Christian Science: Its Discoverer and Founder

 

Paul A. Harsch, C.S.B., of Toledo, Ohio

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

A lecture on Christian Science was given under the auspices of Eleventh Church of Christ, Scientist, of Chicago, in the church edifice, Logan Boulevard and Mozart Street, Monday evening, September 19, by Paul A. Harsch, C.S.B., of Toledo, Ohio, member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts.

The subject of the lecture was "Christian Science: Its Discoverer and Founder." Mr. Harsch spoke substantially as follows:

 

You have come here tonight to hear about Christian Science. Some of you know a great deal about it already, but want to know more. To others of you it will be a new story which you will want from the beginning. For the benefit of this second group particularly, I am going to give you first a definition of Christian Science in terms of what its Founder, Mary Baker Eddy, declared it to be, and its adherents today steadfastly assert it to be.

Then, for the same reason that Christianity itself can be fully appreciated, only if the explanation of it includes the marvelous story of its Founder, Jesus, I am going to tell you something of the woman who, in 1866, rediscovered primitive Christianity and in 1875 gave her discovery to the world in the form of a book which she named "Science and Health."

 

Christian Science Defined

To begin with the definition, let me read Mrs. Eddy's own words from the book just named to which the words, "with Key to the Scriptures" were afterward added. At page 127 she explains that she employs certain terms interchangeably to define her discovery. These she lists as "Divine Science, Spiritual Science, Christ Science or Christian Science, or Science alone." She then adds, "These synonymous terms stand for everything relating to God, the infinite, supreme, eternal Mind. It may be said, however,'' she continues, "that the term Christian Science relates especially to Science as applied to humanity. Christian Science reveals God, not as the author of sin, sickness, and death, but as divine Principle, Supreme Being, Mind, exempt from all evil. It teaches that matter is the falsity, not the fact, of existence; that nerves, brain, stomach, lungs, and so forth, have - as matter - no intelligence, life, nor sensation."

Because Christian Science has thus revealed God to humanity and exposed the nothingness of matter and all material beliefs, it is unquestionably the gift of God to a world weary with its unanswered prayers and questionings, and its ceaseless struggle for emancipation from a bondage it has heretofore been unable to define or understand. Christian Science is the full and final revelation of divine Principle, God, what He is and how He may be understood.

Christian Science is the answer to the age-old question, What is man? It is the only reasonable explanation of the seeming origin and operation of so-called evil, the Adam-man and all his works. By this, Christian Scientists mean that Christian Science offers the only possible explanation of mortal existence, that existence which now stands revealed as only a counterfeit of the real; in other words, the material or human experience, in which there seems to be so much of sin, sickness, death, discord, misery, lack, and failure.

Furthermore, Christian Science, as taught by Mrs. Eddy, offers the only real hope there is today for deliverance from the seeming dismal morass of human beliefs in which mortals seem to be struggling; therefore, Christian Science is the present-day Saviour of mankind. This is to say that Christian Science is Christianity itself scientifically applied to human needs. It is the scientific application of that spiritual understanding which was possessed in such fullness by Jesus and used by him so lovingly and convincingly.

 

"One lone, brave star"

Christian Science has been likened by Mrs. Eddy in one of her published poems, "Christ and Christmas" (p. 7), to "One lone, brave star" which, she says, "O'er the grim night of chaos shone." As this light of Christian Science penetrates the darkened consciousness of many a wanderer far from the heaven of his hopes and dreams, it seems indeed like such a star. Later, when in its light the struggling one has found his freedom, he rejoices that he has been led by its bright beams, not only to the Bethlehem manger with all its deep significance, but through the experience of the one who was cradled there, into a new and brighter world of peace and hope, a world newly rediscovered for him by Mrs. Eddy - the realm of Christian Science.

The story of the recovering of this light, first brought to the world so long ago by Jesus, is one of the most fascinating stories of modern times. Moreover, it is a story essential to a full appreciation of what it was which Mrs. Eddy brought back into consciousness in 1866. It is essential to an understanding of what this rediscovered truth is ready and able to do for everyone struggling under the burden of some false material belief.

The fact of course is, that this spiritual light or understanding of the Christ, Truth, has always been present for anyone to see who had eyes to see. The Christian Science textbook at page 511 puts it this way: "In divine Science, which is the seal of Deity and has the impress of heaven, God is revealed as infinite light. In the eternal Mind, no night is there." Glimpses of this light, the Christ-understanding, were caught by spiritually-minded men long before the time of Jesus, but it remained for the great Master to reveal it in its fullness to the eyes of men. After his resurrection and ascension, for a few short years it continued to be seen, understood, and used in daily life by thousands of human persons. Then, almost incredibly it seemed to be shut off from the world of human consciousness. With the exception of an occasional glimpse caught from time to time, the light was lost from the world.

Students of religious history, watching the development of the divine idea in human consciousness throughout the ages, offer many different explanations for this phenomenon. None alters the fact that the light was, to all practical purposes, lost to the comprehension of men. Yet, throughout this entire period of darkness, the blind groping of mankind to regain it went on ceaselessly. Its recovery was of incalculable importance, for it is only when the clear light of divine Truth breaks in upon the seeming darkness that the endless groping ends and men see clearly the true path before them. The first great essential, then, for mankind, must and ever will be light.

The regaining or rediscovery of this light was to be Mrs. Eddy's high distinction. For years she had vainly sought through many long-tried human avenues for peace, health, and spiritual understanding. The clouds seemed only to settle more deeply. Then, when all seemed utterly lost and her friends believed she was about to pass from their sight, the light of understanding broke. It brought healing on its wings, healing that could only be divine, for it came through no human channel. The beauty, the clarity, and naturalness of divine Truth, the Christ, Truth, breaking in human consciousness often does bring healing in just this way. The next nine years she spent in testing and proving her discovery. Nor was it an easy task to find words and phrases to suitably express her newly-discovered understanding to those about her. These years were ones of seeming struggle and trial as she sought to blaze a spiritual trail through the deep tangle of materiality, a trail which others might more easily follow. At last these years bore rich fruit in the form of the Christian Science textbook which, as we have seen, was given to the world in 1875. Thus was Christian Science formally and officially presented to humanity.

 

Ever-Presence of the Christ-Light

That which took place in the experience of Mrs. Eddy when the light came to her - the incident we spoke of a moment ago as the discovery was nothing new or unusual. The Bible, on which Christian Science is based, provides many examples of this penetration of light into human consciousness, the process of revelation. On the opening page of that book we find that the first recorded act of creative Mind, God, was the introduction of light - "Let there be light." Where the darkness of chaos seemed to be, there the light of reality, of divine order and perfection, prevailed. Abraham saw and talked with the angels under the great oaks at Mamre, and gained undoubtedly a vision of the true light, the light of divine Truth.

There were others too. Jacob, for example, perceived the light very dimly, but it sufficed. It came in a dream, or so it seemed to him, for then it was that he saw the angels of God ascending and descending from heaven. Moses caught the light at the burning bush when God revealed Himself as "I AM THAT I AM." Elijah perceived it startlingly at Carmel, that ancient, rock-ribbed, storied headland, which thrusts itself so boldly out into the blue waters of the Mediterranean. It seemed to him then to be a consuming fire. Jesus, on the mount of transfiguration, literally bathed in light.

There is, however, another instance I wish to recall. It is of a different sort, but it serves admirably to illustrate the coming of the light, as well as the mortal resistance to the appearing of that light. Such resistance is one of the aspects of the carnal or mortal mind most difficult to explain until the nature of that mortal mind is understood in Christian Science. This time the light came suddenly and blindingly. It left the one to whom it came stunned as by a physical blow. It came in the broad glare of midday on a heavily traveled highway. It penetrated and dissipated the mental darkness and cruelty of one bent on a destructive errand. A stream of water, played upon a mountainside, disintegrates, reduces, and removes it in somewhat the same fashion. A three-day period of actual physical blindness followed this experience of Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus Road.

In that interval of introspection and retrospection now carried on in the white light of Spirit, hatred, resentment, self-will, intolerance, human pride of intellect, race and tradition - all faded away. With them went also a false sense of loyalty to old associates still satisfied with the darkness. What a glorious vision the shining snow-capped summits of the Lebanon range must have appeared to this one, spiritually reborn and later to be renamed Paul, on the glad morning when, leaving Damascus behind him, he turned his face to the rising sun and the peace and quiet of the Arabian Desert, there to seek for three years the inner meaning of the revelation which had come to him in such a marvelous way but a few days before.

 

Divine Ideas Supply Human Needs

In each one of these instances of the coming of spiritual light to men there is a lesson of compelling importance. It is this: that God supplies His children unfailingly with ideas, and that these ideas, in turn, furnish mortals with all their human needs. Stated differently, Christian Science teaches that this revealing light of divine intelligence, which illuminated Mrs. Eddy's consciousness as it did that of Paul, comes alike to all whose consciousness is open to perceive it. In this revealing light, the idea or ideas which will meet the human need of the moment must appear.

This point in Christian Science is of deepest importance. "Ideas," Mrs. Eddy says at page 88 of Science and Health, "are emanations from the divine Mind," to which she adds, "Thoughts, proceeding from the brain or from matter, are offshoots of mortal mind; they are mortal material beliefs." Remember this distinction between spiritual ideas and thoughts emanating from the brain as we go on. Ideas can never be lost, destroyed, misplaced, or stolen. Furthermore, they are always productive - productive of good. Mere thoughts, as all know only too well, are frequently, if not always, as valueless as the thistledown that floats aimlessly in the autumn haze.

Remember, also, now and always, this vital fact: (I quote from the Christian Science textbook, page 7) that "It is the all-hearing and all-knowing Mind, to whom each need of man is always known and by whom it will be supplied." When the full significance of this statement breaks in upon a human consciousness groping in the dark, it may for a moment seem like a blinding glare of light; yet it is in exactly such revealing, regenerating light that all true spiritual growth must be made. Without material, physical light no so-called natural growth can take place. So it is with mortals; without the light of Spirit they must ever grope in darkness.

 

Early Backgrounds

The background of Mrs. Eddy's early life, as well as that of Jesus, is extremely important to an understanding of why they succeeded so signally where many others before them had failed. Our Christian Science textbook explains the remarkable ability of Jesus when it tells us at page 539 that "The divine origin of Jesus gave him more than human power to expound the facts of creation, and demonstrate the one Mind which makes and governs man and the universe." But there were, in the early childhood of both these unusual characters, certain facts of interesting similarity. Both were born in deeply religious homes. Both were surrounded with an atmosphere of love and devotion to the things of Spirit. Mrs. Eddy was reared in a home in which there was abundance. Her father was an educated man, and, according to the economic standards of his day, a well-to-do landed proprietor. His five hundred fertile acres which he had inherited from his father were ample to care for and educate his family of six children. There is nothing to indicate that Jesus was not adequately provided for, both as child and man.

There was another point of similarity in the childhood experience of these two spiritual leaders. The scenes which met the gaze of the boy Jesus as he watched from a commanding hilltop at the edge of Nazareth were unusual. What he saw there rivaled for magnificence and variety anything to be seen in the world of his time. There were imposing mountains and green valleys, to be sure, but the thing which held the rapt attention of the boys of Nazareth was the great highway which swept up from the sea across the plain of Esdraelon, one of the greatest commercial and military roads in the world of Jesus' time. It bore a constant stream of commerce. There were great caravans coming and going from the Far East to the waiting ships at the seaside. There were Roman legions, priests, actors, and laymen in endless variety.

Mrs. Eddy's home faced a vastly different scene but also one of unusual interest. At the foot of the gently sloping hill, on whose crest the homestead was located, and along the winding stream, there passed a roadway. It was then one of the heavily traveled highways of her state - a highway crowded with the activity of a commonwealth then in its most vigorous stage. Thus her childhood, like that of Jesus, was spent, not as many think, in an isolated and obscure place, but rather where she could watch the world go by, and learn in the watching much about its daily problems. What she then learned of the world and its ways may well have aided her later in making her discovery quickly intelligible, phrasing it in practica1 terms, and proving it in daily demonstration.

There is one more aspect of Mrs. Eddy's childhood environment that must be noted. Her early life was set in an atmosphere of great physical beauty. From the dooryard of her comfortable farm home, with its abundant homely duties, stretched a broad panorama of mountains and valleys almost poignant in their charm and endless in variety. Rugged hills, a noble river, brooks and forests, orchards and cultivated fields, churches, schools, and villages, spread out before her in a grand and inspiring vista. To look upon this scene today, not greatly changed, is to be reminded inevitably of a phrase Mrs. Eddy used long afterward to describe the infinite range of a consciousness liberated by divine Science; namely, "conception unconfined."

Neither Jesus nor Mrs. Eddy, then, were strangers to the ways of the world. Both, as children, were familiar with a great variety of human affairs. Both felt as children the tragic need of the world for spiritual light. Between her childhood days and the discovery of Christian Science the human experiences of Mrs. Eddy tended to impress upon her this great need. Intense physical suffering, over long periods of many months, turned her thoughts to various healing systems, and acted as a goad to drive her on from one to another until all had failed. Then in her hour of sorest need she came upon the one and only true system - that of divine Mind.

 

Revelation Brings Healing

Utterly unlike the conditions that preceded Paul's experience were those which brought Mrs. Eddy to the point of revelation. Her opening consciousness of God, as an ever-present, loving, and compassionate Father, brought to her in that hour of great human need an astonishing, though, as she afterwards saw, perfectly natural physical transformation. There entered her consciousness on that occasion a concept of the truth of being which brought forth a quick and satisfying healing. Later, as her writings show, a sense of the motherhood of God - a tender, compassionate, and all-embracing God - took deep root in Mrs. Eddy's consciousness. It forever replaced that sense of God which prevailed so generally in her childhood days - the sense of God as a stern, humanly just, unyielding Father; a God who required "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," a God who demanded an Isaac as His just due. All this sense finally went forever, though not the righteous sense that evil must and ever does destroy itself. The beloved disciple had declared that God was Love, and Mrs. Eddy now began to understand what these words meant.

Yet the full vision was not vouchsafed to her at once. As it came to the great Nazarene, it came also to her.  Her own recovery from the effects of an injury received in an accident was immediate. Yet the years of patient prayer and search which followed, for a larger understanding of what had really occurred on that day of her deliverance, would indicate that the vision was an unfolding and enlarging one. The early rose-tints in the east foretell the coming dawn and always precede the glory of the noonday sun. All Bible evidence points to the conclusion that Jesus' understanding of God as infinite Spirit grew naturally and normally in this way. Every recorded act of the Master, beginning with the proof of his divine authority as expressed at Cana of Galilee until the resurrection morn, supports this deduction. Christian Science insists, as we have already seen, upon "Jesus' spiritual origin and understanding," and "the history of Jesus," it points out, "shows him to have been more spiritual than all other earthly personalities" (Science and Health, p. 315). Yet from Cana to Calvary more than one step was required.

Does not the growth in understanding of the Christ, Truth, in human consciousness confirm the normality of this unfolding and enlarging process? To one a bright gleam may appear instantaneously; to another, it may seem like a very tiny glint indeed,  coming grudgingly through some narrow chink; but in every instance it enlarges as consciousness becomes more accustomed to the light and more inclined to welcome its fuller appearing. The glad experience of her own healing, perhaps, quite filled Mrs. Eddy's consciousness at first. But this was not for long. As the true meaning of the light became clearer to her, an understanding of what had actually taken place in her human life began to unfold. Then she realized its import to others. To pass on this light, this revealing Truth which had come to her so naturally and yet in such an amazing way, now became her all-absorbing lifework. Like Paul, her first step was to retire into comparative seclusion for three years to meditate upon the things of Spirit. She wished to study the book that had led her to the light, without the interruption of worldly affairs.

 

The Beloved Book

This book was the Bible. Always a cherished treasure, the Bible now became her constant companion. Thus, the pages which carried the stories of Paul and Peter and John and the great Master of them all, held her undivided attention, until the clearer light enabled her to grasp the vision in its fuller and deeper meaning. God indeed was Love. He loved her; he loved all His children. He would continue eternally so to do. He could not change this plan, for He is unchangeable good. All this she must have seen as the light grew brighter. These and many other things, which are set forth simply and clearly in the Christian Science textbook, and which are far too numerous to attempt to repeat here, came to her, as her understanding of God as infinite good enlarged. They are part and parcel of the great revelation of Christian Science, and make Christian Science what we have already declared it to be - the present-day Saviour of mankind.

 

The Goal of Proof

From the very beginning of her discovery, Mrs. Eddy knew intuitively, as Jesus did, that men could be convinced of the truth of the message she felt impelled to bring to them only by demonstration. Would the revealed Truth now do what it had done in the days of the Master? Would it heal? That was the question. Mrs. Eddy recognized that a provable or demonstrable subject must be scientific; it must rest on a solid basis of fact, from which unassailable deductions might be drawn. Reversing this reasoning: if physical healings resulted from her application of the truth about God and man, the truth which she had discerned in the bright light of revelation, then it must follow that that discovery based on fact, solid fact, must be scientific. Hence, the name Science: and because this Science was to be applied to human needs, it was essentially Christian; in other words, it was an expression of the Christ. This is why she called her discovery Christian Science, as was pointed out in the beginning.

The goal of proof which Mrs. Eddy now set for herself was healing. She proved the correctness, that is, the Science and the Christianity of her revelation, by healing others. She healed those who came to her, and on occasion went voluntarily to those of whose need she learned. Such help was even extended to those who had been given up to die by attending physicians. Thus, from the very beginning, Mrs. Eddy's enlarging understanding of the truth she had discovered was based on a solid foundation of proof. She later wrote in regard to this vital point (Science and Health, p.147): "The demonstration of the rules of scientific healing will plant you firmly on the spiritual groundwork of Christian Science. This proof lifts you high above the perishing fossils of theories already antiquated, and enables you to grasp the spiritual facts of being hitherto unattained and seemingly dim."

Accumulating proofs during that early period of development of her discovery convinced her beyond question that the method she was employing was the method of the master Christian. It was divine because it had in it no human mode nor process. Thus she could declare, as she does on-page 476 of her textbook, that "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick." She discerned that Jesus' method included a refusal to see the sick or dying mortals humans see. Looking through or beyond the mortal concept of man, Jesus perceived the real man, the man made in the image and likeness of God. This exact and true seeing enabled him to heal the sick. Mrs. Eddy was convinced that her discovery and the method of healing resulting from it were divine, Christian, and scientific, because it coincided so perfectly with this Christ-method of healing.

 

The Christ-Method of Healing Explained

What is this Christ-method which Mrs. Eddy rediscovered and used to heal the sick in the nineteenth century, as Jesus did in the first half-century of the Christian era? This question is no doubt very much in the minds of those among you who are hearing about Christian Science for the first time. You probably also want to know the difference between what Christian Science considers the Christ-method to be and that which

Christians generally consider it to be. The difference is this: while all genuine Christians believe implicitly in the healings of Jesus, many, if not most of them, consider these healings to have been miraculous; that is, contrary to, or above those so-called laws which seem to govern humans and their activities. They believe these healings to have been part of a dispensation which ended with the presence of the Master and his immediate followers.

Christian Science takes an opposite view. It says that the marvelous ability of Jesus lay in his knowledge of a superior law, the law of God, the Christ-law, his knowledge that there was in reality no other law, his knowledge that the presence of that Christ-law is constant, that it existed from the beginning, and that its presence must inevitably continue for all time to come. Christian Science declares that Jesus' knowledge of the ever-presence of this divine law enabled him to annul on many occasions, the false so-called laws of the human or mortal mind. Thus the Christian Science viewpoint in regard to Jesus' healings, and that held by those who believe such healings to have been miraculous, is entirely different, because based on an altogether different premise.

Christian Science declares that Jesus' understanding of the all-presence and all-power of divine law was the Christ. This Christ-understanding of divine law as utilized by Jesus and now employed by Christian Science, is the expression or manifestation of omnipotent God Himself. It is this God-power, this Christ-manifestation, which heals disease, discord, and lack. God is Truth and the Christ expresses God as Truth in a form which mortals can and do recognize. When this recognition dawns in human consciousness, healings result, because this very Christ, Truth, this ever-operative, ever-present divine law, dispels those falsities of human belief which seem so constantly to confront us.

Now as for the method itself. When in each recurring year the deep snowdrifts on the high Alps begin to disappear, the mountaineer knows that the winter frosts and cold are over. He sees the rich green of springtime blanketing and beautifying the landscape. Responding to the warmth which first dispels the cold, this glowing transformation takes place. Christian Science teaches that mortals who come voluntarily, or through necessity, into the sunlight of God's invigorating Truth, experience the same transformation; and Christian Science also teaches that this change may come quite as gently. Jesus stood forever in the warmth of this divine Love. He knew that God was Love, because he never moved outside the circle where the warmth of His, God's, love, might be felt. Besides dwelling always in the warmth of divine Love, Jesus remained perpetually in the light of Truth. Therefore, the shadowy and the black foreboding clouds of hate, ignorance, superstition, ritualism, and creed, only delayed, never prevented, the completion of his work. No lie of disease, of hunger, of want or failure, ever crossed the line of his vision unchallenged. The white light of the Christ, Truth, the eternal truth of being, so filled his consciousness that naught else could remain there.

That is what Christian Science means by the Christ-method which, it insists, can be and is being used today, quite as effectively as it was used by Jesus on the shores of the Galilean Sea. But there must be kept in thought constantly a clear sense of what this ever-present Christ is. Listen to Mrs. Eddy. In a chapter of her textbook called "Science of Being," she portrays the Christ in words so simple and direct, that once heard and comprehended, the picture they create must remain in thought forever. "The invisible Christ was imperceptible to the so-called personal senses, whereas Jesus appeared as a bodily existence. This dual personality of the unseen and the seen, the spiritual and material, the eternal Christ and the corporeal Jesus manifest in flesh, continued until the Master's ascension, when the human, material concept, or Jesus, disappeared, while the spiritual self, or Christ, continues to exist in the eternal order of divine Science, taking away the sins of the world, as the Christ has always done, even before the human Jesus was incarnate to mortal eyes" (Science and Health, p. 334). This Christ is God made manifest to humans, the Christ that saves.

 

The Prayer of Affirmation

Because the Christ has always operated in human consciousness according to a definite law or Science, and Jesus knew this, his prayers were constant affirmations of the ever-presence and all-power of this Christ-law, rather than petitions to a far-off Father to grant him some special favor. Mrs. Eddy's revelation that Principle was God and underlay all being, enabled her to see the vital truth which formed the basis of the Master's demonstration. She saw that God was Life, All; that disease, decay, death, being no part of divine Life, did not, could not, really exist as fact, that they only appeared to a false human sense to be real.

Seeing this, she quickly realized, and afterward taught, that the most effective prayer consisted of deep, persistent, earnest affirmations of God's allness, His goodness, His loving care of His children. She coupled this prayer with another, also one of affirmation, namely: that evil, sin, disease, death were unreal, powerless, and incapable of destroying the harmony of being. Of Jesus she once said, that his "humble prayers were deep and conscientious protests of Truth" (Science and Health, p. 12). This was her method and the method she taught consistently. Truth must, because of its very nature, uncover and destroy every falsity which confronts it.

 

Healing Described

An excellent illustration of Christian Science prayer, based upon this dependable method, is given by Mrs. Eddy in her textbook at page 184. Describing the healing of one suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis at a time when consumption was universally held to be incurable, she tells of sitting by the side of this patient who always breathed with the greatest difficulty when the wind was in the east. Mrs. Eddy remained silently beside the sufferer. Quickly the breathing became normal and soon the patient was healed, not only of the immediate suffering, but of the disease itself, and healed permanently, though as Mrs. Eddy pointed out to her by calling attention to a near-by weather vane, the wind was still in the east. The treatment had not altered the current of the wind, but had changed the patient's belief about wind and its effect upon her. Truth had destroyed a lie.

Mrs. Eddy gives no further details of this healing except to say (Science and Health, p. 185), "My metaphysical treatment changed the action of her belief on the lungs." In the chapter in Science and Health entitled "Christian Science Practice" she refers again to the treatment of this disease, and at page 425 replies to the question, "What if the belief is consumption?" by saying, "God is more to a man than his belief, and the less we acknowledge matter or its laws, the more immortality we possess." To affirm that only good really is, and to believe it, means that we are ready and willing to take from the Father, who is the source of all good and the only source, that which He so richly bestows upon His children. To realize this means that one understands what a Christian Science prayer actually is, and how it may be employed effectively to bring into human   experience those things which Jesus declared would be added to all those who sought first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

 

Significance of Christian Science Prayer

One more word about prayer is necessary. A Christian  Scientist spends much time  in prayerful listening for the voice of God. He knows that God, infinite Mind, does answer prayer. He knows that by resolutely shutting out of his consciousness every conflicting, harassing, tormenting evil and unkind thought, he is preparing the way for Truth to enter. He knows that only when he is thus prepared can he hear the voice of God. Therefore, while he does not expect that his human ears will respond to the vibrations of a physical voice, he is not unmindful of the Psalmist's words, "Mine ears hast thou opened." He recalls that Christian Science teaches that "ears," scientifically defined, stand for ''spiritual understanding" (Science and Health, p. 585), thus he entertains an inward conviction, a deep assurance, which satisfies him that God, divine Mind, will direct him. Hence, he waits patiently for divine guidance, though such waiting is never idle waiting. On the contrary, it is most vigorously active waiting, as anyone will testify who has faithfully endeavored to carry out this plan. A Christian Scientist never tells God what he wants and then importunately begs for it. He declares, rather, that his Father has already endowed him with all good, including health, usefulness, and the ability to glorify God. Then he waits confidently for the material manifestation to take place.

Do you not see, as this simple method is unfolded, how positively this is the way of salvation? Do you not see how men are thus saved from the falsities, the fears, the doubts, the uncertainties of human experience? Do you not see that this must be a true way, because following it has led so many straight into the haven of their dearest hopes?  Men are thus saved, not from real failure, real disease, real suffering, real pain, but from the long-held conviction that these conditions are real. They are lifted by the conscious presence of divine Truth out of this labyrinth of unreality into a new world of peace and hope and joy.

 

Mrs. Eddy as Leader

We have now looked critically at Christian Science as a divine revelation and at Mrs. Eddy as revelator. We have seen, as well, how Mrs. Eddy founded Christian Science as a world religion by demonstration, and thereby demonstrated her right to be known as Founder. We have yet, however, to consider her as Leader. In what way was she Leader as well as Founder, and why does she still continue to be, in the most positive sense, the Leader of the Christian Science movement? This question is easily answered by anyone familiar with her life and her writings.

Again and again personally, and through the printed page, Mrs. Eddy enjoined upon her students and members of her church that they follow her only so far as she followed Christ. It was, and continues to be, therefore, an impersonal leadership which she exercised and continues to exercise. Because this leadership is based upon the impersonal and ever-present Christ, Truth, it will continue to be the guiding star of all those who comprehend and love the Christ. Therefore, in examining Mrs. Eddy's leadership, we must constantly look as she did to the Christ, in order to find the motive that actuated each move she made from the moment of her first vision of that healing Christ.

The Christ is universal, confined to no special group, no favored spot, no golden age. Its power can never be shared in the sense of being divided, but may be enjoyed by all alike in equal measure. Its mission is to establish mankind in its rightful place of dominion, that dominion over all the beliefs of a material existence which was promised to man in the beginning. Mrs. Eddy saw all this with the clarity of vision which the Christ itself alone supplies. Obedience to the Christ-vision, implicit and unwavering, was the next outstanding quality which characterized her leadership. Thus impelled by the Christ, she proceeded to share, with all those who would listen, the healing and regenerating message she saw it was her great privilege and duty to pass along to others.

 

Broadcasting the Healing Message

To carry the message by word of mouth was far too slow a method in a day and age so full of activity and mental virility as the late nineteenth century; so she wrote it down and published it in 1875, as we have seen. The many thousands of copies of that book which have since been sold, attest beyond reasonable question, the universality of its appeal and the inherent power of the word which it contains. The hunger of humanity for more, and still more, of the Christ and its appealing demand found its response again when Mrs. Eddy, obeying her high sense of the challenge of the Christ for a fuller and larger world recognition, established a church. This church, be it understood, was not to glorify persons, herself or others, nor did it provide a vehicle for individual ambition. It was designed as a nucleus, around which those who loved and wished to know more of the universal Christ, Truth, might rally.

Mrs. Eddy declared that "Jesus established his church and maintained his mission on a spiritual foundation of Christ-healing" (Science and Health, p. 136), and her purpose was to reestablish exactly such a church.

This purpose was fulfilled when in September of 1892 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, was organized and named. In the Manual of this church, containing its By-Laws and written by Mrs. Eddy, there occurs a brief historical sketch. Here is declared the basis and object of this church. It "is designed to be built on the Rock, Christ; even the understanding and demonstration of divine Truth, Life, and Love, healing and saving the world from sin and death; thus to reflect in some degree the Church Universal and Triumphant" (Manual, p. 19).

Still responding to the summons of divine Love, her oft-used name for Deity, a summons which she understood to be a demand, she provided all the needed equipment to make of this church a spiritual legion "marching as to war," as the poet phrases it. Each such step she saw as an expression of the Christ-mind, the Mind "which was also in Christ Jesus." Because it was a divine idea she knew she could rely upon its divine source, God, to protect it, advance it, establish it in human consciousness. Therefore, she was always content to remain behind the idea, ever willing to subordinate herself, having learned the lesson well that Principle, another of her much-loved names for Deity, could always be relied upon to care for its own.

In this fashion there was given to mankind this astonishing organization which we know as the Christian Science movement, with its many churches, its numerous publications, its varied activities for the promulgation and spread of the Christ-message which came to the Leader in that Soul-filled year of 1866. Then does it not seem very clear to us all, that only one dominated by - and the word is used here in the sense of being completely controlled or ruled by - the impersonal Christ could by any possibility have accomplished what Mrs. Eddy did? Because it was ever the Christ, Truth, expressing itself constantly and impersonally through her, Mrs. Eddy became the unquestioned Leader of the Christian Science movement. As an understanding of the Christ grows in human consciousness, resulting from a larger and clearer concept of her teachings, Mrs. Eddy's position of continuing leadership must become ever more secure.

 

Honor to Whom Honor Is Due

Together we have now mentally climbed hill after hill from which we have gained more distinct views of Christian Science and its Discoverer. We now see that the whole story of Christian Science is one of the coming again of the loving Christ-idea in a form men and women of today can comprehend. We see that the messenger who received this message, bravely carried it, and finally, through great tribulation and infinite joy as well, established it in human consciousness, is entitled to all the credit men can bestow.

But above all is this cheering thought: the presence of the Christ, Truth, in human consciousness, very largely now, is a fact. This wide dissemination is due to the labors of Mrs. Eddy and her loyal and faithful associates and followers. Thus we stand today in the strong light of the revealed Christ, Truth, confidently. We both work and patiently wait for that time to come when all mankind shall measure up to the standard so superbly pictured by Thomas Moore, in words which Mrs. Eddy undoubtedly loved, for she quoted them many years ago:

"When from the lips of Truth one mighty breath

Shall, like a whirlwind, scatter in its breeze

The whole dark pile of human mockeries;

Then shall the reign of Mind commence on earth,

And starting fresh, as from a second birth,

Man in the sunshine of the world's new spring,

Shall walk transparent like some holy thing."

 

The Immutable Vision

What more remains to be said? We have envisioned together tonight the breaking of the glorious light of Truth. We have seen it grow stronger and brighter in human consciousness. We have realized more than ever before, that mortal man does become, as he opens his eyes more widely to the ever-present Christ; a greater transparency for good.

We are convinced that as he becomes more and more such a transparency, he may and does bring into his own experience and that of those with whom he comes in contact, a larger and fuller, a richer sense of health, vigor, joy, harmony, and abundance. This vision is one we cannot lose. It will abide with us forever.

Robert Browning voiced his thought of this vision in words I wish to leave with you in parting:

 

"I am a wanderer; I remember well

One journey, how I feared the track was missed,

So long the city I desired to reach

Lay hid; when suddenly its spires afar

Flashed through the circling clouds;

you may conceive

My transport.  Soon the vapors closed again,

But I had seen the city, and one such glance

No darkness could obscure.''

 

[Published in The Chicago Leader, Oct. 21, 1938.]

 

 

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