Christian Science and Human Activities
The Rev. Andrew J. Graham, C.S.B., of Boston, Massachusetts
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
In 1866 Mary Baker Eddy discovered Christian Science. Later she founded the Christian Science movement. She also wrote its textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," which was published in 1875. Her human sojourn, stretching over a period of almost ninety years, was a very busy one. Mrs. Eddy was a notable example of an individual who manifests great activity and at the same time displays a sense of unusual quietness. It is seldom that one finds the piercing glance of the eagle coupled with the gentle eye of the dove. Mrs. Eddy's activity of thought soared high above that of her contemporaries, yet she was unobtrusive and seems never to have striven for worldly distinction. In her busiest days she appears to have possessed herself in quietness and confidence.
In March, 1885, Mrs. Eddy was accorded ten minutes, in Tremont Temple, Boston, in which to reply to Joseph Cook, the then noted lecturer, who had made a rather savage attack on Christian Science. The hour was noon. The occasion was doubtless one of considerable excitement with the large audience. At the given moment, Mrs. Eddy, a delicate figure, quaintly and daintily gowned, stepped forward and modestly delivered her address of about eight hundred words. She spoke of the ever-presence of God and the Christ-truth which heals and releases suffering humanity. She spoke with that quietness which betokens certainty. Her brief message is gratefully read by hundreds of thousands today, while Mr. Cook's vehement attack, unjust and untrue, has passed to oblivion.
Mrs. Eddy once wrote a brief article entitled "Improve Your Time." It may be found on page 230 of "Miscellaneous Writings," and in it occurs this passage: "Three ways of wasting time, one of which is contemptible, are gossiping mischief, making lingering calls, and mere motion when at work, thinking of nothing or planning for some amusement, — travel of limb more than mind. Rushing around smartly is no proof of accomplishing much."
Great activity of body and mind subjects to the temptation of misdirection. When activity is coupled with the balance wheel of well-ordered thought right direction can be maintained and good results obtained. One may think rapidly, speak rapidly, move rapidly and work rapidly, and all be done after the rule of orderliness and quietness, and good results be manifold. Again one may think, speak, move and work slowly and quietly and yet be slovenly and unproductive of anything save failure. Our Leader's example of equilibrium is an outstanding feature of her work.
The span of Mrs. Eddy's life, on this place of existence, synchronized with the most active and progressive century of human history. Particularly from 1840 to 1910, the rapidity with which inventions and discoveries promised to put the material creation at the beck of man, seemed sufficiently mesmeric to entice even staid institutions of learning from their quiet pursuits into untried paths. During this entire period, Mary Baker Eddy walked circumspectly, looking around her, taking note of current events, keeping thoroughly abreast of the times, but holding steadily and quietly to a high purpose, the fruits of which are blessing all mankind. She was essentially a follower of the Way-shower, Jesus the Christ. Her pursuit of that Mind which was in him was earnest and unflagging.
Let us lovingly think, for a few moments, of the Way-shower. Jesus' three years of supreme activity were preceded by thirty years of such quietness as to be almost obscurity. This restraint and self-effacement, conspicuous in Jesus' human life, is a beckoning example for all who would be his disciples. Mankind has scarcely begun to realize the pattern of his life. Eagerness to get on in the world seeks to attain graduation before education, fruit before cultivation and reward before work. To me one of the most regnant facts in the life of Jesus was that restraint which he was able to put upon his activities until the time was ripe for their coming. Twice did he appear in the Jerusalem temple: on the eighth day after his birth and again at twelve years of age. With these exceptions the veil of silence dropped upon the first thirty years of his earthly life — years of obedience, unfolding and preparation. Humanly speaking, that period of quiet was a necessary precedent to the three wonderful years of public activity — activity needing no revisions and no additions. Jesus has marked the way for that quiet thinking and self-restraint which makes human activities safe and sane and fruitful. Mrs. Eddy's teachings point us to that way. The instructions of Christian Science are not merely academic but also life-giving. The treatment and healing in Christian Science unfold a state of equilibrium in thought and action.
The One Source and Cause
Human activities are permanently useful only as they proceed from the right source, are guided by a noble purpose and aim at a worthy consummation. This trinity of thought was always present in the mind of Jesus. He never laid claim to being able to do anything of himself. He looked to his Father. Hence, all his activities were good, — good in origin, good in motive, good in result. It could not be otherwise, for effect must be like its cause; idea like its Principle. God and good are closely related words. From God proceeds all good — all lovingkindness, sustenance and protection. The unity, the oneness of God, good, not only meets the spiritual need of man but also satisfies the intellectual demand for God.
The Bible and Christian Science set forth the nature of God as omniscient, omnipotent, all-wise and all-loving. The nature of the supreme Cause, called God, has been greatly misapprehended, in that some people have supposed God's law sometimes to be inactive until aroused to activity by the petitions of men. In Christian Science these mistaken beliefs give way to the demonstrable truth that God is always (not spasmodically) doing good to and for all His creatures. Springing from such a source came forth all the activities of Jesus. Springing from the same source, the inspiration of the student of Christian Science leads him, by stately goings, into the way of well-balanced activities, which are bringing benedictions to mankind.
Retreat and Advance
Anomalous as it may appear, all true human activity proceeds from a state of inaction; whose other name is receptivity. One must receive before he can give — must gather before he can distribute. Retreating from the discordant and confusing voices of sense is equivalent to advancing toward God — Spirit. The voice of God is the "undertone sublime," clearly recognizable to the quiet, listening ear, through all the discords of mortality.
Moses, whose name stands for moral courage, heard it in the desert and on Sinai; Jesus, which name means Saviour, heard it in the wilderness and in Gethsemane; Mary, the meaning of which is bitter, heard it at the foot of the cross; and another Mary, our Leader, heard it and was comforted by it, in those trying days when she wrote:
"And o'er earth's troubled, angry sea
I see Christ walk,
And come to me, and tenderly,
(Poems, p. 12)
All those who, having experienced the incompleteness and restlessness of human life, and who through Christian Science have learned somewhat of the completeness and restfulness of God, have demonstrated, in a measure, the important lesson of retreat and advance.
Vividly do I recall the long period of pain and gloom immediately preceding my instantaneous healing in Christian Science. On a day of sickness and discouragement, I was walking, aimlessly, in a very busy part of the city of London. Close by the thoroughfare was a disused chapel which had been converted into an attractive resting place, where weary men and women could linger, for a little while, beside the road and "hear the angels sing." No conversation was permitted in the chapel. As I sat in the vestibule for a bit, I raised my eyes to the ceiling, and saw, on the face of a great beam, printed in old English letters, a message which seemed to come directly from the source of all consolation: —
Who himself and God would know,
Into the silence let him go.
I was being led to my blessing. In three weeks from that day I was instantaneously healed in Christian Science, and soon after went from the agitation and worry of the old theological way of expressing Christian activity into the silence of listening, for several years. That retreat was my first, great advance in understanding what worth-while human activities are.
Approaching Christian Science
Multitudes of men and women throughout the world have heard and read of the regeneration and healing of the sick and sinful through Christian Science. They know that some of their friends and acquaintances, and even members of their families, have taken a new lease of life, and are manifesting health and happiness, activity and success, through Christian Science. These results are leading an ever-increasing number of persons to ponder over the subject and to wonder whether they may not find relief from their burdens through the same means. Deep down in their hearts, all men desire peace, harmony, wholeness. In the language of the Scriptures, "The whole creation groaneth." Very often do people say mentally, in their own language: "Oh, send out Thy light and Thy truth that they may lead me, and bring me to Thy holy hill, and to Thy dwelling." Gladly would I say something to enhearten such persons in their turning toward Christian Science. I would encourage them to look the evidence for Christian Science squarely in the face, and to judge it by its fruits. One is compelled to respect the restraint of those who refuse to rush precipitately into any course of action. The Bible commands us to be ready to give a reason for our faith. Christian Science asks no recognition save on the basis of demonstration. There is nothing mysterious, mystical or elusive about its tenets. The sum total of its teaching is love, and in Science, this word "love" means the reflection of the divine Mind in individual man. Therefore is there no ground for any one to be afraid or ashamed to approach and to appeal to Christian Science for help to overcome sickness, sin, lack, sorrow and even death.
One may seek this help through various avenues provided by Mrs. Eddy. There are her published writings; the Sunday Christian Science services; the Wednesday testimony meetings; the Christian Science Reading Rooms; Christian Science practitioners; the Christian Science periodicals and the authorized lectures. Even though one may have no faith that Christian Science can relieve him of his burdens, nevertheless, the fact that he knows it has relieved others and that he himself needs help, is sufficient ground for his action in approaching Christian Science.
Healing in Christian Science
In Christian Science we practitioners are learning things which are very beneficial, not only to ourselves, but also to those who come to us for help. The pearl of all our learning is this: that the activity, in Christian Science healing, which is supreme, is the activity of genuine, compassionate, intelligent love. Metaphysical understanding and thorough acquaintance with the letter of Science are needful but must be accompanied by the reflection of divine Love. Selfish motives, greed of gain, dishonesty, insincerity, clip the wings of inspiration. Christian Science healing is realized through human activity always seeking and following divine guidance.
We are learning that the practitioner may be too active in talking to a patient, especially if the one seeking help knows little or nothing about Christian Science. A silent treatment may stir error to chemicalization, but seldom induces confusion and antagonism.
We are learning that to fuss and worry over patients is a sign that we fear for the efficiency of our treatment, and such fear is quite sure to prove fatal to good results. We are learning that sometimes when we have worked honestly for a patient, for a considerable time, with no healing apparent, and then dismissed him, he seems to have gotten well immediately. This may mean that our healing work had already been done, but that for some reason we failed to loose the patient and let him go.
We are learning that no human being ever healed anybody of anything. Even Jesus repudiated the inference that he healed, and attributed all power and good to his Father. We are learning that when we are active in listening for the "still small voice," we are doing the best kind of work for our patients. A treatment in Christian Science is what is [known in] the New Testament as prayer. The true prayer asks for nothing, but seeks to know the truth that God is good and lovingly cares for all His creation. There can be no healing in Christian Science except through prayer. One's light must be burning or it cannot reflect light to others.
Progressing in Christian Science
One who has received mental enlightenment or physical healing through Christian Science usually desires to learn more about this wonderful truth. His very eagerness to advance may hinder his progress. The apothegms: Haste makes waste, and, The longest way around is often the shortest way home, contain some pertinent truth. The sense of love and gratitude which comes with Christian Science healing is a manifestation of the Christ-truth being born in consciousness, and this dawning truth needs a sheltered protection. Very apropos are Mrs. Eddy's words on page 1 of "No and Yes"; "Men, when thrilled by a new idea, are sometimes impatient. . . . They should then turn temporarily from the tumult, for the silent cultivation of the true idea and the quiet practice of its virtues."
If the neophyte in Christian Science is so fortunate as to be wisely advised, at this critical period, he will be saved the retracing of many steps.
Acquisition of Christian Science truth and its assimilation need to go together. The understanding of this truth and its application in daily living mean sure progress. It is not wise to strive for revelation far in advance of demonstration. The patient methodical study of Mrs. Eddy's published writings in connection with the Bible will open up unending vistas of divine Truth, for, God being infinite, unfoldment of His truth is infinite. Such study is real Christian Science work. Not labor, but work. God's work is unlabored — without effort. Christian Science teaches and demonstrates that labor wearies one, while work refreshes.
In that well-known marble, cut by French sculptor Rodin, the Thinker is represented as a toiler, seated, with head bowed and supported by the hand, the countenance contracted, and the whole figure indicative of intense and painful effort. Such is not the posture and expression of the true thinker. In Christian Science, one learns that the strained effort is the action of the human, mortal mind, instead of the activity of spiritual sense. And, as true thinking is the fundamental work of all Christian Scientists, it should be done in that way, which issues in real progress.
Applying Christian Science
Healing in Christian Science and progressing in Christian Science are certainly demonstrations. However, under the caption of applying Christian Science, I desire to speak, particularly, of the truth as applied in business and in the practical affairs of Christian Science churches.
When the disciples, obedient to the Master's command, cast their nets on the right side of the ship, their business prospered. Man — the child of God — has the right to be rightfully successful, and to have his every need supplied. Science is "the sunshine of Truth" (Science and Health, p. 299) and it illumines the path of the man who desires to deal justly with his fellow-men.
In God's creation all ideas are interdependent and mutually helpful. No business carried on by men can be called God's business, unless its basic intention and desire are to be helpful and to confer blessings upon all connected with it, whether employers, laborers, patrons or correspondents. In the largest and best sense of the phrase, the cooperative plan in business is the Christianly scientific plan. The working out of the details may be accompanied by many seeming difficulties, but the best plan is the only one worth striving for in any activity.
Business men and women — Christian Scientists — have unusual opportunities for applying the truth. No nobler work can be done than the correcting and healing of the sores of the business world today. The task may seem arduous, but what men are called upon to do is to set their own house (consciousness) in order. Then, if God has a larger work for them to do, in healing business methods of the world, He will designate and illumine the way.
While listening to this lecture, or reading it, some one may say: "Well, all other Christian bodies urge the same thing." Yes, but Christian Science not only teaches this, but it enables one to understand it; and confers on one the ability to demonstrate it. Perhaps it is well, however, to state the obvious fact that a business man should seek Christian Science help in order to learn first what true business is, that he may win blessings for others as well as himself.
Church, in Christian Science, means the reception and manifestation of Truth and Love. Therefore, if Christian Scientists should ever fail to reflect Truth and Love, in their church work, their activities would be un-Christian and unscientific. All those who have received healing through Christian Science and have been accepted as members of a Christian Science church will find many opportunities for expressing their gratitude through the numerous channels for work provided in The Mother Church and branch churches.
It is well known that Christian churches, generally, expend much energy in their efforts to raise money. I have been engaged in religious work for nearly half a century, in an orthodox church, and latterly in Christian Science, and I can say, intelligently, that thus far the Christian Science church has kept itself quite free from the frantic, sometimes questionable and often futile efforts to raise money, which prevail so largely in Christendom. The loving, spontaneous, and generous offerings of Christian Scientists release them from many disagreeable tasks and leave them free to work along more spiritual lines. They realize the need of much wisdom, as workers, in the various activities of the Christian Science churches. This needed guidance is provided for in the Manual of The Mother Church, where may be found more than two hundred specific directions for those who are applying Christian Science, in church activities. Faithfully to discharge the duties of any position in church is the only way that leads to larger opportunities. David caught a glimpse of the true church and the perfect reward, when he sang, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee."
Living Christian Science
One cannot apply Christian Science, effectually, without living it. What one does should be the expression of what one is. So is it with God. Reputation and character should harmonize. What one says should reveal, not conceal his thoughts. "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8). This is applying true Christianity. Many times, during the years of my ministry in another church, did I search the sayings of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament, to find some direct statements of his which I might employ in building up and buttressing my theological opinions and beliefs. I always turned away from that quest a disappointed man. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount reveals not a single sentence the import of which is creedal. In all his teaching and addresses, Jesus appears to have assumed that men knew much more about God and right than they were putting into practice. With him religion was a practical, individual and vital matter, beginning at home. Paul saw this important fact and wrote to Timothy, "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine." Thyself first. Mrs. Eddy's message to mankind is vital, imbued with power. She invested it with vitality by living it. The most correct and methodical outward conformity to the requirements of Christian Science, without the loving, inward obedience, is a shell, a vacant domicile.
The Wider View
While regeneration must begin with one's self, yet the very nature of the Christian Science teachings renders it impossible for the genuine Christian Scientist to dwell contentedly in the realm of contracted views. If he is progressing at all, his thinking is graduating from the insular to the cosmic; his sympathies are broadening; his purposes are more far-reaching.
Christian Science teaches and demonstrates that God is the only creator, that there is but one creation, which is wholly spiritual. Back of every bird, tree, flower, animal and man, is the spiritual reality of which the material shadow or manifestation is but a counterfeit. Mortal eye has never seen these realities, but spiritual sense recognizes and enjoys them. The flower and the bird are as truly a part of God's creation as is man and are just as essential to the integrity of that kingdom. All God's ideas or creatures are perfect and harmonious, bearing loving relations to each other. Hence as the carnal mind is put off, through Christian Science, one sees more clearly the essential harmony and interdependence of all God's ideas, from the least to the greatest. The dawning of this truth reveals the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man as the foundation of all spiritual building. It begins to destroy the barriers and lines of separation between men which their narrow thoughts and ungenerous sentiments have erected.
The wider view which Christian Science brings does not accept or condone any phase of error: nor does it sympathize with error in order to be complaisant to the unregenerated mind. It sees error as unreal and therefore as a vanishing dream. This gives the Christian Scientist a great advantage, for it enables him to see the sick and sinful and discordant everywhere as victims of impersonal evil, needing broad charity and divine compassion. In this unfolding, the Christian Scientist not only deepens his righteous experience but he also enlarges his consciousness of the reflection of divine intelligence; his motives and actions are more generous, thus tending to destroy the petty thoughts and purposes which engender to bondage.
The Solution Which Solves
True Christianity is the expression of the Christ. Jesus was ever obedient to the Christ and for that reason became Christ Jesus — Jesus the Christ, or the anointed one or God-crowned.
It is not, therefore, much to be wondered at, that when the early church lost the power to heal, it seemed also to have forgotten that God is Spirit and fell to worshipping that which could be seen by human eyes. That is, it exalted the human Jesus into the place of Deity. Yet to teach that Jesus was God gave rise to so many difficulties in thought that the keenest theologians found it impossible to frame statements which would be free from self-contradictions. The three creeds of early Christendom, known as the Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian, did not close discussions nor could they prevent schisms.
Sooner or later, all religious disputes fell back to, and centered around, the person of Christ Jesus. His alleged Deity could not be harmonized with the facts which his humanity involved. Even the remarkable purification of theological thought, induced by the Reformation, dared not let its changes impinge upon the belief in the Godhead of Jesus. After many years of patient, clarified thinking, Mrs. Eddy handled the question boldly. She untied the Gordian knot. She solved the problem which had served as a theological battleground for centuries. In a reverent, natural, logical, spiritual way, she saw the dual nature in Christ Jesus, and through reason and revelation, she pointed out that that duality implied and involved the human Jesus and the divine Christ. Very lucidly Mrs. Eddy writes of Jesus and Christ, on page 332 of Science and Health: "Jesus was the son of a virgin. He was appointed to speak God's word and to appear to mortals in such a form of humanity as they could understand as well as perceive." "Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness."
Christ is not a person. Christ is the impersonal truth and love of God, everywhere, all the time, appealing to men for response. Jesus was always obedient to the appealing Christ and became the perfect man — Christ Jesus, that is, the Christ Saviour or the one who saves through the Christ-truth.
These statements are relevant and consonant with this whole lecture, for no healing activities can ever be accomplished through Christian Science, unless there be some clear understanding as to the humanity of Jesus and the divinity of the Christ. It is our privilege and duty to love and follow in the footsteps of Jesus and to worship only God, whose activity in His universe is known, in Christian Science, as the Christ.
The Desire of the Nations
The ultimate result of the Christian Science teaching contemplates one family on earth — a union of nations in one grand brotherhood, whose mutual friendship is based upon the rock of Truth and Love. The division of mankind into nations, with petty jealousies and conflicting interests, is superficial, arbitrary and unchristian. Fundamentally, Christian Science teaches free intercourse and free trade among the peoples of the world. Its basic thought as to interrelations is that each man should seek a blessing through giving a blessing.
As mankind is now divided, each nation is seeking its own preservation and extension, and the widespread belief is that such preservation and extension depend chiefly upon material opportunities withheld or wrested from other nations. Such an ethical system is rotten to the core. In God's universe supply is at hand before demand calls. Divine Love is my shepherd, therefore, can I lack nothing.
It is laudable for nations to seek sustenance and expansion, but these can be safely and securely won only through knowing what real life and substance are. The apprehension and comprehension of what life and substance are, come through enlightenment and healing in Christian Science.
It is of supreme importance that the whole Christian Science movement should act unitedly, in unfolding and demonstrating the plan for universal peace. It is no idle boast to say that the past fifty years' history of Christian Science proclaim it to be the desire of all nations. All men desire satisfaction, harmony, peace. But the world has not been seeking this end in Jesus' way. Yet all men desire Jesus' way if they but knew it. Those who have been recipients of its blessings can never shirk responsibility without inviting disaster. They who have tasted of divine Truth and rejoiced in its freedom must keep their faces turned to the light — or walk into deeper darkness.
All the good which is reflected and done by men originates directly in God. Every man who actively desires life and protection and peace is exercising a desire which God has given him; and a God-given desire is always attainable. Even so, nations which are striving for good-will and peace are pursuing no false light. True ideals are always realizable. The realization comes step by step, with fidelity to the ideal. Says Professor Blackie: "To look with admiring rapture on a type of perfect excellence is the sure way to become assimilated to that excellence."
The Christian Scientist makes his contribution to universal comity through the activity of knowing that the law of harmony has never been broken, that God's family has never been separated into jealous, envious factions. Thus in his own consciousness he erects a kingdom of harmony, far in advance of the Jewish Theocracy, Plato's Republic or any ecclesiastical institution of the Christian centuries. This consciousness of harmony, banyan-tree-like, leaps from man to man. reproducing itself. It cannot be stopped by any evil, acting within or without the organization called the church. "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The hope consummated in the thought of the one man, Jesus, is destined to be consummated in all.
Traveler, look up and lift up your heart; be unafraid; your journey is safe; your way is protected; your manna is abundant; your conversation — citizenship — is in heaven — harmony. Stranger, you are now sitting at the feast of love. Your enemies, — your problems, — standing round about, may seek to disturb, but they can never enter the secret place where you are abiding. If one is actively loving and lovingly active, he is ever shielded by that invariable safeguard of a mind preoccupied with Christly activities.
[Delivered Dec. 11, 1923, at the Unitarian Church and published in The Niagara Falls Gazette, Dec. 12, 1923. Two missing words were supplied from another copy of this lecture and set off in brackets.]