Christian Science: A Reasonable, Practical Religion
Richard J. Davis, C.S., of Chicago, Illinois
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
"Christian Science: A Reasonable and Practical Religion" was the subject of the lecture given last Sunday by Richard J. Davis, C.S., of Chicago, member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass., under the auspices of Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist, in the Irvington Masonic Temple. The speaker was introduced by Phillip L. Bamberger. The lecture follows in full:
Looking back over centuries of religious belief, emerging gradually but continuously out of age-old superstitions, nature worship, mythology, and heathenism, we perceive an ever-present effort on the part of mankind to reach out for a more spiritual and satisfying concept of Deity. Strange and false beliefs, it is true, men have for long periods adopted and followed, but ever in what seems to be an ascending scale these have been dropped for others, perhaps just a little better or a bit more logical. Would it not seem, therefore, that there is inherent in man a divine impulse to seek his God, and that he will not cease until he finds Him?
It is clear that what we term education and progress is wholly a process of enlightenment. All that means advancement in the world today for the race has come about as the result of thinking - progressive thought and revelation of ideas. Our Puritan forefathers were limited in thought to candles for light and to crude fireplaces for heat. They did not know enough to have better, but intelligence gave to men a progressive unfoldment of oil, gas, and finally electric light, and there has been equally advancing invention in the realm of heating. This all came about through an illumined sense primarily, and solely because the very nature of mind is to reveal itself. These things happening in the realm of human thought seem to be leading the race step by step out of the crude and primitive, into the atmosphere of pure spiritual revelation.
The same advancing progress may be observed in what we call religion - man's unfolding concept of God. Indeed it may be said that the law of progress is divine and that man is under that eternal law of continuous unfoldment. The poet Whittier has beautifully expressed this idea in the lines,
Step by step, since time began,
We see the steady gain of man.
Is Religion Scientific?
Today we find the whole world stirred by what is termed the conflict between religion and science. But is there a conflict? For years critics have contested our use of the word Science as applied to religion. Theologians have declared that religion cannot be a science, and scientists have maintained that science cannot be a religion. Let us see. What is the definition of science in the ordinary accepted use of that word? "Knowledge; knowledge of principles or facts; accepted knowledge which has been systematized and formulated with reference to the discovery of general truths or the operation of general laws." If it be not formulated and systematized with reference to general truths and the operation of law, would not religion be without law, without certainty, yes, without truth?
We declare, therefore, that Christian Science is scientific because it is the knowledge of the divine Principle and facts of being (and I use this word fact advisedly); that it is science or systematized knowledge of all Truth, based upon the divine laws of being. Moreover, we declare that in order to be a science at all, it must be demonstrable and provable. Not everything, therefore, in the realm of theory, speculation, belief, or experiment, even though it be called science, can lawfully be entitled to the term.
What then, think you, should a religion be, in this day of reason, in order to claim the attention and respect of thinking men and women? First, I believe you will say, it must be scientific - based upon actual fact or truth.
That is, its concept of God must be reasonable, rational, and logical. Second, it must be practical. To be of any use, it must offer a sensible and actual solution of the everyday problems of human beings. In other words, it must be a common sense religion. It should be able to prove its truth and availability in actual practice.
In order to be sure, to be absolutely convinced, no one should accept statements regarding a religion that will not stand the test of reason, that cannot be proved and found wholly satisfactory. Fundamentally, neither I nor any one else can tell you what to believe about God. I may present for your consideration certain premises regarding Deity, but you alone can and should determine for yourself their truth and whether you care to accept them. Indeed, I am not engaged in the business of converting you to the teachings of Christian Science. If there is any conversion to be done, you will do it yourself, because the facts regarding Christian Science appeal to you as altogether logical and reasonable. In that way you will accept Christian Science not because you believe it, but because you understand it, which is a vastly different point of view.
It is not difficult to understand the present-day tendency to criticize the Bible, and indeed to disprove all or much that it declares. I can appreciate and sympathize with the attitude that many people hold today regarding the Scriptures. They are puzzled and perplexed at what seem to them contradictory and unreasonable statements and situations. Many are assiduously engaged in trying to disprove the divinity of Christ and the miracles of the Old and New Testaments. But because the so-called miracle does not conform to the human sense of things is it to be wholly ignored and set aside? Why, it may be asked, all this effort to disprove the reality and operation of spiritual power?
Viewed from a material angle, the Bible may indeed seem to be unreasonable and contradictory, but it is clear to be seen that the approach to God and a satisfactory interpretation of Scripture can only be made through spiritual reasoning. If all the words and happenings of the Bible are to be interpreted materially, no reasonable explanation will be found. Paul expressed it exactly when he said, "The natural [the ordinary mortal] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
Christian Scientists "take the inspired Word of the Bible" as their guide (Science and Health, p. 497), but they will tell you that it did not become inspired until they gained an inspired and demonstrable concept of God. Then the Bible became to them an open book. I might say to you that the Bible teaches that God is the sole creator. I believe this to be a true statement, but some of you may not accept it coming from the Bible. Let me say, however, my friends, reason it out, - reason why there is one cause and creator, and you will find that it is not only true, but coincides with spiritual revelation in the Bible. Indeed, it may be said that all truth coincides with the inspired Word of the Scriptures. Obviously, the Bible as a whole cannot be accepted literally and only spiritual inspiration can unlock and reveal the truth within its pages. Our friends who are busy disproving the Bible on a literal basis should reverse their efforts. If they would prove the reality and allness of God, the acts and sayings of the Master, Christ Jesus, would no longer be mysterious but wholly natural and in accordance with law.
The Science of Truth has always existed and will always exist, regardless of so-called mortal opinion and judgment. As a science, however, it does demand intelligent and thoughtful consideration from all thinking men and women. In this connection, may I call to your attention a fallacy which sometimes seems to be entertained, that because it is a science it is therefore difficult to understand. Nothing could be farther from the fact. God is not difficult to understand. Truth is not obscure. It is error that cannot be understood. Indeed the mark of ignorance is on its brow. Its very name is darkness. Is it conceivable that God would make Himself obscure and hide His face from us? Truth is natural and easy of perception but much may depend upon our mental attitude. I ask you therefore to consider this - the value of a receptive state of mind in investigating Christian Science, or any subject, in fact. Let us suppose, for instance, a child approaches the subject of geography in an attitude of resistance and negation. Maybe he is declaring all the time how hard it is to understand. He may even intolerantly declare that he just does not like it. What will that state of thinking do? Will it make it any easier? Not at all. On the contrary, he has unwittingly erected a lot of mental hurdles and obstructions that will have to be cleared away before he can understand and appreciate the subject of geography. Now this also applies to Christian Science and shows the value of an open-minded, affirmative, and tolerant approach without the slightest fear that you are unable to perceive this glorious Truth. Take this little book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," little in size, but oh, how great in revelation, you who are honestly seeking the light. Take it, and in childlike humility turn to God for a moment in prayer. Say to Him, "Give me light, O God; give me understanding; enlighten Thou my eyes." Then commence to read and study. At once you will find yourself interested. You will find yourself saying, Why, that is what I have sometimes thought vaguely, but have never heard it clearly expressed in just that way. Let me say, too, that you will perhaps find statements that may not seem clear, at first. Never mind, read on. No science was ever grasped fully at one, two, three, or a hundred readings. This is the Science of infinity, and you will study it for many years to come. Going on in this way, with your thought turned ever toward the light, God will reveal His divine nature more and more to you.
Having habitually thought along material lines, it is not to be expected that one can immediately change his whole basis of thinking. We have to form new habits, learn to think spiritually. And this takes time. The thought habits of the individual are strange and surprisingly uncontrolled. To think about God, to reason out spiritual facts from premise to conclusion should not be difficult. But watch, study your thinking, and you may be amazed to discover how little dominion you have. How near can you hew to the line of clear, direct reasoning without running off the track? Who has not discovered, by watching, that his thought, like the nimble chamois, is jumping from crag to crag, uncontrolled and unrestrained. Or again, that he cannot keep awake and think about God. What dominion have you there?
Now Christian Science declares that all may think, and think freely about God, because there is just one Mind, the divine, intelligent, and self-existent Cause of the universe, - and that Mind is the Mind of man, of all mankind. Let us consider in the light of reason what Christian Science teaches regarding God and His creation.
First of all, it is obvious that we, every one of us here, exist. We are conscious of our identity or entity. We are aware, too, that there is a creation, an infinite creation or universe, and this universe, including our own identity, is the effect of an intelligent, self-existent cause. Reason tells us, too, that there can be but one universe. Indeed the very word universe indicates one. We are positively aware that this universe reveals intelligence. Indeed, only an intelligent cause could have evolved it. This infinite, divine Cause, we, in Christian Science, understand to be Mind, - one Mind only, infinite and all-inclusive. Christian Science lays its special emphasis on the oneness of Being, - one God, one Cause, and one creation. Following along the line of reason it is clear that if God is Mind, absolutely immeasurable Mind, that He must also be Truth, since Truth is in its very nature mental. Obviously, too, if all Truth is mental, God must be infinite Spirit. As John has said, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." Spiritual reasoning unfolds logically all the essential elements of God's nature and shows how beautifully they coincide one with the other. For instance, Mind, being self-existent and eternal, is the animating, divine force of all creation or being, logically then infinite Life, - our very life, strength, being, and action. Christian Science also reveals God as Soul, as divine Principle, the law of all being, governing the universe, including man, in perfect harmony. In accord with Scripture, and yet wholly in line with reason, we know that the only God there is, must be a God who is infinite Love, embodying only the attributes of goodness, tenderness, mercy and righteousness.
The concept of God as Father has long been familiar to men, but Christian Science, distinct from all other religions, reveals the Motherhood of Deity, - that being One, He includes within Himself all the qualities and attributes of both Father and Mother.
The practical usefulness of this understanding of God's Motherhood is illustrated in the experience of a sailor during the war. Stationed abroad, his duty demanded that he live constantly on a mine-layer, operating in the North Sea, at that time infested with submarines. The ship was entirely loaded with mines and other explosives. In fact, depth bombs were stored directly above the place where he slept. About him there seemed to be every element of destruction and the possibility of disaster. Yet this man, a Scientist, on retiring to his berth, realized, in absolute confidence, the ever-presence of his Mother, God, - the ministering tenderness of Love that protects and shields from all harm, even as the bird protects her young under the shadow of her wings. With every sense of security and safety, tucked into bed, and surrounded by divine Love, "as one whom his mother comforteth," this sailor was able to fall asleep each night in peace and serenity. And so is it with all God's children. The Mother-love of God is ever here to save and sustain. Tonight, my friends, no matter what fear may be trying to torment or frighten you, - fear of lack, fear of disease, fear of sin, - remember that you may rest serene and safe on the bosom of your Father-Mother God, undisturbed and unharmed, in the consciousness of that Love which is infinite.
There is nothing supernatural about God in Christian Science. Our God is natural, near, and friendly. We should accustom ourselves to thinking of Him in this way, which makes Him tangible, actual, and readily available. To have a superstitious, awesome sense of Deity is to build up in thought the idea of separation, a faraway God. The poet Tennyson has said, "Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet." This is the God we know in Christian Science. Many people have to admit that God has never been a very vital thing in their lives. He may have been the object of respect and veneration and occasionally considered in time of special need. It is not surprising, therefore, that the human mind does not readily adjust itself to the idea of absolutely radical reliance on God in all affairs. Nevertheless, the all-power, all-presence, all-action of God is a divine and irrefutable fact. Indeed, I may say not one of us would be able to leave this church and return home if there was not a God, - a divine, infinite power and force to take us there.
And man, what is man as understood in Christian Science? We declare that man is the divine idea or concept of God, spiritually conceived and eternally held in Mind as idea, - man, the idea of infinite good; man, the idea of infinite Love; man, the idea of infinite and unending Life. Since God is Mind, man, His divine image, must logically be divinely mental, since effect must be like its cause. What then constitutes the divine man, this mental being? Thoughts, pure thoughts, which can have their being only in God. Now a thought or idea can not wander away or stray from the Mind in which it has its being. So man, God's divine idea, is forever inseparable from the Mind in which he exists and has his being. In other words, Christian Science declares that there is an eternal unity between God and man.
Let us see how this divine unity operates in actual practice. Suppose, for instance, that the so-called law of heredity has put upon an individual the cruel belief that he is constitutionally weak, lacking in strength, vigor, and vitality; that he has no force or energy and is easily fatigued. What are strength, vigor, vitality, and power? Are they material? Did any one ever see them? No, they are wholly qualities of Mind. And how much of strength and power is there? Is it not infinite and immeasurable? And where is all this power and strength? Does it reside in some place, and does man have to go somewhere to get it? Not at all! Man, God's image and likeness, is not separated from strength, energy, and power. They are his very being. He is himself the very manifestation and expression of infinite strength and power. Man is the very manifestation of God. Man is God's witness, the proof and evidence that there is a God, a Principle which is infinite Life.
Is it conceivable that an imperfect thought could emanate from an infinitely perfect Mind? No, reason tells us that this cannot be. Cause being perfect, so is effect, and Christian Science declares, in accord with the Scriptures, that God created man in His, Mind's own image, in the image of Mind created He him. Inevitably, therefore, we see man as spiritual, the exact and perfect image or reflection.
But some one may say, Yes, I like this explanation of man. I like to be told that man is spiritual, but somehow or other it seems just a little vague. It gives me a kind of uncertain sense of my identity. If I see and declare myself to be spiritual shall I not lose my individuality? Not at all. What is it that gives you your individuality, your distinction as an entity? Is it not what you think? Is it not your thoughts that make you distinct and individual? Certainly it is not a matter body. Christian Science declares that you will never lose your identity, but, on the contrary, will be ever more conscious of your distinct, divine individuality as God's idea or spiritual concept. Through all eternity, your divine mental identity remains permanent and immutable. Now this is a helpful thing to see, because it gives one a definite and certain sense of existence. Man's spiritual selfhood could never be lost, and yet all must admit that matter is most ephemeral and transitory - here today and gone tomorrow. If this be so, why the tenacity of humans to hold on to it? Why not let go and grasp that which is ours right now, our eternal, spiritual selfhood?
Christian Science does not annihilate creation because it declares that all is spiritual and that there is no matter. Creation is definite. Not infrequently people come to us and say, "If you will tell me satisfactorily how I came to be in this condition of materiality, I'll accept Christian Science." This attitude is not unlike a drowning man asking how he came to be in the water. The important thing to us is that we can learn the way out of materiality, instead of wasting our time speculating how we got in. Recognizing the whole thing as a state of self-deception, Christian Science declares that the first step out is to see man's absolute spirituality and perfection, in other words, that he is not in matter or materiality.
And having said this, some one may be thinking, Oh, yes, you Christian Scientists do not believe in evil. You declare evil to be unreal. Yes, that is the stand we take. We not only declare but know evil to be unreal, a fraudulent delusion imposed upon the race. What would people have us do? It is a curious perversity of the human mind, that if I were to say, as I inevitably must, that Christian Science declares there is no disease, -there is no death, there are some in this audience who would find themselves more or less resenting what I say and ready to challenge my statements. And yet, I ask you in all sincerity, would you not be grateful to have disease and death proved unreal? That is exactly what every one of you is trying to do - get rid of the whole outrageous and illegitimate imposition. Is there any one who would willingly become the devil's advocate?
Have you ever analyzed this thing called evil, penetrated this great delusion? If asked, practically every one here would declare himself a monotheist. He would assert that he believes in one infinite God and no other. Yet belief in evil is dualism, not monotheism. To find a cause for evil is to find an origin. If such an origin existed, this would definitely establish evil's eternal reality and the race would be helpless and hopeless. If error finds its origin in the one God, then God has within Himself the elements of His own self-destruction and the provision for man's eternal suffering and damnation. My friends, if this were true, the universe would have been reduced to chaos long since.
Belief in the power of evil, or to put it another way, belief in an existent evil power, is devil worship, no matter how we look at it. This may not be a very pleasant thing to contemplate, and possibly we have not considered it from that angle, but the fact, nevertheless, remains that we, who call ourselves monotheists and Christian people, in so far as we give power to evil, believe in evil forces, acknowledge their reality and ability to destroy us, are devil worshipers. In other words, we have something before us besides the one infinite God. What, it may be asked, are the beliefs in keeping of horseshoes, fear to walk under a ladder, or to sit with thirteen at the table, but the perpetuation, in modern times, of devil worship, fear of an existent evil power. The savage goes to his witch doctor or priest who gives him a charm or potion to keep away the evil spirits. The educated and so-called intelligent man goes to the physician who gives him a pill or a potion. Or maybe he vaccinates him, or puts something evil, a serum, in his body to make him immune from more evil outside his body. Is the difference so very great? Fundamentally, the state of mind, the thinking, is just the same. What is there? Fear, fear, conscious or unconscious belief in devil or evil, instead of a conscious perception of the infinite allness of the one God.
Recently I was told of a young man, who, in much physical distress, sent for the doctor. "Oh, doctor," he said, "I'm feeling awfully bad."
"Well, never mind," said the doctor. "I'll fix you up. Here you are, - a pill for your head, a tablet for your indigestion, and another pill for your nerves."
"But doctor," said the patient, "how will the little beggars know where to go when they are inside?" Ah, that is it! That is the great question! Wonderful, educated pills, just like a troupe of trained seals, they go exactly where you tell them to go."
May I say here, that Christian Scientists have the highest respect for and appreciation of the efforts of the medical profession to relieve distress and suffering. But Christ Jesus, the most successful physician the world has ever known, did not say we should abandon spiritual healing. On the contrary, he said we should follow his example. "If ye continue in my word [my way of thinking], then are ye my disciples indeed." Now, the world forsook his method of healing in the third century and since that time it has tried, and without success, literally thousands of material ways and means to do away with sickness, sorrow, sin, poverty, and death. Have sickness and sorrow ceased ? Has poverty disappeared? Is there no dying? From all parts of the world goes up the same cry, No, we are still struggling, struggling materially to destroy, with matter, what matter has caused.
For the encouragement of humanity, Christian Science declares that there is no condition, however serious, in which a man may find himself, where God and His love are not instantaneously available to help and deliver him; no problem, however intricate and perplexing, that infinite Mind can not solve. Founded on a simple platform, - the allness and omnipotence of God, - it declares that there is no evil condition, no false belief or incorrect thinking that can stand before the one God. Christian Science has come to destroy the belief and break the spurious law of incurability. There is no law of incurability, no incurable disease. Do you question this? Do you doubt this statement? Reflect, for a moment, where acceptance of such a condition or belief leads us. To the unescapable conclusion that there is a condition in creation - an incurable disease - that can defy the Almighty; that we have in disease a reality, eternal and indestructible as God, and that God is helpless to prevent and destroy it? Impossible!
Hear the word of Isaiah: "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. . . . I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them."
Remember that when you invoke the power of God to heal, you are invoking omnipotence, all the power there is. Should it be expected to heal? Certainly. And you are thinking as did Jesus when you know that your prayer, because it has its origin in God, is the very presence of Immanuel, or God with us; that being the power of God, it does not return unto itself void but prospers in the thing whereunto God sends it. Jesus never claimed that he himself, the human man, healed the sick. He always said: "I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works." The power in all true spiritual healing is divine. It is God alone who heals. No real Christian Science practitioner would ever take unto himself the power to heal. It is not some personal power possessed by a human being. On the contrary, true practitioners are forever turning the thought of those who come to them for help away from personality to divine Principle, in order that the seeker for Truth and healing may see that God alone is the strong deliverer. Obviously, the more clearly we, as individuals, see the power and love of God as the only healer, in that ratio is personal sense unselfed.
We are asked today, How is it that people are healed in Christian Science and what is the power back of these healings? This, my friends, is the same question that was put to Jesus centuries ago, and the answer is still the same. It was the Christ, or spiritual and exact understanding of God, of Truth, Life, and Love, reflected by the Master, which did the work, and it is that same spiritual, scientific knowledge of God and man, reflected in measure by students of Christian Science today, which is manifested in multitudes of healed and regenerated men and women.
In fulfilling his mission as a savior and redeemer, Jesus recognized that the only way to save those who were lost would be a practical one. His every act evidenced the fact that he possessed a reasonable and scientific understanding of God, which could be utilized in everyday life.
What was it that established Jesus' identity as the Christ? What was it that made him divine? It was what he thought. He thought divinely. He was a divine thinker, and it was the Mind that was in Christ Jesus that made him so. As Peter, once said to the Master: "Thou hast the words [the thoughts] of eternal life."
Christian Science teaches that this spiritual understanding of God and man, the Science of Truth which Christ Jesus possessed and made practical, more than all other men, is the promised Comforter, which he said would lead us into all truth. This Comforter, or Christ, is today "the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."
Coming in this age to Mary Baker Eddy, the one person on earth prepared to receive it, this Comforter or Christ, the spiritual idea of God, so illumined her consciousness that the divine facts of being came as a complete revelation, which she transcribed in the book known as "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," the textbook of Christian Science. Although a devout and spiritually minded woman, Mrs. Eddy, like many others, had read and studied the Bible, with a veil of mystery drawn about the life and healing work of Christ Jesus. Of a frail and rather delicate constitution, Mrs. Eddy had experienced much illness in her life. The search for health led her to investigate all the well-known schools of healing - allopathy, homeopathy, electricity, and many others. Like the woman in the Bible, she had suffered many things of many physicians, . . . and was nothing bettered." Step by step, her experience and experiments led her to the conclusion that mind is the producing cause of all physical effects. Her own instantaneous recovery, in 1866, through the spiritual illumination of the Scriptures, caused her to find a connection between her own healing and those recorded in the Bible. Now she perceived with scientific certainty that God is Mind, and therefore the only causation, and that every effect is the phenomenon of that Mind. She saw too that Jesus healed mentally and spiritually, that the so-called miracles were as clearly the result of mental causation as her own healing.
One of the strange characteristics of the human mind is its tendency to resist enlightenment. Every pioneer, every inventor, every advocate of something new and better, has been met with the sneers and scoffs of the unbeliever, and Mrs. Eddy was no exception to this rule. Few there are who can appreciate the consecration and devotion that led this great woman, in the face of the bitterest kind of opposition, to penetrate the mystery of materiality and find in the Bible and the life of Jesus a practical answer to the world's problems.
Critics frequently ask, "Why did Christian Science have to come through a woman?" I am sincerely grateful that it did. Many men acknowledge with gratitude the influence on their life and thought of a woman, - their mother, for instance. They recognize the part she has played in building their characters, in strengthening their love of good, of honesty, and of uprightness. Steadfast and unwavering, the love of a real mother remains unshaken, no matter how far her child may stray from the path of rectitude. Even though her child be a sinner, the mother tenderness and compassion enables her to see beyond the evidence of the material senses the true son, the ideal, and she never gives up her hope of his ultimate salvation.
Christian Scientists love Mrs. Eddy, because she, like a true mother, loved mankind and labored unceasingly for the redemption of the race. If she had been thinking only of herself, the Discoverer of Christian Science, after her own remarkable healing, could have let the matter rest there. She might have kept this revealed truth to herself. She would have been spared a life filled with persecution and misrepresentation, but the world would not have had Christian Science. It was her perception and realization of the immeasurable value to humanity of her discovery, that prompted and enabled her to endure uncomplainingly the hatred of an unbelieving world. Who but a woman, with a mother-love deep and broad enough to take a whole suffering race in tender and sympathetic consideration, would have done it?
A verse from one of her poems, "Mother's Evening Prayer" (Poems, P. 4), reveals the nobility of her thought:
"O make me glad for every scalding tear,
For hope deferred, ingratitude, disdain!
Wait, and love more for every hate, and fear
No ill, - since God is good, and loss is gain."
May I say here too that Christian Scientists are not interested in seeking higher revelations and improvements on Christian Science, nor do we follow, or expect to follow, new human leaders. We know that Mrs. Eddy, the only discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, embodied in her textbook the complete statement of this Science. A consecrated study and honest application of this impersonal truth is all that is required in order to grow and unfold in spiritual understanding.
If prayer heals the sick, redeems the sinner, and saves men and women morally, physically, and even financially, it must admittedly be reasonable and practical; and this we assert is the prayer of Christian Science, the prayer employed by Jesus and commended to His followers. But some, in fact many, may say, "Yes, prayer should heal the sick. I believe that. The Bible declares that the prayer of faith shall save the sick. I have prayed most earnestly to God; I have asked Him to deliver me of my sickness and nothing has happened. I still have my disease and suffering. Why am I not healed? My friends, let us consider this prayer for a moment. What kind of a prayer was it? A begging petition with God to take cognizance of your trouble and make a sick man well? If your prayer is based on the belief that disease is real, that you have a real sick man, in all logic how can it heal? How can a real disease be made unreal? Is this true prayer? Does God, somewhere on a great throne, look down on a suffering human being, recognize disease, and heal it? Is that the process? Not as we understand it in Christian Science. If God in His infinite wisdom could behold disease, in that moment disease would become real, a part of the infinite knowledge, and God Himself could not heal it, because you cannot get rid of something that is true. Again, if we say that disease is provided by God for our punishment and discipline, as some people insist, the only proper attitude on our part would be complete submission. The disease should run its course. Indeed, it would be blasphemous to try to get well.
Happily, we know that Jesus healed the sick and told others to do likewise. If he had known that God was the author of sickness, he would have been acting in actual defiance of the Almighty. But he said Satan, not God, had bound the sick woman, and then promptly healed her. Now the prayer of Jesus got rid of sickness and proved it unreal by utterly destroying it. The prayer of Jesus and the prayer of Christian Science alike, do not have in them a sick man or a real disease. The prayer of Christian Science approaches sickness from the standpoint that it is absolutely illegitimate, a wicked imposition on man, not recognized by God, nor provided by Him, for any purpose whatsoever. The prayer of Christian Science positively declares disease to be unreal, right now, a false state of thinking. The prayer of Christian Science, right from the start, has in it a perfectly well man. It knows and sees that he is well right now - the perfect child of a perfect Father. Our prayer does not beg; it knows. Knows what? The truth - the truth of being, of God's infinite protection and power. It knows His ever-presence, His omniaction, and the absolute perfection of man, God's exact image and likeness. Mrs. Eddy on page 12 of Science and Health says Jesus' "prayers were deep and conscientious protests of Truth - of man's likeness to God and of man's unity with Truth and Love."
A treatment in Christian Science does not consist of the repeating over and over again of certain words or thoughts, however true and fine they may be. It is no sense a formula. Thoughts taken from Mrs. Eddy's works, or any other individual's, will not necessarily heal merely because they are repeated. There is no magic or mystery about a true Christian Science treatment. A person may grasp intellectually much of the letter of Christian Science and still be unable to heal. In this case what is needed? What is it that gives treatment its spiritual force and power? It is knowing - knowing absolutely that the word spoken is true and has power. It is that genuine conviction that comes with spiritual enlightenment. This spiritual knowing is natural, spontaneous thinking, that unrestrained flow of right thought which has its very being and origin in the divine Mind. True treatment is that oneness of God with man, that unity of Mind with its idea, which is the very power and presence of God. Can any restriction be put upon the infinite nature of Mind and its ideas? No, not one. So then, in treatment, no limit can be placed upon the number and nature of God's thoughts or angels, which are ever delivering man from false beliefs.
In the Bible we read how Peter and John, at the hour of prayer, met, at the gate of the temple called Beautiful, a man lame from his birth. A beggar, this man expected and asked money of the Apostles, but Peter, looking upon him said, "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. And he leaped up, stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping and praising God."
This, my friends, is the privilege of every right thinker, to give to the world those right thoughts which will heal and save a suffering people. No one is denied this giving of good. It was the power of a true concept of man which lifted up the man at the temple gate. It is the power of your right idea of man, of yourself and your neighbor which will lift you up into realization of your divine manhood.
In Christian Science, we do not "send" Truth or true thoughts to other people. Truth's very nature is omnipresence. The notion of sending thoughts from one person to another is only a species of suggestion. Truth cannot be suggested. It just is. Therefore, how inspiring it is to realize that when we see that man is free, well, awake, and alive, this is an omnipresent fact, and the very presence of this right thought eliminates and dissipates the belief that man is sick, fettered, or asleep.
In Christian Science everything in the realm of wrong thinking, false belief, fear, and disease is termed error; in other words, erroneous thought. The way of deliverance from error for everyone is a way of correct and right thinking. There is no other. We all possess the power to think divinely, to have spiritual and holy thoughts, whether we have exercised that power or not. That even children may think themselves out of error is illustrated in the method used by a small boy I know in California. Compelled by a serious physical condition to remain in bed, this little fellow lay earnestly trying in his childlike way to get rid of the trouble. Suddenly he stood up in the middle of the bed, and pointing his finger said, "Error, you move on. You can't park here." He could not have expressed it more exactly. For it is not the nature of evil and wrong thinking to do just that thing, park in our consciousness, and, like some people's cars, it breaks the laws and should be told to move on.
The understanding of Christian Science is teaching us to turn away from the contemplation of matter as substance to the perception of Spirit, God, as the only source of supply. With a hungry multitude before him, in a most practical way, Jesus asked the disciples if they had any food. They, in dismay, looked at matter - five loaves and three small fishes. If Jesus had believed their words, it would have meant the acceptance of lack, but he, knowing the infinity of Mind, saw and demonstrated the true and immeasurable nature of substance. Christian Scientists, in a degree, are proving the same thing today. If we contemplate matter there is always lack, for its very nature is limitation.
Poverty and lack is a universal blight resting upon the face. Individuals and nations alike are ever joining in a great chorus that there is not enough. Or possibly they start with the fear that there will not be enough, and the thing which they greatly fear comes upon them. Let us reason out this trouble called lack. If God is infinite Love, is there not enough of good to go around? Is God the cause of lack or poverty? Is he sending it upon us? Is this part of the plan for His beloved son?
Consider, for instance, the origin of what is known as panic or business depression. It is simply a mental contagion. Jim Jones comes down to the office one morning and discovers fewer orders than he had yesterday. This depresses him greatly and he broods over it all morning. At lunch he tells Bill Smith and maybe a few others that business is bad, and they, not being awake enough, agree with him. Yes, business is bad. Business is bad and growing worse. And then Jim Jones, Bill Smith, and the others go home and tell their wives about it. And the wives, not knowing much about the business anyway, believe their husbands are telling the truth and accept it as such. What have we here? A thought contagion of fear and depression. A group of people, without careful reflection, have agreed to have a depression and some bad business. Like a wave it goes from coast to coast, and bad business it is. What really has happened? Have the banks failed? Has all currency been destroyed? Have the factories been burned, the grain elevators and food stores demolished? Not at all. Everything is just the same as before. There is just as much actual substance as there ever was, but the banks have stopped lending, men have stopped manufacturing, and the people have stopped buying. Everywhere is constriction and fear, and all because Jim Jones and Bill Smith and their friends decided to be afraid.
Now what does the teaching of Christian Science do to a situation like this? What is the attitude of a scientific thinker, a man who is learning to think with the same Mind that was in Jesus Christ? He knows, as did the Master, that while the whole world groaneth and travaileth together under the false belief that there is not enough, yet divine Love, the infinite Cause of the universe, is forever pouring forth its immeasurable blessings, through all eternity. He knows that all that means business, all that means commerce, all that means supply finds its first expression in thought, and that these infinite thoughts and ideas are not restricted or shut off. He knows, as stated in Science and Health, on page 60, that "Soul has infinite resources with which to bless mankind, and happiness would be more secure in our keeping , if sought in Soul."
Now it is possible that some of the ladies may be silently saying, "I wonder why that lecturer is talking so much about business and panic. How does that affect me? I stay at home and keep house." To the ladies let me say that what you think about business and supply is vastly important. If you have a husband, a brother, or a father, a Jim Jones or a Bill Smith in your family, and he comes home and tries to inoculate you with his fear of bad business or panic, you can be wise enough to recognize the lie and destroy it, both for him and yourself. Some men do not tell their wives if business is bad, but they usually look it, and that will be quite sufficient. You will know what to do. The demonstration of supply in a family is not a one-sided affair, and Christian Science shows us that what a woman knows and thinks at home about God's abundance is just as important as the thinking of the man in his office.
Above all things else, Christian Science emphasizes the teaching that God is Love, and therefore that man, His image and likeness, must, like his Creator, be kind, gentle, and loving. The Golden Rule, Do unto others as you would men should do unto you, is not new. But have we not heard people say many times: "It is a beautiful sentiment but it can not be made practical in this day"? Christian Science declares that Love is practical, - that the Golden Rule is livable, and that the whole life of Christ Jesus exemplified this fact. It declares that Love is not intellectual, a cold theory, but, in our human experience, is translated into terms of service. What is man's purpose in being? Is he an accident, his creation a chance? Christian Science teaches us that every one of God's children is indispensable; that creation would not be complete without each one and that the function and purpose of all is to serve. And what is service? Giving. Is it not that constant giving forth of love, revealed perhaps in little acts of helpfulness, in missions of mercy and tenderness, in deeds of thoughtfulness? The Discoverer of Christian Science has said (Science and Health p. 261): “We should forget our bodies in remembering good and the human race.” In service Christian Scientists find the secret of happiness and heaven, but it is an open secret, that all may know and follow.
A young woman, of whom I know was called upon to move from her old home and birthplace to a city remote and in an entirely different section of the United States. On being asked how she liked her new surroundings she replied, "Oh, I love it! Where I come from, they just look at you through the window, but here, they seem to say, 'Come on in.' " Ah, that is it! True Christianity will not let us be mere spectators, one of another, coldly regarding our brother through the window. It is the spirit of Love made practical that enables every one to say, "Brother, come on in to my mental home, - my consciousness. I welcome you there. You have a place in my heart and consideration, and I love you because I see you as God's child, and therefore my brother."
This is the healing consciousness. It sees no sin and no sinner, no hate and no hater, but man, the son of God, pure, upright, and free, the perfect child of a perfect Father. Mrs. Eddy, our revered Leader, in her poem entitled "Love" expresses that infinite kindness and tenderness, that universal affection for the race which is the very spirit of Christian Science.
"Brood o'er us with Thy sheltering wing,
'Neath which our spirits blend
Like brother birds, that soar and sing,
And on the same branch bend.
The arrow that doth wound the dove
Darts not from those who watch and love.
"If thou the bending reed wouldst break
By thought or word unkind,
Pray that his spirit you partake,
Who loved and healed mankind:
Seek holy thoughts and heavenly strain,
That make men one in love remain.
"Learn to that wisdom's rod is given
For faith to kiss, and know;
That greetings glorious from high heaven,
Whence joys supernal flow,
Come from that Love, divinely near,
Which chastens pride and earth-born fear,
"Through God, who gave that word of might,
Which swelled creation's lay:
'Let there be light and there was light.'
What chased the clouds away?
'Twas Love whose finger traced aloud
A bow of promise on the cloud.
"Thou to whose power our hope we give,
Free us from human strife.
Fed by Thy love divine we live,
For Love alone is Life:
And life most sweet, as heart to heart
Speaks kindly when we meet and part."
(Poems p. 6)
[Published in The Marion County Mail of Indianapolis, Indiana, April 19, 1929.]