Christian Science: The Way of True Freedom Now
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
To get the most out of this lecture, the reader should have at hand "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. This book is available at any Christian Science Reading Room or through this newspaper.
To countless thousands, the thoughtful reading of this book has brought a feeling of refreshment, the healing of seemingly hopeless disease, release from danger and difficulties, increased capability, success and happiness. Men and women in all walks of life, by applying its teachings, have found their skill and usefulness increased and have been enabled to work with a greater sense of assurance and genuine accomplishment.
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
If I were to ask each one of you here to state briefly your greatest need, what would you say? One who is in bondage to sickness and suffering would probably say, "I need to be free from disease." One who is burdened with fear of lack would say, "I need freedom from limitation and insufficiency." Others might say that their need is freedom from grief, loneliness, fear, misplacement, domination, lack of adjustment, or from other limiting phases of human experience. My friends, all of these limitations are proved unreal, and the need for freedom is met through the understanding of God and man as revealed in Christian Science. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, states in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 494), "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need." Actually what is your one great need? Your need is to know God, to feel His presence and acknowledge His power, to accept the Christ into your consciousness, and to recognize your true selfhood as the child of God. Through the revelation of Christian Science every human need is met, and true freedom can be experienced now.
Christian Science Meets the Human Need for Freedom
The unselfish motive of Mary Baker Eddy in giving her discovery to the world, founding the great movement, and providing for its permanence through the Manual of The Mother Church, was to free mankind from the bondage of sin, suffering, sensuality, and limitations. An itinerant minister preaching to his congregation in a lonely village, far removed from frequented highways, asked the pertinent question, "Why do I suffer hardships, and travel over dangerous paths to come and preach to you?" He answered: "Because I cannot eat my bread alone. I must share it." Mary Baker Eddy could not eat her bread alone. She writes (Science and Health, pp. 226, 227): "I saw before me the sick, wearing out years of servitude to an unreal master in the belief that the body governed them, rather than Mind.
"The lame, the deaf, the
dumb, the blind, the sick, the sensual, the sinner, I wished to save from the slavery
of their own beliefs and from the educational systems of the Pharaohs, who
to-day, as of yore, hold the children of
Mrs. Eddy's discovery of Christian Science was the culmination of years of investigation, prayer, and watching, and of an earnest, tireless search for the rule of Christian healing which she was convinced lay behind the healings of Christ Jesus and his early followers. She was inspired and sustained by divine Love in her great work.
Christian Science Is Based on the Bible
When understood in the light of Christian Science, the Bible reveals the way of true freedom. A Christian Scientist who had been invited to give brief readings on Christian Science at an event in which a Protestant minister participated asked the clergyman which Scriptural selections he planned to use, so that there would be no duplications. Evidently surprised, the minister asked, "Do you use the Bible?" He added, "I thought Christian Scientists had a book which replaced the Bible." This incident occurred recently in a large city. There is still misunderstanding as to the place the Bible occupies in Christian Science.
Probably no religion places greater emphasis on the study of the Bible than does Christian Science. The earnest student of Christian Science reads the Bible, King James Version, daily, and studies it thoroughly to gain its spiritual meaning. Christian Science church services, both the Sunday services and the Wednesday testimonial meetings, consist in part of readings from the Bible and correlative passages from Science and Health. The Manual of The Mother Church provides that children in the Christian Science Sunday School shall be taught the Scriptures.
Christian Science is based on the inspired word of the Bible, especially upon the life, teachings, and works of Christ Jesus. It was her great desire to find the rule underlying Scriptural healings that led Mrs. Eddy to search the Scriptures diligently until she had found the rule. Christian Scientists accept the inspired word of the Bible as their guide in attaining present and eternal salvation from sin and discordant material conditions.
As understood in the light of Christian Science the Bible is sound and workable. A lad in a Christian Science Sunday School said, "I tried the Bible and it works." The Bible deals with questions which the thoughtful investigator is bound to ask sometime, and it deals with them in a way satisfying to the most eager searcher. It reveals God as the only creator, the great I AM, changeless, eternal, inexpendable. It shows that God is divine Love, that He is good, not in the sense of good being an attribute of God but in the sense that God actually is omnipotent good.
From childhood, Mrs. Eddy turned to the Bible for spiritual light and inspiration. We find evidence in the New Testament that Christ Jesus was a student of Scripture, and so it is natural for us to turn wholeheartedly to the holy record for correct information concerning the nature of God and man, for the spiritual light and understanding which heals disease and reveals the way of freedom.
The Liberating Power of the Christ, Truth
No one can reasonably doubt that Christ Jesus understood and experienced true freedom. He proved that truth makes free by his mighty works of healing and regeneration. His clear view of the naturalness and newness of good dispelled beliefs of sickness, limitation, insufficiency, and impairment as promptly and naturally as darkness dispels light. Spiritual light dispels mental darkness, whether the darkness appears as injury, disease, failure, fear, or discouragement.
It is sometimes objected that Christian Scientists do not confess Christ Jesus as their personal Saviour in the way that others profess to do. This objection is answered by a fuller understanding of Jesus, of his mission, of the Christ, and of the teachings of Christian Science. Christian Science shows that Christ Jesus is our Saviour in that he showed how we are saved from sin, sickness, and death by obeying his commands and following his example. Christian Science acknowledges the Christ as Saviour. The earnest student looks to the Christ, Truth, and not to person for salvation from sin and disease. Jesus is not God. Speaking of his true spiritual selfhood, he said: "I and my Father are one" (John ); "My Father is greater than I" (John ). He inferred that man is one in quality with God, fully expressing the divine nature or Christ, and that God, divine Mind, is greater than human personality.
Man is not God. He expresses the divine nature, and is as necessary to God as God is to him. A single mathematical fact is not the whole of mathematics, although partaking of the nature of the science of numbers and necessary to its completeness. Is not the drop of water necessary to the ocean and vice versa? Christian Science teaches that there is one God, and that man is His image and likeness.
Persistent affirmation of the reality of good and the nothingness and unreality of evil bears witness to the Christ. Such affirmation is the prayer which reaches the heart of divinity, dispels the illusion of sin, disease, and death, and brings to light man's normal state of health and harmony. Subjection of the human will to the divine, replacement of envy, jealousy, fear, and strife with love, gentleness, and conviction of the presence and power of God, is evidence of the activity of the Christ in individual consciousness.
Man Reflecting God Is Loving and Free
"How can I believe that man is perfect when imperfections appear on all sides?" asks an inquirer.
Christian Science does not teach that mortals are perfect, but that the real man, the true selfhood of each one of us, is perfect now, not shall be but is inexhaustible, companioned, free. We demonstrate true freedom through putting off mortal concepts and putting on spiritual, immortal concepts.
Man reflects God; hence he is perfect now. Mirrors into which we glance, by chance or with a purpose, reflect varying degrees of discord and harmony, poverty and abundance, sin and disease, joy and sorrow. These pictures of mortality should and often do serve to turn our gaze from the mortal to the immortal. Let us look into the mirror of divine Science, which reveals man as he really is, upright, joyous, strong, and free.
The perfect model must be kept before thought in order to bring out happiness, health, prosperity, and freedom in human experience. Christian Scientists find that it is of great help in working out the perfect model to study the Bible Lesson-Sermon daily, to accept the duties and privileges of membership in a branch church and in The Mother Church, and faithfully to work in the movement to the end of spreading the gospel of Christian Science. The test of our progress is our love for God and our neighbor. Said the Master (John ), "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Divine Love must be accepted and utilized in order to meet the human need. Remember the story of the talents! One servant was given five, and he used them to advantage. Another, who was given two, also used them to advantage; but he who had only one buried it for fear of losing it. And he did!
All of us have talents of kindness, charity, patience, honesty, forbearance, stability, health, and ability to impart courage and happiness. Our talents must be used! It may seem difficult to use them to advantage. Materiality appears to be a downstream current, strong and swift. The spiritual traveler rows against it, firmly, faithfully, consistently, and joyously, assured of spiritual strength for the upward trek. An Indian rowing upstream in face of a log jam was asked if this was not a difficult task. He replied, "No hard. One log at a time," and he patiently pushed log after log out of his way as he paddled upstream.
Utilization of the Knowledge of God Ensures True Freedom
Understanding God and using our understanding in daily experience ensures true freedom. The child in the Christian Science Sunday School is taught to know God as Love, infinite Spirit, Mind, and he is taught to utilize his knowledge of God. He learns that in his true selfhood he is loving, gentle, and kind because God is Love; he is honest, truthful, and obedient because God is Truth. Utilization of his understanding helps him to attain freedom in his work and play and in his contacts with others.
The full import of the nature of God and the practical application of this understanding in daily life is not gained in a moment. Continual contemplation of the wholly spiritual character of Deity and consistent effort to live in obedience to God ensures progress. The searcher learns to use his thought moments to advantage in reasoning from the basis of spiritual causation. On his mental journey into spiritual light and understanding he catches glorious glimpses of who he is, where he is, and why he is. Spiritual vision speeds his progress.
Contemplation of the various Scriptural names for God - Life, Truth, Love, Spirit, Soul, and creator - has great value, and opens thought to the full import of His nature. A little friend of mine was to have a substitute Sunday School teacher whom she loved and affectionately called Auntie.
"Auntie will be your teacher Sunday," said the child's mother.
"Oh, Mother, not Auntie again!" exclaimed the child.
"But you love Auntie," returned the mother.
"Of course I do, but she doesn't know anything. Every time she has our class she asks what God is. We always tell her, but she never remembers."
We need to contemplate the nature of God and to use our knowledge of Him in our daily contacts. A boy of fourteen who had attended the Christian Science Sunday School from infancy told his mother that he had been startled recently when the actual nature of God dawned on his thought, and he had gone around for days joyously reiterating, "I have found God."
A Christian Scientist whose healing was delayed said to himself: "One thing I can do. I can stop working for healing, and seek to know more about the nature and character of God. Then regardless of the claim that is preventing normal action, I shall be demonstrating true activity and knowing more about the naturalness of true freedom." He began his work by searching the Bible and Mrs. Eddy's writings, reading many references about God. He also read citations on the various attributes of God, such as mercy, wisdom, justice, and so on. The study grew more absorbing as it progressed.
Soon the student found himself thinking less about becoming a good, healthy mortal and more about being the man God made, harmonious, vigorous, and expressing the divine nature. Undesirable beliefs, mental and physical, began to drop away as he gained glorious glimpses of the freedom which is man's birthright. Recognition of his true nature as a child of God brought freedom, and he was healed.
Truth Ensures Progress and True Freedom in Business
Fear of failure in business arises from a false concept of business. Here Christian Science proves to be the "pearl of great price" ensuring healthy, prosperous business relationships through bringing the Christ, Truth, to bear upon the problems and solving them.
True business is knowing the truth that makes free, and this spiritual activity is always joyous, intelligent, wise, and successful. Talking with wise men in the temple, at the age of twelve, Christ Jesus said (Luke ), "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" True business is love expressed in efficient, joyous, intelligent, profitable service.
Three statements in Science and Health of special value in gaining the true idea of business and in healing what appears to be a sick business are: "Spirit, God, gathers unformed thoughts into their proper channels, and unfolds these thoughts, even as He opens the petals of a holy purpose in order that the purpose may appear" (p. 506); also, "Spirit diversifies, classifies, and individualizes all thoughts, which are as eternal as the Mind conceiving them" (p. 513); and, "Spirit blesses the multiplication of its own pure and perfect ideas" (p. 512). Unformed thoughts, spiritual ideas, are even now being gathered into proper channels for you to recognize as blessing you and your business. The Christ is unfolding in human consciousness ideas for your good and for the service of mankind.
True business is never stagnant, never experiencing retrogression, never slow, never failing, never depleted. A man whose business was apparently failing consulted a Christian Science practitioner who explained to him the true nature of business and urged him to see business as divine activity, fully equipped, eternally established, and abundantly nourished. The man promised to cooperate by rejecting fear and human outlining and by accepting the true idea of business as the basis of his thinking. Within a week an idea came to him for an invention which would greatly improve his business and his opportunity for service. All details connected with obtaining the patent, a manufacturer for the product, and the sales force, proceeded harmoniously. His business has greatly enlarged, and is continuing to bless himself and others.
Freedom from Fatigue Through Christ
Why are many weary, lacking energy, strength, and rest? Because they have not yet heeded the gracious call (Matt. ), "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Christian Science reveals that the priceless gift of rest and peace is attainable now through the acceptance of the Christ, the true idea of God, into consciousness.
"Come" means to draw near, to yield, or be favorably impressed. Mankind moves toward God through exercise of moral and spiritual qualities such as honesty, humility, affection, joy, and unselfed love, and through overcoming negative qualities such as envy, jealousy, fear, and sensuality. Through prayer, persistent affirmations of the presence and power of God, we come to the true understanding of God, and demonstrate our God-given heritage of joy, rest, strength, and true freedom.
The real man cannot be tired! Fatigue is unreal, a product of the mist or mistaken concept of man as material with beginning and ending. Can matter be tired? Matter has no sensation, no intelligence. It cannot affirm weariness, nor feel it. Mortal mind claims fatigue, and experiences what it claims. Fatigue is an error of belief. It is overcome on the same basis as sin and sickness - by rejecting it as temptation and by claiming spiritual strength as the heritage of man.
The admission, "I am tired," is not wise, and certainly not true, since man made in God's likeness cannot be weary. It is wise to correct states of thought which in belief contribute to fatigue. Self-pity urges its claim of the right to be tired; self-righteousness asserts great personal accomplishments; and self-will drives as with a lash to accomplish its ends. These states of thought are enemies to true rest. We find rest in the assurance that God's work is done. Man reflects God's doing. Mrs. Eddy writes (Science and Health, p. 519), "God rests in action." Since God is never weary, man in His likeness cannot be tired.
To realize that man lives in eternity, not in time, is effective prayer, and this realization operates to increase strength. On the heavenward journey, wherein we attain the realization that harmony is real and inharmony unreal, time becomes servant, not master. It is well to use our thought moments wisely in effective prayer, in the constructive work of healing the sick and wakening mankind to man's heritage of health and freedom. Ruminating induces fatigue. Usage has given the word ruminate a figurative meaning; namely, to meditate, muse, or ponder. The actual meaning of the word is an animal function of mastication, called chewing the cud. A Christian Scientist once said to a friend claiming fatigue: "You are tired because you do your work three times, ruminating before you do it, doing it, and ruminating after it is done. Try doing it only once!" Freedom from fatigue is attainable now!
Christian Science accepts the undivided garment, the whole Christ. The early Christians accepted their religion as effective in overcoming sin, disease, and death. Religions of today accept only the power over sin. Mrs. Eddy writes (Science and Health, p. 142), "We must seek the undivided garment, the whole Christ, as our first proof of Christianity, for Christ, Truth, alone can furnish us with absolute evidence."
It is not Christian Science to use prayer to heal a sick mind and resort to material means to heal the sick body. Mortal mind and body are one, not two. Disease obtains in mortal mind, and mortal mind images the disease on its own body. A sick body is restored to health proportionably as mortal mind yields to the Christ, Truth. Humble prayer, steadfast affirmation of the reality of good and the unreality of evil, ensures healthy and secure concepts of life, substance, and intelligence. How illogical to treat matter separately from mortal mind, since matter has no intelligence! When sick and sinful thoughts give place to healthy, secure concepts, the body manifests health and harmony.
Radical reliance on righteous prayer for healing is essential. Mrs. Eddy was once asked if both prayer and drugs were necessary to heal. Her answer is, in part (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 52). "It is difficult to say how much one can do for himself, whose faith is divided between catnip and Christ; but not so difficult to know that if he were to serve one master, he could do vastly more." And in the textbook she writes (p. 167), "Only through radical reliance on Truth can scientific healing power be realized."
Mrs. Eddy examined material and materially mental means of healing the sick while searching for the rule of Christian healing. She found nothing in these systems on which to base Christian Science. The rule of Christian healing was eventually discovered through spiritual inspiration. In Christian Science prayer alone is used in healing the sick and reforming the sinner. Healing in this religion is purely spiritual and has nothing in common with mental manipulation or mortal mind analysis. A metaphysical utterance may sound like Christian Science, but only those utterances based on the undivided garment are of the Christ, Truth, rightfully classified as scientific.
A patient whose healing appeared delayed was asked by the practitioner if he had dispensed with all material remedies. He replied that he had retained one, an especially expensive remedy, fearing that he might need it. The practitioner pointed out the folly of serving two masters and the value of radical reliance on Truth. The man threw away the medicine; however, for several days he kept the prescription. Even after discarding the prescription he held the ingredients in memory. Then he awakened to see the folly of his way. He saw that he had been making a god of the medicine, and giving mental allegiance to it while seeking spiritual healing. Once fully wakened he turned from the belief of matter as curative, and decided to serve only one master. He was healed.
Freedom from Strife
How can we expect world peace when individuals, groups, members of families, and even members of churches war with one another? This question is thought provoking and should lead to self-analysis. However there should be no hint of futility or of frustration. Consecrated effort to lift individual and world thought to the ideal of peace on earth, good will to men, is never wasted. Christian Science shows that each one can do much to end strife wherever it appears. Let us watch, work, and pray earnestly for the attainment of peace. Persistent affirmation of the great fact that there is but one Mind, God and not minds many, coupled with the desire to be good and do good ends strife in individual experience and operates to leaven the thought of humanity.
Although confronted with what appear to be material men living in a material world with problems coincident with materiality, the Christian Scientist is not dismayed. He understands that appearances are not what they seem. False concepts, illusory mental pictures, are erased by recognition of the fact that divine Mind governs. In the face of disturbed conditions and fearful reports, the Christian Scientist turns to the truth of being, to the great fact that (Rev. 19:6) "the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." Insisting on this truth he finds sickness giving place to health, strife to peace, and fear to confidence within himself as he gains the conviction that God is both willing and able to heal and save.
Anyone who is mourning over the
plight of the world will do well to read in Scripture the book of Nehemiah.
Here the patriarch tells of rebuilding the walls of
Do fear, laziness, frustration clutter our mental homes and delay progress in overcoming strife? I am reminded of a relative whose recipe file was badly cluttered. When looking for a recipe, her daughter found a number of cards containing recipes marked "no good." Is our thought cluttered with "no goods"? We may be guilty of labeling a belief no good and then retaining it in consciousness where it prevents the orderly use of the good already discerned.
"It is hard work to watch your thoughts," remarked a young student.
It will continue to be hard work so long as you think wrong thoughts," replied an experienced worker. "Try accepting the Christ." Discipline of thought is essential in gaining freedom from strife or any discord.
Never doubt the power of a spiritually right thought to penetrate the mist of materialism and bring the light of understanding at the point of need. Think of a large dark room where each occupant holds a candle (a potential light). One with a lighted candle enters. Others accept light from him. Soon the room is light. Even those who, through inertia or ignorance, still hold unlighted candles are blessed by the light. The Christ, Truth, operates in human consciousness like light in a dark room. Light always dispels darkness, Truth always destroys error.
Christian Science is leavening world thought. More is being done by alert spiritual thinkers to forward world peace than is evident to the casual observer. I watched the building of a great highway. The work appeared to proceed in a disorderly fashion. A man with a pickax worked there, and another with a steam shovel here. Yonder were huge machines uprooting trees, and nearby were men conversing and laughing jovially. Apparently there was little effort to direct the activity. Yet there was a pattern. The highway took shape. It was completed. Great numbers were blessed. There is a highway of peace being constructed by the spiritually constructive reasoning of alert thinkers. Said the prophet (Isa. 35:8), "And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness."
Freedom Through Obedience to Divine Law
In the Bible is found abundant evidence of attainment of freedom through obedience to divine law. Think of Abraham! In obedience to God's command he went forth to establish a nation - and he knew not whither he went. Through his obedience he opened the way of the glorious freedom which attends worship of one God, infinite Spirit. Moses obeyed God, and led his people out of bondage. Freedom has come to men through the moral code which the great lawgiver discerned and wrote on tables of stone.
The three Hebrew boys furnish heartening proof of the liberating power of obedience to divine law. Outwardly they were in bondage; but their hearts were free. So confident were they of the presence and power of God and of His Christ that they feared not the fiery furnace. Two important points in the incident of the Hebrew boys in the furnace impress the thoughtful. First, the possible loss of their lives was of less importance to them than obedience to the one God. Second, they were not afraid of what might seem to happen to them. Even if their understanding did not save them from the furnace, they were confident that their God would not forsake them.
The deliverance of the captives from the fiery furnace was a lesson to the king, and it is a valuable lesson for us today. Trials of human experience may seem like a furnace, and at times the furnace may seem heated many times beyond the average. But man cannot be separated from divine Love. The Christ, described in the narrative as the (Dan. ) "form of the fourth" and said to be "like the Son of God," is today operating in human consciousness to heal and to save, to separate the dross from the gold. In the words of a hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal (No. 123),
"The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine."
Every type of human bondage, whether of mind or of body, responds to treatment in Christian Science. A mistake in numbers yields at once to the enlightened effort of the mathematician. Both chronic and acute enslaving and limiting conditions yield to the operation of truth expressed in steadfast obedience to divine law. We can waken instantly out of beliefs in sin, disease, and limitations. The Christ is here, breaking all dreams of the senses and lifting mankind to higher and holier concepts of life, substance, and intelligence.
Christ Jesus said (John ,32), "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Says Mrs. Eddy (Science and Health, p. 227): "Discerning the rights of man, we cannot fail to foresee the doom of all oppression. Slavery is not the legitimate state of man. God made man free. Paul said, 'I was free born.' All men should be free. 'Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.' Love and Truth make free, but evil and error lead into captivity.
"Christian Science raises the standard of liberty and cries: 'Follow me! Escape from the bondage of sickness, sin, and death!' Jesus marked out the way. Citizens of the world, accept the 'glorious liberty of the children of God,' and be free! This is your divine right."
[Published in The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) News, July 5, 1956.]