"The Sons of God"
Col. William E. Fell, C.S.B.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Christian Science may appropriately be termed the Science of the brotherhood of man, for its Principle is Love, and its law the ascertained will of God. It must therefore at some time put an end to all war and strife; not through fear of the consequences of war, - that never stopped any war and never will, for when mad ambition and the lust for power and possession seize upon the minds of governments or peoples such scruples are flung to the winds, - but through the scientific understanding of the allness of the fatherhood of God and the consequent oneness of the brotherhood of man.
If it is possible for two great nations to carry on international and mercantile affairs for a hundred years in peace, good fellowship, and mutual esteem, it is possible for all nations to do likewise for all time. It is a safe prediction to say that England and America, through their example, and through the recognition of the prosperity and enlightenment that has come to them because of their patience and forbearance, when certain interests would seem to run counter, will demonstrate to the world at large that every time and throughout eternity right is might, for God, Love, is omnipotent.
For this purpose Christian Science exists, - "to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." To learn just how to do this is surely the Science of all sciences, the Science by which Jesus performed his mighty works in confirmation, or demonstration, of his mighty words.
Do you remember that Jesus promised that we too should do these mighty works when we understood him? "He that believeth on [or understandeth] me, the works that I do shall he do also." Could Jesus have ever made such a promise, if it had not been intended, at some time and in some way, to reveal just how these works were done? Did he not with the promise state the method of its fulfillment, how that "the Comforter" should come, and when he is come, he, the Spirit of truth, "will guide you into all truth."
This Comforter, then, must be the Science or exact knowledge of God, the knowledge of the "all truth" into which we are to be guided; and no one will be found to deny the fact that it was through this exact knowledge, or Science, that Jesus performed his mighty works.
As to our part in this matter, are we not exhorted to have that Mind in us "which was also in Christ Jesus"? To have that Mind must mean to have that knowledge of God, or good, which Jesus possessed, enabling him to cast out devils, or evils of every description. We are encouraged, therefore, to assure ourselves that Jesus' mighty works were not merely miracles or wonderful works in substantiation or proof of his divinity, or for a special class or period, for the Bible tells us that "God is no respecter of persons," and is "the same yesterday, and today, and forever,” but were performed in obedience to spiritual law which law must be, to the full, as operative now as it was during the first three hundred years of the Christian era, when, as history relates, these mighty works were done. It is our duty today to become acquainted with this spiritual law, in order that obedience may be rendered to Christ Jesus' command not only to "preach the gospel" but to "heal the sick." If the first half of that command is obligatory on Christians today, equally so must the second be. To attempt to separate them is to rend asunder "the seamless dress" of Christ, as the poet Whittier aptly expresses it. A fair investigation of the Science of Christianity will reveal the fact that this Science departs in no wise from statements concerning God made and accepted by our Christian brothers in the older churches. The chief difference lies in the application. Let us see for a moment what this common ground is and wherein the difference lies.
God is described in the Bible as Spirit, as Life, Truth, and Love, and each of these terms, whether taken collectively or individually, stands for God. It is also universally accepted that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; which, if it means anything at all, must mean that God is all the power there is, all the science or knowledge there is, and all the presence there is. This must be so, for, as you know, the Latin word omni signifies all, and we cannot have more than all. So we come to the just conclusion that God, whom John declares to be Love, is all-inclusive and can have no opposite called devil, or evil; and as one scientific statement quite naturally leads to another, we find that God being Life, Life is all the presence there is, and death becomes obsolete, real as it may appear to the physical senses. By the same course of reasoning we arrive at the fact that since God is Truth, Truth is the only legitimate knowledge or activity there is or can be. However loudly error may cry out in justification of its presence and power, it has neither presence nor power; and grandest and most joyous conclusion of all, we find that there is no power, knowledge, or presence in anything but in Love and its manifestations, for God is Love, and God is All.
When we speak of this allness of God, it can only be conceived of as Mind, or Principle. In what other way can we describe this infinite wisdom, this cause and creator of all things, this divine activity, than Mind, or Principle? To formulate in consciousness some personal form of God, is to circumscribe, to belittle the infinite; it is also to break the second commandment, "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image." Just here I would like to point out that it is this habit of the human mind to engrave in consciousness some image of God that has led to idolatry; obviously the image of God must first be formed in the human mind, before it can be objectified in an image of stone, clay, base or precious metal. The image or idol is nothing; it is merely the outcome of the idolatrous thought that lies at the back of it, the mental image, that is the culprit.
Christian Science, therefore, teaches us to avoid this danger of mental images and to worship God in His allness, in His fullness, in His infinity - not as some grand-looking human being on a cloud or a throne, for such a one cannot be omnipresent; only as divine Mind, infinite Principle, Life, Truth, and Love, can God be discerned. These terms refer to one absolute God and express the infinite.
From a discussion on God, in quite natural sequence we come to consider what the real or scientific man is, the ideal or Christ-man, the man that God made and pronounced "very good," - that God who is of "purer eyes than to behold evil," and cannot "look on iniquity." The Bible tells us, in language quite unmistakable, that "God created man in his own image." To be still more emphatic, that statement is repeated: "In the image of God created he him."
Stupendous thought! Let us pause here for a moment to gain some faint perception of what this means. The image and likeness of God, the image and likeness of Spirit, - why, then the real man must be spiritual and not material, the image and likeness of Life, Truth, and Love, the image and likeness of Mind. Does that thought lift you up to feel that what God is you must resemble, that because God is eternal Life you are immortal, because God is Love you are Love's reflection; again, because He is Love you the beloved are under His special care and protection? because God is, you are? That is the scientific intact reality of your being.
Christ Jesus exemplified this perfect manhood here on earth, and the gospels teach us how to attain "unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ," the fullness of the stature of perfect manhood. Surely that was his love-crowned mission, - was it not, - to show us how to become conscious that we are the sons of God! Not to do this work for us, but forever to lead and show the way, until God, Spirit, Mind and His countless manifestations, shall be found to be All-in-all. How could poor humanity ever have found its way to the Christ, this perfect manhood, "forever in the bosom of the Father" (Science and Health p. 334), had not Jesus appeared in the flesh to be the life-link between God and man, Spirit and flesh!
Again to quote Science and Health: "It was . . . Christ's purpose to reconcile man to God, not God to man. Love and Truth are not at war with God’s image and likeness" (p. 19). Christ calls today, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." Come unto your perfect manhood, to your real self, your Christ self, for, as the Bible says, your real life is "hid with Christ in God," and be at rest. Be born again of water (purity) and the Spirit, and cast aside the old material sense of man, governed by material discordant laws, and be governed by Spirit and spiritual law, for "ye cannot serve God and mammon," Spirit and matter. This is just what the world has been trying to do, and it has failed utterly and miserably.
Surely we can no longer have any desire to be governed by so-called material laws, for they are the procurers of all discord, lust, disease, hate, worry, despondency, death. It is the spiritual law that frees from what so-called material law claims to have imposed upon us. Have you ever considered how Jesus lived his life on earth in continual violation of all material law? From first to last he disregarded it and annulled its decrees. Spiritual law was the law of his existence, and he recognized no other. His birth was contrary to material law. Every so-called miracle was in violation of this law, but in strict obedience to spiritual law. Knowing that "all is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation" (Science and Health, p. 468), as Mrs. Eddy declares, he changed water into wine, healed the sick, raised the dead, and setting at defiance the law of gravitation, he walked on the water, and unseen transferred himself from place to place; yet in doing so he broke no law, no real law, no God-made law, for we have his own word declaring, "I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil" the law; and he fulfilled it.
Jesus came to give us a practical Christianity, governed by Principle and law, a religion that should unite all Christendom, - "a consummation devoutly to be wished." The complete unity of Christendom must appear when its followers are governed by fixed Principle and law, that is, when it has been realized that Christianity is an exact or demonstrable science, and not merely a collection of human opinions and dogmatic statements. We do not look for varying views in the science of numbers, nor should we in the Science of being.
Conflicting human opinions, obstinately held, are as likely to amalgamate as water with oil, but under the Christly and unalterable rules of the Science of Christianity there is no room for divergence of opinion. Jesus knew that all cause and effect were mental. He knew that the whole of material existence was something in the nature of a dream, from which we are awakened by the trumpet-call of Truth into the realization of the fact that existence is based on Spirit, not on matter. The ancient worthies understood these things. Do you remember the words of the psalmist, "I shall be satisfied, when I awake" - and how? - "with thy likeness," with the likeness of Spirit, and not of matter. This awakening comes, not through death, for death does nothing for us, but through the understanding of Truth, and through the recognition of the eternal, unbroken nature of Life.
Now, if material existence is in the nature of a dream, we are not going to gain anything by placing implicit reliance on the testimony of the physical senses, which are they that testify to the existence of the dream. How often has it been said, "Do you mean to tell me I am not to believe the evidence of my senses?" Has it ever occurred to you that by far the greater part of your education is employed in the correction of the evidence of the senses? Let us investigate them for a moment, and see how much credence must be permitted them.
Physical sense declares that the sun rises in the east, traverses the heavens, and sets in the west. Education comes to the rescue and declares this to be contrary to facts. Suppose we are standing on a railway crossing where the track runs straight: physical sense declares that at a certain distant point the lines meet. Your education corrects this, and assures you that there is as much space between the lines out yonder as there is where you stand. The rising "harvest moon," as we call it in England, appears to be much larger than usual, whereas education informs you that the size of the moon is constant. Recently a great writer exclaimed: "What, are you going to believe the evidence of your senses! Then you are going to believe that the street lamp is bigger than the largest star." You can multiply such instances for yourself quite indefinitely; they happen every day and all day long. No, we do not trust our physical senses quite so much as we may think we do.
The crowning and most conclusive proof of the unreliability of the physical senses, that is, seeing hearing, tasting, touching, smelling, lies in the fact that these senses can tell us nothing whatever concerning that which is highest and greatest and best.
We cannot see, hear, taste, touch, or smell Spirit. The senses can take no cognizance whatever of the spiritual, and so long as we are being guided and governed solely by physical sense we have the door completely closed upon Spirit and spiritual sense-perception. The day will come, has already come, when education of the right kind will teach the people how to correct every testimony of physical sense - this sense that tells us that the sun rises and sets and that at a certain point parallel lines meet - with the right apprehension of spiritual reality. Then the so-called law of heredity will be seen to be no law. It shall no longer be said in Israel that the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." It shall no longer be said in Israel that nature is "red in tooth and claw," for nature will be found to be Love, and the animal of Love’s creation is the lion that lies down with the lamb.
The physical senses are the product of that which Paul describes as the "carnal mind." The carnal, or mortal mind, as Mrs. Eddy calls it, in contradistinction to divine Mind, is, the apostle declares, "enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Obviously, then, if the mind which contains these senses does not come under the law of God, neither can these physical senses come under His law, and that is why they can take no cognizance of God or God of them. Now, if the senses do not come under the law of God, except to be corrected by that law, He made them not, and they have no other than a dream or fictitious existence, and must go out with the realization of spiritual sense, that true sense of Spirit and the spiritual man, which enabled Jesus to do his mighty works, trampling upon the evidence of the physical senses in the destruction of sin, disease, and death.
Remember this: it is the same sense that tells you that parallel lines meet, and that the sun leaps across the heavens every twenty-four hours, that informs you that you have a cold in your head or a wound on your body. The poet Longfellow, in "A Psalm of Life," declares that "things are not what they seem;" and that greater thinker, the apostle Paul, declared that what physical sense cognized was not the reality of being, for, said he, "now we see through a glass darkly;" and with prophetic insight he added, "but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." "Now we see through a glass darkly." There are those who do not realize that they are regarding a perfect universe through a distorting and reversing sense, called physical sense.
Now that is a most important statement, and one that to some extent must be understood before we can take up that dominion over all things which was promised at the beginning. Let me try to make this a little plainer to you. Suppose you reside in a house whose windows are furnished with distorted, twisted, discolored glass. Would not every object seen through this glass partake of the nature of the glass? The objects would appear to be distorted and discolored. There would be but one way to get a clear vision, and that would be to do away with the glass, - shall we say, open the window? Your vision, now unobstructed by this distorting medium, enables you to see the objects in their right relationship to each other in form, outline, and color. If the window should again be closed, you would not be deceived by appearances; you would know just what the objects on the other side of the glass were like; you would see them mentally and correctly, for you would know the truth about them.
Are you aware that Christian Science is today opening the window of your understanding? It has abolished that through which you saw darkly, as "St. Paul declares, and now, when you imperatively need to see correctly, - and when do we not need to see correctly! - you no longer rely upon this bad glass, or physical sense, for information, but through the open window of spiritual sense you behold man and the universe as God made and ordained them, "very good."
Just so does Christian Science refuse to regard man materially, but sees in the physical man, so called, not the counterpart, but the counterfeit, of God's man. The Christian Scientist recognizes man as the perfect son of the perfect Father, and he thus strives to know man even as he, man, is known. This spiritual and correct perception of man is the power of God that heals the sick.
There is but one way in which we can receive this power from on high, and Mrs. Eddy declares it to be through the purification of sense and self. The pure in heart shall see God. Consciousness must become a clear transparency for the light of Life, Truth, and Love to shine through, in order that it may reach our brother and heal him of sin or sickness. If consciousness is beclouded by error and impurity, how can Truth and purity shine through?
Now that is an absolute statement with regard to sense-testimony, but let no one run away with the idea that Christian Science teaches that one may suddenly jump out of this false sense of existence into the true or spiritual. Much has to be done in every way; each human footstep must be taken right up to the throne of Spirit. Our first endeavor must be to strive to find man to be the image or likeness of the beautiful, the good, and the true.
When one knows that man is the image and likeness of God, that is the image and likeness of Life, Truth, and Love, he must proceed to free consciousness from all that is unlike Life, Truth, and Love. He must begin to reflect God as Life, - in a good life, in righteous living, in all the virtues that go to make up a good husband or father, a good citizen, and a good patriot. He must reflect God as Truth by being truthful and honest in all his dealings with himself and his fellow men; an example of integrity to all, in his business, in the office, in the shop, the factory, the field, the market, or wherever his affairs take him. He must let his light so shine that they may see his good works, and glorify the Father. He must reflect God as Love by manifesting a pure affection patterned on divine Love, - by love in the home, by unselfishness in his dealings with his family, by a true friendship that is not afraid gently and lovingly to tell a friend of a fault; by rejoicing with those that do rejoice, and weeping with those that weep; by a charity wide enough to cover all the world, that looks not for another's faults and failings, but magnifies good and minimizes evil, that helps the lame dog over the stile, as the saying goes, and bears himself lovingly alike to rich and poor. He who does these things is daily approaching to a realization of his sonship; he is attaining to the fullness of the stature of Christ.
The healing of disease in Christian Science, naturally enough, is what in the first instance attracts the attention of those becoming interested in the subject. Primarily, however, the Christian Science objective is the healing of sin. Why? Because sin, ignorance, and fear are the primary cause of every discordant condition. The Christian Scientist knows that if he would heal the effect, the sickness or disease, he must first destroy the cause, the sin, the ignorance, or the fear. He then knows that having destroyed the cause, he has destroyed the effect.
All people are ready enough to get rid of suffering or sickness, but all are not quite so ready to part with their sins. There is no pleasure in pain, but there are those who fancy there is pleasure in sin. Never was there a greater mistake, for sin claims its full award both here and hereafter. The healing of Christian Science is the healing of Truth and Love. The most pregnant sentence that perhaps Jesus ever uttered was, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." In that short sentence the Master epitomized the whole science of healing, not only of sickness and disease, but of sin, poverty, and every conceivable discordant condition.
Now what is the truth to be known? You will find numbers of people quite prepared to declare that disease and sin are real, that is, true. How then is Truth going to heal, to destroy that which is true? By "the truth" our Saviour meant the absolute, the eternal, the immutable, in other words the spiritual. We have indeed to know what he knew, if we would cast out the devils of sickness, sin, and lust as he cast them out. To know the spiritual fact concerning God and man, that God is spiritual perfection, and that man is His image and likeness, the image of perfection, is the truth to be known in order to cast out any and every condition that is not of the Father.
The generality of people believe that God sends sickness in some unexplained way to do them good; that it is sent as a punishment, to teach them a lesson or to draw them nearer to Himself. If this be the case, what then is the attitude of the Christian world at large? If sickness is sent as a punishment, why do Christians promptly try to evade the punishment by sending for a doctor or by taking drugs? If sent to teach a lesson, are people justified in refusing to learn the lesson by getting rid of the sickness as soon as possible? If to draw them nearer to Himself, what is the Christian about when he sets up an active resistance to that which is to draw him nearer to God?
Surely, if sickness is a good thing, the sicker we are the better. But although this may be the teaching of some today, it is not the teaching of Christ Jesus, who called sickness and disease "devil," or evil, and cast them out. He never said they were sent by God to do good to humanity, but he did say of the woman who was bowed together, that Satan had bound her, - not God, be it understood! If by sin came death, by sin came also the forerunners and procurers of death, - sickness and disease. "Then how do you account," we are sometimes asked, "for the fact that some of the most saintly people are the greatest sufferers?" Ignorance of law will not save from the consequence of ignorance. The spiritual law is there and available to all, saint and sinner alike. We know it to be perfect in its operation, for Jesus has for all time proved it to be so. If the saintly invalid will learn the law, his saintliness will remain, but his invalidism will go. Truth and error cannot exist together.
The Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," must be studied in conjunction with the Bible, for, as the title denotes, it is a commentary explaining and elucidating its pages, giving the spiritual sense and making it an open book to point the way to man's perfect sonship.
This book teaches us how to distinguish between the real and the unreal, as these terms are understood in the Science of Christianity. Christian Science boldly declares that all that is not of good, that is not of God, is unreal, because God, good, made all that was made, and "without him was not any thing made that was made." Mrs. Eddy teaches that reality can alone be predicated of that which is indestructible, permanent, eternal, in fact the spiritual. To one sense, - the false human sense, or carnal mind, - sin, sickness, disease and death appear to be only too real; but if real in the sense of being God-ordained, or God-permitted, these evils would be unescapable, for they would then be a part of God, and the nearer men approached to God the more pronounced would the evils become, leaving them without one loophole of escape, victims to despair, helpless flotsam on a cataract of destruction. But this is not the case, for experience teaches the very reverse; it incontestably proves that the nearer we draw to God, to good, the nearer does good draw nigh to us, to the utter destruction and elimination of evil.
The young man in the parable of the prodigal son need not have left his father's house. There is nothing but good in the Father's house, or kingdom of God, which Jesus declared to be within us. The son might have remained in this house, or consciousness of being governed by spiritual law; but no, he must turn deliberately to an opposite and false consciousness, the belief of being governed by material law: and mark the consequence, - disaster at every step. Like a ship without a rudder, or a wanderer on a starless night, he drifts into lust, riot, want, abject poverty. At length, when his condition becomes so overwhelmingly bad that he feels something must be done or he will go under, behold, he suddenly remembers that the remedy lies in his own hands, and he can apply it in a moment if he will. He has the wisdom to do so, and turning from the husks of matter and so-called material law, the source of all his trouble, in meek penitence and obedience he turns to Spirit and spiritual law, finding there his Father and his Father's house. He has awakened from the dream of life in matter, with all its discordant conditions, to find all true being to be based on Spirit and governed by spiritual law. This is the true Father and the true kingdom, - a condition, as Jesus declared, to be possible of attainment here and now, through an understanding of the law. "Behold, the kingdom of God is within you."
What is this unreality, this evil, and why should one fear what God has not made, for God made all that was made and that creation was pronounced "very good." No evil thing or condition did God ever create, permit, or countenance. Jesus' description of evil explains its nature. In the gospel of St. John, the devil, or evil, is described as that which "abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him," and as "a liar, and the father of it," - the lie.
I ask, Can that be true - that is, real - which has no truth in it? If God is infinite good, there can be no place found for good's opposite, evil. To find place for evil is to deny the infinity of good, that is, of God. So we know that evil is merely a negation, a belief in the absence of good, the omnipresent. Evil has neither power, presence, nor personality. Jesus overcame this belief in evil, and it rests with us to realize that it is destroyed, and need be neither feared nor obeyed. Evil has just as much power as mortals give it, and no more; and just in proportion as we magnify good in our thoughts shall we minimize evil, until evil vanishes and is thereby proven to be unreal.
The Bible says, "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." Then the opposite of God, light, - but God has no opposite, for He is "all in all." Then we will say the suppositional opposite of God, light, must be evil, darkness. Now, suppose you have been taught to fear the darkness because there were objects in the darkness that you had to fear; and one night you are sitting with your lamp in front of you and you address the lamp and say, "Your light is indeed beautiful, but what about the darkness?" The lamp would reply, "I do not know darkness, I have never seen darkness." "What," you say, "you have never seen darkness? It is time you did!" You seize upon the lamp, convey it to the door of a deep cupboard, and say, "Now you shall see what darkness is." You fling wide the door, thrust in the lamp, and behold, all is light, and that lamp softly whispers, "Yes, where I am there can be no darkness."
Now, what is this lamp? Is it not the truth? Not a human opinion, not a dogma, not even a creed, but the precise, exact, scientific knowledge that Jesus possessed, enabling him to cast out devils of sin, sickness, disease, and death. You need not search about to try to find the origin of evil; it has no origin, and all it requires at your hands is to give it one, in order that it may claim to have some suppositional authority over you. Deny evil presence, power, personality, authority, deny it everything, and what have you done? You have established in consciousness the fact that God is All-in-all. You have entered the kingdom of heaven. That is just what Christian Science is doing; it is gradually but surely eliminating evil from the human consciousness; it is putting you on the road to the kingdom of heaven, and will infallibly usher you into that kingdom.
That little allegory of the lamp recalls to mind Jesus' beautiful parable of the wise and foolish virgins. The wise virgins, you remember, had oil in their lamps; the foolish had none. A deep sleep falls upon the earth, and they all slumber and sleep. But a cry goes up louder and yet louder, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh." They all arise, and some in joyous expectation trim their lamps. All is well; the oil is there. The others arise in fear and consternation. Why? They have a lamp! Yes, but there is no oil in it. Now what is this lamp without any oil in it? Every man and woman here is entitled to put his or her own interpretation on any and all of Jesus' parables, but may it not mean faith without works, a negative goodness that is content with merely abstaining from evil? Were those people with no oil in their lamps any better off than those who had no lamps at all? It does not say so, but to judge from the context it would seem that the bridegroom considered it a piece of vain hypocrisy to carry about a lamp with no oil in it when oil might have been procured.
And what is this oil? With the same reservation, may it not be spiritual understanding, that which Jesus knew and put in practice, the Science of Christianity, or Christian Science? May not this be the oil in the lamp? Brothers, you are being offered this oil "without money and without price," and it rests with you whether you accept or reject it; but remember the cry that goes up, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh."
We find, then, that there is but one way to get rid of sin, and that way is to cease from sinning. To say there is no sin and to continue in sin is the height of iniquity. At the first, evil had no history. It is recorded that God created all things, and pronounced them "very good." Was evil one of the things pronounced "very good"? Evil first appears on the scene as the denial of this fact. As was pointed out just now, evil is a negation. The lie, as Jesus called it, said Nay to God's Yea. Are we going to give credence and reality to that which gives God the lie? We have been deceived and mesmerized by this condition, and it is now time to awaken out of sleep and recognize good as the only power, presence, and knowledge, and reap the inestimable benefit from doing so.
"The prayer of faith shall save the sick," said the apostle, and that is the prayer that heals the sick in Christian Science.
Christianly scientific healing is not faith-healing in the ordinary acceptation of the term. Faith is certainly required, but a faith that is based on understanding. Having been so taught, you might conceivably have a quite fixed and perfect faith in twice two being five; but this would amount to nothing, indeed such a faith would be a positive hindrance to working out any problem whatever in the science of numbers. Such faith has not risen above blind belief. The Christian Scientist, on the other hand, has a perfect faith, just as the student of the science of numbers has a perfect faith, based upon exact knowledge, in twice two being four, because it has been proved to him through demonstration, and he can no more doubt it or fall away from this faith, than twice two can change into five. Of course such faith has risen to the dignity of understanding, and it should be spoken of as such.
We find, then, St. James telling us that "the prayer of faith shall save the sick," and Jesus declaring that the sick are saved through knowing the truth: "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Now take these two statements in conjunction and the following results: that the prayer of faith that saves the sick is the knowing of the truth. Mrs. Eddy says on the first page of Science and Health: "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, - a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love."
Before we approach God in prayer, let us remember that He is Love, that He has already given us all good and cannot bestow more than all, nor can He give less than good; we shall then "pray with the understanding," as the apostle enjoins. We cannot change God by prayer; He is "the same yesterday, and today, and forever." He is immutable good, and can only be good and do good to His children. But we can change our own consciousness by prayer and bring it into line with the divine will, thus making it receptive of the good that forever flows from the triune God, - Life, Truth, and Love. Such prayer is already answered. In the revised translation of the Bible Jesus is recorded as saying, "Whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye have received;" that is, know that all good is present with you now. Then it rests with you through the prayer of understanding to realize this fact, and the good you ask for will, must, come into your experience.
It was not Jesus' personality that healed the sick, but the truth that he taught, the Principle and law of spiritual being that he lived and demonstrated. Had it been Jesus' personality that healed the sick, his disciples, after his ascension, would not have been able to do the mighty works he commanded them to do; whereas we know that through the understanding of the Principle and spiritual law taught to them by Jesus, they not only healed the sick but raised the dead. It is through the truth he taught that Christ Jesus became the way and the Wayshower to all generations. The healing Christ - and there is no other Christ - said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end," and the spiritual law by which he did his mighty works is as available to you today as it was to Jesus, Peter, John, and Paul.
What is required of us on our part is sufficient humility to learn, a receptive spirit, a willingness to become as a little child. No worldly wisdom is required to find the healing Christ, no scholastic learning, no power of intellect, but just readiness and willingness to learn. I have heard people declare that Christian Science was much too difficult for children to learn. Nothing of the kind! It is no more difficult for the child than for his parents. The parents have much false education to unlearn, and it is just here that the child has the advantage.
Grown-up people, with fixed ideas, are sometimes disinclined to let go of their fine old crusted beliefs, that have been held perhaps for generations upon generations of their forefathers, but antiquity will never set the seal of truth on that which is not true. Until quite recently, historically speaking, the world was supposed to be flat, and still more recently the world was held to be the central stillness around which revolved the universe, - ancient opinions, hoary with age and supported by physical sense. But they were not true, and they had to go. So also must many of our cherished theories about God and man go the same way. "I will overturn, overturn, overturn, . . . until he come whose right it is." And who is he who is to come? Who but the Christ, the absolute truth about all that lives and moves and has its being in divine, infinite Mind.
All are looking for happiness and peace, but there is no royal road, only that trodden by Jesus, the knowledge or understanding of Truth. "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." That Christ-knowledge is demonstrably Christian Science; and whether we believe in it or do not believe in it, whether we want it or do not want it, weighs not one ounce in the balance: that road all must sooner or later tread. Why not sooner as later? This knowledge can only be learned through that Mind "which was also in Christ Jesus." It is the Christ-way; it is to love God supremely and our neighbor as ourselves, to live in obedience to the spirit and the letter of the ten commandments, and to make the Sermon on the Mount the law of our daily living. Jesus said, "Watch and pray." Do you notice that he places watching before praying? What did he mean us to watch? Why, our thoughts. If this watching were done systematically and thoroughly, nothing could enter our lives "that defileth, ... or maketh a lie." Mrs. Eddy says: "Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously" (Science and Health, p. 392).
Christian Science is a religion of Love. It teaches that there is no possible existence outside of the realm of Love. Under no other system can the conflicting interests of nations, peoples, and individuals be reconciled. To put ourselves under the government of the one Mind is to live in obedience to the Scriptural injunction, "Be ye all of one mind." Here is a social system that was prophesied thousands of years ago, in process of fulfillment today; a democracy without a flaw, whose law and lawgiver is Love Himself. All manner of Utopian schemes for governing the world in a social system that shall equalize all rights and compel the brotherhood of man have been evolved in the past, and are being evolved today, but all are purely experimental, because unscientific. They every one, although starting their voyage with a full cargo of good intentions, with spreading sail and favoring breeze, split inevitably on that rock which lies in wait for them, the rock of self-interest. Christian Science falls upon that rock and grinds it to powder, and the ocean of Love washes it away.
It has been asked why Mrs. Eddy should have been selected as the recipient of this revelation of Truth, in place of some other, and thus become the messenger of this age.
The only reply that can be given is that He who gave the message selected also the messenger. How seldom are God's instruments those of man's selection. Even the great prophet Samuel deemed that the mighty Eliab was the fit and proper subject to wear the crown of Israel, whereas God had already selected the humble lad David, a tender of sheep on the hillsides. It can only be supposed that Mrs. Eddy's spiritual condition was such as to enable her to hear this soft whisper of Truth, a whisper that has become a voice, a voice that shall become a cry, resounding louder and more clearly adown the ages, until none may turn aside unheeding of the message that it brings, "On earth peace, good will toward men."
The world at last realizes the enormous debt of gratitude it owes to this pioneer of the truth which must logically, infallibly destroy sin, sickness, and death itself off the face of the earth; an event which has again and again been prophesied throughout the pages of the Bible. It is this woman, and none other, that has restored to Christianity its most essential element, the power to heal sickness and disease as well as sin. She has made Christianity what its Founder always intended from the beginning it should be - a panacea for every discordant condition. She has proved, beyond peradventure, that Christianity understood meets every human need. She has taught us that the only true democracy is embraced in its tenets. She has taught us that there is no lack, want, or limitation while we are amenable to spiritual law, and that to live in that law, is to live under the protection of that law.
Is it to be wondered at that Christian Scientists the world over have a deep, abiding affection and respect for this noble woman, so spiritually endowed? If we failed in that, we should justly incur the charge of grossest ingratitude.
It is manifestly impossible in the scope of a lecture to give more than some general idea of what Christian Science is and what its aims and objects are. Doubtless you may think some startling statements have been made. Quite so; but then you must recollect that you are being asked to reverse your thinking from a material basis to a spiritual, and this, it must be granted, is indeed a revolutionary process, but one that is wholly necessary before we can enter the kingdom of heaven. Should the statements made startle you into making a fuller inquiry into the teaching of Christian Science through an unbiased study of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," comparing its statements with the Bible writings, the lecture will not have been in vain.
Christian Scientists have no desire to proselytize, but they have an all-consuming desire to share with you, their brothers and sisters in Christ, the unspeakable good they have derived from even a small understanding of this inexhaustible subject. While I thank you for the close attention that has been given to all that has been said, I with the greatest confidence leave the result in the hands of God, knowing as I do know that He is leading all humanity, if slowly, yet surely, into the realization of the basic fact of all being, - that now are we the sons, not of matter or flesh, but of Spirit, God.