Christian Science: The Healing Comforter

 

Richard L. Glendon, C.S., of Los Angeles, California

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:

The Apostle James wrote (5:14,15), "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him." Are there some among this audience tonight who are yearning for such comfort and healing as James promised? Do you find it difficult to believe that such a promise can be fulfilled in your behalf today? I am sure there are those here who can testify that they have experienced such healing and reformation, and it is our purpose to show you how this is accomplished, to make it possible for you to be healed and comforted during this very hour.

Where shall we turn to find this healing power and the way to such effective prayer as the elders of James' day understood? To the Bible, of course, for here in these precious pages is to be found a record of the loving, intelligent ministration of the early prophets, as well as of Jesus and his followers, and of its marvelous results.

Jesus knew it was the Christ, his spiritual understanding of God, that enabled him to do such mighty works. He devoted his ministry and sacrificed his human life in the effort to teach others this wonderful truth that saves, heals, and comforts. Jesus is our example, our Wayshower; so it is important that we understand, as he did, that the truth he knew, and not his human personality, was the source of his great power. Mary Baker Eddy, in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," makes this clear in the following statement (p. 473); "Christ is the ideal Truth, that comes to heal sickness and sin through Christian Science, and attributes all power to God. Jesus is the name of the man who, more than all other men, has presented Christ, the true idea of God, healing the sick and the sinning and destroying the power of death. Jesus is the human man, and Christ is the divine idea; hence the duality of Jesus the Christ."

It remained for the Comforter to make this clear by correctly interpreting the life and teachings of Jesus. This Comforter is Divine Science, the Christ-idea, which reveals the scientific truth of God, man, and the universe, the one perfect and provable idea of eternal existence.

 

Comforter Promised

Jesus' disciples, faced with the announcement that he must leave them, were concerned not only with the loss of his personal presence, but also with the apparent loss of his continued guidance and instruction. When they pleaded to know how they might follow him, he urged them to keep his commandments and said (John 14:16), "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever." To emphasize the fact that they must not limit the Christ-power to the personal presence of Jesus, he said (John 16:7, 14), "It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him, unto you. . . . He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you."

For about three hundred years after Jesus' crucifixion his followers, obedient to his teachings, healed the sick and the sinning. Then the Roman Emperor, Constantine, stopped the persecution of the Christians and recognized the Christian Church. As a result, creed and ritual soon took the place of Christlike living, and during the so-called "Dark Ages" that followed, the power to heal the sick through prayer practically disappeared from the teachings and practice of the church.

During this long period of mental darkness few individuals rose far enough above the pall of materialism to glimpse more than the faintest beams of spiritual light. However, late in the nineteenth century a great upheaval of thought took place as men strove to find the way out of their darkness, and many new doctrines of human origin were exploited. In this period, in 1866, a humble New England woman, a devoted student of Christ Jesus' life and teachings, lay on what her doctor had called her deathbed, while her grieving friends waited for the end in the next room. She asked for her Bible and turned to the account of Jesus' healing of the palsied man as given in the ninth chapter of Matthew. As she read the familiar story she suddenly caught a glimpse of the Christ-idea, and, like the palsied man, she was immediately healed. She arose, dressed herself, and joined her amazed friends. She had discovered the healing Comforter.

 

The Discoverer

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science and the Leader of the Christian Science movement, came from a devoutly religious family. From early childhood she proved to be exceptionally spiritual in her thinking, and many incidents are related which reveal the deep and Christly affection this little girl felt for every living thing. The following experience led her God-fearing mother to realize that little Mary was destined to fulfill some great spiritual mission.

The child, on several occasions, ran to her mother, supposedly in answer to her call. In each instance it was evident that no human being had called. The mother, much impressed, then gently read her the story from the Bible of the boy Samuel and how God had called his name. She told her daughter to answer as he did if she heard the call again. The next time the call came Mary was too frightened to answer, but when it came again she answered in Samuel's words, "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth" (I Sam. 3:10). This experience was not repeated again, but she proved to be her Lord's servant during the remainder of her life, responding loyally to every direction of Principle, however rugged the way.

Mrs. Eddy spent her young womanhood in very delicate health and sought unsuccessfully for healing from many forms of materia medica. Hers was a path of opposition and hardship, but she persisted in her unrelenting search for Truth until it was revealed to her in the healing already related. From that time on she experienced better health than she had known before. This healing, together with her subsequent earnest study of the Scriptures, brought her the full revelation of the Science of healing as practiced by Christ Jesus. She named her discovery Christian Science. As her understanding grew she put it to the test of actual practice, with remarkable results, in many instances raising even the dying to life and health.

Her loving desire to bring the fruit of this great revelation to all mankind led her to write the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." The first edition of this book was published in 1875, and after these many years it is in constant demand. It is read, in conjunction with the King James Version of the Bible, in all Christian Science church services and daily in Christian Science homes. In this volume, which is truly a key to the treasures of the Bible, she has set forth the full, and final, revelation of Christian Science. It is not surprising that one who performed such healings should write in her textbook (p. 55), "The time for the reappearing of the divine healing is throughout all time," and, quoting the words of St. John, " 'He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.' This Comforter I understand to be Divine Science."

To have given the textbook, Science and Health, to the world would have been enough to cause this gentle servant of God to be loved and respected for all time; but her work was not finished. As she writes in Science and Health (Pref., p. xi), "When God called the author to proclaim His Gospel to this age, there came also the charge to plant and water His vineyard." Clear evidence that Mrs. Eddy fulfilled this requirement is seen in her establishment of the vast organization of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, which now has more than three thousand branches throughout the world. She established The Christian Science Publishing Society, responsible for publication of The Christian Science Journal, a monthly magazine; the Christian Science Sentinel, issued weekly; and The Herald of Christian Science, printed in a number of foreign languages. These periodicals include helpful articles on Christian Science and verified testimonies of healing. Also published by the Publishing Society is the Christian Science Quarterly, which contains the outlines for the Bible Lessons read each Sunday in Churches of Christ, Scientist, and the international daily newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, which is so highly regarded for its integrity and authority in reporting world and local news.

In the Manual of The Mother Church, Mrs. Eddy requires that each branch church shall maintain a Reading Room where the public is free to study, borrow, or purchase the Bible and Science and Health and her other published writings, as well as all authorized Christian Science literature. These quiet, restful rooms are precious havens for those seeking healing and comfort. Surely, Mrs. Eddy deserves the Master's "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" (Matt. 25:21). She has earned the heartfelt gratitude and love accorded her by her followers, who, far from worshiping her as some believe, revere her as their Leader and friend.         

 

The Prayer of Faith

Yes, Divine Science, the healing Comforter, has come, and its teachings are easily available through the many avenues just described. It will teach you to find and experience the harmony that is your birthright, for it will teach you how to pray as Jesus prayed. Significantly, the first chapter in Science and Health is on Prayer, and many are the persons who have found healing in studying this chapter and following its teaching.

Through such study, one gains a clearer understanding of the spiritual concept of God, man, and the universe, a concept quite the opposite of that presented by the physical senses. He learns that God, Spirit, being wholly good, His creation, including man, is spiritual and wholly good. Thus when confronted with the evidence of discord of any nature the student does not blindly beg God to remove or heal it. Instead he resorts to scientific prayer. Acknowledging God's goodness and the fact that His creation must be eternally Godlike, he realizes that the evidence of discord, sickness, or sin cannot be true, but is a mistaken sense of things. He then sets himself to deny all evidence of inharmony and to affirm the truth, or spiritual facts of the case. As this mental process is persisted in, the error is displaced from thought and the true state of things is manifested to human consciousness. The fact that this correction of thought results in the healing of disease and all other forms of discord proves that harmony is the natural state of man which has never been absent but only seems to be temporarily hidden from view by the erring sense of life in matter.

Such is the prayer taught by the Comforter.

 

God's Nature Revealed

I am sure that an audience sufficiently enlightened to want to hear a Christian Science lecture no longer thinks of God as a great, magnified, manlike being somewhere off in space. But how many are prepared to actually describe their concept of Him? Let us read Mrs. Eddy's definition of God in Science and Health (p. 587): "God. The great I am; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence."

Can you think of a more expressive name with which God could have identified Himself to Moses at the burning bush than "I AM"? Moses probably did not at first grasp the full significance of this statement, but it opened his thought to the truth sufficiently for him to be able to successfully lead Israel out of bondage. How grateful we should be that the Comforter came to Mrs. Eddy, enabling her to learn from the teachings and lives of Moses, the prophets, and Christ Jesus enough about the great "I AM" to be able to enlighten us as she does in this definition.

What burdens of false responsibility may be dropped when we realize that, as she states, God does all of the knowing, all of the seeing, all of the acting, and consequently man only reflects this divine knowing, seeing, and acting. It is clear that Jesus knew this, for he said (John 5:30; 14:10), "I can of mine own self do nothing," and, "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works."

You will note that in her loving effort to give us a more complete concept of God, Mrs. Eddy has listed seven words, all synonyms for God, each of which is directly used or implied in the Bible to describe Him. Now, of course, this does not mean that there are seven Gods, for upon studying these synonyms it will be seen that they combine to express the one God. Furthermore, they are interchangeable, and each holds within it the substance of all the others. It is as though one were to circle around an object, taking pictures of it from all angles. Each picture would represent the object, but we should have to study all of the pictures to gain a complete concept of the object.

I do not hesitate to say to you that if you will study this marvelous definition of God without prejudice, humbly accepting the facts as set forth, you will begin to comprehend something of the infinite nature of our creator. You will see that He is always and everywhere present, the only Presence.

You will be led to recognize that, being always present, everywhere, He cannot be a localized or materially outlined being, but is infinite Spirit, whose allness precludes the existence of anything whatsoever which does not reflect the substance of Spirit.

You will realize that all of creation must exist within, and be the product of, Spirit, God; and as nothing less than unlimited intelligence could possibly conceive, create, and govern the universe and man, you must agree that God is infinite Mind, including the universe in the form of spiritual ideas.

I assure you that as your concept of God is thus enlarged it will become clear to you that He is the very Life of all creation, the deathless Life of every one of us, the Soul which is infinite and so never confined within any of its ideas, but eternally reflected by them.

If you will thoughtfully ponder the nature of God as revealed in this definition, you will begin to see why Mrs. Eddy reverently refers to Him as Father-Mother. You will see that He is not only the great and protective Cause, or Principle of all, but the tender, mothering Love, which devotedly guides and nourishes each idea in its eternal unfoldment of perfect being.

Yes, if you will alter your thinking to conform to this true sense of God, and strive to image forth His likeness in your daily living, you will begin to prove that God is Truth − God, who, as the Psalmist tells us, "forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases" (Ps. 103:3). Yes, if you will do this, you will embrace the healing Comforter through true and effective prayer.

 

Man, God's Heir

Now, what would man, the child of this Father-Mother, be like? We shall see that, as one gains an understanding of God, he is learning more about man, about himself. Let us turn to the Bible to see why this is so. Christian Science reveals that the first chapter of Genesis and the first three verses of the second give the true spiritual record of creation. Here we find that God made everything that was made and saw that it was very good. There is no indication of inharmony of any sort in this true record. In the twenty-sixth verse we read, "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." There is described the man that you really are. Think of it! Made in God's own image, good, spiritual, perfect, having dominion over everything God made. Wouldn't you like to get acquainted with this eternally happy, healthy self? You may do so today by the grace of the healing Comforter, Christian Science.

Remembering what we learned about God, that He is the one Mind, filling all space, it is obvious that His man and the universe must exist within Him. There is no place else to be. As the Apostle Paul wrote (Acts 17:28), "For in him we live, and move, and have our being." That which exists in Mind is idea, is it not? It cannot exist there as matter. So man, like everything in the universe, is the idea of Mind, God. And man was given dominion over all other ideas in the universe of God. Hence Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (p. 475): "Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique. He is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas." How does this highest idea of God, called man, have dominion over the rest of His ideas? He has it by reflection; that is, he manifests God's dominion.

Jesus said (John 5:30): "I can of mine own self do nothing," and (John 14:10), "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." Man is not the knower, seer, or doer; he simply reflects God's activity. Remember, God is "all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting." Man, God's highest idea, manifests God's knowing, seeing, acting. The student of Christian Science who has begun to understand this truth concerning God and man ceases to think of himself as a mortal, separate from God, with a mind of his own. Instead, he cultivates the habit of accepting God as his only Mind, and thinking accordingly. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus," said Paul (Phil. 2:5). And Mrs. Eddy, referring to this statement in her book "Unity of Good" (p. 4), indicates that this could be none other than the divine Mind.

The student may express dominion over every phase of his daily life by correcting his thought about people, things, and circumstances. He consistently replaces the material picture with the Godlike concept of all things, and the result is a healthier body and a more harmonious life. He is no longer a helpless victim of circumstances, but proves by degrees that man has dominion over all the earth.

Do you begin to see now how it is that as one understands more about God he knows more about himself? Surely, the man who conforms his thinking to this true sense of things gains dominion over inharmony of every sort. He learns that, instead of being a fleshly body with a limited mind, housed in a skull, man is the spiritual child of God, heir to all that is good, beautiful, and eternal. He is comforted and healed by the Comforter. His prayer becomes the prayer of gratitude.

 

Metaphysical Operation

I want to tell you how a friend of mine was healed of kidney stones through prayer based on this true concept of God and man. This man, suffering violent pain, was told by his doctor that he must submit to a surgical operation to remove the stones. Dreading the thought of surgery, he asked his wife, who is a Christian Scientist, if she thought Christian Science treatment would heal him. She assured him it would if he would fully cooperate with the practitioner. He agreed, and Christian Science treatment, or prayer, was undertaken at once. For several days he earnestly studied the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson and selected citations in Science and Health while the practitioner prayed. Then, one morning, he reported happily to the practitioner. A large stone had passed from his body through the normal channels without pain or difficulty, although such a thing appeared utterly impossible. That was the end of the trouble.

Let's see how prayer was used to perform this operation without knife or anesthetic. Among other selections from Science and Health, the practitioner gave the patient this one to study while he himself used it as a guide to corrective thinking (p. 463): "A spiritual idea has not a single element of error, and this truth removes properly whatever is offensive." The practitioner reasoned that because man exists in the divine Mind as idea, God's very image, he is the exact likeness of God, Spirit; that he is spiritually mental and includes, mentally, all of the ideas that make up the true idea of body. He saw that each of these ideas is God-created and maintained and could not possibly include an element of inharmony or obstruction. It was also clear that God was his very Mind and could not be deceived into believing in pain or discord.

In the light of this reasoning he saw that all of the physical evidence − pain, obstruction, fear, medical diagnosis − was a lie about man. They had never been a part of him, for he had never ceased being the spiritual image of God to become a fleshly body. Man had been perfect all the while and was untouched by the lie about him.

So the statement used was literally proved as this spiritual reasoning removed properly (removed from thought) the offensive error. The truth, as always, revealed the disease to be just error, and when seen to be error, it disappeared from human consciousness, the only place it had ever seemed to exist. You see, it was entirely a mental operation, the prayer of faith, as taught in Christian Science. Thus we learn that the supposed physical body is actually perceived mentally and so is subject to our corrective thinking. What a gift from the Comforter − the revelation of our dominion over the body, through understanding that God is Spirit and man is spiritual.

This precious truth, taught and demonstrated by Christ Jesus and discovered in Christian Science, knocks at the door of each heart and brings blessings where humbly admitted.

 

Unlimited Dominion

Now perhaps someone is wondering how to apply this vital power of scientific prayer to heal the sins of mankind and the many world problems which we know stem from these sins. Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (p. 210), "Jesus healed sickness and sin by one and the same metaphysical process." So Christian Science heals hatred, passion, greed, lust, fear, false appetites by the same metaphysical process as that with which it conquers disease.

Knowing that God gave man dominion over his entire creation, one can certainly control his experience with the world at large. He need not suffer lack because the world seems to be experiencing a depression. He need not be killed because the world seems to be at war. On the contrary, he may not only defend himself and others under such circumstances, but help to forestall, to prevent, and remove the evil circumstances. Does this seem like a rather broad statement? It was proved in Bible times and is provable today.

Let us think it through in the light of what we learn from the Comforter. As stated earlier in this lecture, since God includes His universe of ideas in consciousness, man, His image, must likewise include all things in this way, and the entire universe, in the form of ideas, is available, and subject, to man's experience mentally. This means that instead of man's being a small, helpless victim of things and circumstances, subject to chance, change, and minds many, he is greater than anything he may encounter, except God Himself. Now this does not mean that you or I can dominate all or any of our fellow beings, but it does mean that we can control our experience with them.

A friend of mine proved this not too long ago. He has a very responsible position with a large institution and has many employees under his supervision. In endeavoring to carry out his work efficiently, he found himself increasingly handicapped by a stubborn and unreasonable attitude on the part of his immediate superior. He knew that what he proposed doing in his department was necessary and right, but this one man seemed determined to prevent all such action and was extremely unpleasant. As this unhappy condition continued, my friend became so frustrated and worried that he suffered the apparent return of an old problem of stomach ulcers. Finally, as matters grew steadily worse, he was on the verge of quitting his position. In despair, however, he decided to first seek the help of a Christian Science practitioner.

The practitioner reminded him of his birthright of dominion and the fact that this entire experience was taking place nowhere but in his own thought. He was told that, if he were willing to deny the physical evidence of a discordant man and replace it with the realization that, because God is All, there could be nothing but His loving, intelligent presence, expressed everywhere, he would be relieved. It was pointed out that, as Jesus taught, he must love his neighbor as himself; that is, must see both himself and his neighbor as loving and lovable expressions of God. He was then told to study the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson and was given this citation from Science and Health to study (p. 476): "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick."

At first, forgiveness appeared impossible, for his thought of the man had grown very resentful, and he was unwilling to deny the evil appearance. He felt that it was only just that the other fellow should be forced to change his attitude, then all would be well. As Christian Science treatment continued, however, he began to soften and to accept the truth of the situation. He became willing to acknowledge that right where he seemed to see a human enemy, right there was God's own reflection of Himself, and the false picture he had unwittingly accepted in his own thought was the source of all the discord.

He then set himself to love his superior; "that is, to consistently replace each critical, vengeful thought about him with the opposite concept. It was not easy, but as he persisted he found relations improving, and soon almost unbelievable co-operation and understanding replaced friction and obstruction. Naturally, as his thought changed, the painful stomach disorder disappeared, and my friend recently told me that, not only has the whole problem been solved, but the two men are now the best of friends. You see, my friend found that he did not have to reform the other fellow to restore harmony. He had only to reform his own thought about the man and the situation as a whole. In other words, he had to cease sinning. God, Principle, had established the rule. The rule was revealed by the Comforter, and obedience to this rule brought release from discord to all concerned.

Now doesn't it logically follow that the same rule applies, whether we are dealing with one person or a thousand? Suppose you were greatly disturbed by the fear of an atomic attack by an enemy nation. Remember, the Comforter reveals that you experience everything at the standpoint of consciousness and urges you to "let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). Humbly and obediently apply this rule, even though it means contradicting the evidence of the physical senses and the beliefs of those about you. Insist upon thinking of those who appear to be enemies, be they diplomats or dictators, relatives or the folks next door, as they must appear to God, who made all in His image. As you pray in this way you will be compelled to realize that you have no enemies. Those who appear, to mistaken sense, to be evil men intent upon harming you or your country are actually individual expressions of God, as you are. They have no mind but God and can only reflect His loving, intelligent nature.

Just in proportion as you hold to this true, spiritual concept, displacing sin from thought, just in that degree will you be relieved of fear and will protect not only yourself, but those around you, from the effects of mistaken thinking. Just as my friend, his boss, and his entire staff were relieved of discord by the corrected thinking of one man, so may each of us bring the blessings of the healing Comforter to our homes, our nation, and our world. This does not mean that we should ignore the belief that we have enemies, or that we should fail to deal effectively, even in human ways, with those who seem to be our enemies, so long as the seeming remains. It does not mean, either, that you would refuse to bear arms or buy bonds in obedience to the laws and needs of your nation. You would certainly do, and encourage others to do, all that is needful in such human ways, but would also be rendering the greater service of true prayer.

Can we doubt that this scientific prayer on the part of increasing numbers of individuals is hastening the day when, as Isaiah prophesied (Isa. 11:9), "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea"?

 

Summary

Now, let us briefly summarize what we have heard about the healing Comforter promised by Christ Jesus. The Comforter is the Science of Life as taught and demonstrated by Jesus. This Science, or Christ, Truth, has been revealed to this age as Christian Science. Being Science, it can be understood and proved. By enabling us to better understand God, it renders our players effective. It reveals the true meaning of salvation as the destruction of sin, disease, and death through the understanding and demonstration of divine Life, Truth, and Love. It makes it possible for you, and me, to experience this glorious awakening today. As Mrs. Eddy so aptly puts it in Science and Health (p. 230): "This awakening is the forever coming of Christ, the advanced appearing of Truth, which casts out error and heals the sick. This is the salvation which comes through God, the divine Principle, Love, as demonstrated by Jesus," and (p. 39), " 'Now,' cried the apostle, 'is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation,' − meaning, not that now men must prepare for a future-world salvation, or safety, but that now is the time in which to experience that salvation in spirit and in life."

Yes, dear friends, Jesus' promise has been fulfilled. Christian Science, the healing Comforter, has come. "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift" (II Cor. 9:15).

 

[Feb. 24, 1959.]

 

 

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