Christian Science: Its Assurance of Hope for Mankind

 

Hazel R. Harrison, C.S., of Santa Monica, California

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

A lecture entitled: "Christian Science: Its Assurance of Hope for Mankind," was given by Hazel R. Harrison, C.S., of Santa Monica, California, Saturday, March 28, at 3 p.m., in the First Church of Christ, Scientist, 253 Fifth Avenue, North, St. Petersburg. It was under the auspices of Third Church of Christ, Scientist, St. Petersburg.

The speaker was introduced by Mrs. Marguerite Ryden, Second Reader of Third Church.

The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:

 

History records that all through the ages mortals have found themselves in situations which appeared to be difficult to solve or to have no solution at all. Every generation has come face to face with trouble, whether in the form of wars, strife, disasters, or other adversities. Each has felt that its trials were the most severe, the most trying, of all. Certainly the present generation is no exception.

If there were no rays of hope shining through the turbulent storms of adversity, mankind would be in a sorry plight indeed. To those who have known where to look for it, there has always been a right answer, a way to victory. There is hope in this present age, a higher hope for everyone. There is a solution for every problem. Where is it?

Our answer does not lie in outer space or in modern inventions. It is to be found within the pages of the Bible when enlightened by Christian Science. Think of the challenges which were met and mastered by such God-loving individuals as Moses, as David when he faced Goliath, as Daniel who was placed with the lions, and as Christ Jesus who did not accept even the grave to be an insurmountable obstacle to victory over death.

Bible records, though based upon historical facts, may remain abstract and transcendental unless enlightened and brought into the focus of present-day practicality. Here Christian Science enters the scene. Christian Science clarifies, illumines, and makes practical the Scriptures.

It is in the inspired word of the Bible that we find our hope. Throughout the course of this lecture we shall consider some of the troubles which confront mankind today, and show how Christian Science restores hope by offering a solution to these problems.

Christian Science teaches that no form of evil is more formidable, more dangerous, or more difficult to destroy than another. It teaches that there is, therefore, no such thing as an unsolvable problem, an incurable disease, or a futile or hopeless situation. There is a distinct reason for this.

 

Hope is in God

Christian Science, with its authority from the Bible, is monotheistic, that is, it acknowledges one God, and one alone. It recognizes God to be the only power, the one cause and creator, the infinite, the All-in-all.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, bases her acceptance of the oneness and allness of God upon the first of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:3), "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." This she designates as her favorite text and consistently refers to it in her writings.

Before one can rely upon God for guidance and help in Christian Science, he must acquire at least a degree of understanding of the nature of God. This was true in the case of Moses. Before Moses could be spiritually equipped to lead the children of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt and later to receive the Commandments, God talked with him, announcing His name and revealing His divine nature.

The account reads (Ex. 3:14), "And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you."

At first we may not easily comprehend God's naming Himself I AM, but nothing could depict the nature of God more accurately or vividly. "I am" is the first person, singular, of the verb "to be," present tense. To "be" is to exist, to have entity, essence, and actuality. For God to declare I AM is to claim being and identity. It is to proclaim, "I exist, not as a corporeal person, but as the boundless, incorporeal divine Principle of all being, as Life, Truth, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul." In other words, God is!

God was not satisfied merely to name Himself I AM. He made His statement more complete, more emphatic, more absolute, by stating, I AM THAT I AM. Might not one meaning of this be, "I exist because I exist"?

In her book "Miscellaneous Writings" Mrs. Eddy writes, "The name I am, indicated no personality that could be paralleled with it; but it did declare a mighty individuality, even the everlasting Father, as infinite consciousness, ever-presence, omnipotence; as all law, Life, Truth, and Love" (p. 258).

 

All Things Possible to God

After Moses had talked with God and learned what God is, he was given the responsibility for leading the children of Israel out of Egypt and towards the promised land. The experiences of these people on their journey through the wilderness correspond closely with many experiences of modern times.

Before they were barely out of sight of the Egyptians, the children of Israel reached their first serious obstacle, the impassable Red Sea. Next they beheld the Egyptian army pursuing them with horses and chariots.

Here was a seemingly hopeless situation. They were trapped, with the Red Sea before them and the pursuing enemy rapidly gaining on them from behind. According to the testimony of the material senses, there was no way out. The Israelites were cornered, with certain destruction or capture confronting them.

But, as Christ Jesus later said (Matt. 19:26), "With God all things are possible." Moses prevailed upon the fearful, doubting people to pray for guidance and to trust in God's protection. He gave these explicit instructions (Ex. 14:13), "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord." Then God Himself commanded that they go forward!

The people obeyed and went forward. Then, as most of you know, a wonderful thing occurred. The waters were divided; the children of Israel walked through on dry ground. The pursuing Egyptians followed them into the sea, but the waters returned and covered them, and the enemy was destroyed. Right had prevailed, and error destroyed itself.

Had the Israelites not gone forward, as God ordered, they would have been overcome by the Egyptians. They had to be willing to step into the water. But because they fearlessly accepted their safety as assured in God, they were spared both the danger of drowning and the horrors of returning to the domination of the Egyptian Pharaoh.

Doubt and discouragement may tempt us at times to give up or to turn back to the enslavement of materiality, but Mrs. Eddy writes in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," the Christian Science textbook (p. 233): "Every day makes its demands upon us for higher proofs rather than professions of Christian power. These proofs consist solely in the destruction of sin, sickness, and death by the power of Spirit, as Jesus destroyed them. This is an element of progress, and progress is the law of God, whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil."

If only the children of Israel had continued to obey the Commandments, what hardships they would have been spared! However, at the very time that Moses was on the mount receiving the Ten Commandments, the Israelites began to disobey by worshiping gods of silver and gold and indulging in acts which opposed the purity of God's laws.

Are not the errors which tempted them basically identical with those that breed trouble today? Do not they arise from the belief in dualism - the opposite of monotheism - the belief in more than one God, more than one power? Dualism accepts two powers, good and evil; it accepts two creations, the spiritually perfect and the materially imperfect.

Let each of us look into his thinking - as we continue with this lecture - to see if errors related to hopelessness and futility are lurking there. We may be surprised at what we find. There is quite a list of them, all beginning with the letter "d" (as does "devil"): dualism, doubt, disobedience, discouragement, defeatism, despair, and despondency. Certainly no one chooses to associate with such as these!

 

Mary Baker Eddy's Confidence in God

If ever our confidence in the supremacy of God, or good, is shaken, we shall find a certain cure in the first commandment as re-emphasized for the benefit of the world by Christ Jesus. It is (Mark 12:29, 30): "Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength."

This means to actually love God above all else, to feel His gentle presence, to be strengthened by His power. No one ever followed more faithfully this commandment to love God supremely than did our Leader, Mrs. Eddy. From early childhood, she had faith in the active power of the Christ to deliver mankind from sin and sickness.

The spiritual foundation of her early years - gained from God-revering parents and her close companionship with the Bible - prepared our Leader for the revelation of Truth which she was divinely destined to receive. It also fortified her for the onslaughts of opposition and persecution which followed.

Mrs. Eddy was herself faced with a supposedly hopeless situation, a medical diagnosis of incurability, when the spiritual revelation which led to her discovery of the Science of Christ healed her. She knew, then, without a doubt, that God heals.

Through careful, prayerful search of the Scriptures, Mrs. Eddy discovered how Christ Jesus had proved his teachings through healing. But she was disappointed to find, later, that her revelation met with much misunderstanding and opposition.

No matter how strong the opposition, or how disappointing her efforts to have her teachings accepted universally, Mrs. Eddy never lost hope. She was never tempted to give up. She never for an instant doubted that she was right in her spiritual convictions. She knew she was right because she could prove her convictions.

Like Moses at the Red Sea, our Leader trusted that the God she loved - and that she knew loved her - would carry her through. And He did. This is evidenced in the tremendous growth of the church she founded.

Mrs. Eddy refers to her own Red Sea experiences in a passage from the textbook. Here she writes (Science and Health, pp. 226, 227): "I saw before me the sick, wearing out years of servitude to an unreal master in the belief that the body governed them, rather than Mind. The lame, the deaf, the dumb, the blind, the sick, the sensual, the sinner, I wished to save from the slavery of their own beliefs and from the educational systems of the Pharaohs, who to-day, as of yore, hold the children of Israel in bondage. I saw before me the awful conflict, the Red Sea and the wilderness; but I pressed on through faith in God, trusting Truth, the strong deliverer, to guide me into the land of Christian Science, where fetters fall and the rights of man are fully known and acknowledged."

 

Hope in Certainty of Healing

We note in the passage just read that Mrs. Eddy first referred to the sick as "wearing out years of servitude to an unreal master in the belief that the body governed them, rather than Mind." One of the most common causes of hopelessness and despair is fear of sickness and disease, particularly of the incurability of disease.

Let us recall, here, the words of David (Ps. 42:11), "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."

David placed his hope in God, Spirit, as the health of his countenance, the health of his being. True health is the consciousness of harmony. It is a spiritual quality of God reflected by the real man; it is a state of spiritual perfection.

True health is not to be found in matter, the opposite of Spirit. Matter is not included in God's awareness of Himself and His spiritual creation. God does not create or recognize either healthy or unhealthy matter. In His knowledge there is no matter at all. God, divine Mind, is likewise unaware of disease. Both matter and disease are without cause, identity, or existence because they are not created of God. Disease is not mere imagination - as our Leader repeatedly reminds us - but it is a human concept, or misconception, an illusion.

The human mind needs a change of base. It needs to rise up out of servitude to the unreal masters, the graven images, of fear and materiality. The human consciousness will rise into the understanding that the all-harmonious divine Mind alone governs man. Then disease vanishes before the penetration of the light of the Christ, Truth.

Yes, our hope is in God because in God is our only hope!

Mrs. Eddy explains how to demonstrate health in her chapter on Prayer in Science and Health (p. 1): "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, - a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love."

These three requirements for healing and reformation coincide with three qualities named by the Apostle Paul, who considered that without them other gifts from God were of no profit to him. He said (I Cor. 13:13), "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity," or love (as some translate it).

Paul's first requirement was faith. This Mrs. Eddy emphasized as "an absolute faith that all things are possible to God." A solid conviction that all is possible to God fully recognizes the one God as the only power, thus obeying the First Commandment. It includes no doubt, no wavering, no compromising with matter.

Absolute faith approaches each problem with complete expectation of victory. In Christian Science absolute faith is based upon spiritual understanding of the nature of God and man. It comes with the conscientious application in our daily life of what we have come to understand.

 

Spiritual Understanding Heals

Paul names first faith, then hope; but in place of the word "hope" Mrs. Eddy writes this requirement for the healing of sickness and sin, "a spiritual understanding of Him." The higher hope based upon an understanding of God inevitably leads to healing and health.

Knowledge of God must include also an understanding of the nature of His manifestation. Since there is but one God, the one creator, infinite Spirit, there can be but one creation, the spiritual universe and spiritual man. Since like produces like, Spirit - another name for God, divine Mind - can produce only a spiritually perfect man. Man's harmony, therefore, is permanent, intact, and forever safe.

A woman I know proved the healing power of God when she refused to accept material sense testimony as real. A felon appeared on a finger and the evidence became alarming. Fear set in because she had once had a similar experience and there had been great concern in her family. This time she allowed no one to see the finger and went to the office of a Christian Science practitioner for help.

The practitioner stressed such thoughts as that declared by Mrs. Eddy (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 277), "No evidence before the material senses can close my eyes to the scientific proof that God, good, is supreme." The woman could see clearly that no matter how terrifying the evidence appeared to be, it was a deception trying to hide the real man's perfect state of being. She left the practitioner with the thought, "I don't care what matter says, I know that as God's likeness I'm perfect." All fear was completely gone. That absolute confidence that man is perfect in spite of material sense testimony brought her a rapid healing.

 

Unselfed Love Aids Healing

Unselfed love is named by Mrs. Eddy as the third requirement to healing sickness and destroying sin. And this Paul named the greatest of all qualities. But what has unselfed love to do with healing and reformation?

Unselfed love is conducive to healing because, first of all, it banishes fear, and fear is often at the root of sickness. Also, it has been found that self-love and its unsavory companions are a certain detriment to healing.

Self-will opposes God by asserting itself.  Self-will, self-righteousness, self-love, and self-glorification are the opposites of humility, and humility and teachableness are absolutely essential to healing and the spiritual regeneration which must accompany it. A humble consciousness is a receptive consciousness - receptive to the healing power of the Christ. The self-justification which thinks it knows it all has no place in humility. Self-condemnation, likewise, is egotistical, acknowledging a selfhood apart from God. Condemnation, either of oneself or of others, first condemns God, for man is God's image.

Absolute faith based upon spiritual understanding and unselfed love heals and reforms because it recognizes the real, spiritual man as innocent of evil, uncondemned and undefiled. It will heal the most critical of ailments.

The question is sometimes asked, "Can Christian Science heal a ruptured appendix?" I personally witnessed such a healing which took place over twenty years ago.

A friend of mine became desperately ill with peritonitis as the result of a ruptured appendix. He was rushed to a Christian Science Benevolent Association Sanatorium where care is provided by specially trained Christian Science nurses.

Upon entering the Sanatorium, my friend engaged a Christian Science practitioner who early discerned in the man's thought a mixture of human will and pride. The pride and self-will objected even to certain earnest efforts of the nurses to make him comfortable and happy. Rather rude refusals were made the first two days.

On the third day, the patient awakened to see these errors undesirable because ungodlike. Stubbornness and pride yielded to humility and a childlike willingness to be obedient. That evening a wonderful thing took place. Natural incisions appeared in the skin without the aid of a surgeon, and the poison began to drain. The drainage continued until my friend was completely healed.

Over twenty years have passed since then, and this good man has led an extremely eventful life in his vocation and has gratefully served in many offices in his branch Church of Christ, Scientist. The poison of accumulated pride and human will was banished before the Christliness of humility, and a disease deemed incurable was healed.

 

Hope in Liberation from Sin

Referring again to Mrs. Eddy's reference to the Red Sea, we note her pressing desire to see not only the sick but also the sensual and the sinner saved from the slavery of their own beliefs. Spiritual regeneration and reformation should accompany a healing.

Sin and sensuality are sometimes the outgrowths of hopelessness and despair. An attitude of "What's the use?" may lead to the desire to "live it up," to alcoholism and immorality.

In one of her messages to The Mother Church, Mrs. Eddy writes (Message for 1901, p. 13:15). "Christian Science lays the axe at the root of sin, and destroys it on the very basis of nothingness."

First, it is helpful for one to desire to overcome error. Repentance may be a first step, but repentance is not enough. Reformation must follow. The fact that Christian Science teaches the unreality of evil does not authorize us to say, "I can go ahead and do wrong because error is unreal."

Christian Science does not ignore evil; neither does it condone it. Its teachings insist that evil must be destroyed. Sin punishes itself until it is exterminated. It is exterminated by knowing that evil is not real and cannot stand in the presence of the purity of divine Love.

Reports of wrong-doing and immorality among young people, as well as with adults, are alarming. The correction of this evil should, of course, start with the parents. The parent, through his own example of purity, will teach his child the value of purity. Children can be taught at the earliest age to enjoy doing right; they can learn right values through spiritual enlightenment; they can and must see that one cannot have spirituality and the blessings which accompany it, without morality.

To the young people themselves, as well as to adults, let me add this: that to be able to live in the Spirit and to receive the benefits of God's care and provision, we must also, as Paul said, walk in the Spirit. That is, we must express, outwardly, in actions that are morally right, the good which is natural to God's man.

In speaking of the fact that her system has been fully tested and not found wanting, Mrs. Eddy adds (Science and Health, Pref., p. viii), "but to reach the heights of Christian Science, man must live in obedience to its divine Principle." What if we are criticized, and even ridiculed, for upholding our standards of decency and cleanness! Let us ask ourselves, in the privacy of our own hearts: "Is popularity, the companionship of those with lower standards, the going along with the crowd, as important as my standing close to my God, upholding His standards before the eyes of others? Would I deliberately forfeit my great opportunity to show others that there are true joy, satisfaction, and, yes, good times, in cleanness and high ideals?" If you can honestly answer "No," you will reap a rich reward. You will have the joyous satisfaction of being true to yourself and to God.

 

Hope in Usefulness

In considering the various Red Sea experiences of humankind and how Christian Science can bring hope and liberation, we cannot afford to overlook one common source of hopelessness and despair, the fear that one's days of usefulness may be over.

This vicious argument may spring from the belief that age or incapacitation impairs activity or forces retirement. Grief from loss of a loved one may also suggest that one is no longer wanted or needed.

What a brazen argument is this! It would rob the individual of his divine right to joy, activity, and usefulness! Those with an understanding of Christian Science know that as one learns here of the immortality of man as the manifestation of eternal Life, God, he progresses in his expression of God's attributes. The earnest student of Christian Science advances in wisdom, in capabilities, and in his ability to demonstrate dominion over the beliefs of age and decline. He knows that age and decrepitude are nonexistent within God's immortal creation, for man is eternally coexistent with Him.

I know of a woman who, for a while, yielded to the suggestion that, due to the recent passing of her husband and the belief of advancing years, she was no longer of use to anyone. The argument became so strong that she threatened to do away with herself.

This woman found her release in Mrs. Eddy's words from "Pulpit and Press" (p. 4): "You have simply to preserve a scientific, positive sense of unity with your divine source, and daily demonstrate this. Then you will find that one is as important a factor as duodecillions in being and doing right, and thus demonstrating deific Principle." The woman saw that each individual idea of God reflects the infinite and therefore is important to Him. The grief was healed and she prepared herself for a life of joyous activity in service to others.

Our Father-Mother God needs us - each and every one of us. God is the divine cause of all being. Unless the cause has an effect, it is not a cause. God is cause; man is effect. Therefore, God needs His effect, man, to express Him. Man is God's witness, His representative. Generically speaking, man is the highest idea of God, the only avenue through which God can be fully represented. God needs each of His individual ideas to express His infinite individuality. Man is indispensable to his Maker.

My friends, God needs you. His command is, Go ye forward! God needs you and the world needs you. The world desperately needs those with even a slight degree of spiritual understanding. It needs your purity and your divinely reflected courage and strength. The world needs your spirituality and is starved for your prayers. Your days can be filled with joyous activity as you pray for yourself, your neighbor, your church, your country, and the world.

Jesus said (Matt. 10:31), "Ye are of more value than many sparrows." Usefulness is your divine right. Hope and the joyous expectation of good are your divine rights.

This brings us to further consideration of Mrs. Eddy's statement already referred to where she speaks of our modern promised land (Science and Health, p. 226), "the land of Christian Science, where fetters fall and the rights of man are fully known and acknowledged."

 

Christ and the Rights of Man

It is interesting to note Mrs. Eddy's reference to "the rights of man"! Then she affirms that here, in the "land of Christian Science," they are "fully known and acknowledged."

Is not the fear that man's rights will not be fully acknowledged responsible for much of the defeatism and fatalism of today? Does not the struggle for what some consider their rights often agitate the relationships between employee and employer? Is not the longing for humanly devised ideas of Utopia the breeding ground for propaganda spread by followers of present-day ideologies?

Christian Science was discovered and established in a nation whose Constitution is founded upon the rights of man. Mrs. Eddy encourages the pursuit of individual rights, as long as the pursuit is governed by the divine will and motivated with divine Love, not controlled by human will, hate, greed, or coercion.

The certain way of demonstrating more gratifying human rights is to claim and thereby demonstrate man's divine rights. To claim a thing is to acknowledge it as one's own; to take possession of it. The real man's divine rights are already in his possession as reflected of God. They are his birthright, his natural inheritance from God. But our need is to recognize this, to accept the good endowed by God, thus laying claim to what is rightfully ours by reflection.

What are man's divine rights? Many are listed in the Bible. Some of these are: dominion over evil, protection, peace, joy, eternal life, abundance of good. In Psalms we read (84:11), "No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly."

To most of us the thought has come, "If only I could have everything I want, it would be heaven." But would it be? A state of perpetual heavenly bliss is attainable only in Spirit. Before one can experience it he must have an understanding of Christ in divine Science.

Christian Science is unique in that it does not consider Jesus and the Christ as synonymous terms. Jesus was a human; he was the son of Mary. He was spiritually endowed and divinely appointed to be God's messenger. The Messiah, or Christ, the spiritual idea of God, was expressed and demonstrated by Jesus in his character, in his teachings and healings.

The Christ, the spiritual selfhood of Jesus, was never born. It is an eternal idea, the divine message from God to men endowed with active power. The Christ is not God, but the Son of God, manifesting, with divine authority, God's power to heal and to save mankind. The Christ is a living presence, forever at hand. It is the presence and power of God in action.

The Christ is our star of hope, the hope of the world. It is the Truth to which Mrs. Eddy refers in her Communion Hymn where she writes,

 

"Mourner, it calls you, - 'Come to my bosom,

Love wipes your tears all away,

And will lift the shade of gloom,

And for you make radiant room

Midst the glories of one endless day.' "

 

In this state of endless harmony, there is "radiant room" for each of God's children, with unlimited opportunity for all. In it there are no favorites, no "big men" and no "little men." In it there is no underdog, no forgotten man, no dictator. Here there are blessings infinite - not mere "fringe" benefits, but the illimitable benefits which flow unhampered from the endless source of all good, God.

 

Hope for the World

In proportion to his active following of the Christ, the honest student finds his place in God's plan. And in this he also finds his defense.

Not to be excluded from a discussion of ways and means to overcome futility and defeatism is that of defense from the dangers threatening the world of today. Here again we turn to divine Love for guidance and help.

There was once a good king who, like us, had fears of being overpowered or destroyed by an enemy. This righteous man, Jehoshaphat, reigned over Judah. He worshiped loyally his God and sought not after other gods. (See I Kings 22:43.)

Then a great confederacy of neighboring hostile tribes invaded Judah. Jehoshaphat called upon God, who answered much as He did to Moses at the Red Sea, saying (II Chron. 20:15,17): "Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not your's, but God's." Later He added, "Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you."

So Jehoshaphat obeyed, and, interestingly, he went forth with thanksgiving - with sincere gratitude for the protection God had already provided - and placed singers before the army to praise God, to rejoice in the supremacy of divine Love!

What was the outcome? Jehoshaphat and his army achieved victory without fighting. Hostilities broke out in the confederate army; the enemy tribes turned their weapons against each other, and all were destroyed.

As in the case of Jehoshaphat, though evil may appear to us to be overwhelming and overpowering, its only power is to destroy itself.

Swords, bombs, radioactive fallout, or poison cannot harm or destroy the man of God's creating. Since this man is composed not of flesh and blood, but of spiritual qualities reflected of God, he is eternally exempt from danger and destruction. Man's true substance, the substance of Spirit, cannot be touched. Man resides forever safe in the substance of Soul, the consciousness of divine Love, his harmony intact.

Is there hope for the individual and for the world in these turbulent times? The higher hope of the world lies in the Science of Christ. Proportionately as the Christ-spirit, with its compassion, self-immolation, spiritual strength, and purity is increasingly manifested by the individual, its power and love will be spread universally.

The hope, the salvation, of the world, rests with the individual. His fears will lessen as he feels the love of God and trusts in its protection. Our Leader gives us this assurance. She writes (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 113): "Divine Love is our hope, strength, and shield. We have nothing to fear when Love is at the helm of thought, but everything to enjoy on earth and in heaven."

 

[Published in The Largo (Florida) Sentinel, date unknown.]

 

 

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