Christian Science: Its Availability in Human Experience
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
Richard J. Davis, C.S., of Chicago, Illinois, a member of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship, delivered a lecture entitled "Christian Science: Its Availability in Human Experience," 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;
Friends: There is an ever increasing number of people eagerly reaching out for Christian Science because of the good it is doing. Perhaps some of you here this evening have been wondering why so many people are readily healed. The reason is simple enough, - so simple in fact that many overlook it. A story may help to explain the point: A group of men and women were once traveling in the mountains. The way was difficult, for they had to scale some very steep places. At one point in their path they had to let themselves down at arms length from a ledge of rock, and then drop a few feet into some soft earth. All of the party, including the ladies, had successfully taken the drop, except one man. He had let himself down at arms' length, but he was afraid to let go. The others assured him that there was no possibility of danger; but he was so fearful that he could not let go. So there he clung, unable to get up or down, until his arms ached and he groaned in anguish. Finally, from sheer exhaustion, the man collapsed and dropped unharmed into the soft earth.
Many of our good friends, like this man, are self-imposed sufferers, because they are afraid to let go of something. They lack two essential qualities of thought that make for success, - faith and obedience. Had this man been willing to trust his companions and obey their loving counsel, he would have advanced himself, and not have hindered the others. Thus faith and obedience are essential to success in daily living; they are essential to progress in discovery and invention; they are essential to the understanding and practice of Christian Science. May these two qualities of thought help you here this evening to receive the truths which the lecturer will present to you. He is a member of the Board of Lectureship of this church, and it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you Mr. Richard J. Davis, C.S., of Chicago.
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
A Christian Science lecture is a striking evidence that there is deep-rooted in the heart of man a real hunger to know God - a natural desire or impulse for spiritual enlightenment. It has been aptly said that no two men come to God by the same mental journey, but clear it is that they come, some it would seem by rough and rocky paths with many seeming obstacles and obstructions in the way; nevertheless they come, drawn by that irresistible attraction to gain what no man can do without - an understanding of God.
The perplexing problems of human life today, its physical suffering, its poverty, its discordant relations in business and the home, its bondage to sin, all these are leading men to see that life without God presents a hopeless outlook. Men have come to realize that to depend upon matter in any form for salvation from these conditions is to lean indeed upon a broken reed. Under such circumstances, then, it is not surprising to find thousands of people questioning, "Is there really a God? and if so, what is His nature? Where is He and is He available? Is there a God who can help me solve the problems with which I am confronted?" In the words of that beautiful solo from - Mendelssohn's oratorio of "Elijah" Christian Science declares that God is saying to us today, "If with all your hearts ye truly seek me, ye shall ever surely find me." It declares that God is available here and now, right in our very midst. Therefore I shall speak this evening, during the time allotted to this lecture, of Christian Science and itís teaching of God's availability in human experience.
In 1866 a gentle New England woman lay upon her bed, suffering with a severe ailment which was the result of an accident. A devout Christian, educated and reared by her parents according to the best traditions of that day, this woman, Mary Baker Eddy, had through her whole life been seeking a more satisfactory understanding of God, a God available to her own human needs and those of her fellowmen. Experiment in medicine and other healing methods had led her step by step away from matter to a consecrated study of the Bible and the spiritual healings of Jesus and his disciples. At this point in her experience, alone and helpless, and nearing what her physician, what friends and relatives thought to be her death, she turned unreservedly from medicine to God, from matter to Mind. She sent from the room those who were with her and opened her Bible to the account in Matthew of the healing of the palsied man by Jesus. In that hour of extremity she experienced a spiritual revelation which raised her up a well woman. She dressed herself and walked into the next room, to the consternation and amazement of her friends. Face to face with God, the sense of pain and suffering faded away. She recognized her true heritage as a child of God and was free.
Fortunately for the world this was the beginning, not the end of a great experience, for she immediately commenced to study and ponder the spiritual law underlying her recovery. By this act this loving woman has made God available to all mankind through Christian Science. Thousands are today grateful for her life of service and in the future millions will rise up and call her blessed. Turning after her own healing to the Bible in her search for the law which made that healing possible, Mrs. Eddy saw that there must be an absolute Principle back of the life and works of Christ Jesus. She felt that there was a spiritual connection between her own recovery and the healings wrought by the Master, and her conclusions were arrived at and based solely on the Scriptures. Her study resulted in the discovery of what she termed "the Christ Science or divine laws of Life, Truth, and Love" (Science and Health, p. 107). She declared that these laws, the law of Life, the law of Truth, the law of Love, could be clearly understood by men and that when understood they could be applied specifically to the myriad problems of the race.
At this point there may be those here who will say, "You ask me to accept Christian Science on the basis of the Bible. How can I do that? The discussions and debates of today and the radical differences in opinion even in churches of older faith than yours have unsettled my thought. How do you or I know that the Bible can be accepted as true?" Christian Science does not ask you to accept a single statement about the Bible or anything else which does not coincide with correct reason or that you cannot fully test by demonstration. Realizing this, Mrs. Eddy herself tested her discovery for years before she gave it to the world.
Not many months ago a young man came to me, a Japanese. He was born in the Orient and educated there. His parents and all his family are Buddhists and he had been reared in that belief. Naturally he knew little or nothing of the Bible or of Christianity, and the occidental ideas of God and of Christ Jesus were unknown to him. Like millions of other people the problems of life were forcing him to seek a solution and in his extremity Christian Science was presented. This man, a thinker, commenced the study of Christian Science solely from the standpoint of reason. There could be no other approach because of his utter unfamiliarity with and lack of faith in the Bible. Little by little he found that reason and revelation were being reconciled and followed by test or demonstration. In the line of reason a flood of light was thrown on the Bible and the life, works and words of Jesus. This man, all his life a Buddhist, trained in modes of thinking entirely remote from our own, has accepted Christian Science and realizes that Mrs. Eddy has correctly and scientifically based her discovery on the Bible. The teachings of that book have been shown to him to be absolutely reasonable, logical, and demonstrable.
It is to be here noted that Mary Baker Eddy says she discovered Christian Science. She did not invent or originate it. In the same way that Lief Ericsson may be said to have discovered America, so she discovered or brought to light a Principle that has existed through all ages, an ever-operative divine law, indicating the harmony, Science, and continuity of being.
Down through the ages the law of God has always been available but there have been few who discerned enough of the truth to demonstrate it in human experience.
This remained to be exemplified in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The son of a virgin, he came in fulfillment of the age-old promise to save his people from their sins. He therefore was known as the Saviour or Way-shower. This way was a scientific one, being based on exact understanding of God and His law. He defined for all time the true or right way of thinking and living, the way of Life, Truth, and Love. Mrs. Eddy and all Christian Scientists regard Christ Jesus as the highest example of spiritual living the world has ever known. They revere and honor him as the Way-shower, and are unspeakably grateful for his life of self-abnegation and righteousness.
Obviously the healings of the great Teacher indicated the existence and operation of some divine power. They indicated not ignorance but intelligence - that Jesus possessed accurate and scientific knowledge of God. If the position be taken that Christ Jesus was a wonder-worker who by some supernatural power and for some mysterious purpose set aside the rule or law of being, the whole mission of the Saviour falls to the ground - indeed he could no longer be called a savior. If his acts are to be viewed as a sporadic contravention of law his value as a redeemer is forever lost. His life and works would hold no meaning or promise for us. We would be without hope today. But Jesus was no violator of law. He was truly the Saviour, his whole life being devoted to carrying out the purpose and plan of man's salvation. This purpose of Christ Jesus was the fulfillment of God's will. Indeed he came as he himself declared, not to do "mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." He came, as the Bible says, the Messiah, to seek and save that which was lost.
He said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Truth is the same in every age, through all eternity, and we declare that the same truth which Jesus knew and which enabled him to heal the sick and cast out devils, is the understanding of God and man which to-day is made available in Christian Science, and which Mrs. Eddy discovered in her study of the Bible and the life of Jesus.
This brings us to a discussion of God as understood in Christian Science. In fact, all consideration of Christian Science must necessarily be predicated on a correct concept of Deity. But perhaps at this point someone may say, "But I do not believe in God. What Christian Science teaches regarding God does not interest me. I am an agnostic or an atheist." I know you will pardon me if I venture to suggest that what you no doubt mean is that you do not believe in the thousand or more differing beliefs and confusing statements regarding God, in which mankind has for centuries involved itself. All these you may reasonably question, and in presenting the concept of God as understood in Christian Science, I do so with the knowledge that you will accept it only so far as it accords with clear and logical reasoning. Christian Science does not ask you to believe in God. It asks you to know or understand Him. Christian Science asks you to accept nothing on the basis of belief or faith. We only ask that you will think.
You do not deny that you are conscious; that you are conscious that you exist; that for the present you exist in this church and that something in the nature of intelligence brought you here. You are living, a living entity, and something makes you live and makes you think. You know that you think, that you have the power to think. Here we are, a great group of living, thinking, moving beings, and as our thought reaches out we realize that outside this church, in this city, in this country, yes, in all parts of the earth, there are billions more like ourselves, all living, thinking, moving, intelligent entities. What does it proclaim? What does it indicate? We exist, we are conscious of existence and conscious also that some force has brought us into being. Did we create or evolve ourselves? Can any one or all of us claim the distinction of being the origin or creator of all, or even a part, of conscious being? Reason enables us to recognize that all that we behold, even in a human way, certainly an immeasurable effect, can only proceed from a self-existent, self-perpetuating, and immeasurable cause, and leads us then logically to admit conscious existence, conscious intelligence and life infinitely manifested, and back of it all one infinite, intelligent cause which we in Christian Science reverently call God.
In line with such thinking, Mrs. Eddy states in Science and Health, on page 267, "God is one. The allness of Deity is His oneness." Christian Science is monotheistic in the very highest sense. It declares that God is not only one but All and all-inclusive, a conclusion which follows logically if the one sublime cause is infinite.
Christian Science demands a correct and thoughtful appraisal of words in their proper metaphysical sense. We all realize the possibility of their careless or shallow use when applied to Deity, but Mrs. Eddy gave them their full value. When she declared in her definition of God that He is All, she meant exactly that. "God. The great I AM; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence" (Science and Health, p. 587). In the same manner she employs the word "infinite" exactly and entirely in accord with the best standard dictionaries.
Christian Science affirms logically that there cannot be more than one All, one all-inclusive, self-existent, and immeasurable God. It also follows that since the cause of all conscious being is self-existent, it must also be eternal, and wholly good. Christian Science reveals, too, that since God is the one I AM, the infinite cause of the universe, including man, He is in nature not only Father but also Mother, embodying all the attributes of love, gentleness, mercy, and goodness, "our Father-Mother God" (Science and Health, (p. 16).
Mrs. Eddy through spiritual logic perceived that God was infinite and wholly good and stuck to it in the face of everything that the material senses declare to the contrary. And now someone is thinking, "But evil, what do you say about evil? Isn't it real?" If evil is real, actual, it must be true; if true, it is a part of Truth, God-created and God-ordained. If God is to be regarded as the cause and creator of evil, where does it lead us? To the inevitable and unthinkable conclusion that the intelligent creator of the universe is the originator of all sin, disease, disaster, and accident; that God deliberately makes men sinful, criminal, and sick, and then punishes them for impulses and instincts for which they are wholly irresponsible. Is that an intelligent concept of God? Does that satisfy you and make you happy? Does it inspire your respect, your veneration, your love, your devotion? Does it satisfy your reason to ascribe to God all the pain, sin, and suffering of the human family? And again, if God has made us ill, unhappy, or sinful, if He is the origin of all our trouble, how dare we attempt, through the aid of physicians or Christian Science, to escape the eternal incubus of evil that this God has put upon us?
Thinking based on the false concept of the existence of both good and evil is wholly futile. And if we say there are two causes, one good and another evil, what is it but idolatry? One can see that the pagans rather naturally, but without reason, followed the testimony of their senses, which told them that there was much that was not good. But today shall we follow those same unreliable senses, senses which are being proved more and more untrustworthy and untrue? Can we accept the conclusion of a good God, and a devil or evil god; or shall we follow the Mosaic command, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me"?† Christ Jesus speaking of evil said, "He is a liar, and the father of it," - the lie that evil is real, God-bestowed and God-created. A lie - that was the only name he had for devil or Satan.
The all-wise, the all-seeing, the all-acting, and all-loving cause could originate and conceive of creation only as like itself, perfect, eternal, and good. Creation, then, the universe including man, is the intelligent, orderly effect of a supreme mental cause, and this infinite cause is self-existent Mind, spiritual and eternal. The activity of Mind is thinking, and the product of thinking is thoughts and Christian Science declares that the divine Mind or God is revealed in thoughts or ideas, that, these thoughts are eternal in the Mind conceiving them, and therefore that they are ideas of Truth, indestructible and immutable. What is the nature of a true thought, or to put it another way, an idea of Truth? Is it not to enlighten, to free from ignorance or error? Jesus said that we should know the truth (true ideas) and that these true or right ideas would make us free. In other words the true idea is the savior from error or ignorance. Truth is the redeemer of consciousness, redeeming, saving us from ignorant, dark, and erroneous thinking.
Modern psychology, of course, will tell you that the brain is the seat of our intelligence, that thoughts or ideas have their origin inside our heads. How inspiring! How reasonable! Consider for a moment our thinking even on a human plane since we rose this morning. What has been going on? Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts in rapid succession, so fast, so many, and so varied that we cannot begin to calculate or number them. Where do they come from? Where is their origin? A piece of gray, pulpy matter inside a skull? Does spiritual Truth and inspiration find its beginning in a cerebrum or cerebellum? And again, if truth or ideas originate in one man's skull or brain what shall the remainder of us do? Shall we be deprived of those ideas? How shall we get them? Shall we not have truth too?
Christian Science teaches that Truth or true ideas are in their very nature omnipresent and ever available, and denominates as superstition the notion that the majesty of Mind and its infinite manifestation should find its beginning in a piece of gray matter. Who ever saw a thought in a brain? No one, and no one ever will, for it isn't there. Mrs. Eddy in what she has exactly termed "the scientific statement of being" says in Science and Health (p. 468), "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual."
Man spiritual - the exact and complete image of God in accordance with the first chapter of Genesis, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them;" so is man declared to be in Christian Science. Let us consider this man for a moment. If God is infinite Mind, then man, His likeness, is the spiritual reflection or image of infinite Mind. God becomes immediately available to us as intelligence, wisdom and perception, infinitely manifested. If God is cause or the Life of all being, and man is the exact image or likeness of Life, God becomes available to us as our very life and being, the energy and intelligence back of all our movements and action. Again, since God is good or Love, then man is the complete image or reflection of infinite good or Love. God becomes available to us as substance, supply, purity, and righteousness, infinitely manifested.
What does it mean to be a son of God, a real man? Does it not mean the perception and establishment of our unity with God, a realization that we are the exact and perfect image and likeness of Life, Truth and Love, the Father-Mother God? Christ Jesus claimed his divine sonship and the priests and Pharisees called him a blasphemer, but he was only asserting his natural and divine heritage as a child of God. Shall we do less? As John says: "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." The New Testament is filled with statements indicating man's spiritual and divine sonship.
Christian Science distinguishes between the corporeal man Jesus and the Christ or Truth which he exemplified and lived. If Jesus had not appeared as a human being practically explaining and demonstrating in the flesh this Christ-sonship, mortals would not have appreciated or understood him. His healings were the proofs of his divine sonship, and the Bible says that he did many wonderful works in the name of God. What was it, then, that enabled him to do these works? They were concrete exhibitions of spiritual force, of intelligence. This spiritual understanding, then, was the Mind that was in Christ Jesus, revealing itself in ideas or thoughts so great and potent that they enabled him to heal all manner of disease and raise the dead. Explaining his works he said: "The words [the ideas or thoughts] that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." It was the potency, then, of the divine Mind which was in Christ Jesus which healed the sick and sinning and it is that same spiritual thinking of Christian Scientists today that is doing the work which he said would be done by those who believed, understood, his word or thought.
One of the distinctive features of Christian Science is the fact that the power to heal and regenerate mankind is open to all. It is yours tonight. It belongs to no privileged class or group of people. It is true that there are thousands of consecrated men and women who are devoting their lives to the ministry or practice of healing as taught in Christian Science, but tonight any one of you, earnestly seeking Truth, may commence the study of Christian Science and its actual practice, up to your highest light. Tonight you may begin to approximate the understanding of Christian Science and apply it in your life and the problems of your daily living. Do you believe it blasphemous to assume the right and power to heal as Jesus did? Do you believe that Christian Scientists are assuming too much in their loving endeavor to lift the heavy burdens of their brothers and let the oppressed go free? Shall Christian Scientists be criticized for their effort to completely fulfill the injunction of the Master to heal the sick? Are we so remote from God, so separated in belief? Have they taken away our Lord that we know not where they have laid him? People strangely marvel at what they call miraculous manifestations of divine power. But why should they marvel? Should it surprise us to see concrete evidence of that one omnipotent God who governs the universe and man in perfect harmony and order? The works of healing and regeneration seem incredible only because humanity has continued on its sorrowing, suffering way in ignorance of its Redeemer. "God is not in all [their] thoughts." The operation of God's law should seem the most natural thing on earth to us. If God is All and ever-present, should we not have that attitude which naturally expects to see the power and glory of God manifest at every hand? There is a little boy of four in our neighborhood. Through his grandmother he has been taught something of the truths of Christian Science. Recently he wandered away from home and was gone for over an hour. His family was greatly worried, and his mother, who was not a Christian Scientist, was full of fear. When he finally arrived home quite serene and whole, she said, "Oh, Sonny, Mother was so worried about you. Just suppose an automobile had run over you and you had been killed!" The child looked up at her in surprise and said, "Why, Mother, I would have arosen." How we all need that sweet simple trust in God. This little fellow had glimpsed something of the immortality and continuity of being and confidently expected to see it manifested. The knowledge of God and His ever-available law in Christian Science establishes a natural expectancy of good.
If the Bible statement, "In him we live, and move, and have our being," be true, and logic and reason coincide with revelation in declaring that it is, how, it may well be asked, can humanity expect to go through life, day after day and year after year, with hardly a thought as to that divine, all-inclusive presence in whom we actually exist? Is God to be left out of His own creation? Is man a separate and separated entity revolving in an orbit of his own? The Psalmist said, "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? . . . If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me." As has been said before, Jesus declared, "I and my Father are one." This is no separation but a distinct and eternal unity and he demonstrated its value to the race by his works.† Christian Science teaches that all men will sooner or later be awakened out of this false sense of separation and realize that to know and love God, Mind, and demonstrate our unity with that Mind must be the dominating motive of our lives. Godless living with its inevitable results, sin, sickness, and death, forces men eventually to turn to Spirit for a solution of their problems, but why wait to be forced? Thousands of people today are turning from the fleshpots of materialism and are coming to Cod through the understanding of Christian Science, instead of the way of suffering.
As a first step in this direction let us assure ourselves of our love for God, good. Do we really love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our might, and with all our mind? With the materiality of modern life so beclouding spiritual sense, how often through the day do most people think of God, even for a moment? Without question almost all will say that they very much need and desire the love of God, but to what extent are they loving Him? At this first step in growth a young student may frequently remind himself, "I do love Thee, God, with all my heart and what I most desire is a knowledge of Thee and of Thy law." This childlike turning to the Father-Mother God, this sincere desire for righteousness, is the beginning of true prayer in Christian Science.
Many people have abandoned the concept of God as a glorified kind of man, but there are still those who think of Him as a great distance away and address their prayers to a place called heaven, somewhere - as an old religious song puts it, "beautiful isle of somewhere." But God, the all-inclusive Mind, is not somewhere but everywhere, right here. "For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for?" Unfolding as it does the fact that God is omnipresent, Christian Science changes our mental attitude in prayer. Petitions to a far-away God may naturally cause doubt as to their being heard, but there is nothing standing between man and God, not even a sense of distance. In Christian Science all things are become new and this is true of prayer both in form and expression.
Those attending our services for the first time may have remarked that the only public prayer we have is a few moments of silent communion with God followed by the audible repetition of the Lord's Prayer alone, or of that prayer with its spiritual interpretation as given in the Christian Science textbook, and perhaps you may have wondered why these prayers are silent. Christian Scientists pray silently both publicly and in private. In James we read, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." For centuries people have repeated audibly, day after day and year after year, the same prayers, many of them written ages ago, until they have begun to realize that fervency is no longer there, that often they are not said in a true spirit of righteousness, and most of all, that they are neither effectual nor available. Silent prayer leads us away from formula and ritual and the danger of vain repetition. True communion with God obviously cannot be a set form of speech but the inspired thought of the moment as it comes to each one of us, the very realization of God's ever-presence and operative Love. Inasmuch as human consciousness is constantly changing from day to day so must the thought that governs prayer also change. The need of today will not necessarily be the need of tomorrow. The spiritual demand of one man may not be the demand of his brother. To have the true unction of inspiration, prayer must be spontaneous, fulfilling the spiritual requirement of the moment for each son of God. Jesus recognized this when he said, "Thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet [the secret sanctuary of your own thinking], and when thou hast shut thy door [denied and barred out the beliefs of materialism], pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."
"No accents flow, no words ascend;
All utterance faileth there;
But God Himself doth comprehend
And answer silent prayer."
(Christian Science Hymnal, No. 43.)
Who can penetrate or know that inmost longing deep in the heart of our brother, that silent reaching out for God, sometimes even when the outward manifestation gives no such evidence? Silent prayer unifies God and man. There is no intercession here. Straight to the throne of grace we may humbly and silently take our desires to be molded and transformed according to the pattern of the Christ.
Christian Science commences where it finds us, it may be in sin, disease, or poverty, and begins right there the process of redemption and salvation. This redemption of the individual is not accomplished in a moment, by a kind of supernatural transformation of human beings into angels of light, rather is it the gradual and daily putting off of evil and erroneous ways of thinking, replacing them with thoughts that have their being in the one God, divine Mind. There is no record in the Bible that Jesus instantaneously turned people into saints. He met the immediate need, destroyed the specific disease or sin, and then said, "Go, and sin no more," - clear evidence that the process of salvation was to be continued by the individual, in better ways of thinking and living until all evil disappeared. The life of Christ Jesus revealed the way of salvation but it remains for each one of us to study that Christ-way in the Bible and Science and Health and then, up to our highest light, endeavor to walk in it.
You will note that I speak of the study of Christian Science, of study as contrasted with reading. My acquaintance with Christian Science goes back many years, to early boyhood, in fact. During these years I have discussed the subject with many people. Every now and then I meet an individual who, when Christian Science is mentioned, will say, "Christian Science - oh, yes, I've looked into Christian Science, but there's nothing in it." Looked in? Looked into Christian Science, the Science of all Truth or true being! What estimate do you suppose people would place upon me as a thinker if I were to so casually remark, "Mathematics - oh yes, I've looked into the science of mathematics, but there's nothing in it."
My friends, Christian Science is a science, the demonstrable Science of being, and it has to be studied. There is no other way to get it. As in our academic work we study the science of mathematics, and step by step, master certain of the basic rules and then proceed to apply them to the common mathematical problems that come into our experience, so is it with Christian Science. Here a little, there a little, through study of the textbook, together with the Bible, we acquire a growing knowledge of the divine Principle which we may apply and find available in the minutest details of human living. Let us take for instance the all too prevalent tendency to lose one's temper. Few of those afflicted with this unpleasant habit wish to keep it. Many struggle to overcome it and suffer great remorse whenever it seems to manifest itself. King Solomon never spoke a truer word than when he said in Proverbs, "He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." Quick temper, as we all know, is often the cause of broken friendships, unhappiness in families, and discordant relations in church and business. Just as soon as one commences the study of Christian Science, however, he begins to see the true meaning of self-control, real self-government; that divine Mind being the only intelligence of man can and will govern and control every thought and motive aright. He discovers how to check this disposition, as people often say, "to fly off the handle" and to maintain the poise and peace of spiritual dominion. In Christian Science we perceive that hasty temper sometimes arises from a too ready impulse to misunderstand our brother's motives or jump to a conclusion without†† having thoughtfully considered all the elements concerned. Even a slight perception that divine Love alone governs man shows us how to restrain our impatience. It shows us, too, how to stop and say to ourselves, "Now, see here, this man even though he entertains a point of view different from my own is entitled to his opinion. If he is wrong certainly no exercise of anger, force, or human will is going to convert him to my way of thinking. Besides, my own thought in this matter may be wrong, and if it is, I want to give it up, because I would not willingly hold to any erroneous or unintelligent way of looking at things." Checking ourselves in this way, we naturally learn to respect another's opinion. Resentment, intolerance, and self-will are cast out and replaced by the mental qualities of brotherliness, poise, and forbearance. The way opens up for a mutual understanding of the point under consideration. With anger out of the way, all parties concerned see and think clearly, and unanimity of thought is finally manifested. Complete dominion over temper and irritability may not be attained at once, but it is a blessed thing to start this overcoming process. Thousands of people can testify that gradually through the earnest application and study of Christian Science real success in this direction has been achieved.
I realize that study necessarily makes a demand upon us for thinking, and that when it comes to questions of spiritual reason and logic, which naturally bring us into the realm of God, the human mind is inclined to be astonishingly lazy and apathetic. But one of the greatest blessings which comes through the study of Christian Science is the increased ability to think. Indeed, it shows us how to think, to think accurately, clearly, and with power.
It teaches us that since God is Mind, that God is the Mind of all His children - of man - that we can in this hour, as sons of God, call upon this Mind for infinite intelligence, wisdom, perspicacity, and vision. It is the divine right of man to think, to think rightly and with power, to think with that Mind which was in Christ Jesus.
This question of thinking reminds me of a boyhood experience which was so helpful that I have never forgotten it. One September at the opening of the school year, I discovered that by some new rule I could elect without consultation my own course of study. I thought that was fine, so I quickly arranged a program with all the subjects I liked - English, history, French, German, and art - carefully omitting those I did not like - mathematics, physics, and the other sciences - and I felt quite proud of myself. A day or so later I was in the studio of a gentleman who has since become a Christian Science practitioner. At that time he was teaching music and I had come for a lesson. Suddenly he said, "By the way, what are you taking at school this year?" and with a great deal of complacency I told him the program I had selected. To my great surprise he said, "But you are not taking any mathematics!" "Oh, no," I said, "I don't like mathematics." "Well," he replied, "that is not a good reason. You should learn to think. You go home and change your course; take some geometry and learn to demonstrate the truth." It was a hard blow but I took it. I went home, changed my program and took geometry and I tell you it is one of the best things that ever happened to me, because it forced me to demonstrate the truth. I was compelled to reason, to think; I was obliged to turn unreservedly to divine Mind for intelligence and it destroyed that lazy mental state which just wanted an easy time and was unwilling to do any really constructive thinking.
One of the most wonderful and blessed features of Christian Science is the fact that, although a purely mental or spiritual Science, it never loses sight of the personal element and human need. Mrs. Eddy speaking of this in Science and Health (p. 127) says that "the term Christian Science relates especially to Science as applied to humanity." As stated in Science and Health (p. 25) "The divinity of the Christ was made manifest in the humanity of Jesus." A true metaphysician, he had tender regard for the suffering of an afflicted people. When they were hungry he fed them spiritually, but he also met the human need with bread. There is nothing, if I may be permitted to use the expression, "up in the air" about Christian Science. It does not consist of a lot of beautiful nebulous thoughts and theories giving people a momentary uplift but utterly ignoring the actual human need. Real Christian Scientists are practical, common-sense people. They do not go about with their heads in the clouds and their feet in the mire. They are not cold or heartless. The scientific understanding of God as Love inevitably makes men kind and charitable, inspiring a spirit of true benevolence. There is nothing in the teaching of Christian Science that warrants a heartless disregard or ignoring of the suffering and misfortunes of our fellowmen. It is true that Christian Scientists do not enlarge upon, discuss, or accept as real or God-given the evil in human experience, but they are quick to respond to every honest or worthy appeal for help in meeting the immediate needs of their fellow-men everywhere. The charitable healings and regenerating work carried on by Christian Scientists in penitentiaries, jails, and prisons is the natural effect of our teaching that God is Love, and man therefore loving.
Now Mrs. Eddy, great woman that she was, looking below the surface of things, saw the tremendous power of the printed page, the communication of ideas to human consciousness through that medium. She recognized, too, the part that the press plays in all this, and conceived the idea of a newspaper reflecting the spirit of truth, of honesty, integrity, and righteousness in business affairs, in government, in the home, in education, in art, in every department of life, in fact. The Monitor today is acknowledged by many of the great men of the time to be the criterion for all newspapers. It is a way-shower in journalism. Its practical influence upon human affairs cannot be estimated, and only love for mankind inspired its inception and is its governing purpose.
The Monitor, presenting, as it does, world affairs from the standpoint of universal love and the brotherhood of man, is uncovering to human consciousness the basic cause of war - war between individuals as well as nations. And what is the root cause, the basis of world strife and contention, emulation, mad ambition, and "man's inhumanity to man"? Is it not envy - the serpent of hate and jealousy? The gospel of Christian Science today is available to destroy this lie that has eaten its bitter way into the heart of mankind. Christian Science shows us that envy has its foundation in the belief of fear their fellowman possesses some good, some blessing which we are denied and which we greatly desire. Christian Science declares that envy is a baseless fear. Are we really denied? Do we lack any good thing? In the light of Truth we see that man, God's image and likeness, today has all good, if he will only claim it, the infinity of supply, substance, opportunity, talent, happiness! What does it mean? Infinitely manifested there is enough of good, of God, for all, for every man. Each may legitimately claim all that he needs and rightly desires, and yet his brothers too may partake of Love's immeasurable bounty. Each one finds his proper place and proper relationship to all of God's little ones. Who ever conceived of the great oak vying with the stately pine, or the rose with the lily? Side by side, each fills its purpose in God's divine plan. There is no envy there, and in our daily life every fine achievement, every success of our brother's, can make us rejoice, because more of God's glory has been revealed, and we know that same possibility exists for us. There is enough for all.
The right understanding and reflection of Love not only destroys fear but develops in man the true spirit of the Christ. In Science and Health (p. 113) we read, "The vital part, the heart, and soul of Christian Science, is Love. Without this, the letter is but the dead body of Science, - pulseless, cold, inanimate." How the world is reaching out for an available understanding of God as Love, love that is not of the earth, or sentimental, but that spirit of divinity, of tenderness, compassion, and mercy which will touch the sorrowing heart of humanity and heal its wounds. The world is full of unloved and unloving people, men and women upon whom the blight of false belief has fallen. Environment, fear, a childhood devoid of love and joy, perhaps the afflictive beliefs of ancestry, - all untrue and not ordained of God, - these conditions have hardened and steeled their hearts, so that Love may not come in. To such as these comes the joyous truth that God is the only Father-Mother of man, a God who loves His own, cherishing, protecting, and sustaining them. Christian Science shows us that as we learn to reflect the Father-Mother Love, infinite gentleness, goodness, and tenderness, these qualities of thought become active in our lives. Resentment, self-pity, and cruelty fade away, the scars disappear and the real man appears, happy, joyous, and free as God made him.
Some years ago, a friend of mine, a professor in a middle western college, was visiting a state agricultural school. In showing him around the institution the superintendent led him up to the stall of an enormous black bull. The bull looked dangerous and the professor drew back, but the superintendent said, "Don't be afraid, go right up and put your hand on him. He won't hurt you, he is perfectly gentle." Reassured, my friend placed his hand on the animal. As he did so, the superintendent, said, "Do you notice anything unusual about that bull?" My friend, not being very well informed about the subject, said he did not. "Well," said the superintendent, "that animal's hide is as soft and silky as sealskin. When he came to us he was a wild, untamed thing, ugly and ferocious, with hair hard and bristling. Love changed all that, for I want to tell you that I have found in my experience with animals that with kind and loving treatment their hide and fur soften and respond at once to the mental condition of those who care for them." What a lesson for us - the operation of practical, available Love! By constant reflection and manifestation of love in daily contact with our fellowmen, the hard and bristly exterior of many an unhappy man or woman may be softened, his whole disposition altered, and in its place will appear the real man, God's loving child.
Have you ever seen a group of children playing with what are known as false faces? They come running toward you with these distorted masks, some of them animal in aspect and all very ugly, and try to frighten you. What do you do? You smile and go on undisturbed, because you know that behind the mask is the sweet, happy face of a child. The world is full of children wearing false faces, evil masks of hate, envy, and revenge. They would frighten us, make us angry or disturbed, but the understanding of man in Christian Science shows us how to look behind the mask, this false face, and see God's perfect child - the son of God. It was Jesus' perception of the real man as the image of Love that enabled him to see through the mask of hate, revenge, and bigotry and say, even of those who were crucifying him, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
The understanding that God is infinite, omnipresent Love is an ever-available help. It is the "peace, be still" to error of every kind. In the Bible we read how the men of God, those who were turning to God, were guided and protected by the angels. What were these angels? Christian Science shows us that the angels of His presence are not spiritualized human beings with wings, but pure holy thoughts coming from God to man. It is related in the book of Kings that Elijah, the prophet of the Lord, pursued by Jezebel and the worshipers of Baal, fled into the wilderness. Tired and discouraged, he sat down under a juniper tree, and as he lay and slept, behold an angel touched him and told him to arise and eat. And when he looked there was food and water at hand. Lying down again to sleep, the angel touched him a second time, and he again was fed and sustained, so that he traveled many days in strength, coming at last to a cave. And there, the Scriptures say, "the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice" - the voice of God, of Love, which speaks to every man in pure divine ideas, thoughts, which deliver us from fear and the belief that evil is real or has power. These are the angels of our deliverance, the angelic host, ever present and available, if we will but heed. Perhaps there is no more beautiful angel reminder of God's ever-present and available love than the words of the following hymn, with which I will close:
"In Thee, O Spirit, true and tender,
I find my Life, as God's own child;
Within Thy Light of glorious splendor,
I lose the earth-clouds, drear and wild.
"Within Thy Love is safe abiding,
From every thought that giveth fear;
Within Thy Truth a perfect chiding,
Should I forget that Thou art near.
"In Thee, I have no pain or sorrow,
No anxious thought, no load of care.
Thou art the same to-day, tomorrow;
Thy Love and Truth are everywhere."
(Christian Science Hymnal, No. 187.)
[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, April 24, 1926.]