Christian Science: The Revelation of Divine Control
Cecil F. Denton, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
A Christian Scientist and her
husband were returning to the
The Christian Scientist instantly
lifted her thought to God. The first inspiration that came to her was that
spiritual law is superior to material belief. This was clear. But as she
thought of the seriousness of the situation and the number of persons involved, the suggestion − and she called it a devilish
one − came to her: I wonder if my understanding is sufficient. Then at
once this Christ-message came, and with it a marvelous sense of freedom: I do
not have to do a thing with it. All I have to do is acknowledge God's
government of the universe. A deep and certain sense of joy and dominion came
with this acknowledgment. She sat perfectly still in her seat, rejoicing in
God's control and acknowledging over and over again His government. Some little
time after this, the flaming engine, which had burned for one hour and twenty
minutes, fell into the sea. The plane was able to proceed on its remaining
motors and to land safely in the
In this incident the Christian Scientist was impressed with the fact that the sense of personal responsibility and effort faded in the presence of the acknowledgment of God's government of the universe − not of His government of just this one incident but of His government of the entire universe. And this acknowledgment of His universal government operated specifically to take care of this particular event − the error excluded itself, and the flaming engine fell into the sea.
Two weeks later the pilot of the plane met this woman's husband and said, "I should like you to know that our chances for a safe landing were one to a thousand." However, to the Christian Scientist this experience merely exemplified again Mary Baker Eddy's statement in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "Mind's control over the universe, including man, is no longer an open question, but is demonstrable Science" (Science and Health, p. 171).
The Incorporeality of God
This Mind to which Mrs. Eddy refers is none other than God. One of the many blessings that Christian Science has brought to mankind is the revelation that God is not a corporeal being, but that He is incorporeal and that He is divine Mind, infinite Spirit, Soul, divine Principle, Life, Truth, and Love. Therefore, since God is not a person with a mind, but is Mind itself, there is never a time or place where divine Mind is not present, for there is never a time or place where God is not present. The realization of this fact enabled our friend on the airplane to silence fear and to abide in the confidence that God is immediate and available to every one of us. How beautifully a poet has written:
"In Life's perpetual motion
There is no troubled heart,
No uncontrolled emotion,
No mind from God apart.
With accuracy unerring
Love holds supreme control,
And man is free from fearing
When imaged forth of Soul."
Robert Ellis Key. Used with permission of the author.
The True Man Reflects Soul
To be imaged forth of Soul is to be the expression of the divine Being, even God. The beauty, harmony, symmetry, outline, form, color, satisfaction, and poise which characterize God as infinite divine Soul are also true of man as His image and likeness. What appears as a discordant, sinful, unhappy mortal is but a misconception of the true man, who is the idea of God. That is the reason the prophet Isaiah admonished, "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?" (Isaiah 2:22.)
Jesus the Christ
Christ Jesus devoted his ministry to the turning of men's thoughts and lives from the contemplation of a material selfhood to the realization of man's true nature, which is the expression of God. Science and Health declares (p. 26): "The Christ was the Spirit which Jesus implied in his own statements: 'I am the way, the truth, and the life;' 'I and my Father are one.' " And our textbook adds: "This Christ, or divinity of the man Jesus, was his divine nature, the godliness which animated him."
It was this godliness in Christ Jesus that enabled him to exercise divine control over the false belief that man is governed by material so-called law instead of spiritual law; indeed, this godliness in Christ Jesus enabled him to heal the sick, to cast out demons, to multiply the five loaves and few fishes, to raise the dead, to walk upon the sea, to still the tempest, and in his resurrection and ascension to prove the powerlessness of evil and the eternality and immortality of life. It was this godliness in the Master which brought forth the revelation that the kingdom of heaven, which Science and Health defines in part as "the reign of harmony in divine Science" (p. 590), is already within the consciousness of every one of us.
Mary Baker Eddy
Whenever men have walked with God, they have made manifest in some degree the reigning, governing Christ, Truth. This was the case with Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and others in Bible history. And in our age this was the case with the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. From childhood Mary Baker walked close to God. True, she experienced many trials and challenges which might have engulfed a less spiritually-minded person. But she pressed on in her willingness to be used of God and thereby became the revelator to this age of the Science of Christ's Christianity. She was indeed, as she has said, "a scribe under orders" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 311), and so she wrote under divine inspiration and direction not only the Christian Science textbook, but also many other writings, including the Manual of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. He who adheres to the By-Laws in this Church Manual becomes not only a better Christian but also a better citizen, for through such adherence he learns to silence personal ambition and self-aggrandizement and to allow God's law of divine harmony to govern. This was the way of Christ Jesus, and this was the way of the Discoverer, Founder, and Leader of Christian Science, whose life exemplified her own words, "Those who know no will but His take His hand, and from the night He leads to light" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 347).
The Kingdom Within
Mrs. Eddy knew that if one were to
accept as true the evidence of the physical senses he would believe that his
life is governed by both good and evil; she knew also, however, that when one
rejects as spurious the claim of evil to be and to act, he has opened wide the
door of his thought to the government of divine Truth, Life, and Love. Mrs.
Eddy acted boldly upon Christ Jesus' assurance to his disciples, "Behold,
And she expected her followers to
do the same. Yes, the
The Law of Divine Control
In her volume "Miscellaneous
Writings" Mrs. Eddy tells of an incident which took place in the mill of
her brother who was a manufacturer. One day a man applied for work; in the
absence of the overseer a workman, in an attempt to render a practical joke, gave
the man the job of pouring a bucket of water every ten minutes on the
regulator. Not only was Mrs. Eddy impressed by her brother's insistence that
the man be paid for his work, but she also saw in this simple incident a conclusion
of far-reaching significance. She saw that just as the regulator has its own
governing law which ensures its harmonious action, so the divine Principle,
God, directs and ensures the harmonious action of man and the universe. To hold
unrelentingly to formulated human opinions and
concepts is to attempt to tend the regulator; whereas to make manifest the
The Quality of Grace
Throughout the New Testament we find admonitions to be strong in the grace of Christ Jesus, and the Apostle Paul in his second epistle to Timothy makes it clear that this element of grace is inherent in man, "given us," he declares, "in Christ Jesus before the world began" (II Tim. 1:9). In early Judaic writing, the word "grace" carried the meaning of favor, but as thought became enlightened with the advent of Christ Jesus, the term took on the meaning of divine nature, or spiritual perfection, in which is found a full salvation from sin, sickness, and death. Small wonder, therefore, that Mrs. Eddy should consider this quality of paramount importance to "make manifest the movement of body and soul in accord with God."
Grace Brings Healing
In one of the issues of The Christian Science Monitor (Jan. 5, 1950) there appeared on The Home Forum page an article entitled "Grace Brings Healing." The writer told of a woman who had suffered for many years from severe headaches. Finally, after receiving no aid from several physicians whom she had consulted, she turned to Christian Science for healing. In reading the Christian Science textbook her thought was arrested by this statement (p. 4): "What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds." This passage opened new vistas of thought to her. She realized that she did not need drugs but that her real need was for growth in grace. Therefore, she destroyed the drugs she had formerly used and immediately set her interest and desire to learn more of the true nature of God and man, His image and likeness.
She earnestly endeavored to express more loving-kindness and patience toward others and to correct a tendency to stubbornness and intolerance. She also saw the necessity of replacing a sense of self-importance and domination with true humility. With continued spiritual growth she found increased happiness and physical freedom.
To grow in grace, therefore, is to increase in the understanding and application of those spiritual qualities which silence self-will and allow the divine will to reveal its own unerring guidance.
Grace for Today
One time, you will remember, the Apostle Paul was reminded that, regardless of any seeming untoward experience, God's grace was sufficient for him. And that is true for you and for me. Whatever spiritual idea is necessary to meet any problem which confronts you is God's sufficient grace for today. Never outline as to the way you think a solution should appear; never resort to a formula or metaphysical prescription for healing; but rather let God's law of spontaneity and inspiration be your sufficient grace. It is a wise man who learns to trust God with both his prayers and the answers to his prayers.
The Control of Right Motives
Of a deceitful man it has been said, "As he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7). But what of the man whose heart is single, whose only ambition is to be governed of God in every thought and deed? Truly, also of him it may be said, "As he thinketh in his heart, so is he." Christ Jesus once asked a skeptical group, "What reason ye in your hearts?" (Luke 5:22.) And each one of us may well ask himself the same question, for our aims and thoughts reveal what we are. Just as growth in grace reveals God's harmonious government of man and the universe, so does the correction of self-seeking motives enlarge one's capacity to express spiritual perfection in all things.
Undoubtedly many of you here have
known and loved the story of Naaman's healing of
leprosy and have been inspired by its tender lesson. How graphically the author
of the book of Kings depicts Naaman's approach to the
prophet Elisha whom Naaman's wife's maidservant had
assured him could recover him of his leprosy. But what a disappointment lay in
store for Naaman! Instead of dramatically performing
what Naaman had outlined to be a public miracle,
Elisha simply asked him to dip himself seven times in the river
A theologian once asked a student of Christian Science if he did not think the point of that story was that God was requiring Naaman to confess a sinful nature before the world. The student, remembering the rest of the narrative and how it had been a gentle rebuke to him at a time when false pride had ruled his life, replied that he knew that for him its lesson was the need for humility. And then they read together where after Naaman had left in a rage, his servants came to him and said, "My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?"
The narrative concludes, "Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean" (II Kings 5:13,14).
Yes, it is obvious that Naaman needed humility, and it is not unlikely that with that humility came purified motives, the surrender of the desire to be glorified of men.
God's man, the man created, as the Bible says, in His image and likeness, is already glorified. He is the expression of the majesty, the dominion, and the infinite ability which characterize his creator. Therefore he does not indulge in self-pity or self-aggrandizement, but acknowledges his oneness with divine Mind, wherein is unlimited opportunity to be used of God, good.
Motives and Daily Living
Mrs. Eddy was so aware of the need of responding only to God's government that she included among the divinely inspired By-Laws in the Manual of The Mother Church one which she entitled "A Rule for Motives and Acts." Lovingly and wisely Mrs. Eddy admonishes the members of her church to be governed only by divine Love, by those thoughts and deeds which are consistent with Christ Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. This By-Law, as many of you know, is read from the desk the first Sunday of each month in Christian Science churches throughout the world. The Christian Scientist, however, strives to embody the tenor of this By-Law in his daily life, for in being the expression of divine control, he finds health restored and maintained, strained human relationships are healed, and controversy gives way to mutual interests. How significantly Science and Health declares, "Unselfish ambition, noble life-motives, and purity, − these constituents of thought, mingling, constitute individually and collectively true happiness, strength, and permanence" (p. 58).
Christian Science Treatment
One of the chief purposes of Christian Science treatment is to reveal the fact that man, in his true being, is governed and motivated by divine Love. Christian Science treatment, or prayer, therefore, is the bringing to light the harmonious action of divine Mind and its government of body; and it does so conclusively. Mrs. Eddy once wrote, "The evidence of divine Mind's healing power and absolute control is to me as certain as the evidence of my own existence" (Science and Health, p. 177).
"A few truths tenderly told" − or many truths tenderly told, as the case may require − is the first requisite in giving a Christian Science treatment. Mrs. Eddy knew that deep seated in the human consciousness lies the fear that is the cause of so much human suffering. She knew also that only divine Love can remove that fear and its effects. Hence the demand upon us always to rebuke error with love and to state the truths about God's perfect creation, including man, with that tenderness which will reach the patient's troubled thought and restore normalcy.
Some years ago, when the Christian Science movement was younger than it is now, a Christian Science lecturer visited a southern city. A person there had had what she knew to be a remarkable healing in Christian Science and was eager to show her gratitude by helping others. In speaking with this more experienced worker, she expressed this desire to be of service to others, but added that she wondered if she knew enough to handle so-called incurable cases. The visitor said to her, "Madame, can you tell the truth?" "Why, of course I can," she replied. "Well, then, just tell the truth. That's all you have to do, just tell the truth." And she has been doing just that, telling the truth about God's presence and love ever since, and telling it tenderly and fearlessly.
The truth about any discordant condition is that it is always a misrepresentation, a distortion of the facts of true being. Christian Science treatment pleads the case for God, or, rather, invokes the law of God, which annuls the spurious claims of material thinking. In the chapter on Christian Science Practice in Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy declares (p. 423); "The Christian Scientist, understanding scientifically that all is Mind, commences with mental causation, the truth of being, to destroy the error. This corrective is an alterative, reaching to every part of the human system. According to Scripture, it searches 'the joints and marrow,' and it restores the harmony of man."
Man's Harmony Intact
It might be well to point out here that to restore the harmony of man is to reveal to him that which is already his. Man does not have to become harmonious; in God's sight he is so already, and Christian Science treatment brings to light the truth that man is not governed by fear, resentment, bitterness, self-pity, and the like, but that he is controlled by divine law. It should not be proverbial that some men prefer darkness to light because their deeds are evil, but rather that they prefer light to darkness, for therein is revealed the law of perfect being wherein man finds a full salvation from sin, sickness, and death.
One of these many spurious claims of material thinking is the generally accepted belief that man is governed by a nervous system, sometimes good, sometimes bad. The counterfact of this false belief is that man is the compound idea of God and that he responds only to the mandates of divine Mind. We may, perhaps, through spiritual discernment, be sensitive to so-called evil influences, but we are never required to respond to them. However, in reality man is sensitive to good and responds to its harmonious control. The realization of this fact is the release from tension and friction.
Science and Health makes it clear that it is what we believe about a situation that determines its influence or effect upon us. Says the textbook: "If you believe in inflamed and weak nerves, you are liable to an attack from that source. You will call it neuralgia, but we call it a belief" (p. 392). And we might add that to call it anything more than belief is to be disloyal to the understanding of the allness of God and the nothingness of everything which dishonors Him. My friends, the name which mortal mind attaches to a diseased condition is not important, but what you believe about it is. Therefore, make your own terms with all erroneous suggestions and rejoice in the realization that now and always you, in your true being, reflect the government of divine law.
Telling the Truth to Others
It should be pointed out, also, that the telling of the truth concerning the situation is not confined to the public practice of Christian Science. It should likewise be the basis of our relationship with others and in our thought of ourselves. The poet Robert Burns spoke of man's inhumanity to man, but that was an observation and not a recommendation. So when it is necessary to speak the truth in any situation, be it social, domestic, or political, it should be done with that tenderness which is the animation of the Christ. That which is true does not have to be defended heatedly. It is its own defense, and when not obscured by personal domination, will always win the day.
Telling the Truth to Oneself
And let us not forget the importance of "a few truths tenderly told" to ourselves. To make manifest the blessings of divine control in our own life we need to bring into the evaluation of ourselves that tenderness which inspires our consideration of others. To love ourself as our neighbor is just as important as to love our neighbor as ourselves. Indeed, one cannot really have one without the other. Therefore if there should be a time when God's law of harmony seems absent from your experience, tell yourself the same tender truths that you would tell a patient who came to you for help. Tell yourself that there never was a moment when you were not at one with perfection and harmony. If you seem to be temporarily unemployed, tell yourself, lovingly and gratefully, that God's man is always at the standpoint of opportunity and that you are humbly willing to be used of God in whatever way you can render the highest sense of service. If fear looms large in your thought, tell yourself courageously and firmly that right where you are is the presence of divine Love, that fear is an illusion − the suggestion that God is not present − and that you do not believe its mesmeric suggestion. If you are suffering from a sense of injustice, tell yourself that God's ideas dwell together to bless each other and that you cannot be made to suffer from a belief that ingratitude and misunderstanding govern men. And above all, tell yourself that you, and all men, are in truth the loved of God's creation. Man is never outside the focal distance of God's goodness and love. Thus we read in First John, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God" (I John 3:2).
A Heart Softened
Surely it must be inevitable that he who knows the abundance of grace, the inspiration of divine motivation, and the blessings which attend the telling of truths tenderly, likewise knows that evidence of divine control which comes to the heart receptive to divine Life, Truth, and Love. A heart softened is a heart made strong through surrender of the human to the divine will.
The prophet Isaiah speaks of the Almighty as saying, "I dwell . . . with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isa. 57:15). Yes, God, divine Mind, does dwell with a contrite heart, because in such a heart there is no hardness, no bitterness, no self-justification to shut out the operation of divine law in his experience.
A Change of Heart
We often hear it said of a person who has altered a course of action, "He had a change of heart." A change of heart is always in order when it is a change in the right direction, that is, when it corrects material concepts with divine ideas. Even humanly speaking, one's heart is always all right when it is poised in the assurance that God is the only Life.
A heart softened is a heart that loves spontaneously, that is kind, not because kindness is necessarily needed, but because it cannot help being kind. Such a heart is loyal to its highest sense of Principle. Such a heart knows, as the poet has said,
"Thou must be true thyself, if thou the truth would'st teach;
Thy heart must overflow, it thou another's heart would'st reach."
(Quoted from page 98 of Miscellaneous Writings.)
A Character Subdued
In the book of Ecclesiastes (7:1) we read, "A good name is better than precious ointment." That is just another way of saying what we know in our day, that it is always desirable to have a good character reference. One's character is always determined by what he thinks and expresses. Indeed, one's character is what he thinks and expresses. Hence the significance of Paul's admonition to "put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Eph. ).
The world has long believed that one's personality and character, or one's temperamental traits, are determined by hereditary and environmental influences. What bondage! What limitation! Even if those characteristics are in terms of what the world calls good, they still constitute limitation, for they are predicated on the belief that man is governed by material conditions rather than by spiritual law, by chance rather than by divine decree.
Christian Science versus Psychiatry
We hear a great deal these days about personality analysis and healing through change of thinking. Some persons even confuse psychiatry with Christian Science and think they are similar if not identical. Psychiatry and Christian Science, however, are not even remotely related, for the former works with the human mind alone, whereas Christian Science directs its whole attention to the acknowledgment of man's identity in divine Mind.
Christian Science does not just say to a person, "You must not be afraid," but it shows him how not to be afraid. When Jesus said, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke ), he was citing both an admonition and an assurance. Man does not fear, for he knows that all the Father has belongs also to man, not just in the hereafter, but here and now. Christian Science does not just say, "You must not be resentful," but it shows not only why he must not be resentful but how he may eliminate resentment from his experience by identifying both himself and his brother man as "the loved of Love" (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 232). As our textbook says, "The effect of this Science is to stir the human mind to a change of base, on which it may yield to the harmony of the divine Mind" (Science and Health, p. 162). This is in keeping with Christ Jesus' admonition, "Ye must be born again" (John 3:7); that is, ye must absolve the negative and restricting conception of life as materially outlined, and find the dominion and abundance which Christ Jesus so consistently exemplified.
"Reflecting God's government," our textbook tells us, "man is self-governed" (p. 125). And we might add, being self-governed, he is also self-controlled. We need to claim this fact for ourselves daily, yea, we must needs express this fact daily, for in exercising self-control we keep thought aligned with divine control. Yes, such a consistent attitude may take discipline of thought, but through such consistency we keep erroneous suggestions from gaining a foothold in our consciousness. Be persistent in your determination to reflect God's government in all that you do and say. Thereby a human character is subdued, and the divine nature is magnified. One's body functions normally and harmoniously under this divine control; one's business takes on a greater scope of usefulness and success; and one finds a happier realization of spontaneity and individuality than he has ever known before.
A Life Consecrated
Christ Jesus knew that with this more expansive sense of true character there must come also a higher realization of what constitutes consecration to divine Principle. Indeed, it may be said that his entire ministry was devoted to the awakening of thought to the blessings which attend our adherence to God's law of divine government. You will recall that at one time the disciple Peter was much concerned about the activities of a fellow student and asked Jesus, "What shall this man do?" The Master replied, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me" (John ,22). Christ Jesus knew also that the whole tendency of mortal mind thinking is to deflect one from the course of consecration to God's reign of harmony. And you may be sure, also, that if one had gone to the Master with a bit of malicious gossip, or with a tale of injustice, or with a theory about some new disease, or a new theory about an old one, he would still have said, "What is that to thee? follow thou me."
A Life Consistent
A life consecrated is a life consistent. It does not deviate from its highest sense of Principle; such a life is motivated only by the desire to express the divine order in all things. This is prayer in daily life. Indeed, Science and Health says (p. 9), "Consistent prayer is the desire to do right."
The desire to do right brings that radical reliance upon divine Truth which is true consecration and which brings healing. I should like to tell you of the experience of a friend who had at one time an attack of gallstones. At one point in the experience the pain was intense, and he momentarily wondered if he should resort to materia medica. But deep in his heart he knew he wanted no compromise. However, in talking with his practitioner he mentioned this persistent suggestion; whereupon he was asked if he was willing to take his stand for divine Truth, to seek a spiritual healing rather than merely relief from pain. The practitioner's remarks confirmed his conviction that fidelity to Truth was more important than relief from pain, that in such fidelity to Truth there is no failure or defeat. He said that a great sense of relief came to his thought, and as the light of a new day appeared over the horizon, the light of victory came to his consciousness, and very shortly he was completely free.
A life consecrated, therefore, is a life that takes Christ Jesus at his word, that follows, as we read in the book of Hebrews, that "new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us" (Heb. 10:20), in that way in which one walks alone if need be, but which is never devoid of the blessings of joy and healing. A life consecrated says to all suggestions of discouragement, fear, and self-pity: "What is that to me? I will walk the way the Master walked, in that dominion and strength which are the natural unfoldment of God's government of man and the universe."
In Science and Health we read: "In the material world, thought has brought to light with great rapidity many useful wonders. With like activity have thought's swift pinions been rising towards the realm of the real, to the spiritual cause of those lower things which give impulse to inquiry" (p. 268). Indeed, at no time in human history have so "many useful wonders" come to light. Unprecedented advances have been made in the fields of electricity, chemistry, and physics; but one should never lose sight of the fact that these progressive inventions and discoveries have their impulse in divine Mind and that their highest function is to make manifest Mind's control over the universe and the liberating of human thought and action.
All that you and I have been thinking about in this lecture has carried thought "towards the realm of the real," wherein is revealed the fact that man is already perfect and that he is governed by God's law of infinite harmony. As we have said, man does not have to become harmonious; he is so already. But in this human experience we need to gain clearer views of this divine fact. Thus, growth in grace, purified motives, the telling of truths tenderly to oneself or to another, the renunciation of a mortal selfhood, or a character corrected, and a life consecrated to allegiance to divine Principle, constitute the heavenly vision which enabled St. John to see the new heaven and the new earth wherein dwelleth not only righteousness but harmony and health and peace. This is the vision which makes practical in our daily experience the truth of our inspired Leader's revelation when she writes, "The divine understanding reigns, is all, and there is no other consciousness" (Science and Health, p. 536).