Christian Science: Its Teachings, Methods, and Works
Judge Septimus J. Hanna, C.S.D.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
We who have been Christian Scientists for a number of years are apt to assume that all thinking and intelligent people are more or less familiar with the teachings, methods, and works of Christian Science. Because of this, we wonder why any class of people who have the good of humanity at heart should oppose the teachings, methods, and works of our movement.
We are prone to forget past history in reference to reforms and innovations, including the history of the Christian religion. We almost forget at times how the early Christians were hated, despised, and persecuted; how they were tortured, burned, and put to death, and how the greatest exponent of divine Love the world has ever known was crucified upon the cross. What was the cause of this? Largely ignorance and prejudice. The latter is always the result of the former. We do not mean ignorance of the kind implied by the ordinary use of the word, but that ignorance which comes from so ignoring facts that facts are not known.
Those who most bitterly opposed Jesus and his mission were among the recognized scholars and philosophers of his time. They represented the highest learning of their day and generation, as well as the best social standing. The scribes and Pharisees of that day were the doctors of the law, the theologians, and leaders of thought. They were by no means ignorant in the usual sense, but they nevertheless wholly misapprehended the teaching and practices of Jesus and his disciples and their followers.
A well-known writer says that "while the Christians were the most harmless, they were also the most hated and most slandered of living men." Not only were the Christians hated and slandered by the scribes and Pharisees, but they were despised and maligned by the pagans as well. I notice only the accusation made by the tyrant Nero against the Christians, - that they had destroyed, by fire, the then Roman capital. They were the most innocent and faithful of Nero's subjects; the only subjects who offered heartfelt prayers on his behalf. It is not strange that a character like Nero should have made his best subjects the particular object of his cruelty, but it now seems surprising that the great Roman historian, Tacitus, supposedly a careful gatherer and recorder of facts, should thus have referred to the Christians of his day:—
"Nero exposed to accusation, and tortured with the most exquisite penalties, a set of men detested for their enormities, whom the common people called 'Christians.' Christus, the founder of the sect, was executed during the reign of Tiberius by the procurator Pontius Pilate, and the deadly superstition, suppressed for a time, began to burst out once more, not only throughout Judea, where the evil had its root, but even in the city, whither from every quarter all things horrible or shameful are drifted, and find their votaries." And why this ignorance and prejudice on the part of the great historian? A later historian tells us:—
"The lordly disdain which prevented Tacitus from making any inquiry into the real views and character of the Christians is shown by the fact that he catches up the most baseless allegations against them. He talks of their doctrines as savage and shameful, when they breathe the very spirit of peace and purity. He charges them with being animated by a hatred of their kind, when their central tenet was universal charity. The masses, he says, called them 'Christians;' and while he almost apologizes for staining his page with so vulgar an appellation, he merely mentions, in passing, that, though innocent of the charge of being turbulent incendiaries, on which they were tortured to death, they were yet a set of guilty and infamous sectaries, to be classed with the lowest dregs of Roman criminals."
How true it is that history repeats itself. Much of the violent opposition to Christian Science, whose sole mission is the reinstatement of the teachings, methods, and works of early Christianity, is due to exactly the same cause which accounts for Tacitus' ignorance of early Christianity, - that "lordly disdain" which prevents inquiry into the real views and character of Christian Scientists or into the teachings and works of Christian Science. Charges quite as erroneous and untrue have often been made against Christian Science, its Founder and her followers, by some of the lordly ones of our times.
Prophetic Scripture clearly foretold all that has transpired relative to Jesus and his followers. Isaiah said of Jesus: "He is despised and rejected of men; . . . and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not." Jesus foretold the reception that his teaching and works would receive at the hands of the lordly of the world; and his prophecies have been literally fulfilled.
Indifference is also a cause of ignorance. Not long since, in an important city, the present lecturer was introduced to a large audience by one of the most eminent lawyers of the city. In his introductory remarks he frankly stated that he knew nothing of Christian Science. After the lecture he said he was surprised to hear that Christian Science was a religion, and especially surprised to learn that our teaching was so fully based on the precepts and works of Jesus. He said it was a revelation to him, and he was ashamed of his ignorance concerning a subject which was so largely engaging the attention of thinking people. He expressed satisfaction that he had been invited to introduce the lecturer on that occasion, for had he not been so invited he would not have had interest enough to attend the lecture, and would no doubt have remained ignorant of the subject.
This instance illustrates a condition that is more prevalent than we may be aware of, as well as the necessity for continued effort in the way of publicly presenting our teachings and methods. Some of these methods are so contrary to established usage that it is not strange they impress strangers as ultra. Some striking innovations have been made. The elimination of personal preaching and the substitution of a Lesson-Sermon for the usual sermon, is perhaps the most radical departure from other methods. To those within our ranks this is regarded as one of the most important measures pertaining to our outward forms of service. A glance at its advantages may not be out of place.
The Lesson-Sermons are prepared by a committee of experienced Scientists, one Lesson for each Sunday, published quarter-yearly in pamphlet form, convenient for reading and study. They are composed of Scriptural passages, together with correlative and explanatory selections from the Christian Science textbook, in explication of a subject set apart for each Lesson. In the churches and societies these Lessons are publicly read by two readers, one reading from the Bible, the other from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." This reading is accompanied by appropriate preliminary Scriptural selections, the singing of hymns, and prayer. The service, with the exception of the sermon, is much like that of other churches. Throughout the entire Christian Science field the same sermon is read at substantially the same time, thus giving out a uniform discourse, the purpose of which is to aid and heal mankind.
In addition to the public reading, students and adherents of Science usually read and study these Lesson-Sermons every day. They can be carried about in the pocket, read and studied anywhere and at any time. Thus the Scientist has constantly with him his sermon and his preacher. He can hold a service whenever he chooses, being dependent neither upon a person to deliver a sermon, upon a church edifice in which to hear it, a particular time to attend service, nor an assembled congregation. We are wont to pride ourselves upon the many modern conveniences of a material kind. This surely is a modern convenience of a spiritual kind. It may truly be said to be in accord with the spirit of the present age, - a practical kind of sermonizing, free from sensationalism and personal magnetism.
We frequently hear expressions of surprise from our outside friends that so many thousands of' people go regularly to church merely to hear read a prepared Lesson-Sermon which they may read at home or elsewhere. It is a fact, nevertheless, that the attendance upon our Sunday services and our Wednesday evening meetings is uniformly large, the church edifices being as a rule taxed to their capacity. Why is this? The Scientist will say that no matter how many times he reads and studies the Lesson, no matter how many times he hears it read, he finds in it each time fresh, helpful, and healing thought and food. It is a well known fact that often persons are healed of physical and mental troubles as the result of these Lesson-Sermons.
The age is reaching out for quick methods of healing sickness, as well as rapid transit, swift personal communication by telegraph and telephone, wireless telegraphy, and aerial navigation. The whole tendency of modern activity is in the direction of swiftness and time-saving. In consonance with this spirit, surely, is the Christian Science method of healing. Its Physician is ever at hand. He may be summoned instantly, and if the summons be of the right kind, He responds with lightning speed.
I will illustrate with a paragraph from my own experience. Soon after I began the investigation of Christian Science I was called by business to a city where diphtheria was epidemic. I was there for two days. On my return homeward I had to stop over at an intermediate city. I retired early at my hotel, going to sleep in my usual health. About midnight I awoke with a severe pain in my throat, a high fever, and a badly swollen and inflamed condition of the throat and neck. Being a mere tyro in the Science, I was at first much alarmed. My first impulse was to call the hotel clerk and have him send for a physician. Then I remembered my Science, and instantly I turned my thought with confidence and trust to God. I felt at once His presence and power. I communed unreservedly with Him, knowing that His law is a law of health, not of sickness; of love, not of fear; of life, not of death. Thus praying and communing, within a few moments I fell into a peaceful slumber, and in the morning awoke at the usual time with not a vestige of the trouble in evidence. The fever had entirely subsided, the inflammation had gone, the swelling and every discordant symptom had disappeared.
Laying aside all sentiment, if you please, think for a moment of the convenience of that method of curing a malignant attack of sickness which I had learned so early in my investigation of Science. It was not necessary to call the hotel clerk, nor to disturb the midnight slumber of a physician. I did not arise from my bed or turn on the light. I do not remember that I even turned in my bed. I had not to take unpleasant drugs, nor submit to swabbing of my throat. None of these things had to be resorted to in what seemed, from every ordinary standpoint, to be an emergency. All must admit that there was demonstrated in this case a marvelously quick method of healing sickness. This instance is simply illustrative of the general healing work that has been going on through Christian Science for more than forty years, and which is being constantly practiced in this country and in other countries.
What has been said was to illustrate the healing of one's self through the divine aid. The same understanding which enables one to help himself may also be employed for the benefit of others. The Science practitioner who is called upon to help another can respond as quickly for the benefit of the other as in his own case, allowing only for the time necessary to call the practitioner. Frequently before the receiver of the telephone has been hung up the healing work has begun, and often the patient reports instant relief. Every active practitioner can testify to many cases within his own experience where the severest maladies have been healed without the practitioner and patient ever seeing each other.
Therefore we say with truth and confidence that the greatest and best Physician in the universe is ever ready to respond to those who have learned, in some degree at least, how rightly to call Him. If one meets with an accident, he may call the great Surgeon on the instant, for the same divine power that heals sickness will also heal wounds. The instances of such healing are numerous, and many of them, viewed from an ordinary standpoint, are nothing less than miraculous. Nothing is impossible that has been already accomplished. Sincere investigators can easily inform themselves of the truth of all that has been said, and vastly more, for the above is but a hint at actual achievements during the past forty years. Nor do we regard such things as supernatural; rather do we look upon them as divinely natural. And what is the divinely natural? It is reasonable to say that anything which is in accord with unvarying law is natural. Then, if all true law is of divine origin, all true law is divinely natural.
There is plain Scriptural authority for the assumption that God is changeless Being. The apostle James believed God to be "the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever," for he thus speaks of Him: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." Divine law is changeless and uniformly operative. Therefore the same understanding of that law which produced results in past ages will produce like results in all ages. This is the uncompromising position of the Christian Science textbook. If we accept the teaching of the Bible, we must forsake the notion that God is changeable and a capricious being, giving of His power, mercy, and love at one time and withholding at another. An unvarying God acts by and through unvarying law. Obedience to the divine law brings the blessings of peace, joy, and health, or wholeness. Disobedience, of necessity, brings due penalty.
The purpose of divine Love is to correct the sinner by saving him, not by destroying him. Whom the Lord loveth He also instructeth, even if the instruction have the semblance of punishment. To undertake to instruct or teach a person by placing him beyond the possibility of instruction or teaching would be anomalous, and would imply a god of caprice, of hatred and revenge, rather than a God of love, of infinite mercy and everlasting kindness. The purpose of punishing by enforcement of human law is the reformation, not the destruction, of a wrong-doer. Shall the divine Lawmaker be less just, merciful, and loving than human lawmakers? Yet if it were true that there is no chance for the reformation of the sinner after this phase of mortal existence, capital punishment would be a heinous crime, for it would place the unrepentant and unsaved sinner who is hanged upon the gallows, or electrocuted, beyond the possibility of reformation, and thus would defeat the very purpose of the human statute.
Christian Science teaches an after-death probation. It affirms that the infinite and eternal Being, who is Love, could not by the necessity of His infinity and eternality ever become separated from His own creation, His own children. Were it otherwise, the words infinite and eternal as applied to Deity would be misnomers.
In Genesis there are two accounts of creation, - one the record of the spiritual creation, which is declared to have been finished; the other a material record of creation, which begins with dust and ends with destruction or annihilation. Christian Science teaches that the first record of creation is the true, or the real one. It affirms that the man created in God's image and likeness is the real man, the spiritual man. It gives to the words "image" and "likeness" the only rational meaning of which they are susceptible. It takes the words seriously and applies them logically. The image and likeness is the reflection of the original. If it is not this, it is nothing.
A changing and fitful reflection would not be a true reflection of the unchanging and unfitful. The reflection to be true must be uniform, exact, and certain. Therefore if God is Spirit, His reflection, or image and likeness, must be spiritual. The feeble, sickly, and dying man of the flesh, therefore, cannot be a true reflection of the infinite and eternal God, whom the Scriptures declare to be Spirit. Science affirms that the immortal man is the image and likeness of God, - not the mortal man. The image and likeness of God is not a reflection that is here today and gone tomorrow, but a forever reflection; that reflection or image and likeness which is the necessary result of fixed and inexorable law; that reflection or image and likeness which is ever, and of necessity, true to the original. Time forbids further reference to this question, but a careful and intelligent study of the Christian Science textbook will answer conclusively all questionings concerning it.
Many suppose that Christian Science is merely another sect, or a new religious theory. If it were but another sect, adding nothing of value to the many sects already in existence, there would be no reason why it should have been established or why it should be perpetuated. There is no need of a further multiplication of sects, or of intensifying in any degree the sectarian spirit. Better were the number of sects diminished and the sectarian spirit destroyed. The vital purpose of Christian Science is to unify, not to divide. No one can impartially and understandingly read the Christian Science textbook without seeing that the central idea of the author is to carry out and establish a full gospel of Christ. Her earnest purpose is to renew and reunite, not to distract, the true gospel elements. If her teaching seems in some respects to differ from prevalent theories and interpretations, it is only that true theories and interpretations, and consequently more correct practice and living, may be substituted.
All sincere Christian strivers, as well as all good people of whatever religious views, or of no settled religious convictions, desire to know and do that which is best for themselves and for all mankind. If there has been in the world too much religion and not enough of true Christly living, or Christianity; if there has been too much of form and ceremony and not enough of vital Christian activity; if there has been too much of doctrinal bickering and not enough of practical application of the true teachings of the Founder of the Christian religion, - if any or all of this is true, then surely there should be a sincere desire for the correction of these shortcomings. If a fundamental part of the gospel of Christ has been neglected or lost sight of, then surely all good people wish a reinstatement thereof. If mankind are needlessly suffering because of any failure fully to understand and apply the great precepts of the Bible, then surely all reasonable people must agree that such failure should be supplanted by success, if it be possible.
If we have wrong conceptions of God, of heaven, of life and death, of man and the universe, and it is possible to correct such conceptions, surely there can be no rational objection to all well-directed and honest effort in that behalf. Any teaching, any method, any works which tend to make life better, brighter, happier, holier, healthier; anything which will aid in destroying the dreadful delusion of sin, with all of its blighting and cruel consequences, anything which will lessen sickness, sorrow, grief, woe, the squalor and wretchedness of poverty, disease, death, and destruction, should be welcomed by every rational being upon the earth. If it be possible, then, for us of today to get more fully established in us the same Mind that was also in Christ Jesus, thereby becoming better able to do the works which the possession of this Mind necessarily implies, why should we not do so?" If Christian Science is in any measure whatever supplying any lack of the kind indicated, who, having the best good of humanity at heart, can consistently say it nay?
Christian Science boldly proclaims an all-powerful, all-present, all-wise, all-loving, all-active, all-seeing God; a God who is universal and all-pervading Mind; a God who, in Bible language, is infinite and eternal Spirit. These terms for expressing Deity are found running all through the Christian Science textbook, and especially are they grouped together on page 587 of that book. It has been charged by some theologians that such a conception of God is pantheistic.
It is not my purpose here to enter upon a doctrinal discussion of pantheism. I sometimes wonder how much most people know or really care about pantheism. It has been a kind of theological bugbear, used largely to frighten people, and by wholesale warning against it to keep the faithful in line. Because Christian Science declares for the omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience of God, it is therefore indiscriminately charged with being pantheistic. Perhaps as concise a definition of pantheism as can be found is that given by Webster, who, for many recognized scholars, is yet the best lexicographical authority we have in America. Webster thus defines pantheism: "The doctrine that the universe, taken or conceived of as a whole, is God; the doctrine that there is no God but the combined forces and laws which are manifested in the existing universe."
The common acceptation of the word "universe" is that which we call the material universe, the laws of nature or matter. This conception is at direct variance with the Christian Science teaching of the non-existence of matter; therefore Christian Science teaches the very opposite of pantheism. It declares that the omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient God is Spirit, as the Bible clearly teaches. If, as Spirit, He is truly all powerful, all present, and all wise, He fills all space; and if He fills all space, where is the room for matter, if matter be a real substance or entity apart from Spirit? Therefore the Christian Science insistence upon His allness and His absoluteness is the reverse of the pantheistic conception of both ancient and modern materialists, that the universe of matter constitutes the only life and power existent.
Let us take the distinct assertion of Jesus that God is Spirit. Couple that assertion with the generally admitted doctrine that God is almighty and all present, and we then have a certain basis for Paul's grand conception of the allness of Spirit: "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." It will be observed that Paul does not separate God from His creation nor from His children, but brings them, in the spiritual sense, into one harmonious whole. This is what the Christian Science textbook does in terms equally as plain as Paul's, as witness this statement on page 465: "Principle and its idea is one, and this one is God, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Being, and His reflection is man and the universe. Omni is adopted from the Latin adjective signifying all. Hence God combines all-power or potency, all-science or true knowledge, all-presence. The varied manifestations of Christian Science indicate Mind, never matter, and have one Principle."
Thus all through the textbook is clearly drawn the distinction between Spirit and matter, - the former being held to be all, the latter as having no eternal or real existence. No one, therefore, who disinterestedly and correctly reads the Christian Science textbook will have the hardihood to assert that Christian Science teaching in any sense savors of pantheism. A singular inconsistency in connection with the charges against Christian Science in the respect mentioned is that those who most strenuously object to the teaching that matter, as real entity, is non-existent, are also the most insistent that Christian Science is pantheism. It remains for our friends to explain the logic of their position. Until they do, we are content to let them fight the windmills of their own inconsistency.
I think I am correct in saying that a very prevalent religious view has been that Jesus taught mostly with reference to a future life, or the life beyond the grave, and that the great effort of the striving Christian, in order to be saved, should be to die rightly. This is partly true. But has not the necessity for right living as a means of future happiness and salvation been too much overshadowed by the idea of so dying as to pass directly from earth to heaven? I shall endeavor to show that Bible teaching relates largely to the necessity of right conditions in this world, and to such living here as will tend toward future safety and happiness; in other words, the establishment of God's kingdom upon earth is the great Scriptural theme. I shall be brief, and confine myself to the New Testament.
A significant lesson is taught in the account of Jesus' birth. If a far-away and future heaven had been in the mind of the sacred scribe, we would reasonably expect that an event which ushered into this world him who was to lead the people to heaven would have furnished the occasion for a full and glorious description of the heavenly kingdom. The time was most opportune. So wonderful and impressive were the accompanying signs, so celestial the setting of that mighty event, so near the angelic host to earth, that even now we almost wonder the veil had not been drawn and the very throne itself shown to the anxious vision of the watchful shepherds.
But what sang the angel visitors? Only this: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." They sang not of a great white throne, surrounded by the innumerable hosts of heaven, but of that heavenly condition to be established upon earth by the Saviour who that day had been born to them in the city of David. Only this! Only these few simple words! Yet words of fullest meaning and profoundest import to all mankind, words whose deep significance reached through all the cycles of time; nay, throughout eternity, for they foretold, in prophetic amplitude, the Messianic mission of the Bethlehem babe, Christ the Lord: "On earth peace, good will toward men." Ah, were earthly peace now an established fact; were that good will today among men! Then indeed would be verified the mighty prayer: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."
Another occasion on which a great discourse on the future kingdom, the New Jerusalem, might have been expected, was when Jesus himself was asked by some of the disciples sent of John the Baptist, if he really were the Messiah, or whether they should look for another. Jesus was engaged at the time in showing, in a very practical way, the actual presence of the kingdom of heaven which he was preaching. Hear the record: "And in that same hour he [Jesus] cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight." He was thus engaged when he made answer to the momentous question as to the evidence of his Messiahship, the signs of the heavenly kingdom. Here surely was a great opportunity to descant upon the glories and grandeur of the heavenly country. Now for that mighty sermon on the New Jerusalem. Now for a brilliant description of the golden streets and pearly gates. Now for the flashings of heavenly wisdom. What was the reply? "Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached."
A mighty sermon, it is true; a most practical answer to the anxious question, for it pointed to actual works, to specific results, to those heavenly things which were transpiring upon this earth. This was the answer of the greatest heavenly visitant the world has known; this his conception of God's kingdom, - a kingdom readied not through death, but through righteous works, - right living. We remember, too, Jesus' repeated illustrations of the kingdom of heaven set forth in parables, - the parable of the sower, the parable of the grain of mustard seed, the parable of the woman with three measures of meal, - all practical similes of this earthly life and experience. Not once did he undertake a description of a literal, material, or localized heaven.
One of Jesus' simplest yet most instructive lessons was the parable of the prodigal son. The bad boy who had strayed away from home and given himself up to dissipated and licentious living, and who had become so reduced in circumstances that he fain would have eaten of the husks which were fed to the swine, had no sooner turned his face toward his father's house than the father ran to meet him, and meeting, fell upon his neck and kissed him. The best robe was placed upon this wayward youth, a ring put on his finger, shoes on his feet, and the fatted calf killed, - a commonplace but beautiful and touching illustration of the all-mercifulness, compassion, and forgiveness of divine Love; an overwhelmingly impressive evidence of the affluence of the Father's house; a severe rebuke to the spirit which condemns rather than reaches out to save the wayward; and an unsparing condemnation of the self-righteousness exhibited by the elder brother, whose jealousy was aroused by the bounteousness of the father's love toward the son who, notwithstanding his foolishness, was nevertheless a son.
Jesus distinctly taught the possibility of a present kingdom of heaven. When the Pharisees demanded of him to tell them when the kingdom of God should come, he answered that the kingdom of God was within; that is, that it was a state or condition of consciousness. All his teaching is to the effect that this condition of consciousness is possible of attainment here upon this earth; a possibility reached through true living, rather than through dying. If we fail to reach this heavenly consciousness this side the grave, we shall some time in the future attain to it; for sooner or later sin must be destroyed, and the destruction of sin in individual strife is the substitution of a heavenly state of mind for that opposite condition which indeed may be likened to hell.
Abundance the Divine Law
A common conception has been that one cannot be a true Christian unless he be poverty-stricken. The parable above referred to of itself sufficiently refutes this conception. The Bible as a whole teaches the affluence of infinite Love. This great storehouse is filled to the full. There is no lack here, and it is always open to those who seek in the right way. Seek first the kingdom of God, and all needed things shall be added. Turn to the Father's house; forsake the foolishness of wicked and riotous living; look to the source of all true supply, and the supply will surely come in due and rightful measure. We can take instructive object-lessons from nature, so called. If we meet the necessary conditions of agriculture and horticulture, how abundant the reward! If we do our part, the Father meets us and puts upon us the best robe, the most valuable ring, and lays before us the fatted calf. These material similes are but types of the spiritual superabundance of infinite Mind, - the heavenly Father. Witness in this connection the widow's cruse of oil and the story of the loaves and fishes.
Another respect in which Jesus' teachings have been unheeded is with reference to bodily conditions. He distinctly enjoins his followers to take no thought for the body, nor for what they shall wear, eat, drink, etc. How fully have his teachings been obeyed in this respect? If there is one thing people do think of, it is the body; especially its ailments, its aches and its pains, its clothing, its food supply. Remove these things, and the weather, as topics of conversation, and what would there be left of the topics that poor mortals think and talk about? In this regard do we or do we not offend in one of the least of his commandments?
Among Jesus' plainest and most emphatic commandments was the one relating to healing the sick and doing the other works specifically mentioned therein. The first record of this commandment is in the tenth chapter of Matthew. Has this commandment been carried out in its fullness by his professing followers? Have the sick been healed, devils cast out, the dead raised, the lepers cleansed, as these works were done by him and his disciples, and as he commanded they should be done by those who believe on him? The answer we used to hear to such queries is no longer satisfactory. Thought has been too much aroused along these lines to be quieted by the former assurance that these commandments related only to early times. Jesus' distinct saying, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do," has been so repeatedly urged upon public attention, through Christian Science, that the old excuse for failure in this behalf is no longer accepted.
An eminent divine recently said through newspaper interviews that he could no longer ignore the questions which were being asked by many of his parishioners: Why are not the healing works enjoined by Jesus now being done? Why has the church ignored this part of the teaching? Why is it yet failing to do those things which Jesus said must be done by his followers? And to quiet these inquiries the minister said he was making an effort to adopt into his church a means of healing without drugs or medicines; in other words, what is nowadays called mental therapeutics, which to the Christian Scientist is but one of many names for that other comparatively modern word, hypnotism. I do not intend here to go into the question which is naturally suggested by this reference. I shall simply emphasize briefly the teachings of the greatest Physician and Metaphysician known to history.
According to the record, he healed every sickness and every disease. He made no distinction between so-called nervous and so-called functional or so-called organic diseases. Note this from Matthew: "And when he [Jesus] had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." In like manner he commanded all of his disciples. To them he gave explicit instructions to heal all sickness, and we are told that they accordingly did heal all manner of sickness. The great Teacher and Physician undertook to place no limitations upon the healing power of Almighty God. He unqualifiedly declared that "with God all things are possible." To be consistent followers of his teaching we should undertake to do what he did, and what he said those who believe on him must do, in the way he taught and by the methods he pursued, so far as we can know them. Otherwise we are, in part at least, departing from his teaching, and cannot consistently lay claim to a full discipleship.
May we not, therefore, consistently ask whether Mrs. Eddy, in her insistence upon a complete and unreserved reliance upon the divine healing power, is not more in harmony with the real spirit of the Christian religion than those who are relying partly upon the divine but more upon the human power? If we adhere to the view that the less dangerous diseases can be entrusted to the divine power, while the more serious must be placed in the hands of human physicians, it would seem that we were giving greater homage to man than to God. We believe that if God's power is worthy of reliance in case of any disease, it is worthy of reliance in case of all diseases. This is the undoubted teaching of Jesus to his disciples, and through them to the whole world. Let us be consistent, then, and conform our actions to our professed belief that God is, in deed and in truth, almighty, all wise, and all present.
If we admit that God is less than almighty, we might as well declare our unbelief in any god. A limited, circumscribed, and inadequate god is not the God of the Bible, not the God whom Jesus worshiped and of whom he taught. If God's power is almighty in one instance, it must be almighty in all instances; otherwise there is no almightiness attaching to His character.
The Final Commandment
I desire to call attention to a part of Jesus' final commandment to his disciples, for the purpose of emphasizing it. The whole of it is this: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
I call special attention to the words "teaching" and "observe." They are significant words in the connection in which they are here used. To teach is to show how to do things. To observe is to do things. One is not well taught until one can do that which he is taught. One does not observe things, in the sense here used, until one does things. Therefore the words thus used manifestly meant that the disciples must show those with whom they labored how to accomplish the things they were teaching.
We need no better evidence of the sense in which Jesus used the words than the fact that his disciples went forth and did the things which he had taught them to do. They put into actual practice the things he taught them to observe. They healed all manner of sickness, - not only some kinds of sickness but all kinds of sickness. I deem it safe to say that had they drawn the line on some classes of sickness, declaring that some could be healed through his teaching, but that others had to be turned over to the human physicians, they would have been rebuked by the Master for their lack of faith. They would either have been further instructed, or else would have been declared unworthy of discipleship. While it is not claimed that Christian Scientists are infallible healers, it is claimed for them that they are sincerely endeavoring to place such full reliance upon the divine power that the teachings and promises of the Scriptures may be verified - now in part, and sooner or later in whole.
"One of the most remarkable things in connection with the wonderful career of Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy is the fact that she began her evangelistic career by teaching students how to do things, - how to overcome sin in themselves, and how to aid others in overcoming sin in themselves; how to heal sickness in themselves, and how to aid others by healing their sicknesses and showing them how to heal themselves. Mrs. Eddy taught many hundreds in this way; and through her teaching thousands of her followers are today healing "all manner of sickness and all manner of disease" among the people. Many hundreds of cases have been healed when all other means and methods had failed. Scores of diseases pronounced incurable by the best physicians in the world have been wholly cured, others have been wonderfully helped. These are facts now so well known that mention of them here is almost superfluous.
In conclusion, then, I say that through Mrs. Eddy's consecrated labors, extending over more than forty years, a fuller and higher gospel of Christ has been taught and practiced; and that the wonderful works thus far accomplished are but harbingers of the greater works yet to come. We believe most devoutly that "the Sun of righteousness" has arisen, "with healing in his wings;" that the glorious promises of the Scriptures will sooner or later be amply fulfilled, and that the spiritual vision of John on Patmos shall become a realized verity: "There shall be no more curse . . . And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever."