Lecture on Christian Science, Title Unknown (1)
Judge Septimus J. Hanna
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Ladies and gentlemen — In appearing before you for the purpose of speaking on the subject of Christian Science I will say at the outset that, in the space of a single discourse, I can only touch some of its leading phases, and hint, as it were, at its teachings, its aims, and its purposes.
If I were here to discourse upon any ordinary subject, claiming to have something new to present with reference to it, you would naturally expect me to tell you somewhat of my authority for so speaking, and if there was a text-book upon the subject you would wish to know something of that text-book as well as to hear, at least briefly, of the life and character of the author.
Acting on this assumption, I beg your attention while I speak briefly of the Christian Science text book — for there is such a book — as well as of the life and character of its author.
A few words, then, as to the text book. This book, of which the Rev. Mary Baker G. Eddy is the author, was first published in 1875. It bears the title of "Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures," and contains the entire text of Christian Science. It is a treatise on healing through the power of God, or the divine Mind. Or, as we claim, it is a thorough exegesis of the Scriptural method of healing all manner of diseases, and of curing all manner of sin through the understanding of God as all present, all powerful, all wise, and universal Mind. In short, it is a spiritual interpretation of the Bible; hence its title: "Key to the Scriptures."
Mrs. Eddy's Life and Character.
And what of the life and character of one who has established such a religious movement? I am sure a few words in reference to these will be welcomed by every sincere inquirer.
Born amid the beautiful but rugged hills of Bow, near Concord, N. H., of sterling and strictly religious parents, descended from a long line of worthy and distinguished ancestors, Mrs. Eddy was favored by nature with advantages which fitted her for her future career. Her early environments were such as to nurture and enlarge her inherited gifts. She was a student by natural bent and intuition. This native trend was strengthened by careful training in schools and academies, as well as by competent private tutors, among whom was her brother, Albert Baker, a graduate of Dartmouth College, and a distinguished lawyer, although he died when a young man. Among her other instructors were such well known educators as Mrs. Sarah J. Bodwell Lane, Mr. Corser of Sanbornton Bridge Academy, and Prof. Dyer H. Sanborn, author of Sanborn's grammar. This early training has been supplemented by long years of careful and thorough research and study. She is, from every point of view, a woman of sound education and liberal culture.
It may not be amiss for me to say that for nearly ten years, as former First Reader in the Mother Church in Boston and editor of the official periodicals, I have had opportunities which enable me to speak intelligently of Mrs. Eddy's life and character as well as of her labors and literary attainments.
Speaking from this vantage ground, I can truthfully say that, intellectually, she is one of the most alert persons I have ever known; that she labors incessantly and unselfishly for the cause to which she has devoted her life, and that, notwithstanding her years, she performs an amount of labor each day which, if known, would seem incredible, even if done by one yet in the adolescence of life. As to her religious character, I speak my profoundest conviction when I say I believe it to be in accord with the highest standard of Christian living.
Yet notwithstanding her highly spiritual nature, she is withal an intensely practical person. She keeps close watch of current affairs and acquaints herself with the world's doings. She is, moreover, a patriotic citizen of her native state and of her adopted city, contributing generously of her means toward their material welfare and upbuilding.
I pass now to a consideration of the precepts and principles of Christian Science.
What Is the Creed of Christian Science?
So far as Christian Science has a creed it is found in the Tenets of the Mother Church, which constitute its declaration of faith. All who become members of this church must solemnly subscribe to these tenets. They are as follows:
1. As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life.
2. We acknowledge and adore one supreme and infinite God; — we acknowledge one Christ — His Son Christ Jesus; the Holy Ghost or the divine Comforter; and man His divine image and likeness.
3. We acknowledge God's forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin, and in the understanding that evil and sin are unreal, hence not eternal. But the belief in sin is punished, so long as it lasts.
4. We acknowledge Christ's atonement as the evidence of divine and efficacious Love, unfolding man's unity with God through Jesus Christ the Wayshower.
5. We acknowledge that man is saved through Christ — through divine Truth, Life, and Love, as demonstrated by the Galilean Prophet in the healing of the sick and the overcoming of sin and death. Also, that the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection were designed to elevate human faith and understanding to the spiritual perception of the eternal existence of the good and the real in man.
6. We solemnly promise to strive, watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to love one another; and to be meek, merciful, just, and pure.
(Copyrighted and used by permission of Reverend Mary Baker G. Eddy, the author).
I will say with reference to the third tenet that the sense in which evil is here defined to be unreal is briefly this, that it is not created by God. He never sent it into the world. It has no place in the eternal realm of infinite Truth where all is pure and holy. Therefore Christian Science places it on the human plane. On this plane it is real. So real that the Bible was sent to awaken the world out of its sinful condition. So real that Jesus Christ was sent to redeem the world by pointing the way out of sin. Sin is real as a human belief, but not as a divine fact. It is temporal because subject to destruction. If it were real in the sense that it is eternal it never could be destroyed, in which case mankind would be in a hopeless plight. In this sense and this sense only is sin here defined to be unreal.
Concerning Christian Science Tenets.
Mrs. Eddy is the author of these tenets. So much are they a part of the essential teaching of Christian Science that they are incorporated into the text book to which I have referred. It will readily be seen that these tenets teach not only the highest morality but the very essence of Christianity. No one can read them without becoming aware that every person who subscribes to them adopts the Bible as his guide and as the Word of God. It cannot, therefore, be truthfully charged that Christian Scientists are unbelievers in the Scriptures. The fact is, they are ardent believers in the Bible, reading and studying it daily, and making it their constant companion. An intelligent perusal of these tenets leads to the following clear deductions: The absolute supremacy of God, the divinity of the Christ, that there is but one Christ, the forgiveness of sin through the destruction of sin; the atonement for sin and all of its consequences through unity with God the Father; in other words, through obedience to His divine law; salvation from sin, sickness and death; that this salvation is free to all; that the spiritual man, as God's universal and eternal son, occupies a relationship to God that can never, in any true sense of that relationship, be severed or destroyed; that this man as God's image and likeness can no more be destroyed than can God Himself be destroyed; that if this man could be destroyed, he would not be the image and likeness of God in any correct sense of the meaning of these words, and the declaration of Genesis that God made man in His own image and likeness would hence be a falsity.
The sixth and last tenet comprehends all the preceding tenets. The solemn admonition to strive and pray for the Mind of Christ is a call to live the highest possible Christian life. He who attains to that altitude of living wherein he has in him the same Mind that was in Christ Jesus is surely a Christian. He who earnestly strives and prays for that Mind is surely, to that extent and in that sense, leading a Christian life, though he may yet have to travel a long way before reaching the high goal. Step by step, he may climb the ladder whose top marks the full measure of the stature of manhood in Christ Jesus.
The tenet is a restatement in almost exact words of Paul's injunction to the Philippians wherein he commanded them to have in themselves the same Mind that was also in Christ Jesus. Is it an impossible injunction?
The Bible Christian Scientists Study.
Christian Science maintains that it is not impossible, but in the natural order of Christian growth. What, then, is it to have in you the Mind of Christ? Every thought you think which is for your good and that of your neighbor is, to that extent and in that sense, having in you the Mind of Christ. Every good motive or purpose is, in relative degree, having in you the Mind of Christ. Every act which makes for your betterment and that of your neighbor is, in its due measure, exemplifying the Mind of Christ. However simple or apparently insignificant, measured by the world's standard, if it be done in a spirit of kindness and of charity, such act as [this] is, to the extent of its goodness, an expression of the Mind of Christ. Paul's injunction was not impossible, and the tenets of the Christian Science church in re-adopting and re-emphasizing that admonition, are not demanding of their adherents an impossibility, although they do call for the highest Christian life.
There has been a too great tendency to remove God and the Christ from the world. God has been worshipped too much as an unknown God — an anthropomorphic God of human passions and human limitations. Indeed, God has been much regarded as a corporeal being, who rewards and punishes according to His will in each individual case, to all intents and purposes as does the human magistrate. The Christ has been too much pictured as a personal mediator between God and man to appease the divine wrath; while the kingdom of heaven has been looked upon as a far away place to be reached only in the future and through death and the grave.
I say frankly, this is not the Christian Science conception of God, of Christ and of heaven. More of this hereafter, but, first, as to the kingdom of heaven. Let us, for a moment, look at the teaching of Scripture in reference to heaven. What I here say is by way of preliminary to what I shall later say on the subject of healing sickness.
Inasmuch as Christian Scientists are sometimes charged with having a Bible of their own, unlike the old Bible, I will say that all I shall read and quote is from the old Bible, the authorized version or the King James version, Oxford edition. This is the Christian Science Bible. This Bible Christian Scientists read and study in private. From it all selections are made in their public services. From it the lesson-sermons read in their churches, which take the place of the ordinary sermon in other churches, are selected: that is to say, these lesson-sermons are made up of selections from this Bible and correlative or expository selections from the Christian Science text-book to which I have referred. If an occasional selection is made from the revised version that fact is mentioned.
What, then, does the Bible teach relative to the kingdom of heaven? In Matthew 3d we read that, "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Note the words "at hand." They are significant. More apt words to denote that which is here and now could not have been selected. John the Baptist was the forerunner of the Christ. He did not say that the kingdom of heaven was afar off to be reached only through death and the grave, but he distinctly said it was "at hand." He did not call upon people to repent to escape the tortures of eternal punishment or because the kingdom of hell was at hand, but because the kingdom of heaven was at hand.
In Matthew 4th we read: "From that time Jesus began to preach; and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand " When Jesus sent forth his twelve disciples to preach and to heal he thus commanded them "And as ye go, preach, saying. The kingdom of heaven is at hand." In Luke seventeen we read: "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, neither shall they say, Lo here! or lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." And in his great prayer known as the Lord's prayer, he thus prayed: "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."
What Christian Science Preaches.
This Scripture, if it means anything, plainly shows that John the Baptist and Jesus believed in and taught a present kingdom of heaven. John the Baptist, as the forerunner of the Christ, therefore preached a present kingdom of heaven. Jesus preached it and expressly commanded those whom he sent forth to preach it. Christian Science takes this Scripture for what it explicitly says, and from it easily deduces the conception that the kingdom of heaven is a state of consciousness. It, of course, is a place also. There is a place in God's infinite kingdom for all of His children, but heaven is a place conditioned, not upon material locality, but upon degrees of spirituality or right living. The more men are possessed of the Mind of Christ, the more they are filled with the God-consciousness, and hence the nearer to the kingdom of heaven. Nearness to God measures nearness to heaven. Where God is, heaven is, and as God, according to Scripture, is everywhere, so heaven must be everywhere. It remains only for mankind to prepare for the reception of heaven into consciousness. Heaven stands for the highest, or spiritual state. Hell, the Anglo-Saxon word, stands for the lowest or sinful state. The Greek word Hades and the Hebrew Sheol signify the underworld, or the invisible world, the abode of spirits. There is no such meaning attached to the Anglo-Saxon word. These conceptions of a future place of punishment have been borrowed from the medieval ages and handed down. They were largely drawn from Paganism. There are serious difficulties in locating the old heaven.
We used to think that when we looked up at the blue vault above us we were looking up to where God was; but the earth is constantly revolving. We are not always gazing into the same point. What is up to-day at high noontime is down at midnight, and vice versa. The great white throne and golden streets and pearly gates are but types of the true spiritual estate. It was never intended that they should be accepted as indications of material gold and material pearls. Nor should heaven be conceived of as a place or condition of external idleness. The kingdom of heaven that Jesus taught and practiced was one of intense activity, of incessant usefulness, the constant going about and doing good. Good works are the evidence of heaven's nearness as they are the very fact of heaven itself.
What has this conception of heaven to do with the healing of sickness? Much; in fact all. There can be no true healing of disease apart from a correct understanding of the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of God. The entirety of Jesus' teachings and practices evidences this. But the healing of disease implies a perfect healing, not merely relief from physical ills and pains. The only true healing is that which brings the spiritual estate; which restores the unfallen condition. Included in this is physical as well as mental or spiritual harmony.
The Conception of Heaven as Found in Revelation.
Finally, we turn to Revelation for a conception of heaven. In Revelation xxi, John saw, in prophetic vision, a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away. Are we to construe the language literally? Is it possible that the heaven which constitutes the very throne of God is to pass away? We might conceive of a material earth passing away, but not of an eternal heaven. It is evident that the Revelator meant that the old and false conceptions of both heaven and earth should pass away to give place to the new and true. His words are susceptible of no other rational interpretation. And what kind of heaven did John foresee? The same kind that John the Baptist preached, that Jesus preached, and that he taught his disciples to preach and practice; a present heaven, free from all sin, discord, sorrow, distress and disease. Hear his description: "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
In view of all that precedes this prophecy it seems unnecessary to say that it refers to conditions possible of attainment upon this earth. It is not said that God will tabernacle only with angels, but with men. He will be men's God and men shall be His people. But these men must be spiritual men, freed from material dross or sin; men who have put off the old man of sin, and put on the new man of rightness. Nor is it necessary to say that we do not understand from John's words that God will personally wipe all tears from all eyes, but that all men shall come into such an understanding of God's law that all conditions which bring tears, sorrow, grief and woe shall be swallowed up in victory; destroyed, annihilated.
I return to Jesus' teaching with reference to healing sickness. He sent forth the twelve to preach and to heal the sick. He gave them a commandment, called by some Bible commentators his Great Commission. In Matthew 10th this commandment is thus recorded:
"Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
"And as ye go preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
"Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
"Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses.
"Nor yet scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves; for the workman is worthy of his meat."
This commandment is a unit. It is not two commandments. There is in this language no warrant for any attempt to separate the commandment, by declaring that the part relating to preaching was to be perpetuated, but the part relating to healing the sick was to be put aside, as having reference only to the time in which, and those to whom, it was given. Even if for the sake of argument the kind of preaching mentioned in the commandment had been practiced, and a present kingdom of heaven had been preached, we yet maintain that the part relating to healing sickness is as plain and imperative as that pertaining to preaching. We should thus maintain if we rested the question alone upon the words I have quoted, but we are not compelled to do this. After his resurrection and just before his ascension Jesus gave to the same disciples to whom he gave his first great commandment (excepting Judas Iscariot who had betrayed him) a final commandment. This constitutes the last two verses of the Book of Matthew.
About the Teaching of Jesus.
"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."
This language is broad and unqualified. It comprehends all the commandments previously given to his disciples, and this, of course, includes his first great commandment. According to Mark's gospel he commands his disciples to preach this gospel to "every creature." This is a plain and unmistakable direction or instruction. Let me plainly ask: When was it ever repealed, countermanded, qualified, or changed in any manner, by Jesus or any one else of those having Biblical authority to teach or preach? Where it the record thereof? We declare, therefore, on the most explicit Biblical authority, that the part of the great commandment relating to healing the sick was as imperative as that pertaining to preaching. Healing sickness is, then, an essential and indispensable part of Christ's gospel. No right exists for the effort to put aside Jesus' commandment to heal the sick and to heal according to his teachings and his methods of healing, without drugs, surgery or any material remedies or appliances. The same divine power that healed in Jesus' time heals today, so far as it is understood and practiced. There is but one Truth, and that Truth is eternal, unchangeable. The healing Christ never withdrew himself from the world. Jesus declared as the solemn and awful conclusion of his final commandment: "And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
The Christian Science Text Book.
We might well rest our contention here. But I feel impelled to call your attention to an utterance of Jesus yet more remarkable than any to which I have referred. In the 14th of John we read: "Verily, verily I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto the Father." Marvelous words! When we think of the mighty works he performed we are almost overwhelmed by the deep solemnity of such an utterance. Jesus destroyed all forms of sin, healed all manner of sickness, walked the waves, raised the dead, and did many other wonderful works. Yet in words startling in their plainness he declares that those who believe on him shall do, not only the great work he had done, but greater. Can this be? Is it possible that the believers in the great Nazarene are destined to do the mighty works he did and even mightier? What shall be our answer? If he meant what he said and was a true prophet, our answer must be, yes.
Then, my friends, what follows? We must either seek to learn the divine law by virtue of which these works may be done, or we must declare ourselves unbelievers in Christ and his teaching; therefore, unbelievers in God and the Bible. What shall be our determination here and now? Whom shall we this day make up our minds to serve? Shall we accept Jesus' words for what they say or shall we not? By whom shall these great works be done if not by Christians? Jesus distinctly said they should be done by those who believe on him, — those who understand and obey his teaching.
The Christian Science text book to which I have referred teaches healing by means above the material. The author of that book was healed of an injury which, according to all ordinary evidence, had placed her at death's door. She was thus healed through a sudden realization of God's power and presence. This marvelous experience aroused within her an intense desire to know how she had been healed. This led her to search the Scriptures, for she was sure that they contained the secret of true healing. For more than three years she devoted herself wholly to Scripture study in its relation to healing. She especially pondered Jesus' words and works, his teaching and his practice; those to which I have referred, with many others. She became satisfied that God was the healer. She proved her understanding of His power by healing all kinds of diseases, and she proved also that the same understanding that healed sickness destroyed sin. This led her to a systematic investigation of the relation between sin as cause and sickness as effect. She thus felt impelled to give her experiences to the world. She could content herself with nothing else. She soon began the pen-work which brought forth the Christian Science text book, and many other writings. In due and systematic order she established the propaganda, now so well known, and which is so rapidly reaching round the world. She has taught and sent forth thousands of students, who, in greater or less degree, are proving the truth of her teaching in healing sickness and destroying sin.
Those who are true to their teaching and profession are, in some measure, proving the possibility of doing the works that Jesus declared would be done, although they are far from reaching His high goal or that which he commanded. They have done work thus far, however, which in meekness and humility they may well take as hopeful indications of the great possibilities in store for those who are faithful. Past achievements have been such as to offer high hopes and great encouragement for the future, and thus they press onward with faith and trust in the omnipotent God, following, as best they can, in the footsteps of him who commanded his disciples to teach all nations all things whatsoever he had taught them. For so laudable a purpose as this, for thus honestly endeavoring to carry out the full teaching of the Gospel, shall any set of people be condemned or maligned or ridiculed or ostracized or ruled out of the modern synagogues?
Sickness the Result of Human Error.
As already indicated, a chief point in Christian Science is that sickness is not of God. He is not its creator. He does not send it. It is no part of His law. It is, rather, the result of not conforming to His law. This is surely true of those kinds of sickness that are well known to be the direct result of sin. I do not wish to be understood that every kind of sickness is due to wilful disobedience of the divine law, or the law of right living, for I am aware, as you are, that some of the best people the world affords seem to suffer most from some forms of sickness. What I do wish to be understood as saying is that every kind of sickness is the result of long ages of human error, of straying away from God's law, and the innocent suffer with the guilty because we are all, more or less, under the ban of these long ages of transgression until we come into an understanding of the divine law by virtue of which the error may be overcome and destroyed. Jesus came to make known this divine law to mankind, and he did make it known by proving the possibility of overcoming in his own works, these human conditions.
The Bible makes it plain that Jesus came to destroy sin, sickness and death. It makes plain that he did destroy them in numerous instances. I ask: If sin, sickness and death were and are part of God's law, or if they were created or authorized by Him, why did Jesus come to destroy them or either of them? It is not rational to suppose that God sent his only begotten son to undo that which He had done. It is not rational to contend that God made laws, at one time, which must afterwards be annulled. This is contrary to God's character as a changeless and immutable Being, such as the Scriptures declare Him to be.
I ask then, is not Christian Science true to the teachings of the Bible and the life and works and words of Jesus in its position, that sin, sickness and death are the result, not of God's law, but of the long ages of human disregard or transgression of His law?
The Cause of Sickness.
It is apparent from what has thus far been said that Christian Science teaches that sickness is the result of sin, in its broad definition as human error. Let me briefly explain. All will agree that the sin of lust, or licentiousness, is a prolific cause of sickness. It is the source of loathsome and fatal diseases. Physicians will agree to this.
Another fruitful and appalling cause of sickness and death is drunkenness, the excessive use of intoxicating liquors.
These are among the grosser sins of mortals. They are admitted by all to be wrong. They are the cause of more sickness than all other causes. Remove them and you have taken away a percentage of this source of sickness that would reduce its aggregate to an amazing extent.
But these are not all there is that produces sickness. Sorrow, grief, the multiplied forms of disappointment, discouragement, and depression, these mental conditions act upon the physical and bring about many of the disorders and complications which are called physical diseases.
Other prolific causes of sickness are the disorders arising from business worry and disappointments. These are mental, although producing myriad forms of physical disturbance. How many men and women have been driven to sickness and death by reason of these untoward conditions? Remove this single cause of sickness and death, and you have wrought mightily for health and peace on earth. But the Christian Scientist goes further in his analysis of the causes of sickness. He is aware that there are many other qualities of the human mind that are health destroying. I enumerate these briefly as hatred, malice, revenge, jealousy, dishonesty, distrust, anger, and kindred qualities. Need I remind you that these cause sickness? Remove them and heaven has been brought vastly nearer to earth and an enormous work has been done toward establishing good health.
Now, my friends, let me ask you, can these multiform mental causes of sickness be cured by any other than moral and spiritual means? Will material medicines reach and destroy mental conditions and moral defects? In other words, more plainly, can inanimate drugs destroy sin? The soporific effect of a drug may stupefy the mind so as to produce temporary relief, but cure it cannot; heal, finally and effectually, it does not, for it has dealt, at best, only with effect; it has not reached root cause.
Nor can the surgeon's knife cut out mental conditions or moral defects. The utmost it can do is to remove the physical effects of these.
In saying this I wish to cast no reflection upon those who are practicing medicine and surgery. They are working up to their highest standard of the healing art. Their purpose and effort are to relieve human suffering and stay the ravages of disease. The question here submitted is: Are they practicing the highest and best method of healing? Have they reached the true remedial standard? If not, and a better exists, then the truly unselfish and sincere of their class will welcome and indorse that which is better as soon as they become convinced that there is a better.
In view of the plain and well-known facts in human experience to which I have adverted, may I not again ask, Do not these facts distinctly coincide with Jesus' treatment of sin and sickness, and do they not clearly indicate why he almost invariably said to those whom he healed, "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto you?"
In this connection I also ask these questions: Can it truthfully be maintained that Jesus came to save the world from sin but not from sickness? Could even he separate cause from effect? He who saves from sin saves also from all the consequences of sin. This is the simplest logic.
So far as Christianity has been successful in improving the world morally and spiritually, just so far has it reduced the percentage of all sickness which is the result of sin. The preacher whose labors have reduced the percentage of immorality or wrong living in any form has contributed his part toward reducing the percentage of all sickness resulting from such wrong living. So with the temperance reformer; and so with all who are laboring for a better standard of life.
The Cure of Sickness.
What, then, is the cure for sickness? I have already indicated the Christian Science answer to this question. I have, in a general way, pointed out the cause or causes of sickness. There is no sickness without a cause. Sickness does not come of itself. There is a cause for every form of it. The true office of the physician, or the metaphysician as the case may be, is to get at and remove causes, not to doctor effects. The best remedy for those forms of sickness which are known to be the direct result of wrong living, is to stop the wrong living and go to living rightly.
Suppose a stream or reservoir of water which furnishes the supply of a city becomes so polluted that many inhabitants are getting sick and dying from drinking it? What is the sensible and effective thing to do? To pay no heed to the water, but give all time and attention to doctoring the sick and burying the dead? Would not all sensible people say that the thing to do would be to remove from the water the poisonous elements and thus purify it and stop the cause of the sickness and death?
The Christian Science position is that this same sensible rule should be applied to all kinds of sickness and therefore the great aim should be to seek out causes and destroy them, rather than to tinker eternally with effects. It is irrational and unjust for men to go carelessly and thoughtlessly on, disregarding the conditions which produce sickness and death, and then when these calamities come, charging them to the will and purpose of an inscrutable Providence. They should rather turn their attention as earnestly, at least, to learning how to avoid the consequences of disobeying the divine law, as they do to promoting their worldly purposes. To the extent that they do this they may be sure that they will reap the due reward of their efforts and relatively speaking, a much greater reward than mere worldly seeking can bring.
If the cause of sickness is of such a nature that the patient is unaware of it, then the office of the physician, or metaphysician, is to ascertain the cause, and apply the remedy. If the cause is found to be mental — and this is what the Christian Science practitioner always looks for — then the work to be done is to regulate or remove this mental cause. The Christian Scientist endeavors to awaken his patient spiritually and point out to him his true relationship to God. This is prayer in the highest sense of the word. Not alone the prayer of sincere desire and supplication, but more, the realization of God's all-presence, all-power and all-Life, nay, Life eternal.
And I say to you in conclusion that this God is your Physician, as well as mine. We can go to him daily, hourly, momentarily, in sweet and silent prayer, and if we pray aright, He will heal us of our diseases and remove from us our infirmities. We can know, in the very depths of our being, that He is our Physician, our Comforter, our Life, our Health, our All-in-all, and in the fullest and most absolute sense, a very present help in trouble; and that in Him we live and move and have our physical and our spiritual being.
An Appeal for Aid.
May I not, then, appeal to all good people, of every belief or sect, to aid me in spreading his healing and saving gospel? May I not deeply, earnestly, and in the most fraternal spirit, ask you to rejoice with us that God in these latter days, is sending around the world a mighty current of healing truth, and may I not ask you to unite your voice with ours in pleading for a higher and more general recognition of God as all power, and of all that is opposed to Him as baseless and impotent before His almightiness?
May I ask if the day is gone when God should cease to be almighty? when human error — sin — should no longer be overcome and destroyed? when sickness, sorrow, misery, and distress, should no longer be striven against until they are annihilated? I ask, in all sincerity and candor, has the healing and saving Christ been withdrawn from human reach because there is no longer need of such a Christ? And, in this sense, has the day of healing miracles passed because there is now no necessity for them? As Christian Scientists we maintain, however, that divine healing is miraculous only as it is not understood. All true healing is done through the understanding of ever-operative law.
I will close by asking your attention while I read a brief extract from the preface to our text-book as it aptly epitomizes what I have endeavored to say:
"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 so disappear as naturally and necessarily as darkness gives place to light and sin to reformation. Now, as then, his mighty works are not supernatural, but supremely natural. They are the sign of Immanuel, or 'God with us' — a divine influence ever present in human consciousness and repeating itself, coming now as was promised aforetime,
To preach deliverance to the captives [of sense],
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty them that are bruised." — Page xi.
I read also the closing paragraph of this preface as showing the Christly spirit in which this book was given to the world:
"In the spirit of Christ's charity, — as one who 'hopeth all things, endureth all things,' and is joyful to bear consolation to the sorrowing and healing to the sick, — she commits these pages to honest seekers for Truth."
[Delivered Nov. 20, 1904, at the Orpheum Theater in Brooklyn, New York, and published in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Nov. 21, 1904. The newspaper noted: "The entire orchestra and the balcony of the Orpheum Theater were filled yesterday ... The boxes, too, were filled. Eighteen hundred tickets for seats had been left for distribution, and they were all gone but twelve by yesterday morning."
[This lecture had already been given in The Mother Church on April 9, 1903, as the church's semi-annual lecture. Since the wording of the six tenets in the Christian Science textbook was revised subsequent to the version given above, and since public newspapers might inadvertently introduce slight changes to the text they were typesetting, the tenets are quoted here as printed April 18, 1903, in The Christian Science Sentinel, in the editors' synopsis of the lecture, with the hope that these will most nearly match the contents of Science and Health at the time the lecture was delivered and first written. Otherwise the text above is that printed in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Neither publication gave the title of the lecture.]