Christian Science: The Availability of Divine Law

 

Cecil F. Denton, C.S., of New York, New York

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

Noonday Lecture delivered in Orpheum Theatre, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Tuesday, July 19, 1949, under auspices of Third Church of Christ, Scientist, in Tulsa.

 

Introduction

The lecturer was introduced by Mrs. LaVonne Brown, who said:

Friends: We, of Third Church of Christ, Scientist, Tulsa, are happy that you have accepted our invitation to hear this lecture on Christian Science.

There are many today who are earnestly seeking a knowledge of God; but perhaps they are exclaiming, as did Job, in his great desire for spiritual understanding, "Oh, that I knew where I might find him!" Christian Science is emphatic in its teaching that all may know God now, and avail themselves of His goodness.

The subject, "Christian Science: The Availability of Divine Law," has been chosen by our lecturer, Mr. Cecil F. Denton, of New York City. He is a member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston, Massachusetts. It is my privilege to present Mr. Denton.

The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:

 

The Lecture

During Paul's first missionary journey into Asia Minor, as recorded in the fourteenth chapter of the book of Acts, he encountered a "certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked." Paul evidently discerned the man's receptivity to the Christ, Truth, and thereupon healed him of his infirmity. This immediate restoration to normalcy so astounded the people of Lycaonia that they cried out that the gods had come down to them in the likeness of men. They then proceeded to name Paul and his fellow apostle, Barnabas, after their Greek gods, Mercurius and Jupiter, and to bring oxen and garlands unto them to make sacrifice. The apostles, however, rejected their idolatrous worship, declaring, "We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein" (Acts 14:15).

Paul and Barnabas knew the healing of the impotent man to be no miraculous recovery but rather the inevitable result of their understanding and application of divine law, that law of God, good, which is ever operative and always available. They knew, too, the significance of Jesus' declaration, "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (John 14:10).

 

Miracles Divinely Natural

As one of the definitions of the word "miracle" Webster's dictionary quotes from the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, as follows: "That which is divinely natural, but must be learned humanly; a phenomenon of Science" (p. 591). From beginning to end the Scriptures are full of accounts of wonderful events coming to pass which by their very nature set aside so-called material law and revealed the law of God with whom all things are possible.

You will recall how Hagar's eyes were opened to behold the well of water right at hand to sustain her child where he was; how Moses through reliance on God led the children of Israel into safety and how manna sustained them in the wilderness; how Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were so protected in the burning fiery furnace that King Nebuchadnezzar made a decree that none should speak against the God of these men, "because," and I quote, "there is no other God that can deliver after this sort" (Dan. 3:29).

Times without number mankind has witnessed proofs that there is indeed no other God "that can deliver after this sort." Elijah and Elisha and other prophets knew the power of God; and the master Physician, Christ Jesus, and his disciples were so conscious of God's ever-presence that mighty acts were an everyday occurrence. These exhibitions of God's power were demonstrated for nearly three hundred years following Jesus' ascension, when the church lost sight of its healing mission until it was revealed to this age through Christian Science. This religion is Christian because it is based on the life and teaching of Christ Jesus, and it is Science because it is a systematic and demonstrable understanding of divine law. This religion declares with Daniel: "I thought it good to shew the signs and wonders that the high God hath wrought toward me. How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation" (Dan. 4:2,3).

 

Jesus the Christ

In no instance was this dominion of God and man greater evidenced than in the life and teachings of the Master. In the Christian Science textbook, Mrs. Eddy declares: "The life of Christ Jesus was not miraculous, but it was indigenous to his spirituality, the good soil wherein the seed of Truth springs up and bears much fruit. Christ's Christianity is the chain of scientific being reappearing in all ages, maintaining its obvious correspondence with the Scriptures and uniting all periods in the design of God" (pp. 270, 271).

Christian Science teaches that Jesus presented the Christ or spiritual idea more fully than it had ever before been expressed. From early boyhood he was about his Father's business, that holy work of expressing God through his own perfectness. In fact, the Christian Science textbook identifies Jesus as "the highest human corporeal concept of the divine idea, rebuking and destroying error and bringing to light man's immortality" (p. 589). This was his mission, to present the saving Christ, and he carried out his divinely appointed purpose, ever conscious that in doing God's will he was exercising God's law.

Critics of Christian Science, not realizing the high regard in which we hold Christ Jesus, have misunderstood our conception of him and his sacred mission. Contrary to some opinions, we do believe in the divinity of Christ, but we recognize that Jesus is not God but is the Son of God, as the Bible declares, and that he demonstrated the spiritual idea or Christ which, according to John, made him "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). Paul puts it clearly when he writes (I Tim. 2:5): "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."

Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary; he grew to manhood, was baptized of John in the river Jordan, entered into a notable ministry which by precept and deed demonstrated that Christ is indeed, as Mrs. Eddy has said, "the divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" (Science and Health, p. 583). When Jesus spoke to those skeptical listeners who would not accept him, and said, "Before Abraham was, I am," he was referring to his spiritual identity, the Christ, Truth, which was never born and never died. Jesus told his disciples it was expedient for them that he leave them, for so long as men looked to his person as the Saviour they would not gain the true sense of the Christ, the spiritual idea of God, "alive forevermore to save" (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 381).

 

The Law of Salvation

In what has become one of the most frequently quoted passages from Scripture, John assures us that "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world: but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:16,17). Traditional theology has regarded this and similar statements as indicative that salvation is dependent upon the person of Jesus. Christian Science, on the other hand, reveals that it is the Christ, or "divine manifestation of God," that redeems man not only from sin, sickness, and death, but from all abnormalities and limitations. Truly, God did so love the world those who were hungering and thirsting after righteousness that he sent His beloved Son to demonstrate in everyday experience what Paul terms "the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16).

What is our part in this redemptive experience? Science and Health states: "Through repentance, spiritual baptism, and regeneration, mortals put off their material beliefs and false individuality" (p. 242). Here, obviously, are the three steps essential to the destruction of sin in our lives. First, a change of thought, a willingness to put off unChristlike thinking and acting; second, baptism, which is spiritual cleansing or purification from error; and third, regeneration or reformation. This third step is the most important, for it is the culmination of the Christ working in human consciousness, the evidence of man's at-one-ment with God.

Do you recall the illustration Jesus draws of the unclean spirit who had gone out of a man and wandered to and fro seeking some place to rest some receptive human consciousness which his evil inclinations might tenant? But finding no place to inhabit, he returned to the house from which he came, which Matthew tells us he found "empty, swept, and garnished." The narrative concludes: "Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first" (Matt. 12:45).

That man had failed to take the third step in his redemptive experience. When the evil spirit returned, he found a clean house but an empty one, a consciousness devoid of reformation. The last state of that man was indeed worse than the first, for having once released the evil spirit and even having gone so far as to experience spiritual baptism, he did not complete his rebirth by putting on the new man, "which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him," according to the language of Paul (Col. 3:10).

How wisely did the Discoverer of Christian Science admonish her followers: "Beloved Christian Scientists, keep your minds so filled with Truth and Love, that sin, disease, and death cannot enter them. It is plain that nothing can be added to the mind already full. There is no door through which evil can enter, and no space for evil to fill in a mind filled with goodness" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 210).

 

Discoverer, Founder, and Leader

Through the discovery of Christian Science in the year 1866 by Mary Baker Eddy, mankind today is experiencing salvation from sin, disease, and death by the application of spiritual law as practiced by Christ Jesus, his disciples, and the apostles. "During twenty years prior to my discovery," Mrs. Eddy tells us in her autobiographical work, "Retrospection and Introspection" (p. 24), "I had been trying to trace all physical effects to a mental cause; and in the latter part of 1866 I gained the scientific certainty that all causation was Mind, and every effect a mental phenomenon." It should be noted that the word "Mind" in the sentence just quoted begins with a capital letter and therefore refers to Deity.

Mrs. Eddy continues: "My immediate recovery from the effects of an injury caused by an accident, an injury that neither medicine nor surgery could reach, was the falling apple that led me to the discovery how to be well myself, and how to make others so.

"Even to the homoeopathic physician who attended me, and rejoiced in my recovery, I could not then explain the modus of my relief. I could only assure him that the divine Spirit had wrought the miracle a miracle which later I found to be in perfect scientific accord with divine law."

Mrs. Eddy then pondered the significance of this experience and made a searching study of the Scriptures. As she said, what had appeared to be a miracle in her life was revealed to be the operation of divine law; and she demonstrated the availability of this law not only in her own experience but also in that of countless others whom she healed of physical and moral abnormalities of every name and nature.

To those who are acquainted with events in Mrs. Eddy's life, it is not surprising she should have been chosen of God to bring to this age the Comforter, or Spirit of truth, which Jesus said would come in his name. From early childhood she was frail, a condition which became aggravated through the years rather than improved, until she discovered Christian Science. It was apparent to all who knew her, however, that she possessed a deeply religious nature and an inquiring mind which led her to read widely and richly.

One of many significant incidents which occurred during her early girlhood pertained to the young Mary's refusal to accept the doctrine of predestination. The more she thought of the far-reaching implications of this doctrine of unconditional election, the more perturbed she became until it was necessary to summon the family doctor, who pronounced her stricken with fever.

Mrs. Baker urged her daughter to go to God in prayer. It is a matter of record that as she prayed the fever left her, and she rose and dressed herself in a normal condition of health. This immediate recovery caused the attending physician to marvel, as another physician was to marvel more than thirty years later when, following the accident already cited, her faith in God again restored her to health and usefulness.

Not only is Mrs. Eddy the Discoverer of Christian Science, which she defines as "the law of God, the law of good, interpreting and demonstrating the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony" (Rudimental Divine Science, p. 1), but she is also its Founder and forever Leader. In great love for God and man she labored unselfishly to give the world the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," which contains the complete statement of Christian Science Mind-healing; she organized and established The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, and wrote the divinely inspired Manual of The Mother Church, whose By-Laws assure the spiritual success and permanency of this Church. Of this Church we can say, with Paul, "Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone" (Eph. 2:20). The Christian Science periodicals, including The Christian Science Monitor, an international daily newspaper respected and honored throughout the world, are among the works of this far-seeing New England woman who lived so close to God she could pray in all humility (Poems by Mary Baker Eddy, p. 14):

 

"Shepherd, show me how to go

O'er the hillside steep,

How to gather, how to sow,

How to feed Thy sheep."

 

It is because Christian Scientists are spiritually fed and redeemed physically and morally through Mrs. Eddy's discovery of the ever-availability of the Christ-power that they acknowledge her as the revelator of Truth to this age. In the words attributed to Solomon, "Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates" (Prov. 31:31).

 

Salvation and Healing Now

The writings of Mrs. Eddy reveal the truth which Jesus taught and practiced, namely, that we need not wait until some future time to experience the unfoldment of good in our lives. The Master knew it is one of the characteristics of material thinking to look to the future for one's success, for happiness and health, and he rebuked such limited thinking when he said to his disciples, "Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the field; for they are white already to harvest" (John 4: 35).

Throughout Jesus' ministry he demonstrated that it is not a question of time which determines salvation from sin, sickness, and death, but rather the acceptance of divine law in human experience. To the woman taken in adultery, Jesus said, "Go, and sin no more" (John 8:11), thus freeing her of the bondage to material sense which she had been under until the law of God, which Christ, Truth, enforces, liberated her. To the man with the withered hand Jesus said simply, "Stretch forth thine hand." Matthew concludes the incident in these words: "And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other" (Matt. 12:13).

Regardless of what one's need may be, the law of God, good, is omnipresent to fulfill that need. In this connection I recall the experience of a student of Christian Science who was having an attack of seasickness. He was momentarily tempted to think of his comfort in terms of a placid ocean to replace the current roughness! But immediately there came the angel message, reminding him that right then and there the law of divine Love was present to heal him. The Bible and the Christian Science textbook were studied, together with the Hymnal and our periodicals, and the student soon found himself free of the physical symptoms. Although the ocean did not become calm for some three or four days, the student remained well for the duration of the voyage.

There may be times when some of us are tempted to believe that the healing of some physical disease, the correction of some trait of character, or the healing of lack of supply depends upon the passage of time. But this is not the case, for God and His Christ are here, now and forever, to supply our every need.

 

"Lift up your head, O beloved,

The fields are ripe with grain.

Harvest comes to the faithful,

Your labor is not in vain

Harvest of patient sowing,

Fruitage of daily prayer,

Courage, through nights of darkness,

Faith in His tender care.

Gather your sheaves with thanksgiving

Nor wait till the labor is done;

Now is the day of salvation,

Now is the victory won."

(The Christian Science Journal, November, 1945.)

 

False Law Made Void

In Science and Health we read (p. 229): "By universal consent, mortal belief has constituted itself a law to bind mortals to sickness, sin, and death. This customary belief is misnamed material law, and the individual who upholds it is mistaken in theory and in practice. The so-called law of mortal mind, conjectural and speculative, is made void by the law of immortal Mind, and false law should be trampled under foot." Let us look for a few minutes at some of these customary beliefs which the textbook reminds us are misnamed material law and which are destroyed by the divine law of good.

Before learning of the healing and redemptive power of Christian Science most persons regard themselves and others in terms of material birth, growth, maturity, and death and as the victims of heredity or environment. My friends, Christian Science reveals the liberating truth that man is never the victim of any circumstance or evil influence. The true man, created in the image and likeness of God, is governed and controlled only by the law of God, good. We need but claim this fact, and we shall always know how to choose, as a loved hymn puts it, "twixt the darkness and the light."

 

Following a True Course

There is a story told of a Mississippi River steamboat owner who once advertised for a pilot. To a Yankee who applied for the position the owner said, "I suppose you know where all the snags in the river are?" "No," replied the man, "I do not." "Do you expect me to trust you with a boat, then?" was the sarcastic rejoinder. The Yankee whittled for a moment in silence then replied, "If you are looking for a man who knows where all the snags in the Mississippi are, I'm not the fellow; but, boss, I know where the snags are not, and that's where I calculate to do my sailing!"

The teachings of the Bible and Christian Science show you and me how we may avoid the snags of material living and direct our human experience into the channels of righteousness and peace. The experience of a young Christian Scientist is illustrative of this point.

This man had gone far enough in his study of Christian Science to realize that his former worldly pursuits were not consistent with the standards of Christian Science. When he found himself in war service, the moral conflict seemed particularly challenging, for the argument of loneliness suggested he compromise with his standard of right and go into town with some of his fellow soldiers who were seeking his companionship for an evening of making the rounds of the town's bars. He reflected for a moment that perhaps he could be with the group without fully subscribing to their program and thereby not getting into any difficult complications; but, in all honesty, he had to admit to himself he was not piloting his thinking into the right course. He made his decision to decline the invitation to seek the shoals of materialism, and, instead, he spent the evening in the Christian Science Reading Room, where he knew from former experience there were no snags to deter his spiritual progress. This young man later reported it was not easy at first to overcome a sense of loneliness, but as he pondered the truths he found in the references from the Bible and Science and Health which constituted the Lesson-Sermon for that week he found every trace of homesickness gone, and in its place were a peace and freedom he had never known before. Through this experience he gained a deeper insight into the practical import of the Bible, to which Mrs. Eddy refers as "the chart of life, where the buoys and healing currents of Truth are pointed out" (Science and Health, p. 24).

Indeed this young man, through his allegiance to divine Principle, had annulled the false law that would claim man has got a mind of his own and that he is influenced by inclinations and desires beyond his control. Whenever we make a decision to do that which is morally and spiritually right we are employing the law of God, Truth, which works, to establish in human affairs the integrity and completeness of man as he really is in his oneness with his creator, divine Love.

 

The Law of Life

Science and Health declares (pp. 380, 381): "Every law of matter or the body, supposed to govern man, is rendered null and void by the law of Life, God." The so-called laws of mortal belief are annulled by the understanding that Life is God and, therefore, Life is eternal. Christ Jesus proved this to be true when he restored to life the son of the widow of Nain, also the daughter of Jairus, and when he raised Lazarus from the dead after he had lain in the grave four days. In his own experience he proved the immortality of life when he ascended or rose above all material limitations.

Long before Jesus of Nazareth taught and healed on the shores of Galilee and in the valleys of Judaea, the law of Christ of Life, Truth, and Love was present to demonstrate that death is an illusion. One of the many notable examples of this fact is the experience of the Shunammite woman whose son, according to the account in II Kings, died at an early age. That wise mother, however, did not accept that condition as true, for the narrative tells us she sought Elisha, referred to in the Bible as "the man of God." When Elisha saw her approaching, he said to his servant, "Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her. Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well."

Those of you for whom this is a favorite Bible story know that when they returned to the home of the Shunammite woman, Elisha prayed unto God, and the boy was restored to his mother. It is evident Elisha knew the truth about Life. And it is evident also from the narrative that the mother knew the importance of not accepting the evidence of death that lay before her. When Elisha's servant asked her if it were well with the child, she did not bemoan her situation and cry out that the Lord had given but the Lord had also taken away. She replied, "It is well," and the prayers of Elisha confirmed her declaration.

 

Christian Science Treatment

Christian Science treatment is prayer that acknowledges the perfection of God and man and the ever-presence of Life, Truth, and Love. When a Christian Scientist declares, as did the Shunammite mother, "It is well," he does so because he knows that in God's infinite goodness He never could have created a single condition or quality unlike Himself. Treatment in Christian Science, therefore, is a recognition of the good which already exists. We do deny the error and affirm the truth, but it is the affirmation of divine reality which is primarily important.

A verse from a hymn reads,

 

"If we look to God in prayer,

God is present everywhere."

 

The consecrated worker knows this to be a true statement. The wisdom and intelligence of divine Mind are present everywhere; and the energizing inspiration of infinite Spirit is present everywhere; and the beauty and harmony of Soul, the omni-action of divine Principle, the eternality and immortality of Life, the omnipotence of Truth, and the compassion of divine Love are present everywhere.

Because God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, His very infinitude outlaws all that is unlike Himself. For this reason it makes no difference if the practitioner and what is called the patient are miles apart, for in the consciousness of true being there is no separation of God and man.

From the foregoing it is readily seen that prayer in Christian Science is not petitioning God to heal a sick body, a failing business, a sinful nature, or a strained human relationship; but it is the joyous and grateful acknowledgment that God's law of perfection, of principled activity, of purity, and of love is operating here and now. If our prayer has expressed the Christ, Truth, as did the prayers of Elisha and Jesus, we too shall know in faith and in fact, "It is well!"

 

The Shunammite Experience Repeated

And now I should like to tell you of a modern Shunammite mother who had an experience which in many respects was a near parallel to that of our Bible character. Very early in my assignment as an Army chaplain, the hospital of the Field where I was stationed telephoned one evening to inform me that a young man of my denomination had collapsed on the drill ground with what was said to be a hemorrhage of the brain. It was added that his recovery was not expected. The boy's parents had been notified; whereupon Christian Science treatment was immediately requested. When morning came, the young man was still alive, but hospital authorities discouraged the mother's making the long trip across the country, as it was felt the son could not possibly survive until her arrival. This consecrated mother never lost sight of the fact, however, that this incident was but another opportunity to see God's law of Life and Love operate in their experience. Needless to add, the mother set out for that distant camp.

When I reported to the hospital the following day, I found another chaplain at the patient's bedside, and the physician in charge was talking to the mother long distance from where she called while changing trains. The physician informed her that at that moment her son was passing on and would be alive for only a brief period. I asked to be alone with the boy. I then sat by the lad's bedside in prayer, knowing, as were the mother and the practitioner in their home town, the truth which Christian Science reveals, that "man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique," as Mrs. Eddy declares on page 475 of Science and Health.

The next morning it was my privilege to meet the mother at the train and I have chosen the word "privilege" advisedly, for I shall long remember the inspiration of that meeting. In spite of the rigors of wartime travel, that mother appeared rested and joyous. Her face was radiant with that light which comes through communion with God. She did not need to ask if her son were still alive; she knew all was well.

Upon our arrival at the hospital the mother went to her son's side, and although to all appearances he was in a state of unconsciousness, she read to him aloud from the Bible and Science and Health. The hospital authorities finally conceded the lad would live but that his convalescence would be characterized by traits of imbecility and paralysis.

You already know the conclusion of this story, I am sure, so may I just say that within a very short time after the doctors had made the discouraging statements, I found the patient's room filled with visitors. Our young friend was sitting up in bed with a game of Chinese checkers on his lap. The chief nurse, who had been most solicitous and kind throughout this experience, turned to me with tears welling from her eyes and said, "Chaplain, do you know what this means?" Well, being a Christian Scientist, I had no need of either diagnosis or prognosis, so for a moment I did not know to what she referred. The nurse then informed me that not only was the son playing an intelligent game of Chinese checkers and beating his opponent at every play, but in making the moves, he was using the arm that medical science had said would be paralyzed for some time to come.

About a year later in another city I met that head nurse, who immediately inquired after our young friend. I was grateful I could tell her he was fine in every respect, for just that Christmas I had heard from the mother, who told me that her son was in better health than he had ever been before. Surely, all that young man's life he will be grateful that he, too, has a Shunammite mother whose faith and understanding exemplify Mrs. Eddy's words when she writes (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 277), "No evidence before the material senses can close my eyes to the scientific proof that God, good, is supreme."

 

The Law of Love

Not only did this experience of our young friend demonstrate the omnipresence of Life, but it revealed also the truth which the Bible teaches and which Christian Science confirms, namely, that God is Love. It is thus John speaks of God, and it is thus that Christian Scientists speak of our Father-Mother God.

When the so-called human being recognizes his true identity as the son of God, the loving of oneself takes on a new meaning. It includes humility in the highest sense of the word the realization that of oneself he can do nothing, but as one demonstrates his at-one-ment with divine Love, he can do all that Love directs. The loving of oneself means, too, he will allow no suggestion of self-depreciation or self-condemnation to cloud his perception of perfect being, which he is demonstrating in the daily round of life; and by the same token he makes sure he is neither depreciating nor condemning his brother man. There may be times in our experience when the action of another may appear to be anything but kind. We may be even tempted to resent another's deed. The law of Love, however, demands we begin with ourselves, begin to think and be the expression of Love, which is the only true consciousness. We therefore shall leave our brother free to find the joy of seeing himself and others as, in the language of the hymn, "the loved of Love" (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 232). It is a holy fact that when we cast the beam out of our own eye we shall not be conscious of a mote in our brother's eye.

 

Love an Essential of Practice

Love is essential to the practice of Christian Science for the simple reason that the perfect reflection of Love characterized the practice of Christ Jesus, whose teachings we follow. How significantly does the Scripture record that Jesus was moved with compassion when he saw the multitudes, "because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd" (Matt. 9:36). What a momentous lesson we derive from Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan, who had compassion on the traveler who was wounded by thieves, and went to him, pouring into his wounds the oil of consecration and the wine of spiritual inspiration, and then made provision for his shelter and care. And should it not give us pause to consider the compassion of the father of the prodigal son, who ran to meet the repentant son while he was still a long way from his father's house? Whether it is sickness or sin which is in need of healing, it is the conscious expression of divine Love in our own life which restores to normalcy those who are seeking the realization of wholeness and holiness.

Divine Love brooks no memory of an unhappy or sinful past. Have you not heard of someone who has been redeemed of waywardness spoken of as "having come out of a great deal"? Such a healing is always cause for rejoicing, but let us be sure we do not linger upon that which divine Love has proved unreal, rather than dwelling upon the fact of man's eternal purity. Love characterized the healing work of the Master, and it is love that distinguishes the healing work of Christian Science today.

I should like to say it was this attraction of divine Love which is responsible for my having had the blessings of Christian Science over a period of many years. As a young lad I was taken by a friend in my neighborhood to visit the Christian Science Sunday School. It was there I first heard God referred to as Love. In fact I cannot recall that I had ever heard God described before. So warming was the love of the teacher that I knew I would never want to return to the Sunday School I had previously attended. I will confess to you, however, that occasionally on a summer's day I played "hooky" from Sunday School and wandered through the nearby park during the Sunday School hour. Upon my return the teacher would remark, "We missed you last Sunday, but we knew you were in your right place." I would think of her remark and the scene of my sojourn and was puzzled, to say the least. Very shortly, however, I experienced a healing in Christian Science and, needless to say, I did learn where my right place truly was. Regular attendance from then on was a program to which I happily subscribed. I recall with gratitude the many discussions we had through the years which made practical in my daily experience the law of God, divine Love. Small wonder, is it not, we pupils would welcome singing Mrs. Eddy's hymn which contains the lines (Poems p. 13),

 

"Father, where Thine own children are,

I love to be"?

 

Universal Brotherhood and Peace

What shall we say of the law of God as applied to international affairs? Can peace be maintained without threat of atomic destruction? Is the Golden Rule a criterion for the amicable disposition of the problems of the nations?

A religious editorial in a widely circulating weekly magazine has expressed the opinion that the Golden Rule is a necessary but not a sufficient description of man's religious duty. In support of this statement the editor refers to the four Gospels, wherein Jesus speaks several times of the brotherhood of man, but wherein he speaks more frequently of the fatherhood of God, without which, the writer contends, no altruistic plan can succeed.

There can be no question that he who knows the fatherhood of God likewise knows the brotherhood of man, and vice versa. If Jesus refers less frequently to the brotherhood of man than he does to the fatherhood of God, it is not because he was unmindful of the far-reaching significance of his Sermon on the Mount, for, as a familiar hymn says of him:

 

"In every act, in every thought,

He lived the precepts which he taught."

 

We shall have united nations when the nations of the world follow the principles which characterized Jesus' ministry. Christianity has not failed, my friends; it asks only to be practiced. Nor is there anything new in this teaching. One recalls Shakespeare's lines from "Measure for Measure" (Act III): "This news is old enough, yet it is everyday's news." Yes, and it is everyday's good news, which is the meaning of the word "gospel," for it tells of the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth through the reign of the Christ-power of Life, Truth, and Love.

The prophets Isaiah and Micah foresaw the time when the Christ-idea would rule out from individual and national and international experience all hatred, fear, revenge, envy, lust for power, and domination. One of these Old Testament prophets declared (Mic. 4:2-4): "The law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off. . . . They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it."

"The law shall go forth of Zion"! In the Glossary of Science and Health Mrs. Eddy gives the spiritual definition of "Zion" as "spiritual foundation and superstructure; inspiration; spiritual strength" (p. 599). This law, therefore, which blesses man by making war obsolete in his consciousness and therefore in his experience, is a spiritual law; it emanates from the New Jerusalem, which our textbook defines in part (Science and Health, p. 592) as "the kingdom of heaven, or reign of harmony." Its executor is Christ, Truth; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. In this spiritual habitation or consciousness there is no duplicity, no misrepresentation of motive or plan, no fear or suspicion, for divine Truth directs its affairs in one harmonious whole, and divine Love, ever present, casts out fear and sin.

The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science was deeply interested in the establishment of peace throughout the world; she taught, as the Master and his disciples had taught, that "love is the fulfilling of the law" (Rom. 13:10). Mrs. Eddy knew if one is obedient to the First Commandment he will have no difficulty in following the remaining nine commandments; nor will he have any difficulty in loving his neighbor as himself. On this basis alone may the nations of the world unite in universal brotherhood and mutual service. In one of her dedicatory messages to a branch church, Mrs. Eddy has written: "The Puritans possessed the motive of true religion, which, demonstrated on the Golden Rule, would have solved ere this the problem of religious liberty and human rights. It is 'a consummation devoutly to be wished' that all nations shall speedily learn and practise the intermediate line of justice between the classes and masses of mankind, and thus exemplify in all things the universal equity of Christianity" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 181).

 

Conclusion

All that has been said in this lecture stems from the premise that God is All-in-all and that He alone governs man and the universe. A merciful God must of necessity govern His creation in mercy and in justice. It matters not what our individual problem may be, for God and His Christ meet our individual need right where we are. Christian Science treatment is the acknowledgment for oneself or for another of the ever-presence of divine power a realization of Truth which awakens mankind to see the spurious nature of all beliefs which dishonor God. In her volume, "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," Mrs. Eddy makes a statement which may well serve as a summary of this lecture, and its conclusion. She writes (p. 190): "Jesus gave his disciples (students) power over all manner of diseases; and the Bible was written in order that all peoples, in all ages, should have the same opportunity to become students of the Christ, Truth, and thus become God-endued with power (knowledge of divine law) and with 'signs following.' "

 

[Published in The West Tulsa News, Tulsa, Oklahoma, July 21, 1949.]

 

 

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