Christian Science: The Pathway of Spiritual Healing
William Cousins, C.S. of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The Nature of the Path
Today we are going to journey together during the short time of this lecture to view the pathway of spiritual healing. I am sure you will agree that the goal of spiritual healing is one that we would all like to attain. People in the world today are weary because of their ceaseless search for health and happiness. Many of their disappointments are the result of sickness, accident, or disaster. They look for freedom from these unhappy experiences.
The purpose of this lecture is to say to such people that there is freedom for them now and that this freedom comes to them from a loving Father-Mother God. But how are they to attain such freedom? How are they to gain the joy of spiritual healing?
Here I must quote to you one of the most definite and fundamental statements of Christian Science, because it is the starting point of our journey. It is to be found on page 275 of the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," written by the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. It reads as follows: "The starting-point of divine Science is that God, Spirit, is All-in-all, and that there is no other might nor Mind, – that God is Love, and therefore He is divine Principle." Here we have a scientific basis, for it declares the allness of God. There cannot be more than all. Man, therefore, is spiritual because he is the reflection of God. The pathway of spiritual healing which we are now considering is the path of awakening to this fact that man in God's likeness is already at the point of perfection and is not traveling towards it.
I have used the term "awakening." We normally awake from sleep, but we can correctly use this word when referring to the breaking of an illusion. We awake from a nightmare with thankfulness to realize that our dream was not true. We can awake from the illusion of material living by realizing that the evidence of the physical senses is not true. Such sense testimony is the mist which would hamper us on the path of spiritual progress. The teaching, therefore, of Christian Science is that here and now we can awake to the truth of being. This awakening is spiritual healing. When I say "here and now" I mean just that. During the course of this lecture we shall see how the false mists of sense, commonly called sin and sickness, can be dissipated, as the sun dispels the mists, and we can experience Christian healing as Jesus demonstrated it.
Let us see what Christian Science tells us about God. On page 465 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy gives us a complete definition of God, a God that can be understood by all, one that can be prayed to intelligently. This definition reads as follows: "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love." Is not this an all-embracing definition? These seven synonyms refer to only one God. Christian Science teaches emphatically that there is only one God. We can find no place for evil or its effects in any one of these synonyms for God, for instance, in the presence of Love there is no hatred or fear; in the presence of Truth there is no falsity; in the presence of Principle there is no lawlessness; in the presence of Soul there is no sin or sensuality; in the presence of Spirit there is no matter: in the presence of Mind there is no ignorance; in the presence of Life there is no death.
Continuing in this line of reasoning we can easily understand that evil is no part of God, and has no place in Him, for we see Him as the one omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient Being. The dictionary tells us that omnipotence is "having unlimited and universal power." It shows omnipresence to be the quality at "being everywhere present at the same time," and omniscience to be "infinite knowledge." With this true concept of God, let us begin our search for the path of spiritual healing.
Jesus, our beloved Master and Wayshower, pointed out the path of spiritual healing. He indicated quite plainly, as recorded in the fourteenth chapter of John's Gospel, that we too could journey on this path of spiritual healing. He said (verse 12), "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." We must not forget that while he made it clear that we should "believe on him," nevertheless, he had previously explained to his hearers that it was by reflecting or demonstrating the laws of God, his Father, that he was able to do these works. He said (verse 10), "the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." This surely indicated that Jesus did not in any way advocate material methods of healing.
You and I, here today, are not the only ones interested in the subject of spiritual healing. In the ranks of medicine, also of the Christian churches, and in many other branches of human endeavor, there are sincere, honest, and devoted searchers. Many are convinced that there must be a means of healing which is more satisfactory, more permanent, than all the hitherto known methods that resort to matter in some form or to human psychology. My friends, Christian Science has been accomplishing spiritual healing for more than eighty years. The verified testimonies appearing weekly and monthly in the Christian Science periodicals, The Christian Science Journal, the Christian Science Sentinel, and The Herald of Christian Science, are unsolicited testimonies given by grateful people who desire to share with their fellow beings some of the joy and happiness they have received. In these testimonies you will find evidence of the permanency of the healing, and the names of those healed are always included. So definite have been the results of Christian Science healing that more and more thinking people now realize that this blessing from God has been made available to mankind.
The Bible as Our Guide
Since Jesus has given us such a very clear indication that God "doeth the works" it is obvious that we must get our guidance from the Bible. Indeed, Christian Science is founded absolutely upon the Bible. (Incidentally, it should be known that all Christian Science churches throughout the English-speaking world use the King James Version at all their services.)
There are many records of journeys on the path of spiritual healing in the Bible. Since the days of the early Christians much diversion from the true path has taken place, so that today the illumination and inspiration of Bible passages has become obscure for many. How can we regain this illumination? What is there that can unlock the treasures of Truth to be found in the Bible? Fortunately, as the result of the discovery of Christian Science, we can today enter on to the pathway of spiritual healing.
It was in the year 1866 that Mary
Baker Eddy had the great revelation of the healing Christ. It brought her back
to health, and enabled her to give to the world many years of great activity
after she had suffered the effects of an accident which her physicians thought
would be fatal. She had been brought up in a very devout
Indeed, it is this truth concerning God and man's relationship to Him which Christian Science recognizes as the healing Christ. Later, when Mrs. Eddy had with much prayer pondered the Bible teachings, she was able to give to the world the inspiring definition of the Christ as "The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" (Science and Health, p. 583). This manifestation of God was not, therefore, personal, though it is available to every individual. It is the understanding of God coming to us to dispel the mists of error, which mortals have been educated to believe. Consequently, we see that all "fleshly" or erroneous conditions are the result of misunderstanding God. Jesus had such a large measure of this understanding of God, his Father, that he was able to do the marvelous works of healing which earned for him the title of Jesus the Christ.
Another helpful statement from the Christian Science textbook on this subject is that "Christ illustrates that blending with God, his divine Principle, which gives man dominion over all the earth" (p. 316). And so we see that Jesus was the name of the human man who more than all others understood the Christ or Messiah which had been perceived by many prophets before him. Jesus was aware of man's divine nature, and this enabled him to say to his critics, "Before Abraham was, I am" (John ), and, "I and my Father are one" (John ). He was referring to his spiritual understanding of God, his divinity which enabled him to discern and meet the needs of himself and others.
By the realization of the ever-present Christ, Mrs. Eddy was enabled to rise from her sickbed completely healed and to join her friends. So clearly did she receive this revelation that she knew she had found the path of spiritual healing. She determined to proceed along this path that she might point it out to others.
My friends, we can well afford to take a moment here to pause and consider with gratitude the spirituality and tenacity of that noble woman. She was not satisfied merely to enjoy her restoration to health but persevered on the path of spiritual healing with the result that you and I are today contemplating this wonderful subject. Nine years after her
healing, and after much searching of the Bible pages, Mrs. Eddy was able to publish her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," and thus place before mankind the complete statement and rules of Christian Science.
Key Used to Unlock Treasures
It will be interesting to spend a few minutes to see how this Key to the Scriptures can be utilized. Most people are ready to credit God with the creation of the universe, but they are under a misapprehension when they believe that God is responsible for all the evil and disaster in the world. Some even think that all the unhappiness that has come into their experience has some purpose which God knows, but which so far He has not explained. Is not the real situation this: that very few people have a clear understanding of what God is? But you will agree that it is most important to be clear on this subject and to have no mistaken views about our heavenly Father.
When commencing the study of the Bible we would naturally start with the first chapter of Genesis. Let us use our Key to the Scriptures to explain the first words of the first chapter of this first book in the Bible – Genesis. This is what we read: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." I have no doubt that when we have read these words, or when we have heard them read, we may have had a concept of a material creation. We have perhaps considered our omnipotent God to be cognizant of matter.
Christian Science helps us to understand the creation by showing us that it is entirely spiritual. Mrs. Eddy has described it, not as a "beginning," but as "the only" creation, and she says, "This creation consists of the unfolding of spiritual ideas and their identities, which are embraced in the infinite Mind and forever reflected" (Science and Health, pp. 502, 503). When we have perceived the nature of God as defined by the seven synonyms we have been considering, namely, Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, and Love, we can see that the creation or "unfolding" of God's universe has provided no room for matter or evil of any sort. Our study has now started by having a strong basis upon which to build; and this basis is Spirit, and its manifestation is spiritual.
The Bible Reveals the Way of Healing
When we come to the second step on our path of spiritual healing, we find again the authority of the first chapter of Genesis telling us that man is spiritual in nature. It says in verse 26, "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." We cannot change our concept of God, the creator, from being material to being spiritual without, therefore, also changing our concept of man, and so see him as spiritual. We should not attempt to enter the path of spiritual healing until we see clearly that God is Spirit and man is wholly spiritual. Christian Science does not, therefore, set out to make a material man better in health than he was before, but through obedience to the precepts of Christ Jesus and through an understanding of Christian Science we can realize the spiritual nature of man and the universe and demonstrate this fact in spiritual healing. When we want to see our fellowman experiencing something of the kingdom of heaven on earth – for instance better health, freedom from domestic troubles, suffering no poverty or loneliness, having a harmonious business – we do not dwell upon the error, but rather do we look away from the material condition, to see God and His creation aright.
Christian Science enables us to see man as wholly spiritual, and the very fact of recognizing man's spiritual nature gives harmony and health. Mrs. Eddy has stated this very clearly by saying on pages 476 and 477 of Science and Health: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick." You see, it is the correct view of man which heals!
How do we get this correct view of ourselves and others? Let us consider the instruction given in another passage from the Christian Science textbook. On page 248, Mrs. Eddy has written, "Let unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, love – the kingdom of heaven – reign within us, and sin, disease, and death will diminish until they finally disappear." This is a definite, practical statement – a clear instruction by one who has proved its truth. One might say, "O how I wish the kingdom of heaven could reign within me," as if we had no part in this heavenly kingdom. Yet, Mrs. Eddy has commenced this sentence with the word "let," and we have to see, therefore, that these seven spiritual qualities do govern our life.
Can any one of us say for one moment that we do not possess sufficient unselfishness to see us through the day? Have we to go somewhere to acquire more of this spiritual quality? We all know only too well that we can go on being unselfish, day after day, if we wish. The only thing that can stop our expressing unselfishness is our own deliberate intention to do otherwise. Is it not important, then, that we make sure that the supply of unselfishness does not dry up in view of the goal we are aiming at, namely, the diminishing of sin, disease, and death?
The other spiritual qualities Mrs. Eddy has referred to in this sentence are likewise available to be expressed by us continually. Here someone may say: "Yes, I can agree with you on these points, but one term is used that I do not think I can possibly express, and that is health. I have been delicate all my life; how can I 'let' health reign?"
Does not this doubt come from our misunderstanding of what health really is? Let us go again to our Bible to keep us on the right path. The Psalmist made it very clear that health is spiritual when he said in the forty-second Psalm, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." David's advice to Solomon was that he should understand his words of wisdom, for he says, "they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh" (Prov. ). The Discoverer of Christian Science has said, "Health is not a condition of matter, but of Mind" (Science and Health, p. 120). Here she uses the capital letter "M" for Mind, meaning God. So health is really a spiritual quality, a quality of God, possessed by man by reflection. Did we not see in the first chapter of Genesis the statement that man was made in God's image and likeness?
Illustration of Spiritual Healings
A young student of Christian Science had been suffering from a very painful and irritating condition known as shingles, and he had been faithfully trying to bring about a healing of this condition by his study of the Christian Science textbook and not in any way resorting to material methods of healing. In due course he sought the aid of a Christian Science practitioner, who spoke to him of the spiritual nature of health and in particular of the passage we have just been considering. Being an exceedingly logical thinker, he quickly saw that if he faithfully carried out the instruction in this sentence he was bound to demonstrate its healing truth. He resolved, therefore, to express in his activities these seven qualities. He expected that when he had done this work thoroughly he must, therefore, win the battle.
He started with "unselfishness" and constantly kept this in thought. Quite soon, while walking in a busy street, he came face to face with a friend he had not seen for several years, and instantly remembered that his last action with this friend had been one he was not very proud of. It certainly had not been an action of unselfishness, and he immediately decided, then and there, to right the wrong by positive unselfish action.
Need I say he had won his battle, and the disease entirely disappeared? That was over ten years ago, and he has never had any return of that condition. In a simple way that is an illustration of spiritual healing. He had established in his own consciousness the realization of man as spiritual. Therefore, he was able to express spiritual qualities – he was beholding "in Science the perfect man" instead of the false view of man as selfish and material.
Jesus' Healing Includes Regeneration
Let us look at the work of spiritual healing which Christ Jesus accomplished. His ability to see the perfect man, that is God's spiritual image and likeness, was so pronounced that his work brought instantaneous healing. But was not Jesus more concerned with giving to man a clearer understanding of God than merely removing a painful condition of the body? The regeneration, or salvation, of the individual was the important part of Jesus' healing work.
We read in the fifth chapter of
John's Gospel how Jesus came upon the impotent man who had lain at the pool of
Can we not hear someone saying today that they could not be healed because of some condition of matter? Or, might they not be waiting for some kind of superstitious event to happen, as this man did when he waited for what he called "an angel" to go down at a certain season and trouble the water? Then the poor man had another reason why he could not be helped, for by the time he found someone to help him get to the pool, another had got there first, and his chance was gone. So it would appear that this man could not be healed because of chance or superstition. Jesus, however, did not heed any one of these things; he saw the perfect spiritual man of God's creating, and this correct view of man healed.
The effect of Jesus' clear vision was to inspire hope in the man and a desire to express his God-given freedom and joyous activity This desire was so strong that it enabled him to obey the Master's injunction, "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk." The Gospel says that "immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath."
Of course it was the sabbath, a day of rest, for the man who had been thirty-eight years in his condition of impotency! It was not a day of inaction – he had had plenty of that – but a day of rest from thinking of himself as material and subject to all the limitations of matter.
As we follow on in the reading of this story, we find that the correct view Jesus had, not only healed the man physically, but mentally, for afterwards, the Gospel says, "Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." This surely shows that the healing of sickness as demonstrated by Christ Jesus is synonymous with the healing of sin.
The Call to Salvation
The fact that we are considering the question of spiritual healing today is indicative of mankind's desire to be rid of the ever-recurring forms of sickness. Treating disease from a material standpoint, that is, endeavoring to produce a changed condition of the body by the application of drugs or by surgery, does not take away the cause of the sickness. The teaching of Christian Science as to the cause of sickness is indeed very interesting, and we shall consider this in a moment. Just now let us remember that our path is the one of spiritual healing, and consequently much more than a desire to be rid of sickness is required.
To the question, "Is healing the sick the whole of Science?" Mrs. Eddy says in her book "Rudimental Divine Science," page 2: "Healing physical sickness is the smallest part of Christian Science. It is only the bugle-call to thought and action, in the higher range of infinite goodness." We all know what a bugle call does. It stirs us; alerts us; calls us to put on our armor, and be ready to march. The bugle call of spiritual healing is the call to march on to the point of infinite goodness, and no lesser goal is acceptable.
And so, my friends, if the call of Christian Science comes to you and asks the question, "Wilt thou be made whole?" watch carefully as to your answer, and then let it be a willingness to march on in the path of spiritual progress, for no lesser call is acceptable in Christian Science.
Many people will ask, "How do I attain this goodness or God-likeness that will enable me to heal and to be healed?" The answer is, by prayer. God never yet left unanswered any true prayer. If our prayer seems to have bean unanswered, be sure there was something wrong with that prayer. Possibly, as indicated at the beginning of this lecture, we had no clear understanding of what God is, and consequently our prayer went astray. We are all familiar, I am sure, with Isaiah's prophecy (65:24), "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear."
The prophet Jeremiah also helps us in regard to this question. In chapter twenty-nine we read (verses 11-13): "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." There must be no reservations when we pray, no clinging to superstition, or false beliefs. There must be an absolute reliance upon God and a willingness to put aside any material aids that we might think will assist God to carry out His work. Can we have doubts about relying upon ever-present Love, or upon all-powerful Truth, all-knowing Mind?
Sickness the Result of Wrong Thinking
Mrs. Eddy has said in her textbook (p. 377) that "The cause of all so-called disease is mental, a mortal fear, a mistaken belief or conviction of the necessity and power of ill-health; . . ." A mistaken belief about the laws governing mathematics results in wrong answers to our problems.
Sickness, sin, unhappiness, poverty, inharmony of any sort, are erroneous conclusions concerning life and God and are no part of real being. The way to heal these mistaken concepts is to apply correctly the divine laws governing the situation. It is no use asking God to take away the effect of our failure to use His laws correctly. God's answer would be, "Use My laws correctly"!
Is not this in full compliance with the statement, "before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear"? To establish clearly in thought the perfection of man as made in the image and likeness of God, never deviating from this position whatever the evidence of the physical senses, is to comply with God's law. Prayer, then, is to apply the law of God, but that does not mean that the habit of praying is a cold, uncompassionate means. Very much the reverse. It is a process whereby we eliminate selfishness and all manner of evil from our own thinking, so that the abundant love of God is reflected so clearly that it brings health and happiness to mankind.
The Place of Church in Spiritual Healing
The Church of Christ, Scientist, is founded upon the Rock, Christ. Our Leader says of it (Message to The Mother Church for 1901, p. 25), "Building on the rock of Christ's teachings, we have a superstructure eternal in the heavens, omnipotent on earth, encompassing time and eternity."
The gratitude which Christian Scientists feel for their new concept of church and the consequent help this is in their daily life becomes expressed in their desire to build church edifices. These edifices, to be found throughout the world, are testimonials to the understanding Christian Scientists have of the spiritual Church. The Manual of The Mother Church, written by Mary Baker Eddy, is a book which Christian Scientists value and study in connection with the government of The Mother Church.
Our Leader has said in her book
"The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 230),
"Of this I am sure, that each Rule and By-law in this Manual will increase
the spirituality of him who obeys it, invigorate his capacity to heal the sick,
to comfort such as mourn,
and to awaken the sinner." Do we want to do these things? Do we want to invigorate our capacity to
heal the sick, to comfort such as mourn, and to awaken the sinner? Then let us
be up and doing. The path of spiritual healing is now clearly shown to us. We
have but to tread it. Spiritual healing is going on today in every part of the
world, in just the same way as
when our Master, Christ Jesus, preached and healed in
Happiness Ensured by Consecration
We have journeyed today upon our path of spiritual healing. Let us continue on this path and so arrive at the summit of our understanding of God. This experience will bring us great happiness. We will cast away much erroneous thinking, and we will gain in its place a joy that can never be lost. Christian Science is a religion of joy, born of the confidence gained by the evidence of the ever-present loving Father-Mother God.
What joy came to Mary when her inspiration led her to understand that God was the Father of man. Such a revelation enabled her to see man as spiritual, and seeing this truth resulted in her motherhood of the infant Jesus. What joy came to the other Mary when Jesus called to her from the garden and enabled her to see her risen Lord. In this experience she also realized the spiritual nature of man. What joy came to Mary Baker Eddy when she glimpsed the ever-present Christ and was therefore able to establish for this age the pathway of spiritual healing. This great joy comes in some measure to all today who experience the touch of the healing Christ.
A young man who was very unhappy
after the First World War, without home and friends, and quickly falling into
companionships which would not have been a help to him, was pulled up from his
uncertain path by the knowledge that he was suffering from the disease known as
tuberculosis. As a youth, before the war, he had had some tuition in the
Christian Science Sunday School, and now in his need he turned to it again.
Asking a Christian Science practitioner for treatment, he was wonderfully and
beautifully healed – a healing which not only destroyed the disease, but
required him to move his place of business and live in entirely different surroundings
and with different associates. This is not all. Like the man after his healing
at the pool of
"From sense to Soul my pathway lies before me,
From mist and shadow into Truth's clear day;
The dawn of all things real is breaking o'er me,
My heart is singing: I have found the way."
May I leave with you the thought so clearly expressed by our revered Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, in Science and Health, page 344: "There are various methods of treating disease, which are not included in the commonly accepted systems; but there is only one which should be presented to the whole world, and that is the Christian Science which Jesus preached and practised and left to us as his rich legacy."
[May 28, 1959.]