Christian Science: The Government by Divine Law
Judge Samuel W. Greene, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
A lecture on Christian Science was
given under the auspices of First Church of Christ, Scientist, of
The subject of the lecture was "Christian Science: The Government by Divine Law." Judge Greene spoke substantially as follows:
One of the first impressions that comes to the beginner in Christian Science is one of satisfaction on finding a religious teaching that is exact - that is really scientific and in accord with law. Law has held for the masses a place of respect, dignity, even majesty. From the standpoint of law, Christian Science makes a tremendous appeal to the logical reasoning thought.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, in her book "Rudimental Divine Science" (page 1:2-4), defines Christian Science "As the law of God, the law of good, interpreting and demonstrating the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony."
The Discoverer and Founder
This use of legal phraseology to define Christian Science may be an indication of how earnestly and broadly Mrs. Eddy studied and searched to discover the basis of Jesus' healing method.
To turn to the Bible for help was her last hope after a long and fruitless search for health among material remedies. Turning to God as she did with hope and faith she quickly saw the healing power manifested in restored health.
She then applied herself to a study of the Bible that she might know the scientific basis of her healing. As she studied, the Scriptures were illumined, and she saw and understood how healing depends upon a knowledge of God, as is evidenced in one of Jesus' most comprehensive promises, "This is life eternal that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." She saw that all of Jesus' healings came through his reliance upon God. She saw that Jesus claimed no exclusive right to do spiritual healing but that the same healing power could be exercised by all who believed on him - that is, understood the Christ. Thus was she led unerringly to the discovery that this scientific healing is in accord with divine law. Therefore, its practice is not limited, but is available for every earnest seeker after God who adheres to the plan outlined in Christian Science.
Although Mrs. Eddy, at the time of her discovery of Christian Science, was what the world calls middle aged, she was able to give more than forty years of active service to the foundation and promotion of her discovery. Her undisputed ability and efficiency as a really great leader have been recognized and fittingly acknowledged by many editors and
men of affairs outside the Christian Science movement. That she is held in the highest and tenderest esteem by the great host of Christian Scientists is plainly evidenced in the oral testimonials on Wednesday evenings in Christian Science Churches girdling the globe, and by written testimonials constantly appearing in the Christian Science periodicals.
In her study of the Bible, she saw that the contents of the Old Testament, when properly interpreted, revealed more or less discernment of God's law on the part of the notable characters therein mentioned. The so-called miracles and unusual incidents of the Bible are much more reasonably believable in the light of their scientific or spiritual understanding as taught in Christian Science.
The history of the Israelites from
the time of their breaking the bonds of slavery, through their arduous travels
Mortal man, under the accustomed material theory of life today, finds himself in bondage to many hard masters, such as disease, poverty, hatred, strife and sin. One day he discovers in Christian Science the Truth which enables him to break the shackles of material belief and to follow the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night through a sometimes rough path to spiritual light and understanding - the promised land. Mrs. Eddy has expressed the figure beautifully in the textbook in these words, "As the children of Israel were guided triumphantly through the Red Sea, the dark ebbing and flowing tides of human fear, - as they were led through the wilderness, walking wearily through the great desert of human hopes and anticipating the promised joy, - so shall the spiritual idea guide all right desires in their passage from sense to Soul, from a material sense of existence to the spiritual, up to the glory prepared for them who love God. Stately Science pauses not, but moves before them, a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night, leading to divine heights." (S. and H. 566:1-11)
For the purpose of enabling the Bible student to understand its spiritual import and significance, and to elucidate the practical operation of Christian Science, Mrs. Eddy wrote the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." At first the book evoked a storm of criticism from medical, religious and scientific sources, but gradually, as faithful men and women studied it, some under the author's tutelage, others independently, and began to apply its teachings, the healing of sin, disease, and other human problems resulted. Today spiritual healing, as practiced in Christian Science, is generally recognized as possible and of common occurrence. Indeed some medical men are sending the so-called incurables to Christian Science, and many preachers are advocating a study of the methods of spiritual healing. The Christian Science textbook is now well known in most libraries of any importance. It has been the agency through which great numbers of invalids and unfortunates have found health, happiness and comfort.
A study of this book unfolds to humanity the spiritual interpretation of the Bible, thus justifying that portion of the title, "Key to the Scriptures."
A textbook on any subject is generally understood to be a treatise, a study of which will tend to acquaint one basically with the subject treated. The textbook of Christian Science performs that service for its students, enabling them to become familiar with Christian Science and the practice thereof in healing the sick and solving human problems.
The first consideration in the study and practice of Christian Science, and that upon which the whole theory is founded, is a correct spiritual understanding of God. By spiritual understanding is meant that concept of Him which removes consideration of the subject absolutely out of the material realm of thought. A correct concept of God can never be had from the basis of matter; and until one's thought of God is separated and distinguished from a material concept, his religious experience can never be wholly satisfactory.
In Christian Science, God is understood to be infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love. With this understanding one is lifted into a higher, broader field of vision. He begins to ponder and to study, then to have a desire to make this concept of God his own experience. Personally, I can never forget the mental and spiritual exaltation that came to me when I opened the Christian Science textbook and read from the first chapter, "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." (S. and H., 1:1-4) I had always wanted to believe in such an infinite power, but my so-called orthodox concept of God had prevented any such vision. The average churchman might say that his teaching has not limited God's power. Perhaps he has not been taught expressly that God's power is limited, but have we not been permitted to believe or even been taught to assume that there are innumerable adversities, burdens and sorrows which cannot be overcome even through the power of God? These false assumptions have bound humanity with innumerable chains that centuries of Christianity have not sufficed to destroy. Now in Christian Science is being born a new consciousness that with God's power will overthrow this rule of false beliefs. The theory of material discord, confusion and chaos is completely obliterated in the understanding of God's allness and His government of the universe as taught in Christian Science.
The concept of God as Principle, enables us to realize His presence and power as ever available. It does not locate God in a heaven far removed from earth and human experience, but gives us the sweet assurance that at all times and under all circumstances He is present and His omnipotence available for the solution of our every problem. It is in effect the adoption of the First Commandment in its full meaning. It is a refusal to concede power to another than God, thus allowing no other gods before Him.
Closely related to a consideration of God's nature and being is the thought of what man really is. Christian Science adopts the theory of creation as unfolded in the first chapter of Genesis, that man is created in God's image and likeness and is therefore spiritual. Jesus says, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." This certainly implies that we must know God - must apprehend Him - understand Him - in spirit and in truth. The average person, when he stops to consider, will generally agree that he can know God only through spiritual apprehension or understanding - he does not expect to see God with the human eye or touch Him with the hand. Then man, in His image and likeness, must as certainly be apprehended or understood spiritually. No more than God can be materially perceived, can the man of God's creation be so perceived. It is true that we have been accustomed to think more commonly of man as material, but for a proper concept of God's creation, we are compelled to overcome this theory, and rise to an understanding of man's being image or idea of God - of Spirit. The reality of an idea is not a difficult concept even to our material thinking.
We can look at the expression "four times five are twenty" on a blackboard and be conscious of its existence as a basic law of mathematics, but erasing the figures does not destroy the idea it conveys, or lessen its definiteness in one's concept. One may look upon a material object, such as a chair, and be conscious that the object can be burned or destroyed, but that the spiritual idea back of it, whatever it is as an idea of Mind continues as a reality. So the material concept or body is not the man of God's creation. He is to be found through spiritual apprehension. The textbook expresses this thought as follows: "Erase the figures which express number, silence the tones of music, give to the worms the body called man, and yet the producing, governing, divine Principle lives on, - in the case of a man as truly as in the case of numbers and of music, - despite the so-called laws of matter, which define man as mortal." (S. and H. 81:20-25)
This spiritual concept of God and of man, positively applied in one's thinking, leads to healing. There is no mystery about it, nothing to alarm or antagonize. It is to concede that this is now God's world, that man, His image or idea, is governed by Him - by His law. It is to deny that there is other law or power to interfere with or to prevent the full and perfect enforcement of God's law. It is the prayerful effort to bring one's concept of life into accord with the Word of God. Paul says, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation." Christian Science is therefore taking for man a logical position as governed by God who is the only power. It recognizes that whosoever resists God's law, does so at his peril.
Christian Science affirms the perfection of being and denies the reality of disease, pain and suffering because of the fact that God is Love, and therefore unable and unwilling to afflict His children. If God does not afflict, then the so-called disease or affliction is unreal because "there is no power but of God."
There is also this reasoning to be applied: Since man is the creation - the idea of God - he cannot be imperfect, sick or helpless. None of these qualities are of God. Man, to be like God, must be the likeness or reflection of strength, goodness, power, intelligence, etc. Whatever power or quality is attributed to God, man reflects. Therefore, one needs to be careful and intelligent in his concept of man. Jesus gave good advice along this line when he said, "Cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye." Many healings are reported in Christian Science as a result of this consistent effort to see our brother with the beam removed from our own eye.
May I relate to you an interesting healing along this line? A wife, who had been happily married for many years, observed her husband growing indifferent, then unkind. He finally deserted the home entirely. Although their friends urged her to take steps towards a legal separation and divorce, she refused, contending that, as a Christian Scientist, she had always known her husband as God's idea - the reflection of purity, goodness and love. She would not change her thought concerning him on account of what sense testimony declared. Eventually the husband brought action for divorce on false grounds, which action she allowed to go by default, holding to her spiritual position of seeing the perfect man of God. Sometime after the divorce had been granted, the husband found himself, and returning, was forgiven, they were remarried; and at the time that I was told of it, they were living happily together and as though the cloud had never been. Such reasoning as this woman exercised, if held to consistently by husband or wife in time of domestic difficulty would obviate many an unhappy situation.
In the medical treatment of disease, things are dealt with and given power, while in Christian Science thoughts are dealt with as real and having power. In medical treatment, the doctor gives certain medicines which he thinks will eliminate poisonous refuse and germs from the system; then he gives what he thinks will strengthen and build up the system.
In Christian Science, the treatment begins by eliminating from thought all that poisons, such as fear, hatred, envy, jealousy, anxiety and sin. Then the thought is filled with what is strengthening, such as love, truth, joy, happiness and goodness.
It is well nigh inconceivable how one can become sick or remain sick when his thought is divested of all that is unworthy and is filled with all that is of God. Applying the law of God is mentally similar to applying the law of numbers. When a student brings to the teacher a problem in mathematics that he is attempting to solve, but has not so far succeeded in solving, the teacher inspects his work, points out the errors and shows how they are to be corrected by the correct application of the law of numbers. Just as soon as the corrections are made the right result is apparent.
Just so it is in Christian Science, the practitioner makes the mental diagnosis, ascertaining from the patient's thought wherein the law of God has not been observed, points out the erroneous thoughts, and directs their correction in accord with God's law. Then the right result - the healing - takes place.
A careful study of the Bible with the Christian Science textbook reveals the availability of God's law for the practical solution of all human problems.
The Christian Scientist is often asked by the beginner or by the invalid, "What shall I say?" "How shall I think?" "What must I do?"
The questions are well meant perhaps, but they sometimes reveal the disposition to find an easy way. Jesus was asked such questions during his ministry, and as one recalls the incidents and Jesus' answers, they always led the inquirer to Principle - to the law of God. In one instance, the inquirer was told to obey the commandments. He glibly answered, "All these have I observed from my youth." Then Jesus told him to sell all that he had and come follow him, thus seeking to prove the sincerity of his interest. It is further related that the inquirer, on receiving this answer, was sorrowful; for he had great possessions. Many an inquirer of the way in Christian Science is likewise disappointed when he finds that some effort to think and live in accord with God's law is required of him. In this connection, one needs to remember Paul's injunction to pray always, which is understood in Christian Science to refer not to a continuous pleading or petitioning, but rather to a constant state of mind in which the Allness of God is recognized, and man's proper relationship thereto is accepted. This means keeping one's thought free from fear, from doubt of man's spiritual being, or from sin. It means the taking of a positive stand for the reality of good and its ever presence for man's benefit. Prayer in Christian Science means the acceptance or taking of the blessings of Love. Jesus told his hearers that the things they desired and asked for in prayer, they must believe that they received, and they would have them. While this teaching may sound visionary to the materialist, it is the logical conclusion of one who absolutely believes in God as Love; and in man as in His likeness. Love surely does not withhold any good nor does Love send forth anything unlike Love. Therefore, to believe in the reality of sickness, pain or lack, is to doubt or to deny God. The twenty-third Psalm is an example of the prayer of affirmation or consciousness of God's ever presence. It would perhaps be an interesting and helpful experience for a sufferer seeking help in Christian Science, to try the style of prayer voiced in this Psalm. In your hour of pain, instead of complaints, try words of gratitude to God. Instead of expressing fear or doubt, try words of hope and confidence in God's goodness. Try to meet every negation of good with a positive, understood declaration of God's omnipotence and unfailing care, and of man's present salvation: for does not John say "Now are we the sons of God." As one thus allows himself the joy and satisfaction of abiding "under the shadow of the Almighty," he will find numerous avenues through which there may be helpful communion with God.
For the inquirer, then, there is no better counsel than to study faithfully the Bible and the works of Mrs. Eddy. Not only will such study bring to one much satisfaction and peace of mind, but it has been the experience of many to be healed in their reading and study.
Sometime ago I visited in the home of a woman whose experience proves the value of an earnest study by the invalid. She had been sick with lung trouble a long time, and had been given up by the doctors, who said that one lung was entirely destroyed. Some one recommended that she try Christian Science for healing. She did not believe there was any hope of healing, but she professed her willingness to investigate it, if it would help her to know God.
She procured the textbook and immediately began to read it, and to compare its statements with the Bible. She did not have a treatment or even think of healing at first. Presently, however, she was conscious of a change in her condition, and eventually was entirely healed. This healing took place many years ago, and she is now a strong, healthy woman and is engaged in the practice of Christian Science.
Healing then is the result of Truth coming to the consciousness, even as Jesus said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
A study of Jesus' healing work, reveals the desirability of the patient's being unafraid, and having confidence in the healing efficacy of God's power.
In our everyday human experiences we are familiar with the teaching that tasks become much less difficult if we begin and continue our work with confidence in its ultimate success. Likewise in working out our problems in accord with God's law, we should always begin with confidence that we can depend on God, that His power never faileth, or, as the textbook puts it (p. 1), "an absolute faith that all things are possible to God."
Perhaps fear is more the cause of all sickness and business failure than any other thought. Let us be rid of fear, doubt and anxiety. The Master said to the despairing father of the demoniac boy, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth."
I recall the testimony of a man some years ago in a Wednesday evening meeting. He told how he was trying to help his small son in Christian Science. The child seemed to be very ill and was restless and apparently uncomfortable. The father sat by his bedside until after - when the thought came to him, "Am I trusting God to do this healing or am I trying to do it?" Then the words of the Master came to him, "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Immediately he was strengthened in his faith, and left the child, went to his own bed and slept the rest of the night. He heard no more from the child and when morning came the child arose perfectly well.
Application to Business
The average person is inclined to the opinion that religion is thoroughly respectable, and should be patronized. A small number even take a real interest in the activities of the church, make contributions of time and money, and give it some serious thought.
Christian Science, rightly applied, enables men to utilize the law of God continually and successfully in their daily affairs. It is a false theory that there is a distinction between the so-called sacred and the so-called secular. When one understands that God is All, and is to be continually taken into account in the doing of his daily task, he finds that making a pair of shoes or an automobile or printing a newspaper, may be a holy and sacred activity.
To understand this broader application of the law of God, one must needs turn from a consideration of things to the understanding of thoughts. In the textbook, Mrs. Eddy has said, "The verity of Mind shows conclusively how it is that matter seems to be, but is not. Divine Science, rising above physical theories, excludes matter, resolves things into thoughts, and replaces the objects of material sense with spiritual ideas." (S. and H. 123:11-15)
The so-called "Golden Rule" of Jesus' teaching was formerly almost unheard of in connection with business teaching. Today, with the leavening of the world's thought, one is constantly hearing more about giving than getting. Business men of today are priding themselves on the slogan "Giving," "Serving," "Doing unto others as you would be done by" and such like. Many of the modern business luncheon clubs are emphasizing and exalting the thought of service, which is but the new-old golden rule of Jesus' enunciation.
It is not possible for a business man to get this viewpoint without consciously or unconsciously, to some extent, resolving "things into thoughts."
What Is a Newspaper?
To make clear my meaning, consider some examples of the possibility of resolving things into thoughts. Take the newspaper business and consider how it may be resolved into thought.
A newspaper, resolved into thought, represents truth, light, morality, education, uplift, religion, government, patriotism, etc. Some statistician has said that ninety per cent of the world's education attained after the age of eleven years comes through reading the newspapers. What a tremendous responsibility rests upon the newspaper makers of the world. How great the need that these men should be led to see this lesson of resolving things into thoughts and giving the world those thoughts which will make for a better, finer citizenship.
One need only glance at a copy of the average newspaper to see how far it misses the "giving" edition that it should be, and could successfully be.
It is hopeful, however, and significant that accounts coming from many gatherings of newspaper men indicate that the newspaper consciousness is being aroused and enlightened to the extent that we may look for improvement all the while.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, many years ago, recognized this need in the newspaper world, and established The Christian Science Monitor, an international daily paper, dealing strictly with the so-called secular happenings rather than denominational matters. Of this paper Mrs. Eddy wrote (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 353): "The object of the Monitor is to injure no man, but to bless all mankind."
Today this paper has readers and subscribers throughout the civilized world and is creating a sentiment for clean newspapers that will presently result in a golden harvest of good, hastening the period when we shall see realized the condition voiced by a poet in these words quoted by Mrs. Eddy on page 51 of "Miscellaneous Writings":
"When from the lips of Truth, one mighty breath
Shall, like a whirlwind, scatter in its breeze
The whole dark pile of human mockeries;
Then shall the reign of Mind commence on earth,
And starting fresh, as from a second birth,
Man in the sunshine of the world's new spring,
Shall walk transparent like some holy thing."
Closely related in thought to the newspaper is the attitude of the citizen toward his civic obligation. Are we recognizing that this is God's country and that the "government shall be upon His shoulder"? Government resolved into thought stands for protection, love, unselfishness, union, justice, tranquility and liberty. In our choice of public officials, are we making any such spiritual selection? It is our privilege to see in every official position the opportunity for the reflection of spiritual qualities, honesty, love, justice and courage. When we begin to invest public office with spiritual qualities, we shall see this type of men and women aspiring to such service. It will be bringing into execution the spiritual law of the Christ, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." When we see government as the operation of Mind, we shall no more have corruption, dishonesty and selfishness, but integrity, harmony and peace. Human government is good or bad, dependent upon the purity and steadiness of our reflection of God. As our human
consciousness retains less of the material and more spiritual, we shall approach a better understanding of government and our relation to it. With the leavening process that is existent in human consciousness today, we may confidently hope for better ideals of government. An indication of this is noted in a recent statement of a high government official in these words, "We do not need more national development, we need more spiritual development. We do not need more intellectual power, we need more moral power. We do not need more law, we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are not seen." Such an exalted vision of governmental needs is surely an index finger pointing to that higher, better realization of government which must come in the fullness of time when man in the perfect realization of God's government will find true government in and of himself.
There is recorded in the Old Testament an interesting incident where a heathen king called an alien to the highest position in the government, "because an excellent spirit was in him." This man of excellent spirit proved worthy, and such an example of selection might prove of value today in our human governments.
It is a fit task for Christian Scientists today in their so-called public relationship to understand that there are better things to be had in public service and that the better things will come when our thinking and acting make them possible.
Universal commendation of public service will surely exalt it, while just as surely will condemnation debase it. This is clearly proven in our country's attitude toward the presidency. Such ideals of honesty, character, ability and unselfishness have been generally held of this office, that in our history of one hundred and fifty years, there has hardly been a serious consideration of an unworthy man for that office.
It is our opportunity to see in our officials the reflection of honesty, unselfishness, purity, intelligence, love. As our thought of cooperation and helpfulness reaches them, we shall find them responding to our mental appeal. Our prayer that the government may be in accord with God's law, and the prayer of the poet will measurably find its answer:
"O make Thou us through centuries long,
In peace secure, in justice strong;
Around our gift of freedom draw
The safeguards of our righteous law
And, cast in some diviner mold,
Let the new cycle shame the old."
The objection is sometimes made to Christian Science, that it is concerned only with the healing of the sick, and offers no plan of salvation from sin. If this were true, then in
deed might one hesitate to embrace a faith that offered no hope for eternity.
No religious teaching can be purer or more wholesome or deal more drastically with sin than does Christian Science. It does teach the nothingness and powerlessness of so-called sin, and therefore holds constantly before a man the possibility of his escape from the claim of sin, just as he is offered escape from the claim of sickness. Christian Science does not teach us to ignore sickness, but positively to dispute its claim, and understanding its nothingness, rise above it and destroy it. It does not teach us to ignore sin, nor does it teach that men may continually indulge in sin without harm simply because it is in reality powerless. The apostle says, "The strength of sin is the law," that is, the human belief that there is pleasure, pain or profit in the material senses. It is not difficult to show men the odiousness of sin and the unprofitableness thereof. The difficulty is in holding the attention of mortals to this truth.
The most persistent sinner knows that sin is unprofitable, but under the mesmerism of the world's material thought, he forgets easily and in the thought of the Proverb writer he returneth as a fool to his folly.
Christian Science engages a man's thought, shows him that his life is real only as it is the reflection of the divine Mind. It shows, of course, that no form of sin is, or can be of the divine Mind, consequently that it is powerless - without authority - and cannot bind or hold man.
It teaches that sin is forgiven as it is destroyed in one's consciousness, that is, when one realizes that man is the reflection of the divine Mind. When this state of understanding is reached, a man does not need to cry out, begging for forgiveness, he knows he is forgiven. Henceforth, he lives and moves in a higher realm of thought, understanding better the significance of Paul's statement "For in Him we live, and move, and have our being."
Jesus the Christ
There is occasionally a criticism of Christian Science on the ground that it denies the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. Christian Science takes nothing from the exalted character or work of the man Jesus and cherishes his work as gratefully as can any religious teaching. That Jesus was God, it does not teach, for Jesus made no such claim for himself. Distinction is clearly pointed out in the Christian Science textbook between the human Jesus and the Christ or spiritual idea. Jesus, the man, was visible and walked among men in the flesh. Christ, the divine idea, was invisible, but eternally abides among men; yes, before Abraham was, and even unto the end of the world.
Christian Science, when properly understood, offers a broad and sure foundation on which any sincere seeker after Truth may find rest, peace and salvation. It voices the cry of the prophet, "Look unto me, and be ye saved all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else." Likewise it sounds the compassionate note of the Christ, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
It is the Comforter promised of the Master that is to lead men to a knowledge of all things, even to a correct understanding of God, whom to know aright is life eternal.
Its Discoverer and Founder has in one sentence given the world this splendid assurance (Science and Health, p. 340): "One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfills the Scripture, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself;' annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, - whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes, annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed."
[Published in The Chicago Leader, date unknown.]