Christian Science: The Road of Spiritual Achievement

 

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 First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Evanston, Illinois, in the church edifice, Chicago Avenue and Grove Street, Friday evening, December 11, 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 speaker was introduced by George M. Moritz, as follows:

Friends: First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Evanston, Illinois, extends to you a cordial welcome.

In the Bible, in the thirtieth chapter of Isaiah, we read, "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee saying. This is the way, walk ye in it."

To countless thousands of earnest students of Christian Science this message is being repeated today, and proportionately to their obedience they are demonstrating and proving the teachings of Jesus, the master Metaphysician.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, not only gave us the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" and her other writings to help us find and walk in the way, but she also established the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. The members of this Board by study and application of her teachings have demonstrated their right to speak on the subject of Christian Science with authority.

Our guest and lecturer of the evening, Mr. Paul A. Harsch, of Toledo, Ohio, is a member of this Board. He will speak to us on the subject "Christian Science: The Road of Spiritual Achievement."

Mr. Harsch spoke substantially as follows:

 

To the untold thousands, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, there comes today a new message of joy and promise. Yes, to all mankind this vibrant call is ringing out. Look not with straining eyes for some far distant good. Pray not for that which you already have. Awake and see, that just beneath your feet "Life's pearl is cast" (Hymnal, No. 11). Rejoice that God is ever at your side, your hand in His. Praise God that He hath "commanded the light to shine out of darkness" and that He hath given us a knowledge of His glory through "the face of Jesus Christ."

Here is indeed cause for rejoicing. The glorious light of Truth shining out of the darkness of ignorance has revealed the pathway to divine knowledge. St. Paul's words, just quoted, assure us that this knowledge was brought to us by Jesus, whose life of devotion and demonstration lifted the Christ so far above any previous human concept. Today we need only apply this understanding. Ah! but someone says: "Understanding! My understanding of God has never removed the burdens under which I have stumbled as I trod life's weary road. My knowledge of God, and I think it is considerable, has never enabled me to solve my problems. They are increasing in size and number. How, then, can any possible knowledge of God help me in achieving success or even freedom?"

My friend, you are typical of many other seekers for spiritual food and drink. Your question shall be answered; but first, are you fully convinced of the correctness of your premise? Is there not something in your consciousness which tells you that perhaps you are mistaken in your concept of God; that possibly your knowledge of Him is incomplete? Is it perhaps true that you are even now hoping that someone will prove you are in error? Well, let me tell you joyfully that you are wrong.

 

Divine Direction

The knowledge to which St. Paul refers is not the wisdom of this world. It is rather the simple, kindly truth that God is Love, and that Love is Mind. Therefore, God is infinite and ever present intelligence, lovingly directing all, and doing so joyously and successfully throughout all time. This divine knowledge applied to human affairs insures their intelligent direction. This is the vital concern of every man. Lasting success can be achieved only under such direction.

Were men convinced of this fact success would be universal. They would seek first for a knowledge of divine Mind as the source from which all constructive effort must flow. They would hold ever in consciousness the Master's command, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Holding these words in thought, they would also place proper emphasis on the clause "seek ye first." It is indeed strange that the desire of mankind to seek divine wisdom first has not been more rugged and insistent.

Perhaps it may be for the reason that many mortals have had vague and unformed concepts of God. These, oddly enough, have apparently satisfied them until put to a real test. When that seeming knowledge proved unavailing in their hour of need, disappointment was sore. Keenly they realized, then, that such incomplete and superficial understanding provided nothing which satisfied or comforted or saved. They felt as did the Psalmist when he cried, "For our soul is bowed down to the dust."

 

A Perplexing Question

Too often under such circumstances mortals have been sorrowfully forced to conclude that it was impossible to comprehend Deity. Thus, a man I knew, perplexed about God's nature, once said, "God is a mystery." And there unhappily he abandoned his examination of the subject. Had he but known it, this investigation was the most important in all his human experience. Another puzzled individual, an intelligent business man, who for a number of years had experienced marked success in his affairs, once came to my office for advice. Misfortune, he said, seemed to trail his every move. None of his plans were working out. His money was exhausted, and he had no prospect of employment. What was he to do? Could I, by any possibility, help him in his time of need?

I told him at once that his difficulties were less real than he believed; that the truth about him and his affairs was quite different from the sense he was entertaining; that his whole course of thinking was wrong and must be changed. He stared blankly at me and seemed to be wondering if I were entirely sane. But I continued and said to him: "The only help you really need is a correct concept of God. You must learn that God's presence is constant, His power unlimited, His goodness unceasing. You must learn that you are a child of this good God, and that He is ever ready to help and care for His children."

However, these were mere words to him. To think about God when he believed he should be thinking about himself and his own problems, appeared at the moment a great waste of time and effort. It was necessary, therefore, to arouse his thinking. He must be persuaded to examine his own consciousness as he had not done for perhaps a long time. To this end he was asked, "Just exactly what is your concept of God?"

His response was something like this: "For many years I have not been much of a churchgoer. When I was a boy attending Sunday school, a man, prominent in the church I attended, did several things which to my sense were most dishonest and - " "Pardon me," I said, "but you misunderstand my question. I did not ask you about your church or your religious belief, nor about your fellow church-members. I only asked you to tell me about God; what do you understand Him to be?" "Well," came the reply, "you see this man was very prominent in my church and I knew him to be thoroughly bad and -" Again I interrupted by assuring him I had no curiosity about people, good or bad, his church affiliations or connections; my inquiry bore upon one point alone - who and what did he believe God to be? Then for the third time he started to tell me about his early church experience.

It was evident the man's concept of God had become so confused with church, people, human frailties, and material activities, that he could not separate one from the other. Therefore, his thought must be led away from personality to the contemplation of an impersonal God, an infinite Being, who is all-wise, all-loving, ever present, and all-powerful good. He must be given such a glimpse of God and His true nature to be lifted above the fear and anxiety that was unmanning him. His feet must be placed upon the solid rock of understanding.

 

All-Powerful Principle

By simple illustrations of God's power and the tender care He takes of His creation, of which the man was again assured he was a part, this seeker was therefore given a new and quite different concept of his creator. Soon he felt a desire to know more about this Supreme Being. He began to think of God in terms of Principle. When the statement was made that Principle is God and is all-powerful, he now looked through and past all material symbols of power and saw power itself as an idea, or expression, of Deity. He saw power as a present actuality; power not associated with things or persons, but, instead, as the manifestation of all-embracing, all-encompassing, all-controlling- Principle - God.

He saw, though dimly at first, that this sense of God admitted no possibility of an opposing power. Provided, therefore, that God was infinite, and expressed Himself in goodness alone, the man's enlarging sense of God as absolute and all-powerful good took on a tremendous significance. As good alone was real, good alone had power. What, then, became of evil, of discouragement, of failure, lack, or inharmony? These must be powerless, placeless, Godless, and, consequently, unreal. The wonder of this new view of God and the universe filled the consciousness of the man in my office with awe and he vaguely but joyfully began to see new possibilities opening before him.

He was now beginning to realize that no opposing force or power, so called, could actually exert a malign influence in his experience, because, as a child of God, he was under the immediate protection and care of omnipotent good. This was an important step in his mental awakening, but much remained to be done. It was now possible to explain to him that all-powerful Principle is also all-knowing Mind.

 

Mental Awakening

The human mind finds less difficulty, perhaps, in grasping the idea of God as divine Mind than as Principle. If so, the reason is plain. The very word "mind" itself, carries thought away from matter and material surroundings into an entirely different realm. Time, space, physical conditions, and limitations disappear. The morning paper tells us of the progress in India, of changing conditions in Russia, of startling discoveries in the mid-Pacific. In the time required to glance over the headlines we have been around the world, and possibly some billions of miles out in space for good measure. Matter for the moment has ceased to be. We have been living in a mental world.

But even this mental realm is not the universe of Spirit, divine Mind. God's perfect creation of good contains in it nothing unlike its creator, nothing that can perish or disappear. Mortal, material man has no place in it, for matter is unreal, untrue, without substance. Mind alone is real, and is substance. Mind is imperishable. Mind is All-in-all. The very allness of infinite Mind necessarily excludes from its universe every vestige of matter, including mortal man himself. Herein may be found the kernel of the whole question, as it pertains to our human experience.

The exclusion of material man from God's universe of good aggravates the human, or mortal, mind. It can conceive only of a universe and a creation of which it is an integral and important part. It is, therefore, perhaps not surprising that at this point my friend began to show some uneasiness. Presently he said: "That Mind is God, and therefore All, seems reasonable. It is not radically out of line with what I recall of my early religious training. But my sense of the allness of God did not exclude material man from His universe. I seem unable to follow you on this point. My physical senses assure me that matter, otherwise my body, is essentially real, at times painfully so; and I am wondering how you dispose of this unreal or matter man, as you call him."

To this query the response might have been made that not only matter, but time and space as well, had been proved unreal by physicists of international renown, but there seemed to be a better method of answering his question. This was to call his attention to the account of creation as it is presented in the first chapter of the book of Genesis, and carefully analyze that account with him.

 

Divine Creation

"In the beginning," the record reads, "God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. . . . And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." As God's creation had its perfect "beginning," so we felt we must make an equally scientific start in our analysis of His perfect creation. Therefore, we recalled our discussion of a moment before concerning Principle and Mind. It was agreed that we should use the word "Mind" throughout our study as a synonym for God. Thus, the creative power we regarded as infinite Mind. This changed the whole picture of creation for the man.

He readily agreed that no act of a divinely intelligent being could be the result of chance, nor could it be the expression of a whimsical or arbitrary will. Therefore, that the first act of creative Mind should have been the introduction of light proved the presence of divine law. This law being fixed and unalterable, it must have been in operation yesterday as it is today and forever. A half hour's discussion about God had brought to him - the man in my office - a realization of a new universe, a universe he had never before even dreamed about. Was not this entrance of light into his erstwhile darkened consciousness the only possible first step in his rebirth, his regeneration? Without light there could be no creation.

New beams of living light now enabled the man to see that creation was a continuous unfoldment of good, an unfoldment of the actual and spiritual facts of his being. He now peered eagerly into the fog of ignorance for further light. Our analysis quickly revealed the horizon of our spiritual vision to be the point at which light ceases to penetrate the darkness. True, this horizon, or boundary line, advances as understanding grows, but it is always there. It separates light from the seeming darkness, reality from unreality. The establishment of such a line of cleavage, or "firmament," as the next step in creation he saw was divinely inevitable. Again, it was the simple, natural expression of an eternally operative law, the law of all-intelligent Mind.

My friend now followed the account of creation with deeper interest. His growing stability of thought, and the fuller beauty of the new universe unfolding to him, was typified by the creative act on the third day. The appearing of solid earth, radiant with verdure, life, and harmony, was quite in consonance with his own new experience.

The fourth and fifth steps indicated to him the infinite care of creative Mind that no needful thing should be omitted. A perfect creator must have a perfect creation; if at any point it was incomplete, it would be imperfect. In all this meticulous preparation there was also an indication of some great final act in the marvelous and divine drama.

As the coming of Jesus was an inseparable part of God's perfect plan of salvation, so the next and concluding act in Mind's creation was correspondingly fixed. The sixth day had arrived, and God Mind - said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion . . . So God [Mind] created man in his own image, in the image of God [Mind] created he him; . . . And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold it was very good." The great work was done, - nothing else could be created, - and therefore God rested on the seventh day, seeing and rejoicing in the perfection of His good work.

Perfection! Good alone real! Creation completed, and nowhere in it aught that can sin, suffer, be diseased, or destroyed! What a wonderful universe, this, of which the man began to feel himself a part! He forgot for the moment the matter man he believed himself to be. There faded from consciousness the false belief of material man.

 

False Belief Uncovered

Ah! That was it; he began to see it now. False belief - only that and nothing more. How could delusion and falsehood paint so many discordant pictures in his thought? How could these dream pictures be cast out and kept out was an even more vital question. He was thinking now, and very earnestly, and his next comment proved this.

"The things you have said are running in my thought side by side with certain recollections of Jesus, his life and work, and I think I understand what you mean when you speak of him as possessing the Christ-understanding in a larger measure than other men. You said, a moment ago, that the necessity of continually denying and reversing the arguments or testimony of the corporeal senses is paramount. Was this not exactly what Jesus did each time he healed a sick man? Was not this the Christ casting out false beliefs?"

Then the question arose, What enabled Jesus to see perfection, God's man, when other men saw palsy, withered limbs, leprosy, blindness, misery - false beliefs? It must have been the same overshadowing sense of the presence of creative Mind which had come to his mother when his own birth was announced. The angel voice of the Christ had come to Mary and had found her receptive to the divine idea. Thus perceiving, she rejoiced, saying, "My soul doth magnify the Lord." So Jesus came, endowed with that same Christ-understanding which the angel Gabriel expressed, when he said to Mary, "For with God nothing shall be impossible."

 

Evil Powerless

"If, then, with God nothing is impossible and if His Christ is ever present, there surely must be some way now available whereby the delusions, false beliefs, about man may be cast out of human consciousness, for surely, this good God you tell me of would not forever let His creation suffer, sin, and die as men and women seem to do. Explain to me," said the man, "how this may be accomplished." As an illustration, a celebrated instance of the exercise of divine power to destroy false belief was used.

My friend is asked to step into a small boat gliding over the waters of an inland sea in a far distant land. Another boat is just landing its passengers on a rocky shore. We note the gentle and striking mien of one of them. He is the understanding Man of Galilee.

From a near-by cave a gaunt figure now emerges. Scarred and dreadful, an unbalanced man glares at the strangers, and then advances toward them fiercely. But suddenly the demented one halts. The man of gentle mien has spoken. What power is this he feels? Strange peace is stealing over him. Now he falls meekly at the feet of him who more than all other men knew the power of good and used that power to destroy the tyrant of false belief.

Sitting at the feet of Jesus, regenerated and transformed, the Gadarene demoniac rejoices with a full and overflowing joy for his deliverance. His gratitude knows no bounds. A very legion of devils, evils, which has enslaved him and robbed him of his mental powers and his God-given right to think has been cast out. We see him clothed and in his right mind as humbly he seeks at the Master's feet to learn the secret of his emancipation. What a victory over false belief! How complete and perfect was that overthrow of the tyrant whose realm was only in make-believe.

 

A Modern Example

"But that was twenty centuries ago," my friend exclaimed, "and I thought you were going to speak of that false belief which you say holds sway today, and to suggest if you can, some means by which its evil power may be broken." Such was precisely my intention. Therefore, I asked him to turn with me from the shore of the Sea of Galilee to the shore of our own Lake Erie. Here our city of Toledo stretches down to the lake. We entered a house in this city and climbed the stairs to an upper chamber. Around the bed in the room huddled the awe-stricken members of the family of a man whose last hour seemed approaching. He had been unconscious for hours - broken, bruised, and torn almost beyond recognition. The surgeons had said he was far past any human aid, yet in that dark hour the fact was that this man had been merely enslaved by false belief, as was the historic Gadarene.

The family, almost crushed by the hideous spell that seems to be upon their home, stand about, some prayerfully, some hopelessly. But a compassionate friend, who had received permission to do what he could to aid, now enters the house and hastens up the stairs, accompanied by a man whose kindly smile has in it the knowledge of the power of God. In another moment the smiling one has been led into the sufferer's chamber and has set about the business that brings him here. With eyes closed he is communing with his heavenly Father, and then with eyes open he is audibly making certain sweeping and astonishing declarations with reference to the one who seems to be in the clutch of the last enemy itself.

Silently the work goes on. Some hours elapse. Consciousness returns. The tired, torn limbs relax. Hope springs again in the breast of the family. The surgeons amazed at the turn of affairs consent to set the broken bones. Rapidly the healing goes on. One false belief after another yields to divine understanding. Presently the sufferer of Toledo has disappeared as utterly as the wild demoniac of the country of the Gadarenes. In an incredibly short time he is restored whole and sound to his family.

Let us consider what was behind these two cases of so-called miraculous healing, separated, and yet connected by a span of nearly two thousand years. St. Mark, who records it, was doubtless an eye witness to the healing of the Gadarene; I was an eye witness to the healing of the other. And, now, what is the connection between these two events? Is there any conceivable analogy between them? Yes, definitely and absolutely there is. In each case - in Jesus' time and in our time - a suffering human being was wrested from the malign power of that same old tyrant, false belief. False belief had separated the Gadarene from peace and harmony, had turned his hand against every man, and every man's hand against him, and was about to encompass his destruction. False belief had put the Toledoan on the torture rack of pain, had separated him from his dominion and the recognition of those who loved him. By all human standards, he was about to go down to death. Yes, the enslavement of the modern man by the tyrant false belief was but a sorry repetition of the similar enslavement of the man of long ago.

 

A Momentous Question

And now, the question springs eagerly to the lips of us all, Had the power by which false belief was challenged and destroyed in the citizen of Toledo any relation to the power by which false belief was challenged and destroyed there in ancient Palestine by him who has become known as the Saviour of mankind? We hold our very breath, for so much is involved in this momentous question, so much hangs in the balances of its rightful answering. And the answer is, absolutely and unequivocally, Yes! There never has been and there never could be but one power which could free men so far gone from the clutch of the tyrant false belief, and that power is the power of God, exercised through a demonstrable knowledge of Him.

 

The New Revelation

I want to tell you now, succinctly but plainly, the most beautiful story of spiritual unfoldment among men since the chapter which recorded the coming of the Master to Palestine. The tyrant who once sat upon the throne in this land or in that was weak in power in comparison with the tyrant false belief who steals his way into a man's thinking, and thus from the inside seeks to wreck and destroy that man. And so, in the hour of man's greater need, it was divinely inevitable that there should come a fuller revelation, which should meet that need.

The revelation did come. It came about sixty years ago through a woman, who, like that other Mary in Bethlehem, had so uplifted her consciousness in spiritual longing and seeking that she could be the channel for the birth into the world of a new spiritual idea.

Mary Baker Eddy discovered, founded, and gave the name to Christian Science. She established a church which now has branches in every civilized country of the earth, and a few members or many members in practically every city and town where order and progress indicate that the people are given to looking above wholly material things. Mrs. Eddy was herself healed by this revelation when physicians had despaired of saving her life. In order to understand and to make understandable to others the full nature and method of her healing she shut herself in with her Bible and God until the vision had been apprehended. She was able then to practice the healing power of God, as the master Christian had done, and she was able so clearly to set forth the method of this in her textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," that earnest students of the book, although they never saw Mrs. Eddy nor any of her immediate students, might practice this healing too. It has been said that that book, next to the Bible, which it illumines and explains, is the volume most reverently in the hands of millions of people throughout the world today.

Mary Baker Eddy understood and emulated Jesus the Christ, as perhaps no other individual has done since the days when he led and taught his disciples in Judea. She shared his vision and she drank his cup. If she healed even as he healed, she also suffered and sorrowed with him. Ignorance and bigotry lighted the fires for her, and it was out of the flames of trial that her triumphs came.

Why did she suffer - why go through fire? Because she was bringing to a vastly needy world the spiritual knowledge and the spiritual method by which the tyrant false belief was to be reduced and banished from the enslaved minds of men. She was doing, and teaching others to do, what she perceived Jesus to have done, and thus she describes that activity on page 476 of Science and Health: "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."

 

"The Scientific Statement of Being"

Mary Baker Eddy challenged the whole realm of material thinking. She exposed and set at naught the most cherished, which were also the most doleful, fallacies of suffering mortals. In what has become world-renowned as "the scientific statement of being," to be found on page 468 of her textbook, she has promulgated with marvelous clarity and unequaled courage one of the most remarkable expositions ever set forth concerning life and man. With the spiritual fact she has reversed the material fable as it relates to the most vital things in human existence.

Consider for a moment how completely some of the most cherished of human theories - edicts they are of false belief - are reversed in this "scientific statement of being."

"Man is material," false belief has enunciated, "and matter governs;" but "the scientific statement of being" explains, "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter." "Under a protecting skull is a finite brain," false belief announces, "and all thinking is an emanation of this crinkly matter brain;" but "the scientific statement of being" affirms, "All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all." "That only is true and real which can be perceived by the five physical senses,'' false belief maintains; but "the scientific statement of being" relights the lamp of men's hopes by the crystal clear pronouncements, "Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error." "Matter always has been," says false belief, "matter is all that may be;" but the scientific statement replies, "Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal." "Spirit is a myth," glibly argues false belief; "man is no higher nor better than the suffering thing he seems to be;" but "the scientific statement of being" rolls back the rejoinder, "Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness." "Man comes from the dust and returns to the dust and therefore he is dust," false belief cries in final condemnation; but from afar there comes a "still small voice," like a strain of music through the clash of a storm, and "the scientific statement of being" sets up hope and happiness and peace with the words "Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual."

This "scientific statement of being,'' as given in the Christian Science textbook, I recommend to your earnest consideration, not only as the most extraordinary epitome ever furnished us of man and his life, but as a divinely directed utterance, which established its truth and the power of this truth by the fruits which follow its acceptance. Christian Scientists the world around are measuring their problems every day against the straight-edge of the "scientific statement of being." Through its illumination they are seeing how to lay off the shackles of disease; through its concrete directing they are seeing how to meet the besetments of illusion in all their business, social, and domestic affairs. "The scientific statement of being," as I believe you must begin to realize, my friends, is a spiritual weapon, the finding of which fills even the timid warrior in life's conflict with a glorious hope. He sees that with such a sword of the Spirit he may dethrone and utterly drive out of his thinking every false belief. Before the heaven-forged weapon of "the scientific statement of being" false beliefs have no alternative, but instantly or eventually to yield.

And this "scientific statement of being," - which, I would have you understand, is but one among many concrete and powerful spiritual declarations to be found in the Christian Science textbook, - was it the outcome of Mary Baker Eddy's casual contemplation of the things of God? Ah, no; it was not! We have reason to believe that this towering monument of reality became visible to her tear-anguished eyes, and through her was made visible to ours, only when she herself was in the utter depths of spiritual trial. Out of her earnest longings, out of her loneliness, out of her suffering, out of the consecrated devotion that passeth human understanding, this undaunted, illuminated, often misunderstood great woman found this boon for stumbling mankind.

 

Mrs. Eddy's Mighty Fruits

Mrs. Eddy rejoiced in the many-sided abundance which a consciousness such as hers could not fail to bring upon her, yet by the customary standards of men this inspired Leader led no easy life. She led a hard life, but she so introduced our age to the Master that we really may understand Jesus the man and Christ the spiritual idea. It was her devotion and sacrifice that now enable us to distinguish, through her writings, the true and false accounts of creation as given in Genesis, to perceive the meaning of the atonement, of the crucifixion, of the resurrection; to find ourselves standing enlightened witnesses, as the Master has the tax money taken from the fish's mouth, as he feeds the multitude in a desert place where food seemed not to be; as he restores the lame, the halt, the blind, as he cleanses the physical and moral lepers, as he stills the storm, as he raises from the dead Lazarus his friend and the son of the widow of Nain, and as he points your feet and my feet and all men's feet into the pathway of eternal life. Yes, we must thank Mary Baker Eddy that now we understand many things long veiled and that, through her revelation of a precise method, we shall do as the Master said we should do and emulate him in all his mighty works.

 

Christian Science Treatment

You will read and study this textbook, which is Mrs. Eddy's bequest to all men and contains many wonderful things of which I have afforded you hardly more than a glimpse, but in order to preserve the continuity of the line of thinking with which we began, I ask you to turn now and let us examine the exact method of making war with the weapons of Christian Science upon false beliefs.

Let us mount again to the sick chamber in Toledo. And what do we witness on the part of the Christian Science practitioner, for such that smiling one is who has been brought to the bedside by the hopeful friend of the family? Well, he closes his eyes. Ah, someone may exclaim, "I've heard about that; I've heard that these Christian Scientists simply shut their eyes and ignore the sufferings of their fellow human beings." And that, of course, is not a statement of fact. Christian Scientists are the most compassionate of people. The practitioner closes his eyes and ears to the false claim that the sufferer's condition represents in any way the truth of being. He is endeavoring to see only what Jesus saw when he regarded the unbalanced one there on the Gadarene coast, the perfect man, where the sick, sinning, and dying man seems to be. Then the practitioner, holding fast to his vision, says to the patient, inaudibly, or perhaps aloud: "You, my friend, whether you know it or not, are God's perfect child, made in His image and likeness. He loves you and cares for you with all the tenderness of a devoted Father. He has not sent this evil upon you for He knows nothing of it. He is Spirit, as the Bible assures us, and His pure eyes can behold only His pure and perfect creation. You have simply been in bondage to the tyrant of disease - the tyrant false belief. This tyrant has no God-bestowed power to enslave you. All belief that he has such power is destroyed and removed by divine Love, by divine Truth, that Truth which is now being declared to you. You are freed from his tyrannical control. Arise, and express your God-given freedom."

Thus, in thought, we have been present, as indeed I was actually present in person, when there spoke a messenger from God, good. We have witnessed the kingdom of God being established here on earth. We have seen the tyrannical reign of evil - of false belief - in one human consciousness overthrown and cast out, its victim delivered and restored to health, harmony, to his family, and the world. Thus heaven on earth, anyone must be quick to exclaim, was established for that man and his family. Yet even this happy eventuation does not express the full meaning of that episode which many might refer to as a modern miracle. Here is the true import: The divine Principle of this Christ is impartial and universal; so that what was done for the afflicted one of Toledo may as surely and as confidently be done for any of God's children, that is to say, for every man and woman who is listening to the utterance of these immeasurably important words.

 

 

The New Idea of Prayer

Christian Science has brought to the world a new concept of prayer. It envisions in terms almost revolutionary man's method of communing with God, who made all things perfect, and of destroying false belief, which argues constantly man's imperfection. I am not saying, please observe, that prayer was not abundantly fruitful long before Christian Science came, but implying, rather, that in Christian Science we get away from something which every would-be Christian has felt that he experienced - futile prayer.

Every desire for a larger sense of health and joy, every desire for the power to express that freedom and dominion which is the birthright of all, is a prayer. It was the prayer of great desire that surged in the heart of Abraham as he toiled up the slopes of Mount Moriah. It was the prayer of great desire that filled the consciousness of David as he stooped at the brook to choose "five smooth stones," of which he later required but one. It is the prayer of great desire that each member of this audience has prayed in some measure when thinking of himself and this lecture he was to attend. Think for a moment of the cumulative effect of such prayer and then do not be surprised when you learn that many sick and suffering persons leave Christian Science lectures healed and restored to the full use of their limbs and faculties.

Yet desire, however earnest, is far from being the whole of prayer. We have to know not only God's power and His willingness, but we have to understand intelligently that He already has done every perfect thing we could ask Him to do. Thus Christian Scientists get away, as Mrs. Eddy has taught them to do in her very wonderful chapter on prayer in the textbook, from something which has made so much of human prayer depressing and at times rather terrible. They do not beg for a sunrise upon their dearest hopes; they affirm until their eager eyes open to the glorious light of reality, already illumining all that is good and pure and right to be.

 

Mass Mental Tyranny

We have been speaking of how false belief comes to control the individual; but have you ever considered the fact that it may also control the mass? Naturally this control is established through the thinking of the individuals who make up that mass, and yet the effect is that of false belief, in one of its particular manifestations, coming suddenly to dominate a community, a state, or a nation.

Let me tell you the story of a singular and illuminating experience which befell a friend of mine not long ago in the interior of India. This friend was an officer in the British Army. While on a march from one post to another with nine hundred soldiers, they made camp for lunch and rest on the outskirts of a native village. Out of the village came a troupe of fakirs who proceeded to entertain them in the usual manner, in the hope of a reward in the form of a shower of small coins. After the basket trick and the mango tree trick had been performed, the conjurers stretched a rope from the limb of one great banyan tree to the limb of another, the taut rope being twelve or fifteen feet above the ground. Three men swung up on the rope and marched across it, as tight-rope walkers do. But suddenly, with cries and gestures, the three men changed their performance into something you never saw a tightrope walker do. There they were, all at once, with their feet still pressing the rope but with their bodies hanging straight downward beneath it. Then they walked back and forth along the under side of the rope as readily as they had previously balanced themselves on its upper side. The so-called law of gravitation seemed to have for them no meaning whatever. They were obviously not fastened to the rope in any way, yet they did not fall.

The officer and his men had never seen magic such as this. They all saw the same thing, as their excited conversation proved, but none could explain. One soldier had a camera with him. Knowing that cameras are forbidden by fakirs at their exhibitions, he slipped away from the group with his kodak and from behind a nearby tree he took picture after picture of this new feat of walking a rope upside down. When the military company was established in barracks at the new post, the soldier-photographer developed and printed his negatives, and carried the pictures to his commander. Every one of the pictures showed a company of open-mouthed, wonder-stricken men, in uniform, gazing upward at a taut but empty rope stretched between two banyan trees. No human being was touching the rope in any form or position whatsoever.

Mesmerism, subtle and complete! That's all there had been to that astonishing performance. Nine hundred intelligent men had been made to see as one man something which was not there for anybody to see. The fakirs were not equilibrists who had learned how to defy the pull of gravitation, but adepts in mesmerism who could set up in the thoughts of an entire company of men something which had no material semblance at all. They had failed only in one unsuspected quarter, they had not been able to mesmerize the camera.

I could, if it were essential, cite other instances to show you how surely false belief operates collectively as well as individually upon men. What else but the collective operation of false belief, I ask you, can we call epidemics of measles, of typhoid fever, of influenza?

 

False Belief and Depression

But the old tyrant is not content, alas, to strike at us only through the avenue of our health. I ask your attention to an example so extensive and of such gravity that, if the explanation be new to you, this revealment of its true nature will startle you. The business depression which in recent months has gripped the United States and has gripped other countries, one after another, until it gripped the world, is nothing whatever but a direful infliction upon men by false belief. It never had any reality, it never could have any reality, but wherever false belief succeeded in making men accept a material fable in place of their birthright, the spiritual fact, abundance has faded away and in its place were depression, unemployment, suffering, hunger, and all the desperate and many-sided claims of lack. In a period when able students of economics declared that there was every sound reason for prosperity in our own country we saw commercial land agricultural conditions go swiftly from bad to worse. Political leaders at length rose up to explain the why and wherefore of the unhappy condition, but their explanations did not agree. Only the metaphysician had a true sense of what had occurred. He was able to see false belief implanting the thought of fear and lack in this individual consciousness and in that one, and presently producing a panic of contagion, that swept the lying claims into the thought of multitudes. The instrument was evil suggestion, sent to every mental door, and the havoc was wrought wherever, voluntarily or involuntarily, the individual accepted it and let it come in.

At this moment we are not so interested to know how we got into this lamentable state as we are to know how to get out of it. In all candor, I can give a sure answer to that inquiry. Fight every false belief. Make war, definitely and unceasingly, upon the old tyrant with his lies of lack.

Here is a fair battle for us, and as many as fight it will win. But, some incredulous one may cry, is it possible to free even an entire nation by any such means as this? Yes, I answer you, it is possible thus to free the nation and thus to free the world, and victory begins with the freeing of the individual.

All that I am declaring, my friends, all that I have been declaring throughout our significant discussion, is man's God-given freedom and perfection. Man did not give these things to men, and neither man nor false belief can take them away. This is the import of the new understanding, this the solemn averment of Christian Science to this age.

 

Right Thinking Rewarded

And now you are wondering what became of the "man in my office." Was he convinced, you ask, that material man is only a myth, a false belief? Did the new concept of himself as an idea of divine good bring him any measure of success or advance him on the road of spiritual achievement? My friends, within four weeks from the day he told me he had but fifteen cents in his pocket he came back smiling and grateful. He had earned by honest, legitimate, and constructive work during that period several hundred dollars! Best of all, in doing this he had rendered others a useful service. He was convinced that divine understanding, applied to human affairs, does bring success.

The healing of physical and mental and moral ailments is an outstanding characteristic of Christian Science, but is healing, as some suppose, its object and its end? No, I answer you, a thousands times, No! Healing is the method by which proof of its divine authority is given and the ground cleared so that the good seed may be sown, but the object and end of Christian Science is to bring men into that conscious at-one-ment with Spirit and its laws by which they shall know that here and now they are the sons of God. I give you this concise reply, but I beg you to reap your full and transforming answer by turning for it to the textbook which Mary Baker Eddy wrote and to the far-flung Church of Christ, Scientist, which she founded.

As the penetrating light of this new Christ-understanding illumines our consciousness we fall before it in adoration and gratitude as sincere as that of the Magi when they knelt at the feet of Jesus, the babe. We rejoice and are thankful, beyond the measure of any mere words, that again in our age freedom's beams are breaking through the clouds of tyrannical doubt and fear. Gratitude transports us to the pinnacle of understanding, and, gazing upon the new wonders visible only from that height, our one conscious desire is that we may be grateful the more.

God made you perfect; God made you free. Cling to those grand verities of the Bible in the manner that Christian Science teaches you specifically how to do and, sooner or later, clearly and inevitably, you shall come to see that the only evil claim there is or can be is false belief. And where we know this, thank God, we know what to do. The darkness has melted, the day is at hand.

"The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt."

 

[From a 1931 newspaper clipping, location unknown.]

 

 

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