Christian Science: Physician and Redeemer
Judge William G. Ewing
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The above is the title of the lecture delivered by Judge William G. Ewing at Symphony Hall in Boston, Tuesday, October 8, 1901, to an audience of nearly three thousand people. The occasion was among the important events in connection with the history of Christian Science. We have Judge Ewing's kindly permission to publish the following abstract of his lecture. We have great pleasure in doing so. Judge Ewing said in part: —
It seems reasonable to say that if Christian Science is proximately what its adherents claim for it, its merits should command thoughtful, candid investigation; that if it has prophylactic or therapeutic force, of even slight efficiency, afflicted men and women everywhere should know that fact; and certainly if it heralds in any measure the message Jesus brought to the world the weary children of men all round the globe should know that fact. I stand before this great audience to-night with the single purpose of encouraging honest, dispassionate investigation of a subject that has profoundly impressed my own highest sense of truth. I do not invite controversy or denominational wrangling, but simply an honest, patient seeking after truth with the utmost freedom of thought and expression, and yet with the fullest recognition of the unchallenged right of others to think and express their thought. I recognize the fact that my cause is confronted by sectarian prejudice and by the antagonism of all the schools of material medicine; and it is to these prejudiced ones I especially address myself, fully recognizing the fact that where prejudgment is not, truth heaven-panoplied will meet and satisfy honest investigation.
The general impression of the people who have never investigated Christian Science is that its sole purpose is physical cure, that it is something that pertains solely to bodily welfare, while the truth is, that physical healing is but an incident of Christian Science. It is true that Christian Scientists do insist and indeed many of us know, indeed there are a thousand people in this hall to-night who do know as certainly as Paul knew that his Redeemer lived, that Christian Science does bring surcease to the heartache and heartbreak of men, that is does give roses for ashes, peace for pain, love for hate, health for disease, and life for death, to men, and yet neither one of these nor all of them combined is Christian Science, they are the results, the inevitable product, of Christian Science understood and lived; while Christian Science itself is a religion pure and simple, the religion of the Bible, our fathers' Bible, without prefix or suffix, without apology or excuse, the religion that Jesus came into the world to establish, the religion that he taught in the Temple, the religion that he preached throughout all Judea, the religion that he so lovingly and tenderly practised among all his people, and it is all of this or it is not anything that is worthy of your thought or mine for a single moment. In my advocacy of Christian Science I plant myself absolutely upon the proposition that Christian Science is given to the world by the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. I believe, and I am persuaded you all believe, that the religion of Jesus Christ is worth more to men than everything else that has been or can be crowded into this universe, and whatever impinges upon that, whatever lessens the sweetness and song and love of that, will meet with my opposition, and in all conscience should meet with yours; and on the other hand, I am sure that if Christian Science is the message Jesus brought to earth it will receive your cordial endorsement and active effort to give it to the world. Now while the healing power of Christian Science is a mere incident, still strangely enough it is the feature of our belief that meets the most derisive opposition. I propose this evening to discuss briefly with you these two phases of Christian Science, namely, as a therapeutic agent and as a religion, the highest concept of God as Father, Preserver, Saviour.
I assert that the medicinal force of Christian Science appeals as strongly to the common understanding, common sense of men, as does the curative quality of any drug. In asking your attention to this feature of Christian Science I only ask that you will try it by the same rule, apply to it the same test, that in all the past has been and to-day is invoked to determine the merits of material medicine. It is clear to my mind that if the therapeutic virtue of Christian Science is measured by its works, its fruits, its cures; if determined by precisely the same rules applied to the use of the medicine of men, you will find that it meets all the requirements demanded by medical science in determining medicinally the value of drugs and furnishes every reason, every possible reason, for your accepting the medicinal force of Christian Science as a preserver of health and as a destroyer of disease that the medical profession has at any time asserted for reliance upon material remedies. It is an uncontroverted proposition that the use of material medicine from the beginning has been and now is based wholly upon experiment, with dumb animals when opportunity offers and with men when seeming necessity requires; and yet it is apparent that from such experiments you can only learn the result of the use of drugs, and never the primal cause of the result. By closest observation and most persistent search you will not be able to discover why any specified drug has a specific effect any more than by searching you can ascertain why you breathe or see or hear, a mystery that the genius of the world has not been able to solve. I certainly hazard nothing in saying that there is not a physician living who can tell you why any drug has its reputed effect; and with much investigation I have not been able to learn that any writer upon material medicine, from the Egyptians to our own time, has ever attempted to solve the mystery of the action of medicine, to state the reason why, etc., and doubtless for the simple reason that the comprehension of the cause of the action of medicine is not to the human understanding attainable. I assert that the aggregate medical learning of the world cannot inform you why arsenic or strychnine in given quantity acts as a tonic, and in an infinitesimally increased quantity becomes a remorseless poison; or why a given quantity of opium will lull you to sleep, and a little more sweep you to death. All the doctors know or can know respecting the active properties or therapeutic force of the remedies they give is what they have learned, or may learn, from experiment.
No one will deny that the entire practice of the administration of drugs is based solely upon observation of actual tests, and is wholly dependent upon the theory that a remedy effective in a large majority of cases, involving similar conditions, is a safe remedy to administer in that class of cases; that is, if upon trial, actual test, covering perhaps thousands of cases of a named disease, the cases being similar in early manifestations, condition of pulse, respiration digestion, secretions, etc., it is found that a given drug produces a favorable result in sixty, seventy, or eighty per cent of the cases tested, then, by the consensus of medical men the world over, it becomes a rule, a law of material medicine, that the given drug is a safe one to prescribe in all cases coming within the scope of the experiment made; and the result of such test is absolutely the limit of the physician's knowledge upon the question of the choice of medicine to be used. I have stated the rule by which the value of each drug is tested, and I beg you to understand that I am not complaining of the rule, that I find no fault with the modus employed by the doctors in reaching their ultimate standard of judgment respecting the choice of the remedies they use; in fact, it might be freely conceded that none better could, or can, be suggested, and for the sake of this argument I do concede, that the rule the doctors have adopted is the very climax of human precaution touching a subject that human reason cannot compass; and I refer to this rule, not to criticise or lessen its force, but simply to invite all who are satisfied with such a test of the virtue of material medicine to try by the same rule the medicinal virtues, or healing power, of Christian Science.
Some facts respecting the practice of Christian Science will aid you in reaching a conclusion respecting its medicinal virtue. This Science has been practised in this country for about a third of a century, in a very limited way for a while, but for the last two decades quite extensively, so that now its practitioners are numbered by tens of thousands, and its patients by hundreds of thousands. Within twenty-five years, in the United States alone, quite one million people, including both sexes and all ages, in every variety and condition of climate, have been treated by Christian Science methods and cured of all manner of diseases, named and unnamed, substantially covering the whole range of mortal afflictions. There were some failures, it is true, but the percentage of these failures is many times smaller than the percentage of failures under the methods of materia medica in any age of the world. If we add to this statement of cases cured the fact that a large proportion of the cures effected by Christian Science were of persons confessedly beyond the reach of material remedies, we shall have an experimental test of mental therapeutics, divine healing, in every way more satisfactory and conclusive than is afforded of the curative quality of any drug in the whole history of medicine.
I submit this simple proposition: If, as intelligent men and women, you may determine the virtues of material medicine by experiment; if, by human observation and experience, you may ascertain satisfactorily to your reason the efficacy of a given drug, by a percentage of cures effected by its use, then is it not clear beyond controversy that the same test will measure with equal accuracy the medicinal virtues of Christian Science? And in common fairness, and by the logic of the axiom that things equal to the same thing are equal to each other, are you not driven by relentless logic to accept the hundreds of thousands of closely observed tests of the merit of mental medicine in forming your judgment of the curative force of Christian Science? The time has long since passed when any intelligent man, without a shock to his moral sense, can say that Christian Science does not have its victories over disease; that it does not restore health; that it does not reclaim the drunkard; that it does not heal wounds of bone and flesh; that it does not give vision to the eye and hearing to the ear; that it does not "minister to the mind diseased." In almost every city, village, and hamlet of our country, examples of these cures exist, and may easily be known by reasonable observation; there are tens of scores of persons so healed in this audience to-night. It is conceded that the practice of Christian Science has not been an unbroken success; there have been some failures; not all treatments have resulted in perfect cures; there have been some fatalities; but these have been comparatively few, and as an indication of how very few comparatively, let me tell you that in this country the states of Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan. Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York present the largest growth, organization, and practice of Christian Science in the United States, and comprise more than one half of the population of the entire country; and yet, in the whole lifetime of Christian Science, the aggregate fatalities under its practice in these twelve states, during a period of thirty years, are not equal to the deaths occurring under material medicine in any one week, in the last two years, in the cities of Chicago and greater New York. If this be true, is there any possible reason why an intelligent man, having faith in the practice of material medicine by reason of experimental tests, should scorn to be influenced by similar tests of Christian Science healing? and is it a satisfactory explanation for not doing so for such a one to say that to his mind mental healing is unreasonable, because beyond his comprehension, when it is evident that the same person, with all the aid of medical science, would be unutterably confused in an effort to determine why a pellet, or powder, or lotion, had wrought a cure in any case? Surely it is the extreme of inconsistency for any man to pride himself upon his wisdom in accepting as a basis of action the result of an experiment in the medicine of man, if he rejects like tests respecting the medicine of God.
I address myself to all thinking people who regard Mind as master of matter; who recognize an infinite Intelligence as All Cause — the Principle that created and governs all things; the supreme Good whom men call God, revealed in the Scriptures as the object of our love, worship, and adoration, and of whom Jesus Christ said, "God is Spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth." I thus address myself because the recognition of the supremacy of Spirit, Mind, God, is the basis, the inspiration, the soul of Christian Science. It follows that, in our thought, Christian Science is a religion, and only a religion; the gentle, beautiful, hopeful religion of love that Jesus preached and taught and practised. If God is spirit, infinite in goodness, mercy, truth, and love, then it is not difficult to understand (in fact we cannot avoid the conclusion) that He is the only God, the only Spirit, the only Good, Truth, and Love, the first and only cause, the principle of all that is. If God is all, then, of course, He is everywhere present; always with us; "A circle, the centre of which is everywhere and the circumference, nowhere." With this concept of God, we can easily understand how He is in absolute reality "our strength and our Redeemer," in whom literally "we live, and move, and have our being." And we may easily know also that man, — God's man, — is not a mold of clay, a fashion of matter, but is spiritual; the image and likeness of Spirit, the reflection of God, and hence abides in health, truth, eternal life.
The Christian world has for centuries asserted the belief that a knowledge of God is the beginning of wisdom. Certainly God intended that man should know Him; the Scriptures were given that man might know Him, and thus have eternal Life; and eternal Life includes eternal health, hope, harmony.
We can never reach a knowledge of God through human understanding; human philosophy cannot compass Him. God is Spirit, and by spiritual understanding alone may be apprehended. We make the knowledge of God difficult by vain attempts to describe Him. The only mystery of godliness is born of the incessant struggle of the finite to measure the Infinite. If, in absolute verity, we did accept God as Spirit, Mind, Principle, instead of attempting to fashion Him with form and parts, with passions and pride, with limitations of beginning and end, then we might easily know Him and thus have life as limitless as His.
The striking distinction between the conclusions of the human senses and Christian Science respecting God, is the difference between an atom and the universe — between the finite and the Infinite. The former reduces God to the semblance of man; the latter elevates man to the image and likeness of God. The primal principle of Christian Science is the infinity of God. This basic principle of our religion no intelligent man, I am sure, will presume to question; for, in all generations back to the very morning of religious thought, men have been taught the infinite power and mercy and goodness of God; and these annul the claims over man, of evil, sickness, or sin, which would countervail the majesty of Infinite Good.
Every Christian organization in the world teaches the power and willingness of God to heal the sick; hence Christian Scientists are not peculiar in this. The difference between Christian Scientists and the people of the old churches is one of trust — faith. Christian Scientists rely upon their belief in God's healing power; they practise their belief; in the love of God and man, they lay their hands on the sick, and the sick recover; and thus Christian Scientists prove their belief by the test Jesus gave, and the only test by which Christian belief can be measured.
Christian Scientists are simply trying to live the life that Jesus lived. His mission was not only to preach the Gospel but to heal the sick. This was the prophecy of Isaiah concerning him, a prophecy Jesus declared fulfilled by his own presence on the earth. The declaration of Jesus to his disciples, "the works that I do ye shall do also," was made to the people of this day as certainly as to the apostles and the people among whom they wrought; and Christian Scientists have demonstrated that they were included in this declaration of the Master by accomplishing many of the marvelous works that Jesus did.
It must not be understood that Christian Scientists heal or pretend to heal the sick by virtue of any power of their own, but only by virtue of the power of God. They do ungrudgingly all that Jesus gave them to do, and rely unfalteringly upon all the promises that he made. They believe, too, in the inexorable law: "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again;" that you cannot enthrone human reason without in the same measure dethroning God; that if you give shadow for substance, you will receive the bitterness of hollow seeming for abiding reality.
With the Holy Scriptures as their guide to eternal life, and the great Master as their teacher and exemplar, Christian Scientists hold, with much force of reason, that theirs is the religion that Jesus, established, taught, and practised.
The pathway of Christian Science has not been smooth and carpeted with flowers; thorns and crosses have everywhere beset it, as long ago they stung and held in crucifixion the sweet herald of "peace on earth."
Christian Science meets to-day, and for thirty years has met, the ecclesiastical antagonism that every new phase of religion or new thought of God has been compelled to encounter; but sooner or later, in God's own time, the clouds will break, and, crowned and glorified, the truth will be seen, like a star, "dwelling apart" in its own glory — always its own.
We do not complain in bitterness of the opposition that Christian Science has met. It has been simply the assertion of inherited beliefs that have for centuries antagonized every new thought of God. Our fathers endured this before us, and their fathers before them; yet the world has constantly grown brighter and freer arid better. It is our duty to add to the good that came to us from the generations gone, and to it our children will add still other good, born of the greater light of their own day; until, by-and-by, free from superstition and superior to fear, "the mystery of godliness" will be lost in the sweet simplicity of perfect Love.
Intellectual integrity is not easily attained. We must, though ever so reluctantly, concede the fact, that while it is comparatively easy to appear honest with our neighbors, it is extremely difficult to know that we are honest with ourselves. In some to-morrow we shall recognize the incomparable deception practised by men upon themselves in the vain effort to find a logic of saying more potent than the logic of doing.
Christian Science is not a religion of beliefs but of works; not of theories, but of demonstrations. There is nothing concerning which people so persistently deceive themselves as about their religious beliefs. It is so much easier to say than to do; and then one cannot know what he believes, in the sense in which Jesus used that word, except by what he does.
Belief is more than intellectual conviction; it includes the elements of trust, faith, reliance; hence the repeated assurance of Jesus, "By their works ye shall know them."
What a man says he believes is not infrequently the very antipodes of what he really believes; for instance, if a man says he believes that "In God we live, and move, and have our being," and then resorts to a druggist, doctor, or climate for life and health, you will know at once that he has mistaken his belief. Jesus came recognizing God as the healer of all our diseases — as our life, strength, and redeemer; and, knowing this, by the power of God he healed the sick, bound up the broken-hearted, gave hope for despair, song for anguish, life for death; these were the works of the Master, the beautiful works by which Jesus the Christ demonstrated his own divinity and the power of God to heal the sick.
Christian Science was discovered, re-discovered, or uncovered some thirty odd years ago by the Rev. Mary Baker Eddy, a native of New Hampshire, and still an honored, loved, and revered citizen of that historic state.
It may strike you as a little strange and yet it is strangely true that one of the objections urged against Christian Science is that it is the product of a woman. It would probably be safe to say to any audience of gentlemen in the great cosmopolitan commonwealth of Massachusetts, that this objection evidently had its origin with some one, who, in some wild and jagged flight of fancy, thought himself a man; but to you, and to every gentle, thoughtful man, it is evident that if Christian Science is the product of a woman, that fact inevitably carries with it two conclusions: one, that it is absolutely honest, and the other that it is absolutely pure. Every gentle, thoughtful man knows that from the world's morning until its high noon of to-day, woman has been the holy, patient, faithful guardian of its spiritual thought; knows, — gratefully, lovingly knows, — that for two thousand years, woman, — not man, but woman, — has kept the religion of Jesus Christ on this earth, and she will keep it there, until the kingdom of this world becomes the kingdom of our God, and His Christ. All of doctrine, philosophy, and practice of Christian Science is given to the world in Mrs. Eddy's book, entitled, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," and may be easily known and understood by every man who has the energy to read, and the ability to think. The latter part of the title of this marvelous book to my mind is very significant, for I cannot avoid the conclusion that a great value, if not the great value of Mrs. Eddy's wonderful gift to men, lies in her clear, reasonable, and demonstrable interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, God's revelation of Himself to you and to me, for our guidance to eternal life. The critics of Christian Science, and especially among our clerical brethren, dwell most, and with most pretence of learning, upon Mrs. Eddy's book as an exegesis and its author as an exegetist of the Christian religion, and unfortunately, as a rule, these good people elaborate their views in languages dead for centuries before their auditors were born. Mrs. Eddy may or may not be familiar with the language with which Jesus spoke, or the language in which his speeches and the events of his life were reported, but it must not be forgotten that Jesus interpreted his own Gospel by his life in the universal language of love and kindness, a language known to every weary child of earth, and Mrs. Eddy is scientific master of that tongue, master of the significance of the pure, holy, gentle, Christ-like living, and can, and has, told it to the world. In all her loving search for this great Truth, she took as her only guide the Word of God, and as her only counsel the great, loving God Himself. I hesitate not to say to you to-night, as a man among men, and not fully lacking in appreciation of the beacon lights of history, romance, song that have illumined the centuries as they passed, that in my judgment, this great book of this great woman contains more of sweetness, and song, and hope, and help for men than all the product of the printers' art, save only the Bible, your Bible and mine, our fathers' Bible.
In the resplendent glow of this dawning century, rich in the accumulated good of all the past and richer far in the promise of good with which its high noon will bless the world, may we not, in the grace of lofty Christian manhood, make our grateful acknowledgments to Mrs. Eddy for her wonderful contribution to the joy, song, and redemption of the world?
[Published in the editorial section of The Christian Science Sentinel Oct. 17, 1901.]