Christian Science: Defender of Individual Rights
Ella H. Hay, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Defense of individual rights is
fundamentally a spiritual activity, Ella H. Hay, C.S., of Indianapolis,
Persistent prayer and alertness are essential, she said, in protecting such precious rights as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of conscience, and freedom of assembly.
A member of The Christian Science
Board of Lectureship, she spoke in John Hancock Hall under the auspices of The
Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in
Mrs. Hay was introduced by Arthur P. Wuth, First Reader of The Mother Church.
Mrs. Eddy Proved Manís Rights Are Divine
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Individual rights are precious. Many rights we now enjoy were not accorded to individuals of former times, for example the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of conscience, and freedom of assembly such as we have in this auditorium today. We may well be grateful for advancement of individual rights and "be instant in season, out of season" (II Timothy 4:2) in defense of these rights.
Christian Science, discovered and founded by Mary Baker Eddy, defends individual rights. Conforming to the Bible (the King James Version) this religion follows the example of Christ Jesus, advancing true self-government through the recognition and demonstration of the nature of God, divine Principle, Love, Mind, Soul, Spirit, and of man made in His likeness, wholly spiritual, fully aware of his divine rights. Basing thought and action on the perfection of God and man the student of Christian Science defends his individual rights of conscience, peace, prosperity, home, success, health, and abundance.
From her early years Mrs. Eddy showed the disposition to defend individual rights. At an early age she refused to accept the traditional belief of predestination included in the
creed of the church in which she sought membership.
While quite young Mrs. Eddy glimpsed the right of mankind to experience spiritual healing as recorded in the Bible.
Effort to find the explanation for spiritual healing was evidenced in much of Mrs. Eddy's early experience and was climaxed in her own healing from the result of a serious injury through inspiration received from study of the Bible. This healing was an important factor in the discovery of Christian Science through which the rights of man, made in God's likeness, are acknowledged, and individual rights of freedom from discord are defended.
The rights of the individual are being strongly attacked in some parts of the world at present. Great is the need for Christian Science which shows men how to defend these rights scientifically and effectively. Mrs. Eddy's outstanding work in discovering and founding Christian Science is proving to be a powerful contribution in rousing men to active, purposeful effort and noteworthy success in defending the rights of the individual. No wonder Christian Scientists and many who are not students of this religion recognize Mrs. Eddy as a really great defender of individual rights and an eminent benefactor of humanity.
Man Expresses Completeness of God
Said an earnest seeker, "You speak of defending individual rights of harmony through acknowledging and demonstrating the rights of man. Tell me, what is man? Is he not in the language of Scripture as the grass that withers and the flower that fades?" The Psalmist asked a similar question (Psalms 8:4), "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?"
Christian Science presents to humanity a fresh and arousing view of God and man, showing man to be spiritual, expressing the completeness of God.
The belief that man is either wholly or partly material, made of nerves, bones, and blood is the fallacy that breeds disease, poverty, and sensuality.
The belief that man is material hides the true status and dignity of man as surely as the mist hides the mountain. Man is image, idea, but not the image of a far-off god, humanly circumscribed. The traditional view of God as a sort of superman is fading out. Yet many still think of Him as a god to be believed rather than understood. This fact is evidenced in the efforts of many to find healing through blind faith in God.
The understanding of God as divine Principle, Love, is as essential in defense of individual rights as is a mainspring to a watch. Through replacing material concepts with spiritual facts, and living so as to hold thought in close relation to God, divine Mind, Life, and Love, the power of righteous prayer to defend individual rights is demonstrated.
The Psalmist writes (Psalm ), "I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness." Do we yearn to have mankind waken to true satisfaction which comes through the activity of Christ, Truth, in consciousness? Do we long to see strife, envy, disease, and sin cease, and individual rights of peace and satisfaction demonstrated? Where shall we begin? With ourselves!
Everyone can prove, through the study and practice of Christian Science, that the understanding of man as God's perfect child wakens men to their God-given right of harmony. Man is not a mortal dreamer.
Satisfaction is not derived from materiality in any form. Among the elements of matter are decay, disintegration, and limitation. The nature of matter precludes the possibility of it being a factor in promoting satisfaction.
Divine Science Alone Satisfies
One who mistakenly believes that an accumulation of matter satisfies will find food for thought in the experience of a rich man who answered an advertisement of a Quaker stating that he would give a valuable parcel of ground to anyone who was satisfied. Said the rich man, "I have houses, cattle, and gold. I can qualify as satisfied." Answered the Quaker, "If thee be satisfied why dost thee want my land?"
So long as thought and act stem from the belief that matter is real and satisfying, true satisfaction is not attained. Divine Science alone satisfies because it is Science based on the unalterable premise, perfect God and perfect man. Reasoning from this basis and living in accord with the demands of God one proves Christian Science the unfailing defender of the individual right of satisfaction.
Christ Jesus proved the right of
the individual to health by healing the sick man at the pool of
How did Jesus so naturally defend individual rights? By seeing the perfect man, sinless, and pure, where mortal discordant man appeared to be. His correct view of man as wholly spiritual dispelled discord of every type. The method used by the Master is the method of Christian Science. Through spiritual discernment the real man, not a limited mortal, is seen as real, and individual rights defended.
Christ, Truth, Dispels False Beliefs
The Master's mission is clarified through Christian Science which shows that his abundant expression of Christ, Truth, gave him authority to dispel error. Mrs. Eddy's definition of Christ is enlightening. It reads (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, page 583:10-11), "The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error." A child said of Christ Jesus, "Jesus was his name, Christ his business." Clearly the Master's business was to heal the sick and reform the sinning of his time and to establish through Christ, Truth, a firm basis for the defense of individual rights throughout all time.
The mistake of believing that Jesus is God is exposed by Christian Science which accepts the Master's own words as to his place and mission.
For example, he said he could do nothing of himself but what the Father did. Does not this statement imply that man is God's reflection as Christian Science teaches? Can reflection do anything of itself?
Let us cherish Christ, Truth, entertain Christlike qualities, ceasing to fear, honor, or obey material so-called laws. Christ, Truth, comes to the receptive heart as gently as the summer breeze, blessing, refreshing, healing, and enabling the seeker to do the works of the Master and demonstrate in a practical way man's God-given rights of peace, health, and harmony.
Defense implies an enemy. The enemy is ignorance of the true nature of God and man, ignorance growing out of false education which indoctrinates men with the belief that matter is real, producing pain and pleasure, freedom and bondage. Weapons of the enemy are fear, sensuality, apathy, and self-centeredness, all that delays the acceptance of Christ, Truth, and the demonstration of man's inherent rights.
Is the enemy a person, a system, a nation? NO! Is it a new enemy? NO! The enemy is the same impersonal devil, evil, which sought to turn Jesus from his God-appointed mission by suggesting that he use his power to establish a material kingdom, that he turn stones into bread, and cast himself down from the pinnacle to prove his power. Jesus knew the tempter to be impersonal evil claiming presence and power, actually powerless, and he proved Truth to be the victor.
Mental malpractice is the enemy. What is mental malpractice? Mal is derived from the Latin malus meaning bad. Mental malpractice is erroneous mental practice arising from the individual's wrong thoughts and acts or from fear of or acquiescence with the wrong thought or deed of another. Bad mental practice includes sensuality, insincerity, destructive criticism, as well as some so-called constructive criticism stemming from habitual fault-finding.
The armor of spiritual discernment and unselfed-love shield thought from the mental miasma created by so-called health laws, intemperance, greed, envy, and lust. A student of Christian Science remarked that she found oil, as defined by Mrs. Eddy (Science and Health, p. 592:25-26), "Consecration; charity; gentleness; prayer; heavenly inspiration," an effective protection against wrong thinking. She added, "Water rolls off the duck's back because of the oil under his feathers; error cannot penetrate the thought anointed with oil as defined by Mrs. Eddy."
In Science and Health one is reminded of the need for protection against evil which would put men to sleep and make them the prey of the enemy. Mrs. Eddy writes (Science and Health, p. 442:30-32), "Christian Scientists, be a law to yourselves that mental malpractice cannot harm you either when asleep or when awake."
One becomes a law to himself through living in close relation with divine Life, Truth, and Love, entertaining spiritual ideas in place of material concepts, and identifying his real selfhood as idea, one with infinite Principle. Obedience to the Ten Commandments is important in being a law to oneself. These commandments are reminders of the real man's immunity from evil as well as commands to refrain from evil-doing.
Prayer is Awakening to Godís Power
The Sermon on the Mount, of which Mrs. Eddy says that if read every Sunday without comment and obeyed throughout the week it would be enough for Christian practice, furnishes practical defense against mental malpractice. In this sermon we are admonished to consider the lilies, to take no thought for what we eat or wear, to forgive our enemies, to be tender and kind, and to let our light shine so that good works may be seen and the Father glorified.
Shall we fear mental malpractice? NO! We do not fear that we will get wet in well-constructed houses.
Evil beliefs appear to threaten individual rights of self-government, reason, and conscience. But evil, in whatever form, is an impostor, a counterfeit of spiritual reality. Let us faithfully maintain man's immunity from error and demonstrate the individual right of spiritual discernment, thus ensuring defense against mental malpractice, defense of individual rights of health and progress.
Everything of value has a price.
Defense of individual rights is no exception. In the Bible we read that the
price of abundance is seeking first the
What is the price of defense? The price is faithful search for wisdom through study of the Bible in the light ght of its spiritual interpretation given through Mrs. Eddy's writings; it is the humble effort to express the spirit of the Master, claiming manís divine right of purity, health, holiness, and spiritual power, and maintaining the spirit of pure Christianity in the details of experience.
Prayer and watching are essential in defending individual rights. Effective prayer is not tense or fearful nor stereotyped. It is awakening to God's power, accepting His good spiritual gifts, and acknowledging His presence. Prayer is positive, constructive thinking, a watch characterized by patient waiting, calmly serving while the good already established in the realm of the real unfolds to view.
Health is restored not by manipulating matter or doping it, nor by mesmerizing or dramatizing mortal mind, the progenitor of matter, nor by ignoring error, but by insisting that disease is an imposter and has no power to interfere with the immediate and full demonstration of man's right of harmony, health, wholeness. Said a child suffering from a serious condition of the ear, "I'm the boss; error isn't." In claiming his dominion over error the child demonstrated man's right of health and was shortly free from suffering.
Thought Established on Christ Heals
A mother, too ill with influenza to attend an important meeting, asked her young son to give her a Christian Science treatment. The request was made as the child was departing for school. In the evening the mother said to the lad, "You must have worked for me all afternoon. I went to the meeting and feel fine." Replied the boy. "No, I didn't. I think of Truth as like an electric light. Just turn the switch."
Truth dispels error as surely as light dispels darkness, and this is true whatever form the mental darkness appears to take, whether sin, sickness, poor business, defective hearing, dim sight, or malignant growth. Mrs. Eddy writes (Science and Health, p. 162:4-11): "Christian Science brings to the body the sunlight of Truth, which invigorates and purifies. Christian Science acts as an alterative, neutralizing error with Truth. It changes the secretions, expels humors, dissolves tumors, relaxes rigid muscles, restores carious bones to soundness. The effect of this Science is to stir the human mind to a change of base, on which it may yield to the harmony of the divine Mind."
Yes, the price of defense is a change of base in thinking from material concepts to
spiritual facts through entertaining the Christ-spirit, maintaining vigorously that man expresses purity, health, wisdom, and holiness, and walking uprightly in the sight of God and our fellowmen. Paul said (Galatians ), "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."
Nothing can separate us from happiness, man's birthright. Paul writes (Romans -39), "I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, . . . nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God."
Happiness is a Christlike quality, evidence of the holiness of man, the expression of Soul. Few thinkers would aver that happiness depends on matter, yet many are slow to accept the fact that happiness is not dependent on person, place, or thing, nor is it the sport of circumstance. How quickly may pleasure arising from circumstance change to boredom or sorrow! Joy comes not from without but from within, coincident with thought established on Christ, Truth. A woman once complained to John Burroughs that she had no birds in her garden. Within a short time the famous naturalist pointed out several rare birds, remarking that one must have birds in his heart to have them in his garden.
Happiness Demonstrates Real Selfhood
The pursuit of happiness is mentioned in the great American document entitled, "The Declaration of Independence," as one of the rights of free men. It is said that during the drafting of this document some delegates of the convention favored the word property instead of happiness, but happiness won. Certainly this word connotes a more spiritual viewpoint than property, the pursuit of which sometimes implies greed or mad ambition.
How shall we pursue and find happiness? Certainly not by depending on matter, fearing or obeying its so-called laws, not by holding to the pleasures of sense with one hand while reaching out for spiritual riches with the other. Both hands must reach out for wisdom, truth, and love, grasping every inspired thought and realizing that no circumstance is needed to enhance happiness. When asked why he was so happy a child said, "Just because." No circumstance had given him happiness, his heritage as the child of God.
Mental and audible suggestions of disaster, war, and danger make it imperative to pursue spiritual joy persistently. Spiritually minded seekers may be heckled by the worldly minded offering material pleasures, pleas to be modern, meaning to indulge in tobacco, intoxicants, sensual pleasures, and tranquilizing sedatives. When one has established his thought on the truth, he is not swayed by these allurements.
God is Life, and God is all; therefore the right of man is life and not death. One may agree with the concept just stated but ask, "What about this body, does it not die?"
The mortal concept called body is not eternal. Obviously the mortal cannot be immortal. But does the mortal concept constitute the real selfhood of you or me? Certainly not! When mortal concepts, with their presentation of a far-off god and a mortal man, yield to the scientific fact that God is divine Principle and man His idea, one with Him, the old man or mortality is put off. Then as Paul declares (I Cor. 15:54), "Death is swallowed up in victory."
Fear is elemental in death.
Death never touches Life, God, and its manifestations. Said†† the poet Shelley (Adonais), " 'Tis death is dead, not he." Through the understanding that Life is eternal one gains spiritual strength to reject mortal concepts elemental in death and to demonstrate the individual right of harmonious life.†††
The individual right of useful, joyous experience, untouched by time, is demonstrated by the understanding that God is Life, without beginning or ending, without birth, maturity, or advancing years. Passing time does not deplete but rather unfolds vigor, usefulness, and joy.
Every spiritual concept gained through faithful study of the Bible in connection with Mrs. Eddy's writings marks progress and operates to enlarge the understanding of eternal life, and of man as idea, never born and never dying. True concepts of home, health, supply, friends, usefulness, and peace are not temporal but as eternal as the divine Principle from which they emanate.
Human experience is uplifted and purified by the understanding that God is Life. Recognition of the integrity, beauty, alertness, and spiritual capacity of the real man opens the way to glorious opportunities for service to mankind at whatever age one may be. Says the Revelator (Revelation 3:8), "Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it." The open door is a beautiful symbol, pointing as it does to spiritual discernment of the real nature of God and man.
Acceptance of Truth Restores Health
An alcoholic who had already passed what is generally held to be a limit for useful service found himself without home, health, and funds. A friend took him to a Christian Science church service. During the hour the man caught a glimpse of the sinless, diseaseless nature of man. He began to study the textbook faithfully and to see the Bible in a new and spiritual light. He saw that man has the right of health, home, capability, and satisfaction, and that through the acceptance of Christ, Truth, individual rights of harmony are demonstrated.
The man's health was restored promptly. The desire for alcohol left him, likewise the desire for tobacco. But he had no means of earning a living, since no one would employ an old man. The man was not discouraged. He faced this test as one should face a test in school, confidently, assured that faithfulness in deciding for good and against error would furnish opportunity and equipment for service to his fellow man. An idea for service soon came to him. One friend loaned him a typewriter, another an old lithograph machine, and another a small stock of paper. With this he started a printing business in a large city, a business which for many years earned what was needed to maintain a home.
His equipment was not the supplies so lovingly given, but his recognition, through Christian Science, of man's right of freedom and of each one's God-given ability to prove his individual right of eternal life.
Christ Jesus was a great Scientist. He knew the truth and abundantly expressed the spirit of Christ, Truth. He had both letter and the spirit. His disciples certainly had a great measure of the spirit. Jesus may have been questioning their assimilation of the letter when he asked that morning on the seashore (John 21:5), "Children, have ye any meat?" Seeing this lack, he told them to cast their net on the right side and find. They obeyed, and the catch was great. The meat of the word is the union of spiritual living and scientific understanding of the allness of good, the unreality of matter, and the folly of dependence on it for anything worthy of pursuit.
Study of the letter and practice of its messages are essential. A man, introduced to Christian Science in a penal institution, found employment as a yardman for a judge. Questioned the judge, "How is it that you who have known Christian Science so short a time are having better healing results than I who so long have studied?" Replied the yardman, "Well, judge, I reads and I does; you jest reads and reads."
Individual Effort Leads to Spiritual Gain
Each individual is a law to himself and enters the Kingdom of
The actual feeling of good is indication of progress in gaining both the letter and the spirit. When thrown a branch to help him out of water beyond his depth a lad called, "I can see it, but I can't feel it." Through study of the letter of Christian Science one readily sees the logic of its conclusions. He may mistakenly believe that mere human reason characterizes Christian metaphysical practice. Lack of digestion and assimilation of the letter may cause one to assume that he has, through reasoning, reached heights not yet attained. There never ceases to be need for more of the spirit of the Master, more actual feeling of good. Right reasoning based on the perfection of God and man, coupled with moral and ethical practice and sincere affection for mankind, forwards the individual assimilation of divine logic essential in defending individual rights.
In "Pond and Purpose" (Miscellaneous Writings), Mrs. Eddy emphasizes the importance of spiritual baptism. The article, well worth reading in its entirety, mentions three stages of spiritual growth, first the baptism of repentance, a step which buds in humility, blossoms in spiritual growth, and bears fruit in the spiritual strength needed in wrestling with fear and limitations.
A wrestling match implies skill, persistent practice, and alertness. A contender does not merely say, "All is well." Rather does he study the art and watch the tactics of the opponent.† Wrestling with error demands faithful study of the letter and imbibing the spirit. Error must be seen as impersonal; a favorite tactic of the enemy is to make evil appear attached to person. The extermination of error lies in the recognition that there is but one Mind, and that the supposititious opposite of Mind, called evil, is not Mind and has neither reality nor intelligence.
The second stage of spiritual growth is the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Mrs. Eddy defines Holy Ghost (Science and Health, p. 588:7-8), "Divine Science; the development of eternal Life, Truth, and Love." Accompanying this stage of progress is wonderful foresight, discernment, development of individual capacities, and the annihilation of evil expressed as envy, rivalry, and fear.
Of the third stage Mrs. Eddy writes
(Miscellaneous Writings, p. 205:13-15), "The baptism of Spirit, or final
immersion of human consciousness in the infinite
Late one afternoon I looked into the face of a hurricane. Sirens screeching alarm emphasized danger; skies were lowering; tightly closed doors blown open. To my thought, calmed by the assurance of God's presence, came the experience of Elijah in the cave, hiding from the wrath of Jezebel (I Kings 19). The word of the Lord admonished him to go to the mountain before the Lord. A strong wind blew; then came an earthquake, then a fire; but the Lord was not in them. After the fire a still, small voice! The voice of divine Love spoke to my listening ear as it had to Elijah, assuring me of the individual right of peace, not storm. A patch of blue, seeming no larger than my hand, appeared in the sky. The blue expanded; in a matter of moments the air cooled, the sun appeared; there was calm.
Divine Love sustains Every Step of Way
Typical was this experience of the threat of world strife, seeming to delay the fulfillment of the Christian ideal of peace on earth. Clouds of strife, among individuals, races, groups, nations, systems, and planets, are lowering. What can I do? Says Scripture (Job ), "Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace."
There is a patch of blue piercing the strife clouds and ever expanding. The Science of Christianity is being accepted by increasing numbers; the influence of Christianly scientific thought is advancing, forwarding the construction of a highway of holiness.
Because of false education indoctrinating men with beliefs of material supremacy, the overcoming of elements of war, greed, sensuality, mesmerism, hypnotism, self-will, inhumanity, superstition, and vice may seem a battle. A child pulling a stubborn weed said, "The whole world's at the other end." The world may seem on the side of strife, may be fearing and obeying material so-called laws; but God is all. Recognition of this great fact operates to clear the atmosphere and forward peace.
The Science of Christianity is adequate, when understood, to defend individual rights. If one falls short of full demonstration of this Science he need only more faithfully study the letter and imbibe the spirit of Christ. Henry Clay, when reproached by a constituent who declared he would not vote for the representative again, picked up the woodsman's gun and remarked, "Good old gun."
"Yes," grunted the woodsman.
Continued Mr. Clay, "If the gun failed to bring down the next possum you shot at, would you throw it away?"
Individual rights are indeed precious, sacred, unimpeachable. Let us faithfully defend these rights in the way they can and must be defended, through the Science of Christianity. Christian Science opens wide the door of harmony, points out the path, and proves that divine Love sustains the purposeful pilgrim every step of the way to heaven, harmony. Christian Science has come to this age and to this planet; it offers full salvation, the ideal of Christ Jesus. In the words of Mrs. Eddy (Science and Health, p. 227:24-26), "Citizens of the world, accept the 'glorious liberty of the children of God,' and be free! This is your divine right."
[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 24, 1961, under the headline "Spiritual Armor Defends All Individual Rights".]