Lecture on Christian Science, Title Unknown (3)
Willis F. Gross, C.S.B.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
It has been truly said that the desire for happiness is universal, and that all men have their faces turned towards the rising sun, ever hoping the coming day will bring that which they believe is essential to their happiness and wellbeing. The unfortunate one who has been deprived of his liberty that the human law of justice may be satisfied, believes that happiness is shut out by stone walls and iron gates, and he looks forward to the time when the doors of the prison-house will close behind him. The invalid believes there can be no happiness for him until he regains his health, and if it is possible for him to do so, he avails himself of the best medical skill and goes even to the uttermost parts of the earth, seeking that which was lost. Many persons believe there can be no happiness without a measure of worldly possessions, and the acquisition of wealth seems to be a thing of paramount importance.
The one who understood best the issues of life, and knew how to deal with its perplexing problems in such a manner as would establish harmony on an enduring basis, taught that all good is gained through obedience to divine law. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you," was the definite and fundamental teaching he left for all ages.
If mortals could comprehend even a tithe of what is included in this far-reaching statement of the great Teacher, they would perceive that freedom, health, harmony — all good, is included in the things that are to be added unto those who seek first the kingdom of God.
It seems to require time and a diversity of human experiences, many of them by no means desirable, to teach the much-needed lesson that lasting good is gained only as one builds on the firm foundation of eternal reality. When mortals have felt the sting of defeat, and discord and suffering seem to be their portion, the human heart turns longingly to the contemplation of things not cognized by the material senses, and unknown to that consciousness accustomed to finding satisfaction in matter. The promises of Scripture seem to take on a new meaning and reveal possibilities greater than has ever before dawned upon human thought. A ray of hope pierces the darkness and suffering mortals are made to feel that after all there may be provided a way of escape.
The Scriptures are read, but the first faint realization of their mighty import is scarcely gained before erroneous belief whispers, "Those inspired utterances were not intended for the present generation. You will note that the words were spoken at various times and to people living under circumstances very different from those with which you are concerned." Even before the unfortunate one has experienced the least practical benefit from the new-born hope, it is crushed out by the mesmerism of false belief.
If mortals could only understand that the eternal truths of the sacred writings are for them to accept and apply to the various problems of daily life, what a world of comfort would be derived from such words of sweet assurance as these: "Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and, verily thou shalt be fed." "If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land." "No good thing will be withheld from them that walk uprightly." "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee."
How one would be encouraged and strengthened, if he could but know that these and countless other promises recorded in Holy Writ, are for him and that he need not fear to accept them at their full value! When mortals gain sufficient spiritual perception to grasp the truth as it is revealed to them in the study of the Scriptures, they will not be deceived by the subtle suggestions of error which have made impossible a practical application of inspired teachings.
The Divine Will
If human experience is not rightly interpreted, mortals would make God responsible for many things that are in no sense in accord with the divine will. It is believed by many that sickness and suffering are sent of God, or at least divinely permitted. Accidents, adversities, calamities, various misfortunes, are sometimes accepted as dispensations of Providence.
If one believes that his sickness is to serve a divine purpose, or has come upon him because the hand of omnipotence has been withheld, he feels there could be little hope of regaining his health by relying on God. It seems that if he cannot find help in the use of material remedies his case is hopeless.
It must be apparent to the one who has carefully studied Jesus' teachings in connection with his works, which alone can rightly interpret his doctrine, that the world's most successful healer did not regard sickness as being in any sense in harmony with God's will or plan. If one's interpretation of life were based entirely on what Jesus said and did he could hardly reach the conclusion that inharmony of any kind or character, is the work of God or has the divine sanction.
Jesus made no distinction between the healing of sickness and the destruction of sin. If the one who came to teach mortals the way to harmony rejected the prevailing belief regarding disease, would it not be well for all men to accept his interpretation of divine law, especially when by so doing it becomes possible to experience the good results of the best healing system the world has ever known?
Desire to Know God
Ignorance of God and man's relation to Him is responsible for the human misconceptions of the divine will and purpose. On every hand there is evidence of a reaching out for something more spiritual, and at the same time more practical, than has hitherto engaged the attention of thinking multitudes. Men are no longer satisfied with that belief in God which gives merely a reasonable assurance of heaven beyond the grave; they desire to know God is a present help at all times. They are asking for present proof that they are solving life's problems aright and have not labored in vain.
The erroneous belief that God is a respecter of persons limits the exercise of faith in every direction. If one believes in the omnipotence of God, it is not difficult for him to accept the scriptural record of the good deeds done to the believers in other years. But when the question is raised as to whether similar works can be accomplished today, it becomes apparent how firmly rooted in human consciousness is the belief that God may be unwilling to give the needed help.
Surely there is as great need of physical healing today as there ever was in the history of the world. Never were there so many systems of healing in vogue, and never was there a greater demand for that which will cure disease and alleviate physical suffering.
World's Greatest Benefactor
Throughout Christendom, the hillside preacher of Galilee is justly regarded as the world's greatest benefactor.
The present appreciation of his life is but a tithe of what it should be, for he brought to human recognition that which is of greatest practical worth. If the Master's teachings were more generally understood and the character and purpose of his works more clearly comprehended, so that men could emulate his life more completely, humanity would be more concerned about the present possibilities of the Christian religion and less about the promulgation of doctrinal beliefs.
Healing the sick was an essential part of Jesus' work and it was to these demonstrations of divine power that he called attention when he was questioned concerning his teachings or inquiry was made as to whether his coming into the world was in fulfillment of prophecy. Notwithstanding the fact that the account of the Master's healing works is the major portion of the Biblical record of his life, and in all ages Christians have pinned their faith to the veracity of this record, there are many who believe it is not possible to heal the sick today as was the practice during the early centuries of the Christian era.
It is a theory, quite generally adhered to, that the early Christians were able to heal the sick through the exercise of a miraculous power. It is believed by many that this power was bestowed upon a few, chosen for the specific purpose of proving to the world that the long looked for Messiah had come, and since that fact was established beyond question, such healing works are no longer necessary. With all due respect to the honest convictions of others, it can be seriously questioned whether there is to be found in the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation, one single statement that would seem to justify such a conclusion. On the other hand there are numerous definite declarations which are susceptible of no other interpretation than that the method of healing practiced by Jesus and his followers was intended to remain as a permanent dispensation.
Acts of the Apostles
The brief record of the good works accomplished during the years immediately following the ascension, shows that the disciples were obedient to the command of Jesus, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, . . . teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." The apostles continued to do the same works as when the Master was with them, thus demonstrating that the power to heal was not dependent upon the presence of the personal Jesus. Others taught by them were able to heal the sick, and this is conclusive evidence that the power to heal was due to a right apprehension of the Master's teachings and not to any personal influence.
Shortly after the day of Pentecost, as Peter and John were about to enter the temple at the hour of prayer, they saw a man above 40 years old who had never been able to walk. When he looked upon them expecting to receive alms, Peter took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he stood upright on his feet and went with them into the temple, "walking, and leaping, and praising God."
For no other reason than that they healed the sick and preached the gospel, which was in every respect in harmony with these healing works, the apostles were cast into prison. They were delivered in a marvelous manner and the angel of the Lord said unto them,"Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life."
When they were again apprehended and brought before the high priest, the apostles defended their course of action saying, "We ought to obey God rather than men." Some of the rulers were so incensed against them that they took counsel to slay them. Then it was that Gamaliel, "a doctor of the law, had in reputation among the people," presented a view of the case that was not apparent to a mentality blinded by prejudice. He referred to several cases with which they were familiar, and reminded the people that those would-be great ones were really self-defeated. Concerning the apostles he said, "Now I say unto you, refrain from these men, and let them alone; for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought; but if it be of God ye cannot overthrow it." The wisdom of that saying could not be questioned and the apostles were permitted to depart.
Notwithstanding the opposition encountered by Peter and John, they continued to preach the gospel and heal the sick. A case of palsy, which had kept the afflicted one confined to his bed for eight years, was healed by Peter. Shortly after this, Dorcas, a woman who had been greatly loved because of her good works, was restored to life. Multitudes came out of the cities round about, "bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits; and they were healed every one."
The members of the church realized the very great importance of these healing works and they prayed, "Grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, by stretching forth thine hand to heal." This shows, that they considered the preaching of the gospel was most successfully accomplished by doing the good works that were possible when the gospel was understood.
Paul's Preaching and Works
The conversation of Saul was a wonderful testimony of the transforming power of Truth, and the cause of Christianity received into its ranks a most faithful and loyal defender. Saul was a persecutor of the followers of Christ, but not knowing what he did, he verily believed he was doing God service. But Paul, as he was now called, was even more zealous in his efforts to further the cause than he had been in his attempts to overthrow it.
It is not known that Paul had ever seen Jesus, much less had he had the advantage of the Master's personal instruction. Paul's conversion was more than a decade after Jesus had completed his earthly mission, so it cannot be said that the power to heal was due to any association with the personal Jesus. He was none the less successful in preaching and healing than were the twelve or the 70. A life-long cripple was healed at Lystra; Eutycus was restored to life, having been killed in an accident; the father of Publius, who ministered to the needs of Paul and the other survivors of a shipwreck, was healed of a fever and other serious ailments. Many others on the island were healed of various diseases and afflictions, and Paul suffered no ill effects from the poisonous sting of a viper.
Christian Healing Lost
The method of healing which Jesus taught and demonstrated, was lost about the close of the third century. It is worthy of consideration that it did not at once cease to be regarded as an essential element of the Christian religion as doubtless would have been the case if this work was intended only for the purpose of establishing the truth of Christianity, as some believe.
The argument that the overcoming of sin is more important than the healing of sickness, is of no practical benefit to the one who is in need of physical healing. To the invalid, there is little satisfaction in the belief that the Christ method of healing was only for the purpose of establishing the truth of the teachings which were intended to make plain the way of salvation.
The question very naturally arises, Was there any connection between the teachings and the works of him who is accepted as the world's highest authority on spiritual things? If it be said there was no vital connection between what he taught and what he did, then it may be asked, How did his works prove the truth of his words? If, on the other hand, it is accepted that there was a connection between his teachings and the healings of disease, then it must be acknowledged that such is the case today, for his teachings are none the less true than when they first fell on human ears.
Christianity is more than a confession of faith: it is a vital principle which remains forever the same. If the good results are not manifest, either the fundamental teachings have not been rightly interpreted or the student has failed in his application.
The one thing which differentiates Christian Science from other religious teachings and appeals most strongly to those struggling with doubt and fear, is that it demonstrates the present possibility of healing disease in the same manner as it was healed by Jesus and his disciples. The healing of disease and the alleviation of bodily suffering is a very desirable and important undertaking, but is by no means the whole of Christian Science. It is but the beginning of the great work which the understanding of Truth is able to accomplish for humanity.
That the sick were healed by Jesus, his disciples, and other members of the early church, is a matter of history. There is no opposition on the part of believers in the Christian religion, to the declaration that these healing works were accomplished at the time and by the persons mentioned; neither has it been successfully denied that these demonstrations of divine power had much to do with establishing that spiritual teaching which means humanity's ultimate liberation from all evil.
When it is said that such healing works are not only possible, but just as necessary today as they were 1900 years ago, there sometimes arises a sense of doubt, and it may be, a feeling of opposition. To the one who stops seriously to consider the matter, it must be evident there is not the slightest occasion for either. Christian Science claims no more than is admitted was at one time an evidence of spiritual teachings understood and practiced. Why then should one doubt? Or why should he oppose? If it be found that these healing works are not possible, the teaching will not long endure. But if it be true that the sick are healed and sinners reformed, nothing but good has resulted or can result.
Mortal belief would limit God's power, or at least His willingness, to help humanity, but when God is understood, it will be seen that His power is infinite and His willingness to preserve the eternal harmony is not to be questioned. According to the word of Isaiah it is mortal belief which seems to limit the power of good and separate man from God.
At one time it was believed to be God's will for certain persons to remain in bondage to sin and pay the penalty therefor, not only for time but throughout eternity; but such belief no longer has a place in any religious doctrine. Today there is a clearer realization of God as one "who will have all men to be saved and to come into the knowledge of the truth." God has not changed, but there has been a decided change in the human belief in God as pertains to the salvation of men from sin.
There are other errors of belief which prevent the attainment of good. The teaching that sickness and suffering are to be overcome only by the use of material remedies, or through obedience to material health laws, infers that God either cannot, or will not, heal the sick as in the days of old. So long as this belief is entertained, it will be impossible to have that faith in God's willingness to heal that was manifest in the lives of early Christians. But thought is undergoing a change in this respect, and the time will come when the belief that it is God's will for man to suffer and die will have no more place in accepted religious teachings than has the doctrine of predestination and foreordination today.
Christianity is Scientific
The Christian religion is less than 2000 years old according to the human calendar of time. It is, however, but the fuller unfolding to human consciousness of the essential idea of God's oneness and omnipotence which had appeared in all ages as men were spiritually minded enough to perceive it. Moses and the prophets recorded the truth as it was revealed to them. Jesus declared he was not come to destroy or set aside the law and the prophets, but to fulfill, i.e. further to unfold the spiritual idea and to demonstrate the truth of being which others had seen afar off.
The early Christians were capable of many good works because thought was quickened and faith in God became a vital force instead of a blind belief. Because they had gained some understanding of Truth, as presented by the great demonstrator of divine law and order, the disciples were not in bondage to the belief in evil as were those who turned a deaf ear to the teachings of the Master, or failed to grasp their spiritual import.
The true idea of God and man is the Science of Christianity. When this Science is understood there can be no question as to whether the healing of disease is as divinely natural as the overcoming of sin.
Spiritual understanding is as effectual now as it was in the beginning of the Christian era. Even greater works should follow because men have had abundant opportunities to test the practical worth of those teachings which present the highest concept of God and man.
Christian Science Discovered
The Science of Christianity is co-existent and co-eternal with Truth. However, from a human point of view, Christian Science is a discovery, and the discovery was made by one who was mentally fitted and spiritually endowed for the important work of presenting this higher revelation of Truth in such a manner that humanity could understand and put it into practice.
Some 50 years ago, Mary Baker Eddy discovered that the healing works accomplished by the disciples of Jesus were divinely natural experiences and in no sense involved the setting aside of law and order, as was generally supposed. Throughout all ages the sick have been restored to health through faith in God and the fulfillment of His promises, but it remained for Mrs. Eddy to discover the Science of Christian healing and to formulate the rules which make possible a practical application of this most effectual method of healing.
Previous to her discovery, Mrs. Eddy's experience was not unlike that of many others. For many years she was an invalid and she sought help in all the recognized methods of healing. An accident produced a serious complication and finally her condition became so alarming that the attending physician said there was no hope of her recovery. In this hour of greatest need her faith in God was sorely tested but it did not fail her. On that very day she arose from her bed a well woman and ever after enjoyed better health than before.
Her healing was a truly wonderful experience and her gratitude knew no bounds. However, she was not content merely to give thanks unto God and go on her way rejoicing, for she believed there was revealed in the manner of her recovery that which would prove of greatest value to suffering humanity if it could only be comprehended sufficiently to meet the divine requirements.
Concerning her discovery, Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 109), "I knew the Principle of all harmonious Mind-action to be God, and that cures were produced in primitive Christian healing by holy, uplifting faith; but I must know the Science of this healing, and I won my way to absolute conclusions through divine revelation, reason, and demonstration."
There were three things which served as stepping stones to success in her work. First was divine revelation. There was nothing in the teachings of the schools, or the accumulated wisdom of the ages, which could help her along the way, so for the space of three years she devoted herself to a more diligent study of the Scriptures. All her life she had been a faithful student of the Bible, but the demonstration of divine power in her own healing revealed many things she had failed to comprehend before.
Through reason, rightly directed, understanding increases. Mrs. Eddy's healing was a fact that could not be denied even though it was not at first understood even by herself. She accepted the fact and sought the explanation. The healing works which testified to the power of Truth in the early centuries were incomprehensible to the multitudes, but not so to the one who was able to reason correctly concerning the cause and purpose of these works.
It is thought by some persons that Christianity, and all that pertains thereto, must be accepted on faith, and reason is to be accorded a secondary place. The faith that is necessary to salvation, is not a blind belief, neither does it lead into byways that correct reasoning would reject. Reasoning from a material basis, however, will not help one to gain spiritual understanding.
The teachings of the Scriptures are altogether reasonable when rightly interpreted. Reasoning from a spiritual basis, Mrs. Eddy gained the interpretation of the sacred writings which makes them practical. This scientific explanation of the inspired word brings to human recognition a sense of God's power and love which destroys fear, overcomes anxiety, and lifts the heavy burdens of sin and suffering.
The third, and by no means the least important step in Mrs. Eddy's work, was demonstration. She learned that the spiritual sense of the Scriptures is not only reasonable, and therefore satisfying, but it is also demonstrable. Through a practical application of the teachings of Jesus, Mrs. Eddy gained an insight into the operation of spiritual law which revealed the manner of her recovery, and this enabled her to prove that others could be healed as she had been.
That present and future generations might profit by her experience and reap the benefits of her discovery, Mrs. Eddy wrote a textbook, entitled Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In this book the author has set forth the teachings of this Science in such a clear, forcible manner that many thousands have gained sufficient spiritual understanding to lift themselves and others out of the bondage of sin and suffering.
Science and Health and the various other writings of Mrs. Eddy were the outgrowth of the author's religious experience. Her success as a writer, teacher, healer, and leader was assured from the beginning for she tested the practical worth of her teachings before she gave them to others. This accounts for the marvelous success of her followers in healing sickness and overcoming sin in themselves and others. The rule had been established by demonstration and the student could not fail if he obeyed the rule.
Mrs. Eddy devoted her life to demonstrating the ability of Truth to meet every possible demand. This was no easy undertaking. Her motives were frequently misjudged and her efforts were not always appreciated, but she was sustained by the assurance that when Christian Science is understood and put into practice, humanity will reap the benefit of her labors and sacrifice.
Her teachings are better understood than ever before; demonstration is advancing rapidly, and there was never a more just recognition and appreciation of Mrs. Eddy's life and works than there is today. Surely the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled in this age. "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined."
Cause and Effect
Ignorance of God makes possible the belief in other powers, and this belief is responsible for all the discord and suffering of earth. Christian Science declares God aright and mortals are delivered from evil in proportion as the divine idea is wrought out in human consciousness.
When reasoning from effect to cause, one will arrive at a wrong conclusion if matter is believed to be the effect of Spirit. So long as the material sense of things is believed to be the reality of existence, mortals will have a material sense of cause.
Christian Science reverses the usual order and starts with cause. The Scriptural teaching that God is Spirit, Life, Love, and Truth becomes the basis of thought and demonstration. The mortal belief about man and the universe is no more correct than is the material, finite conception of God. The seeker for truth must become as a little child and learn to behold creation aright because he is gaining the true idea of God. Then he begins to comprehend the Scriptural teaching that man was created in God's image and that nothing less than the divine likeness can be man.
The power of good in Christian Science is due to its spiritual recognition of God and man. Every religious teaching is based upon some belief concerning the Supreme Being. A man's religious views must of necessity be in accord with his conception of the infinite. What a man does, rather than what he says, is in harmony with his thought of God and shows whether he believes God is directly concerned with the experiences and affairs of everyday life, and to what extent it is a man's duty, or privilege, to rely on Him for the help that is needed to work out harmony in what are termed his material associations and environments.
Few persons will deny that mortals could, with profit to themselves and great good to others, exercise a more practical faith in God's ever-presence and omnipotence. Since a man's reliance on God cannot be out of proportion to the correctness of his belief, it is manifest that the great human need is to gain that idea of God which makes possible the forever unfolding of faith and the constant and consistent application of the eternal truths revealed in the Scriptures.
Man's Relation to God
Next in importance to the question, What is God? is the consideration of man's relation to his creator. In the Elohistic account of creation, as given in the first chapter of Genesis, we read that man was created in the image and likeness of God. This scientific statement is not in harmony with the generally accepted theory that man is a material being who is subject to, and governed by, material laws.
Sin, sickness and death have resulted from the belief that man has existence apart from God. Every discordant condition known to human experience is the outgrowth of this fundamental error. The effectual remedy for these evils is the teaching which goes to the root of the matter and destroys the false belief which makes them possible. Theories, based on the belief that man is material, have been tested for centuries and found wanting. In this age it is possible to work from a higher basis, namely, that man is spiritual and immortal now. The wonderful works already accomplished in the healing of sickness and the overcoming of sin, is most convincing evidence that this teaching is correct.
Christian Science Healing
Many persons are reluctant to acknowledge that God is willing to do for mortals what they have failed to do for themselves, working from the basis of belief in material cause and effect. When material methods prove ineffectual there is little hope that the need can be met in any other way, and not infrequently mortals have concluded that God is in some way responsible for the outcome.
When the sick have been healed, without the aid of drugs or any visible material agency, and it cannot be denied, there is a tendency to attribute the good work to some influence that is material in its nature. When Jesus healed the sick the restoration was so complete that it could not be questioned. However, there were those who refused to believe that God had anything to do with it and they said "This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of devils."
It is sometimes said that the healing work of Christian Science is nothing more than the effect of hypnotism, suggestion, or some other influence of the human mind. Mortals have depended upon material remedies for so many centuries it hardly seems possible that healing could be accomplished in any other manner. The inclination to attribute the cure of disease to the activity of the human mind, prevents the honest recognition of what God is doing for suffering humanity.
Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (p. xi.), "The physical healing of Christian Science results now, as in Jesus' time, from the operation of divine Principle, before which sin and disease lose their reality in human consciousness and disappear as naturally and as necessarily as darkness gives place to light and sin to reformation."
It was revealed to the discoverer and founder of Christian Science how the sick are healed through the operation of spiritual law, and unless it is conceded that she understood the subject of Christian healing sufficiently to write intelligently about it, one is scarcely in a position to comprehend what she has to say regarding a question of such vital importance. To affirm that all the good accomplished by Christian Science during the last half century is simply the result of mesmerism, is virtually to deny the power that gave Christianity its impetus and established it upon an enduring foundation.
Right Thinking Necessary
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus asked, "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" He taught that a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit any more than a corrupt tree can bring forth good fruit. Right thinking cannot result in discord and confusion, neither can wrong thinking produce harmonious results.
Right thinking is necessary in every phase of human activity, and the purpose of all education is to turn thought into right channels. The difference between right thinking and wrong thinking is the difference between success and failure. If this is true of temporal things, how much more is it true of that which is eternal? It would seem that some persons have concluded it makes little difference what one believes concerning spiritual things provided he is honest in his belief. However, it is becoming more generally accepted that something more than a blind belief is necessary to spiritual progress and development.
The relation of right thinking to good health is beginning to receive the consideration it should. The principal difficulty here encountered is that it is not so evident what constitutes right thinking in this direction. In music, arts, mathematics, etc., it is understood that right thinking means thinking what is true. Thinking of discords, imperfections, and mistakes will not help one to express harmony; on the contrary it will prove an insurmountable barrier to success.
If one would be a musician he must think music, and the more correct his thinking the more satisfactory will be the result. In art, beauty of outline and color must shut out all else or the finished work will not be what is desired. In mathematics, one must understand the right relation of numbers, if he would gain the answer to his problem.
In matters pertaining to health, too much attention is given to things that are to be feared and too little consideration to the things that are desired. Much of the education along this line, consists in warning people of the dangers lurking on every hand. The result is that mental pictures of disease and suffering are ever-present in consciousness and the fear resulting therefrom is not readily overcome.
Why should the effort to preserve or to restore health be made along such different lines from those that insure success in other directions? Surely the intelligently directed effort which attains the desired result in other cases would prove just as effectual here. The thought of inharmony must be eliminated. Thinking about disease and suffering is not right thinking, and if this wrong practice is indulged it is not reasonable to expect harmonious bodily conditions to result.
Doers of the Word
It is only through doing that understanding is gained; hence the words of James, "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only." Jesus knew it was possible for men to demonstrate the truth of his teachings and so he said: "If any man will do his will (i. e., be obedient to divine law), he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself." His followers were to learn from experience that he had given them more than a mere theoretical interpretation of truth.
The people marveled at his works and when he proclaimed the unseen verities of being, they "were astonished at his doctrine." To those who accepted his teachings, he said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciple indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." It is evident that Jesus required more than a blind acceptance of his doctrine, for how could they continue in his word except they put his teachings in practice?
This declaration that Truth will deliver from the bondage of error, is generally received, but there are few who understand in how large a sense men are to be made free. It is accepted by all believers that obedience to the teachings of Jesus means freedom from sin now. It is not possible that a man should live in obedience to the divine requirements, as revealed in the Sermon on the Mount, and at the same time be the servant of sin. Wherein one is in bondage to sin, he is not living in harmony with the teachings of him who is acknowledged to be the best man who ever trod the globe. Freedom from sin in this present time is not regarded as a thing impossible, and all men are encouraged to make an earnest effort in this direction.
It is not in accord with the generally accepted teaching and practice that the freedom bestowed by Truth includes deliverance from disease and bodily suffering. However, if one were to set aside preconceived opinions, and interpret the teachings of Jesus from the standpoint of a just recognition and appreciation of his works, he would perceive that the freedom promised by the great teacher means a present salvation from sickness and pain as well as deliverance from sin.
All inharmony is the result of wrong thinking and the only effectual remedy is right thinking; hence the necessity for entertaining only those thoughts that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. If one thinks right, he will do right, for activity is thought expressed. Living in obedience to divine law as the result of faithful, consistent application of inspired teachings, it is possible to gain the understanding of God as one "who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases."
[Delivered June 29, 1916, at First Church of Christ, Scientist, North Street and Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, New York, and published in The Buffalo Express June 30, 1916.]