The Science Which Reveals the Ever-presence of God
Colin Rucker Eddison, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
A lecture on Christian Science was
given under the auspices of Sixteenth Church of Christ, Scientist, of
The subject of the lecture was "Christian Science: The Science Which Reveals the Ever-presence of God." Mr. Eddison spoke substantially as follows:†††
Mankind instinctively accords to Deity the attributes of goodness, of eternality, of omnipotence and omnipresence; no lesser concept of God satisfies human reason. Yet the ever-presence of God has long seemed more a theory than a fact.† Material existence presents on every hand evidence which taken at its face value, denies the infinite goodness of God. Sickness, sorrow, pain, social injustice, international strife, all claim to bear witness to the widespread presence of devil as well as of Deity, of evil as well as of good.
Here Christian Science comes to humanity's rescue. Christian Science shows that it is ignorance of Godís real nature which blinds us to His allness, and its teachings reveal the true concept of God which explains His ever-presence. Furthermore, Christian Science declares that all the evils in human experience - the things which seem to contradict God's infinity - are false beliefs arising from that same ignorance of God. The soundness of this proposition is proved by the removal of those false beliefs - that is to say by the healing of sickness, and sin and other forms of discord and distress - through a right understanding of God. When we recognize the fact of God's allness we see that nothing can really separate man from his Maker nor rob man of the health, the happiness, the spiritual affluence and freedom which abound in the presence of God.
God Is Divine Principle and Divine Love
Probably the misconception which has done most to hide from us God's true nature is a personal sense of Deity. To think of Him in that way inclines us to endow Him with all the limitations of human personality, its passions and its caprice. Yet in the Bible may be discerned the development of thought above and beyond a finite personal concept of God.† In the Scriptures, the thought of God as Mind, as Truth, as Life, gradually emerges from more primitive, anthropomorphic notions, until in the New Testament we learn that God is not a loving person but is Love itself. It remained for Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science - a profound and constant student of the Bible - to use in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," that term for God which more than all others lifts thought above the personal to the impersonal, the universal, concept of God. That term is Principle.
A simple analogy may help to show how the understanding of God as Principle reveals His true nature and His ever-presence. Take, for example, the principle of mathematics. The principle of mathematics is present everywhere and is always available. Its laws operate uniformly in all circumstances. Any one who understands it can apply it to the solution of mathematical problems, small or great. Failure of the mathematician is no indictment of the principle.
These considerations - and anyone can think of many similar ones - help us to grasp the universality, the eternal availability, of that divine Principle which is God. Divine Principle is certain in result when scientifically understood and applied. There is no human difficulty upon which an understanding of divine Principle may not be brought to bear. Failure in solving any problem lies not at the door of Principle, but results from our imperfect understanding of Principle. Faithful application of what we understand about God to the everyday problems of life will lead to ever greater success in demonstrating divine Principle, and to the triumphant solution of difficulties which at first seem stubborn or even overwhelming.
Let no one fear that to think of God as Principle takes anything from His infinite loving-kindness, for the God who is Principle is also Love. Those two words - Love and Principle - taken together immeasurably enrich each other's meaning. Christian Science reveals God as Principle, instinct with all the gentleness and tenderness of Love, and as Love endowed with all the changeless certainty of Principle. How transcendent of all human limitations in its power to bless and save is the union of absolute Principle and all-inclusive Love which Christian Scientists acknowledge as God!
God and Man
In her writings Mrs. Eddy uses seven synonyms for God, and in order to summarize what is meant when we say that God is ever-present I will repeat them. They are "Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love" (Science and Health, p. 466).
It is upon the basis of God's infinity that Christian Science denies the reality of matter, of evil, and of all troubles and turmoil of mortal existence - of sin, sorrow, pain, disease. Since God is infinite, then whatever seems to exist but is not the manifestation of Spirit, of Life, of Love, can only have the insubstantial nature of a false belief. I remember once standing upon the wide expanse of a sandy shore at low tide and seeing in the distance what appeared to be waves tossing and breaking. I knew the district well, and I knew that there was no water where the waves seemed to be. The appearance of waves was a mirage - a seeming, not a reality. If I had walked to the spot where the waves seemed to be I should have found only a waste of wet sand. Of just such a nature as those apparent breakers is all the storm-tossed sea of mortal experience; however true it seems, it is insubstantial and unreal. It is proved to be so as we learn through Christian Science the fundamental truth that God is All-in-all.
There is a point which should be touched upon here. The Bible declares that man is made in God's image and likeness. The material man whom we see all around us, the man with whom mortals identify themselves, is obviously not the image and likeness of God, of infinite Life and Love. A study of Christian Science leads us to revise our notions about man, about ourselves, and about our fellows, and to realize that the material concept about man, in common with other errors, is part of the false belief that God is less than infinite, and that something can exist which is unlike and separate from Him.
What then must we understand man in reality, to be? Christian Science teaches us that God is Mind. Mind is reflected or expressed in idea, and that reflection of Mind, of God, is man in his true being. "Man," Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (p. 475), "is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique." Mind unexpressed, that is without idea, is unthinkable, as unthinkable as a father without a child. God can never be without His expression, man;† and therefore where† God is - and that is everywhere - there man is also, man made in the spiritual image and likeness of God. An understanding of the truth about man enables us to reject the material false belief about man, and to realize that just where that false belief, with all its pitiful mixture of good and evil, its efforts and failures, seems to be there in reality is the perfect expression of omnipresent Mind.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science and Her Work
It was a revelation of God's presence and power which first led to the discovery of Christian Science by Mary Baker Eddy in the year 1866. Recovery from serious injuries, the result of an accident, a recovery which followed her reading in the Bible of the story of the healing of the man sick of the palsy, convinced Mrs. Eddy that the divine Principle which underlay the healing and saving ministry of Christ Jesus is available and operative today. Spiritual law, not chance, explained Mrs. Eddy's restoration to health. With a deep desire to help humanity, Mrs. Eddy determined to search the Scriptures until she found the scientific laws of healing which were demonstrated by Jesus, and by his followers, for three centuries after his ascension. For three years she studied the Bible, until she was able to discern the Science which explains the Master's life and work. She submitted her discoveries to rigorous practical tests, and confirmed the truth of those discoveries by the healing of sickness in many and varied forms. Thus she assured herself that she had found the Science of changeless divine Principle; and speaking of that Principle in Science and Health (p. 107) she says that it "points to the revelation of Immanuel, 'God with us,' - the sovereign ever-presence, delivering the children of men from every ill 'that flesh is heir to.' " The healing of the sick and the reformation of the sinner through Christian Science substantiates that statement.
Having discovered the truths of
Christian Science and elucidated them in the Christian Science textbook, Mrs.
Eddy perceived the necessity for some form of organization to protect her
teaching from adulteration and to disseminate it. Just as Mrs. Eddy was alone
responsible for the discovery of Christian Science, so it was she who organized
The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston,
One of the effective methods devised by Mrs. Eddy for spreading a correct understanding of Christian Science was the institution of the weekly Lesson-Sermon. These sermons, which are printed in the Christian Science Quarterly, are studied during the week, and read on Sundays in the church services. As is well known, the Lesson-Sermons consist of selections from the Bible, and correlative passages from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures;" thus the Bible and the Christian Science textbook take the place of personal preachers in all Christian Science church services. As the weeks go by the Lesson-Sermons touch upon all sides of human experience. They deal with every kind of question - with religious, philosophical, moral, and ethical problems, as well as with problems of health and of day-to-day living, and they point to the solution of all difficulties through a better understanding of the truth about God and man. It is not uncommon to hear of cases of quick and thorough healing through the study of the week's Lesson-Sermon or through listening to it at the Sunday service. Indeed, the daily study of that sermon and united attendance in church to hear it read on Sunday, makes active in human consciousness a realization of the universal power of God - a realization which must help not only the congregation but the world at large.
Christ Jesus Understood the Presence of God
Christ Jesus knew, more certainly than anyone has ever known, the allness and the eternality of God, and man's inseparable unity with his Maker. He declared, "Before Abraham was, I am," and "I and my Father are one." By this Jesus did not mean to imply that the corporeal Jesus was forever at-one with God; in other words, that matter is the reflection of Spirit. He meant that the Christ, God's spiritual idea, is never for a moment separated from God, the divine cause and creator of all things. It was because of his understanding of the Christ, which constituted his true spiritual nature, that Jesus was able to heal the sick and raise the dead, and to mark out the way of salvation for all men.
It was the Master's certainty that God is everywhere which explained his healing of those who were not personally present with him. To the nobleman who sought help for the ailing child whom he had left at home Jesus said, "Thy son liveth." And later the nobleman found that the boy's fever left him at the very moment when Jesus made that declaration.
It is the fact of God's universal presence which explains the healing work accomplished by Christian Science through what is sometimes called "absent treatment."
It should be understood that Christian Science treatment rests upon the perfection, here and now, of God and man, God's spiritual image and likeness. The truth of that perfection is universal, and contradictions of it, whether they seem to be situated near or far, are equally untrue. Christian Science treatment is not the effort by means of hypnotism or mental suggestion to make a sick man think he is well, or merely to change a belief of sickness into a belief of health, but it is the understanding of the truth about God and about man, an understanding which eliminates the false beliefs which seem to hide man's spiritual perfection. Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (p. 476):
"Jesus beheld in Science the
perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals.
In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view
of man healed the sick. Thus Jesus taught that the
Unity among Men and Nations
It is not hard to see that an understanding of the allness of God, divine Mind, is the only guarantee of unity among men and women. Unity of thought and ideals is the surest and most enduring foundation for any friendship. Divergence of opinion between true friends, at least about the deeper things that matter, can generally be traced to differing modes of expression, rather than to a fundamental difference in outlook. If that fact were realized, many a heartache might be avoided. How much more secure are those human relationships which have their basis in God, which are grounded upon the absolute unity which must exist between the ideas of the one divine Mind! Friendships, or other human ties, such as those, rest upon foundations which vicissitudes of time or separation in space can neither shake nor even touch. Mrs. Eddy wrote in "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 131), "Where God is we can meet, and where God is we can never part." Does not that truth hold promise of infinite comfort not only for those who seem separated on earth, but for those whose loved ones seem taken from them altogether? There can be no separation in God, and God is always here.
Again, human relationships which are based on divine Mind lose all the misery of personal domination and personal absorption. Someone once said, "In all human relationships liberty is the only lasting bond." How true that is! And nothing can more certainly secure liberty in the relations of human life than a recognition that each individual is free to obey God alone.
As with individuals so with nations. All men have, in reality, one Mind, and as that fact becomes recognized it will remove the antagonisms which arise from racial and cultural differences. As the allness of divine Love glows in human understanding from an impractical ideal to an accepted fact, the rivalries, the "ancient grudges," that separate nations will fade away. To emphasize in thought and speech, wherever possible, the qualities and ideals which unite nations, rather than the apparent differences which separate them, would be a very practical step towards international appreciation and friendship. Discipline of thought along such lines would be a kind of mental disarmament which would do much to promote peace and good will on earth, and would hasten the inevitable coming of the day when nations, as individuals, will live together in combined unity and freedom.
The Eternality of God
The infinity of God means not only His presence in every place, but His presence throughout all time. Principle is both omnipresent and eternal.
The recognition that divine Love not only is present everywhere now, but always was and always will be present, plays a great part in the salvation of men and women from the fears and troubles which enslave them. Many cases of disease and many weaknesses of character have their roots in the past, recent or remote, but that does not affect the power of Truth, as understood through Christian Science, to heal them.
Everyone, or nearly everyone, until he learns something of the truth about God and His allness, lives under the shadow of the past or the menace of the future. Someone once asked, "Which do you fear the more, the past or the future?" That is a searching question, and when we have answered it, let us not stop there. Let us meet and conquer those fears, whether they be of the past, or of the future, or of both, with the assurance that there never was, and there never will be, a time when man did not express the infinite perfection of divine Love; there never was, and there never will be, a time when error and evil were real or true. In reality, there is nothing but the eternal now, filled with the presence of divine Love, that "perfect love" which "casteth out fear."
It is commonly thought that the future lies, at least in some degree, within a man's control, but that the past is over, and nothing can be done about it. Men may perhaps fear the future more consciously than they fear the past, but is it not frequently something in the past that makes them do so? Of the future we say, "I will do better," of the past, "Would that I had done better, but it cannot be helped now." That is the tragedy of what "might have been." But to those who realize the eternality of God it need be a tragedy no longer.
Are we perhaps laboring under a sense of "the irrevocable past," whether because of conditions which were within our own control or not? Then let us rejoice in the liberating promise found in the book of Joel, "I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten." Most of those who come to Christian Science for help can look back to years which seem to have been ravaged by "locusts" of some kind. Ill-health, loss, sin, faults or omissions in education, misunderstandings and estrangements, mistakes, material heredity Ė such things too often seem to have robbed the past of health and happiness, and to cast gaunt shadows over the future. Joel's message rings with hope and encouragement for us all, and he crowns it with the words "and my people shall never be ashamed." The understanding of God's ever-presence, which Christian Science gives, vindicates that glorious prophecy.
"God requireth, that which is past"
How are those "locust-eaten" years restored? The Bible again supplies the answer, in the book of Ecclesiastes, "God requireth that which is past." That means that we should deny and reject as unreal and powerless everything in past experience which is inconsistent with the nature of God - whether it be in our own past, in our ancestry, or in the past history of the human race. God must be acknowledged as Supreme from everlasting to everlasting. Error and evil were never true in the past, and only the belief that they were true can penalize the present or the future.
But it should be remembered that God's requirement of the past does not mean that if a person has, let us say, defrauded or injured another, he should pass his wrong-doing over with the airy comment, "That was never true," and do no more about it. Such an attitude would be dishonest, and would prolong the errors of the past into the present.† Repentance and reformation are necessary, and form part of the demonstration of the eternal, ever-present nature of good.. An honest desire to make up for injuries we may have inflicted in the past will insure the means and opportunity of doing so when that is humanly possible.
The parable of the prodigal son provides illustrations of the pains and penalties which come from the belief that God is less than ever-present; it also shows how we may escape from those penalties. The younger son thought that there was something to be gained by leaving his father's house - by separating himself from the presence of God. He therefore went into a far country, and there he met with the inevitable bad results of his journey. The belief' that we can separate ourselves, or be separated from God must eventually result in trouble and unhappiness and worse, because it is a belief in separation from good. The unhappy prodigal sought help from "a citizen of that country" whither he had gone, and found little satisfaction. That is not surprising for "a citizen of that country" far from the father's house naturally shared the prodigal's own delusions, and did not know the truth of God's ever-presence, the one thing that could help. But at last the prodigal began to awake to the truth about himself. Then there came into play those true qualities of thought which self-will and self-indulgence had hidden - spiritual activity, humility, trust in his father. It was not long before he found himself in his fatherís house and had regained all that he seemed to have lost.
So with all who seem to have gone into a far country. When once we awake to our true selfhood as the ideas of divine Mind, the sons and daughters of God, we find ourselves in our Father's house and realize that our separation from it was only a false belief, a dream, and that man is eternally conscious of his unity with his creator.
But what of the elder son, that unsympathetic character whom it is sometimes the fashion to despise? What was it that was wrong with the elder son? Was it not that he, too, was limiting the presence of God? He was quite sure that he himself had never left his father's house, but he was equally sure that his brother had done so. Nor was he sparing in his condemnation of his brother's lapses. Yet had the elder son understood the allness of God he would have known that his brother could never in reality have strayed from Love's ever-presence; and he would have rejoiced at his brother's awaking from the false belief of separation from his father's house, with all the sordidness and all the misery of that false belief. The elder son was, in his way, just as ignorant of the infinity of God as the prodigal had been and so he received that tender rebuke beginning, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine." Did that rouse him to see that the same statement was really true of his prodigal brother? I like to think that it did.
Christian Science teaches us never to condone evil in ourselves or in others, but at the same time not to condemn the sinner, or to grudge him or ourselves deliverance from sin and from its consequences. Whether, like the prodigal, we have consciously strayed from the father's house, or whether, like the elder son, we think that we ourselves have remained faithful while others have wandered, Christian Science shows us that the father's house is infinite, since there is neither place nor time where God is not present. That fact understood means deliverance from pain, from sorrow, from disease and sin, from all evil, because it substitutes for a conscious or unconscious belief of separation from God a present understanding of man's oneness with divine Mind.
Prayer and Spiritual Communion
It is through prayer and through spiritual communion with God that we learn to know Love's ever-presence, and bring that knowledge to bear upon human needs. Christian Science teaches us to find in prayer something more than petition only. The Apostle Paul bade the Thessalonians "pray without ceasing," and it would not seem possible to obey that advice in the sense of pouring forth a constant series of petitions. There would be scant opportunity to enjoy the answer to our prayers. Prayer which begins as petition blossoms into realization as the eternal presence of God grows clearer. In her Message to The Mother Church for 1901, Mrs. Eddy wrote (p. 19), "Prayer brings the seeker into closer proximity with divine Love, and thus he finds what he seeks, the power of God to heal and to save." Christian Science shows that it is possible to gain so clear a sense of the allness of God that thought spontaneously rejects as unreal everything unlike Him. That is true prayer, and though we may not immediately reach or sustain such an altitude of thought, it is an ideal which is attainable, and to attain to it fully would be unceasing prayer. We can at least begin to exercise such prayer now. Good results are bound to follow. Mrs. Eddy writes (Science and Health, p. 261), "Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts."
There are three qualities which play an essential part in the prayer of spiritual understanding as taught in Christian Science. They are faith, gratitude, and unselfishness.
It is not a blind faith that we need, but a reasoned and intelligent conviction of the power of scientific right thinking to destroy the false beliefs of material existence. True gratitude recognizes thankfully the infinite goodness and presence of God even before prayer is answered. That was the gratitude expressed by Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus, when, before he called Lazarus forth from that tomb, he-said, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me." Unselfishness is a part of all true prayer, a selflessness such as our Master displayed in that wonderful prayer of tenderness and love for his followers throughout all time, recorded in the Gospel of John, "For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth." As faith, gratitude, and unselfishness come to characterize our prayers, they will grow nearer to those of Christ Jesus, whose prayers are described in Science and Health (p. 12) as "deep and conscientious protests of Truth, - of man's likeness to God and of man's unity with Truth and Love."
The only basis for communion with God is the fact of His ever-presence. With Christian† Scientists, spiritual communion with Love is experienced as they become conscious that God and man, divine Mind and its idea, can never for a moment be divided.
The object of communion with God should not be merely to find escape from our own troubles and difficulties, but to gain that spiritual inspiration and consciousness of God's nearness which will enable us to help our fellow man and the whole world. Through communion we seek to receive that which we may keep eternally and also share. We cannot give until we have something to bestow, and in communion with God we find that which is real and true, that which is alone worth giving.
Receptiveness of heart and mind soonest gains communion with Love. Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (p. 505), "Spirit imparts the understanding which uplifts consciousness and leads into all truth." God, out of the inexhaustible resources of His infinite Being, is forever bestowing the understanding of Himself and of His ever-presence. It is our part to accept that understanding. We shall accept it more readily and more fully as we learn to listen to God. The carnal mind is constantly thundering or whispering to us thoughts which contest the allness of God; suggestions of indifference to God's will and of the needs of humanity; suggestions of hatred, disloyalty, self-condemnation; suggestions that life is at the mercy of chance, of disease, of death. As we learn to listen to the voice of God alone we shall cease to hear the tumult or the murmuring of evil, and its false suggestions will fade from our experience. The infinite voice of Truth silences the clamor of the carnal mind. The acceptance of what is true is the natural and spontaneous rejection of what is not true.
There need be no question as to when, and where, and how we may hear the voice of God. God is speaking, is revealing Himself, to this age through the teachings of Christian Science, through, the understanding of the Bible which Christian Science imparts. He is revealing Himself to all men as the healing and saving divine Principle, Love.
To become conscious of God as Principle, as eternal ever-present Love, means the destruction, the healing, of disease, sin, and sorrow; it means deliverance from the penalties of the past and from the threats of the future; it means the unity of all men in a brotherhood where duty and freedom are reconciled; it means the kingdom of heaven within us. Mary Baker Eddy sums up what it means in her "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 268), when she says, "Always bear in mind that His presence, power, and peace meet all human needs and reflect all bliss."
[Published in The Chicago Leader, Feb. 18, 1938.]