Christianity Made More Practical Through Christian Science
Alfred Farlow, C.S.D.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The question is oftentimes asked, From which church denominations does Christian Science gain the greatest following? Those who feel the need of it are the first to accept it, and we find hungry and needy ones in all churches and out of the churches, and in all positions and vocations in life.
Christian Science offers itself as a purely metaphysical method of restoring health and harmony, and for this reason it finds few followers from those who believe themselves successful in material methods. One in trouble is not apt to try a way which cannot be seen by the physical senses so long as he believes the promises of relief in ways that can be seen by these senses. When we have tried all that we can see, and without satisfactory results, we naturally wonder if there is not a remedy that we cannot see. It is at this point that many seek Christian Science, and they are not turned away empty. And while confronted with the uncertainties of mortal existence, its sorrows, sin, sickness, and death, it is pleasant to know that in Christian Science we find a reliable, unchanging, and eternal remedy.
CHRISTIANS NEED CHRISTIAN SCIENCE.
Some Christian people are given to the opinion that they do not need Christian Science. Without the understanding of it they are likely to think this only another ism, and as they believe themselves already settled for life in their religious beliefs, they see no opportunity to be benefited by it.
Hence Christians should understand that this is really a Science, the Science of Christianity which illumines the mental faculties, renders more keen the judgment, and gives the Scientific sense of religion and the practice of it. It is in view of this fact, and with a desire to help Christendom to adopt Christian Science, and to help Christians to adopt their new name, Christian Scientists, that we have chosen our subject, "Christianity made more Practical through Christian Science."
REALLY A NEW IDEA.
Some ask the question, "Is Christian Science really a new idea?" We are thankful that it is indeed a new idea to this age, for the old ideas have not brought out the desired results. We must have new and better ideas, if we would have new and better results. Our hope of benefits through Christian Science lies in the fact that it is something new.
CORRELATION OF CHRISTIANITY AND SCIENCE.
The Christian Science text-book teaches that right doing is Christian Science, and that which is not right cannot properly be called Christian Science. It is also Christianity to do right. So far as concerns the necessity of the "do" part, there is no difference between Christian Science and Christianity, but Christianity without Christian Science demands that we do right, yet gives us no scientific rule or standard of right. Christian Science teaches the Science of right, and is accompanied with the love of right, because it fulfils its promises of heaven, harmony, here and now.
Through Christian Science the high goal of perfection and perfect bliss is clearly seen to be a future possibility, and this inspires us to untiring and unceasing effort, forasmuch as we know our labor is not in vain in the Lord. There are few indeed who like to work for nothing. A Christian Scientist never tires of his religion, needs not falter nor hesitate, for the way is clearly outlined before him, and the greatness of his possibilities clearly seen.
We quote from the Century Dictionary a very satisfactory definition of Christianity, and one which we believe to be acceptable to all Christians: "The religion founded by Jesus: conformity to the teachings of Christ in life and conduct."
Christianity is the demonstration or practice of the fulness of Truth or right. This practice may begin in any degree of imperfection, but ends in perfection. We must continue to improve our methods and conditions, until we reach perfection.
CONSISTENCY OF THE NAME CHRISTIAN SCIENCE.
That we may do right, it becomes necessary that we first know the right. That which we know or understand is properly called Science. Right knowledge, or knowledge of right, is pre-eminently Christian, a Christian Science. By this process of reasoning we see the consistency of the name Christian Science as applied to the understanding of Truth, which governs all right conduct. Indeed we could not find a term which so accurately names the understanding of Truth known and practised by our Master.
NEED OF A CERTAIN SENSE OF RIGHT.
Christian Science gives the true sense of right, and enables us to make every act exactly correct, so that we may have no necessity to retrace our steps or experiment.
Mere belief is not practical; hence the need of Christian Science, the demonstrable rule of right. Without this certain sense of right, we are like a sculptor chiseling away at his block of marble without a definite model in thought. You ask him what he is carving, and he replies, "A perfect figure," and yet he has in thought no standard, no model. Meanwhile he is whiling away the hours working at random. He possibly cuts an occasional stroke in the right place, then perhaps spoils it by a mistaken stroke. On the other hand, if he has in thought the perfect model, the first stroke of his chisel is correct as well as each successive stroke. Each blow of the hammer counts, and he speedily carves out his figure.
One not versed in music might occasionally touch a right chord on a musical instrument, and produce harmony by guess. So one might do right from natural instinct or by accident; but we need a certain, positive sense of right, that we may do our work speedily and accurately.
ATTITUDE OF SCIENTISTS TOWARD OTHER SCHOOLS OF RELIGION AND MEDICINE.
It is not a part of the duty of a Christian Scientist to make war upon the differing schools of religion and medicine. Indeed we have great regard for all the institutions of the world which aid in any degree in the spiritualization, harmonization, and advancement of mankind.
People who desire to do right will accomplish something in this line, however insufficient may be their methods. We would not condemn our grandfathers because they reaped their fields with the crude reap-hook; but we rather honor them because they labored earnestly and cheerfully in spite of the imperfection of their implements. So we would not criticise any effort on the part of Christians who have not yet learned the way of Truth as it is taught in Christian Science. However, only the perfect method is satisfactory, and the constant want of satisfaction with that which is imperfect is a constant call for higher and better methods, and leads on from one improved step to another till we finally reach the perfect. "Necessity is the mother of invention."
The results effected by even a limited degree of understanding of Christian Science satisfies us that the way is correct, though we may feel the need of understanding it better.
The Christian Scientist having outgrown all lesser methods or ideas cannot go back to his former position. A ladder which serves us as we ascend, is only useful to us until we reach the top. After that we have no need of the ladder, unless we expect to descend to the former position.
Progress knows no backward steps. Having once reached Christian Science, we have no further use for the ladder of successive improved beliefs by means of which we have climbed to the point of understanding.
WHY WE HOLD TO OLD WAYS.
We are sometimes slow to take up new ways, though they may be better, especially when we are having reasonable success with our old methods. My father was once a farmer, and at a certain period cultivated his corn with a single horse plow. With it he plowed down on one side of the row, and back on the other. One day a neighbor who was an agent for a newly patented cultivator came to my father's field, and desired to display the new implement, which cultivated both sides of the row at once. At first my father refused. He had been a successful farmer with the single plow, and did not desire the new one; but to please his friend and neighbor, finally allowed him to try the new plow in the field. It did double work, and did it so much better, that my father bought the plow at once, and would not allow it to go out of the field.
There are many people who would hold as eagerly to Christian Science as the most devoted followers, if they only knew how much good there is in it for them.
Some are not willing to leave their religious associates for the new idea. When we were in the primary department in school, we were loath to leave our dear teacher and the classmates so much loved, and yet, that we might go on and finish our schooling, we were obliged to leave them. We could not remain in the primary department, and at the same time finish in the higher departments. We had this consolation, however, that our classmates would follow, though they were not ready to accompany us then, and our teacher would be promoted should he be faithful, and after all, we should have an opportunity to be together.
We have heard people say. "The religion of my ancestors is good enough for me, and I will not dishonor them by taking up a new religion." Such a position is like refusing to use the modern system of lighting our houses, because the dear ones of the past lighted their houses with a pine-knot or a tallow candle. Should we refuse to ride in an electric car because our ancestors who have gone had only the privilege of the horse car? We are of the opinion that many of the venerable, wide-awake, and progressive grandfathers and grandmothers who have gone before us would be among the first to accept Christian Science were they with us to-day.
Every method to improve and advance is commendable, but the most commendable is the perfect way, and "When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away."
PRINCIPLE OF CHRISTIANITY NEEDED.
Jesus' life was the full embodiment of Christianity. His life was an example for all, but that it may become practical to us, it becomes necessary that we understand the Principle and rule which governed his thoughts and acts. It is difficult to follow an example by mere imitation. Without a proper understanding of the whys and hows, we may have neither the ability nor the courage to effect a desired result.
In school life I sought for a number of years to learn the Spencerian system of penmanship by trying to imitate letters in a book. I made very little progress, and neared the end of my school days, a very poor penman, when I entered the class of a young man who taught the principles of correct penmanship. Under his instruction I made more progress in twelve days than I had been able to make in many years. I knew all the while that my letters were not like those in the copy book, but could not tell why. I needed the science of penmanship to show me just how the correct letters were formed, then I could measure my ill-formed letters by my sense of the perfect letters, and know just where a correction was needed. So we need an understanding of the Principle of goodness and practice of our Master that we may know how to do as he did.
GOD, THE PRINCIPLE OF GOODNESS.
God is the Principle of goodness. The whole duty of man is to be Godlike in thought, word, and deed, — to be the image of God. If we have a definite idea of what God is, know the very nature and essence of God, we then shall know just what we have to do to be like Him. We can measure our present selfhood with our correct sense of the ideal man, and see at once wherein we need righting up. This is also true when we undertake to help others.
RULES OF CONDUCT.
The following are some of the rules of conduct which are suggested by a true understanding of God. If God is Good, man, His likeness, must be good. If God is pure, man, His likeness, must be pure. If God is perfect, man must be perfect. If God is Love, man must love, love God, love his neighbor, love even his enemy. If God does not serve the flesh, man must not serve the flesh. If God is Spirit, man must be spiritual. To be spiritual, he must cease to be material. To be God-like we must understand every characteristic and every attribute of God, — all about His habits and ways, — and shape our ways according to this understanding.
TRUE SENSE OF EVIL NECESSARY.
That we may succeed in our effort to live the good and overcome evil, it is important that we understand the unreality and powerlessness of evil, which idea is implied in the understanding of the reality and omnipotence of Good.
STANDARD OF REALITY.
What is reality? What constitutes reality? What makes a thing real? What is the standard of reality? In Science we determine the constituency of a thing by considering its origin, for the question is not what seems, but what is. God made all that was made, and that all was and is good. The Creator or Cause is Good; hence the creation or effect is good. There is only the good Cause, and the good effect. Evil then is not an entity, but a false sense, an illusion. This is an important lesson in the Science of Christianity, for the power of the Christian Scientist to overcome evil lies in his understanding of its unreality, which is always based upon his understanding of the allness of God, Spirit, and Spirit's creation. As God becomes infinitely great to us, evil must become infinitesimal to us.
JESUS A PRACTICAL CHRISTIAN SCIENTIST.
Christianity is the practice of Truth as it was understood by Jesus. There have been, and are, many systems of religion, but the system practised by Jesus is considered the only true and absolutely correct religion. The excellency of his religion was known by its perfect results. The acts and thoughts of Jesus must have been governed by his understanding of certain methods. That which he knew was a Science. It was the Christ Science, and was therefore Christian.
JESUS, THE DEMONSTRATOR OF TRUTH.
Jesus was the great demonstrator of Truth. He brought out wonderful results in his efforts to heal the sick and cast out evil, and thus proved what could be done through the understanding and reliance upon the divine power, while he taught, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also." (He who understands as I understand, and who works as I work, will be followed by the same results.) Christian Science shows how the work is done. If you desire to become a mathematician you first call a personal teacher, who works out his problem on the board, thus proving that he understands mathematics, and is indeed a mathematician. You witness this, and believe it, and have not a shadow of doubt, yet this does not make a mathematician of you. You must learn what your teacher understands of the principles and rules of mathematics, then you too can work out the problem. The ideas of the mathematician must come to your thought, that you may not merely witness the personal demonstrator, but see his mind, learn his science. So the demonstrations of the personal Jesus proved that the work could be done, and also proved the correctness of his rule. The coming to human consciousness of his ideas, — his mentality, — which is called the second coming of Christ, gives the method of his demonstrations; hence the statement, "Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation."
If we seek beyond the personal Jesus, who proved by his work what can be done, and learn the ideas which he used, and which enabled him to do the works, we, too, may be able to do the same, and thereby find salvation from our mistaken efforts, and the discords which follow.
MORE THAN BELIEF ATTAINABLE.
We must be wakened out of the belief that mere belief is the limit of our attainment. We need to learn that there is a Science attainable, by which we can know God, and use Him. Most people believe in God, but we need more than belief. God is an ever-present help, and our lack of benefits is due largely to our lack of understanding as to how to approach God, and utilize the divine help, always ready for us. We need first to know what God is, His nature and essence. We then shall understand how to pray, how to seek and find divine aid, how God helps us, why He helps us, why it is possible for Him to help us, under what conditions the help is attainable. Many could do more even with their present degree of goodness if they could add more understanding to their goodness. We are assured that the best man in the world who is still without Christian Science would be better and accomplish more with it.
CORRECT DIAGNOSIS OF DISEASE.
The physician who is able most accurately to diagnose his case is considered the most ready and successful; because he knows at once the proper remedy to deal out; otherwise he is obliged to experiment. The physician who makes his diagnosis by feeling the patient's pulse and examining his physique, and does not take into consideration his mental condition, is like a would-be teacher in mathematics, studying a mass of figures which are the result of an erroneous effort to solve a problem, when he has no knowledge of the rule, yet hoping to find the pupil's error.
We must first understand the rule of harmony. We must have a true sense of what constitutes or maintains health, then we can readily know what is wanting in us to make health. We do not call darkness an entity. We do not consider it something, but the want of something — the want of light. Light is the real, and darkness the want of reality, nothingness. So, discord should be understood as the want of harmony, error the want of Truth, sickness the want of health. If God, infinite Spirit, Mind, Love (the Light), is ever-present, and fills all space, then discord, error, sickness (the darkness), must be everywhere absent and nowhere in space. The best remedy for disease and the best known preventive is the divine aid. In all ages of the world those who have trusted God most implicitly have fared the best. Jesus was never known to be sick. When the children of Israel served God, they found harmony, health, and success. When they served evil, they found discord and failed. All Christians will admit that all things are possible with God, and that if we have a sufficient degree of trust in God, or realization of the divine presence, we can be saved from any difficulty into which we may have fallen, and that the same faith will make us absolutely safe at all times, and under all conditions. If this be true, then a lack of faith or trust in God is the real cause of disease and trouble, if indeed there be a real cause for disease. You may say, "I am sick because I have overeaten, I have exposed myself to the weather, I have overworked myself," and yet you know that if you realize sufficiently the divine presence you could endure any amount of legitimate labor or exposure without harm. You could "run and not be weary," "walk and not faint."
TRUTH, THE REAL HEALER.
If we would be healed of disease and the liability to disease, we must be healed of our lack of trust in God. The three Hebrew boys are said to have been safe in the burning fiery furnace. This was not because they were clothed in asbestos, or some other non-combustible matter, but it was because of their consciousness of the divine presence and power. It was not the peculiarity of their physical condition, but their mental condition, which preserved them. We cannot trust a stranger, hence we must know God, know His very nature and essence, know His omnipotence and omnipresence sufficiently that this knowledge may rule out our fears. The true Science of Being teaches us that God is Spirit, Mind, in contradistinction from matter or physical personality. This new and enlarged sense of God makes God more, and that which we fear, less to us. Indeed it makes God All, and evil, the supposed cause of trouble, nothing to us. The things which are mountains to our material sense, are nothing to God. God is the only Cause, and there is nothing made which He has not made, and all that He has made is real and good.
GOD IS SPIRIT — BASIC LESSON OF SCIENCE.
Jesus on one occasion produced certain arguments, and advocated a certain method of worship, and offered, as his reason for such, the statement which is the basis of all true Science, namely, "God is Spirit." Why is it not necessary to go to Jerusalem, neither to "this mountain" to worship God? Because God is infinite Spirit, everywhere present. Why, "Be not afraid"? Because God is Spirit, and "In Him we live, and move, and have our being." We are always safe in His presence, and there is no place where He is not. Why, "Take no thought for your life"? Because God, Spirit, is the only Life, and man lives because God is Life.
JESUS TAUGHT A NEW IDEA OF GOD.
Jesus' new ideas of worship, his new ideas of medicine, his new ideas of all things were based upon his new ideas of God. He said, "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." Here we have the declaration that the true knowledge or Science of God and His creation is essential to that life or state of being which is eternal, and free from sin, disease, and death.
SCIENCE OF GOD, BASIS OF ALL TRUE SCIENCE.
Science is the knowledge of that which exists, including the Creator and the creation. The Science of God is the basis of all true Science. A true understanding of the Creator embodies a true understanding of the creation. We do not know all about God till we know what He has created and how He has created it. A true understanding of the creation includes the true understanding of that which is not God's creation. A true understanding of the true is also a true understanding of the false.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT.
The follower of Jesus may not at first bring out results equal to his, yet by growing in goodness and spirituality he hopes constantly to improve his proficiency. We are commanded to be perfect, even as our Father which is in Heaven is perfect, and "Practice makes perfect." The pupil in mathematics just beginning the solution of the simple problems in addition may not be able to demonstrate the propositions or solve the problems in the higher branches; yet by practice and progress he hopes to attain to the proficiency of his teacher. If you had said to your teacher in mathematics, "I do not believe there is anything in it," and had refused to demonstrate the rule, you never would have proved to yourself that mathematics is a demonstrable Science. Christian Science, like music or mathematics, must be practised to be understood. Each successive lesson must be taken in its turn and practised, that we may develop sufficient spiritual strength to understand the next higher lesson.
Jesus' physiology was a part of his religious belief, and was summed up in this statement, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing." Many eminent physicians have left behind them their written ideas on medicine and hygienic laws. Jesus left his: "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall ye eat? or What shall ye drink? or Wherewithal shall ye be clothed?" "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." If we seek to be ruled, and are ruled, alone by God — Good — all evil or materiality will be ruled out of us. We shall thereby become altogether righteous, spiritual. We shall then have nothing to become diseased or troubled; for it is not our spirituality, but our materiality, that becomes sick and troubled. Spirituality then is the true preventive as well as the true remedy for disease. This remedy precludes the necessity of any lesser remedy.
It is strange that our medical students do not choose our Master's school of medicine. His success proved the efficiency of his system. He never lost a case, never made a failure. Neither allopathy, homoeopathy, nor any other school of medicine can show such a record. His was not the Science of guessing. It was the true and only never-failing method, the real science of medicine.
KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, JESUS, MEDICINE.
A knowledge of God is necessary to the practice of medicine as Jesus understood it. His teachings, so far as words are concerned, are brief. Yet he left enough in his brief statements that we may positively identify his ideas as exactly in harmony with the teachings of Christian Science. The overcoming of sin, sickness, and death; his life of goodness; his unselfish love; his untiring and unceasing efforts for others, were all actuated and made possible through what he knew. Who will say that what he knew was not a Science? That this Science was not physical was demonstrated in that he used no material means, not even mortal mind, for he said, "Not my will, but Thine be done." He declared that it was the Father, Spirit, infinite Mind, which did the work. Indeed, it was the influence of divine, omnipotent Mind ruling out and overcoming the errors of mortal mind, just as the light dispels the darkness. If all Christians could but believe that there is a Science which, understood and practised, would destroy the power of sickness and sin, they would seek the understanding of it, and soon silence these evils, and speedily bring the millennium.
MRS. EDDY AS DISCOVERER.
Christian Science was discovered by the Rev. Mary Baker Eddy, about thirty-three years ago. The parentage, education, experience, and remarkable spirituality of Mrs. Eddy had made her well fitted for the mission to which God had called her. She possessed a remarkable degree of spirituality even in childhood, and rapidly developed into that individuality which was needed to voice to this age the Science of Christianity, which she has rightly named Christian Science.
Some ask the question, Could not some one else have discovered Christian Science? No one else was prepared for such a discovery, and God never mistakes in His selections. Truth seeks an entrance into human consciousness, and, like the light pressing against the wall, it penetrates the moment there is a chink.
Mrs. Eddy was the one to whom the veil of matter had worn thin enough for the light of Truth to break through. It is now too late for some one else to discover Christian Science. Like America, this Science is already discovered, and can never be hidden again. However, we may all enjoy the blessings of this discovery, though we can never be discoverers. It is true that Christian Science was discovered and founded by a woman; but that is not to the discredit of the Science, but to the credit of womankind. The claim that this idea of Christian Science was discovered by some one else before Mrs. Eddy is refuted by the mere fact that outside of the Bible there is no idea in existence, and there never was an idea presented to the world, which was in any way akin to Christian Science, as taught in Science and Health.
ONE SCHOOL OF SCIENCE.
There is but one school of Christian Science. Mrs. Eddy named the idea embodied in her discovery Christian Science. That which is in any degree a deflection from these ideas is not Christian Science but something else, and has no right to the name Christian Science.
Mrs. Eddy has written many books on Christian Science, among which is "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," the standard text-book on Christian Science.
In our lectures we do not hope to teach a systematic course in Christian Science, but would urge all to a careful study of our text-book and other works by Mrs. Eddy, which give a full and satisfactory exposition of the Science.
WHAT MRS. EDDY HAS ATTAINED THROUGH SCIENCE.
Mrs. Eddy herself is an example of the good effects of Christian Science. The vast amount of labor accomplished by her proves the truth of her idea that God is the life of man. The extraordinary wisdom displayed in the management of the great Cause of Christian Science is the outcome of her idea that God is the only Intelligence. Her broad charity and universal interest in mankind prove what can be attained through the practice of the idea that "God is Love."
Some people believe that Christian Scientists make too much of Mrs. Eddy, but this, like all other misunderstandings, will disappear as the true sense of Christian Science and its methods is understood. However, it may be true that some neophytes in Christian Science, with more zeal than knowledge, by unwise words and acts help to perpetuate this prejudice, while Christian Science itself, the teachings of Mrs. Eddy's text-book, would urge us to worship God, not personality. Mrs. Eddy, as a result of her own use of the ideas which she has discovered, has become exceedingly wise, and her students succeed when they follow her advice. This fact has led us to be obedient to her ideas concerning methods of practising Christian Science, as well as to the Science itself. Indeed, we seek her advice as a child would seek the advice of its mother, and because of her peculiar relationship to us in this work, we have learned to call her "Mother." The study of her text-book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," has healed thousands, and will eventually take its place universally as the key which unlocks the mysteries of the Bible, and reveals the true Science of Being, and of permanent harmony.
LET GOD BE TRUE.
John said, "Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar." Why should we not earnestly desire and seek the Truth, even though it should rob us of our long-cherished beliefs. Though it should bring to dishonor all the schools of the ages, and dissolve the material universe itself, God and His creation would remain untouched and forever intact. We cannot lose that which is real, neither can we keep that which is unreal.
Longfellow was right when he said, —
Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
"Life is but an empty dream!"
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.
[Delivered Nov. 30, 1898 at Kansas City, Mo., and published in The Christian Science Journal, July, 1899.]