that God never condemns anyone, because Love is incapable of condemnation and is of "purer eyes than to behold . . . iniquity." Evil is self-condemned. The human mind condemns itself and others, but let it only weary of sin and turn towards God, and it will find the divine compassion ever ready and willing to heal and save. As Mrs. Eddy so beautifully puts it in Science and Health (p. 322); "Our disappointments and ceaseless woes, turn us like tired children to the arms of divine Love. Then we begin to learn Life in divine Science."
The human mother is slow to condemn her child, however far he has gone astray or however often he may have offended. Her heart yearns over her offspring, and she forgives "until seventy times seven." That is the office of a mother, so to speak, to forgive and to save, to comfort and to correct. Christian Science has come to perform the office of a mother in human consciousness, freeing it from its fears and loosing it from condemnation.
Let us pause here to consider what else the office of a mother includes. The child learns its first lessons of obedience from its mother, and a truly loving mother is the one who teaches her child to obey quickly. We are most of us familiar with the spectacle of the spoiled child. I remember hearing a mother call her child again and again to come in from the hot sun where she was playing, but the child paid no heed whatever, so that finally her mother had to go and carry her struggling indoors. Now suppose that child had been on the edge of a precipice; would her mother have been able to save or protect her by calling her away? In the same manner divine Principle which is Love, demands our obedience, and we can only be sure of our own protection by obeying its commands.
Christian Science Movement
This word Principle, which Christian Scientists use for God, may sound cold and abstract at first, but if we turn to the dictionary, we shall find that it stands for source, origin, fundamental truth, law, that which is unvarying. Therefore the word Principle represents God to us as the origin of all, governing the universe through immutable laws, as divine Love without variableness or shadow of turning.
It is natural that such a concept of God as Christian Science teaches should bring forth a church which is known as The Mother Church, and which is confined to no race or country. Its activities are all healing activities and it provides Christian occupation for all its members.
What are the laws which govern this church of ours? They are all to be found in its Manual, of which our Leader has said, "It stands alone, uniquely adapted to form the budding thought and hedge it about with divine Love" (Manual p. 104). How grateful we should be, then, for this protecting hedge, and how careful to obey its every precept for the sake of our own safety.
This organization was planned and established by Mrs. Eddy alone, just as she alone wrote the textbook of Christian Science, and gave to the movement its periodicals and its daily newspaper. They were all directly the outcome of her vision of the new-old truth which Christian Science teaches. Many have asked, Why should this vision have come to her, and how did it come? The gospel says, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." Therefore, we are unspeakably grateful for the purity which enabled her to see these things, and prove them, and share them with us.
In conclusion, one of our poets has said:
"For God is the infinite Mother
Who has borne and carried us all."
And in line with this thought a Christian Scientist has written:
"Each separate child of God is beautiful,
Dwelling in Heaven, his forever home,
Where calls the Father-Mother to the son,
'Live, my beloved, in reflecting Me.' "
[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, March 29, 1924.]