Christian Science: A Religion of Healing
A. Hervey-Bathurst, C.S.B., of London, England
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The following lecture entitled "Christian Science: A Religion of Healing" was given a number of years ago by Mr. A. Hervey-Bathurst, C.S.B., of London, England, a member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, who spoke substantially as follows:
Nearly twenty centuries ago a momentous question, "What is truth?" was asked by a man whose name has been handed down to posterity because he sat in judgment on "the most scientific man that ever trod the globe," as Mrs. Eddy refers to Jesus in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 313). Is not that same question still being asked, directly or indirectly, by many millions of unsatisfied or dissatisfied people today?
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science
Let me say, however, that the number of dissatisfied people is decreasing; and the decrease commenced sixty years, ago when Christian Science, or the science or knowledge of the Christ,Truth, was revealed to a waiting and hungry world by a refined, cultured and above all, spiritually-minded woman, Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science. Mrs. Eddy was of English and Scottish descent. Her parents lived in Concord and Bow, New Hampshire, and were respected citizens of New England, that part of the United States of America where the discovery was to be made which has already brought health and happiness, the true concept of heaven or home, to some millions of wanderers in the dreary desert of doubt and despair.
It is interesting to note that the courageous stand which Lincoln took against slavery, ‒ his determination to free the slaves of the South, and the passing of the legislation which ensured that freedom to so many human beings, ‒ was closely followed by the discovery of Christian Science by Mrs. Eddy. In the one case, human beings were being liberated from slavery to human taskmasters. In the other case, however, mankind is being freed from the bondage of sick or discordant beliefs, taskmasters far more relentless than were ever any slave owners. I doubt if any of us can fully appreciate what it meant to stand midst the gibes and taunts of mankind, ‒ in Lincoln's case against the hatred and opposition of what might be defined as the Vested Interests, or those who could only interpret Lincoln's action as implying disaster and failure for them.
In the case of the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, however, we have that noble woman, Mary Baker Eddy, standing alone in the face of the universal belief of mankind, in the face of opposition greater and fiercer than had been faced by any one since Jesus' time, determined to give to the world that which was to reform religion, replace ceremony and ritual by the fruits of spiritual regeneration and physical healing. Her discovery was so vast and was to be of such far- reaching effect that her experience has never been equaled since the founder of Christianity, Jesus the Christ, taught and practiced In Galilee. Yet Mrs. Eddy was not alone, for she was doing her duty, her Father's will, and therefore working with His support, sustained by the supporting arm of divine Love. Mrs. Eddy had always been an earnest and devoted student of the Bible. From childhood she had studied the sacred volume ‒ always with a desire to know God better and to do His will.
The story of Mrs. Eddy's discovery of Christian Science is now quite generally known. At a time when it was expected that the effects of the accident from which she was suffering would prove fatal, Mrs. Eddy begged to be left alone. She turned to the Bible and read that well-known passage in Matthew 9 where the Master healed the man sick of the palsy and said to him, "Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house." Not only did Mrs. Eddy read the words, she understood the deep spiritual meaning of that statement; in other words, recognized and demonstrated man's God-given dominion or freedom, and rose from her bed healed. So sudden and surprising was the occurrence, that when she walked into the adjoining room those assembled there thought they beheld an apparition.
What was it that Mrs. Eddy discovered or that was revealed to her in answer to prayer in that experience? It was the truth of being. Was it not the fulfillment, in a measure, of that statement of the Master, "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"? I trust that you will see, during the time at our disposal how Christian Science has revealed the truth which still makes free, ‒ free not only from all the ills that flesh is heir to, but which provides the solution for all the problems which mankind is now, or ever may be faced. My friends, that truth is available for all of us here and now, if we will but accept it.
It is sometimes said, or people sometimes speak as if Christian Scientists were a sect or as if Christian Science was something apart or exclusive of all else. What is Christian Science? It is the Science, or understanding, of the Christ, Truth. It reveals God, the truth about God, or good, and in the proportion that Christian Science is understood and practiced, so is the presence, love, power, and government of God recognized, or proved. Meanwhile, Christian Scientists do not claim to be the only people who desire to know God, or who want what is good, although they certainly realize that Mrs. Eddy has revealed the scientific way of recognizing and demonstrating the omnipotence and omnipresence of God.
How many men and women of good and noble characters stand out as beacon lights in history ‒ men and women who have stood for something better and higher than the general standard of their day? As a matter of fact, every man or woman wants good, wants to have the best obtainable. But how do people's concepts of good vary! We hear of the man whose concept of good is to have a good haul of some one else's property. We know of the business man whose standard of honesty is not very high; who thinks that any means are justifiable so long as he can gain an advantage over his neighbor. We know also the politician or the statesman who descends to methods which one with a higher concept of God, or good, or of what is true, would never tolerate. Continuing up the scale, we find finer characters, individuals with improved concepts of good, until we come to the earnest and loyal student of Christian Science, who, through his scientific understanding of God as revealed in Christian Science, is healing the sick and reforming the sinner. Between the first and last of these illustrations there is an enormous contrast. Nevertheless, from the one extreme to the other, all want good, or God.
Christian Science reveals to us the truth about God, man, and the universe. It shows us also how we can prove or demonstrate this truth for ourselves. It is sometimes said, I would so much like to be able to apply the truth. Truth cannot be applied: Truth is. We need to recognize or understand it. We cannot change Truth; but we must change our concept of the truth or reality. There is still a great deal that many of us do not yet know with regard to mathematics or music. Nevertheless all these facts of which we are ignorant exist in spite of our lack of knowledge. In the same way truth is. It is infinite. The understanding of truth can be applied or demonstrated. And what is truth? What is the truth about all we see, hear, feel, taste, smell? What is the truth about the various discordant conditions we see around us? Why does evil appear to be so persistent, ‒ always opposing, and sometimes apparently overmastering good? These are a few of the vast array of questions which mankind is wrestling. Let us see how Christian Science deals with them.
Importance of Right Thinking
In order to do that I must ask you to allow me to tell you that, generally speaking, men and women are most illogical. They think; yes, in a way, or after a fashion, but they endeavor to begin where they should end. They think, or try to think, backwards.
Jesus' instruction was most clear on this point. He said: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." We all agree that Jesus meant what he said. Did he not state definitely that the only way to success, the only way to find and obtain what is good and necessary and true, is to find the "kingdom of God," the place not only where God is, but where God governs or is supreme?
It is a well-known axiom that like invariably produces like. So that if we commence with what our physical sense tells us, or if we accept the testimony of the physical senses as a basis from which to argue, or if we believe that what these senses tell us is true, we are materialists, and to us there is no God. Again, if we believe that there is a great First Cause or Creator, God, or Spirit, and at the same time accept the testimony of the physical, or mental senses, we are then admitting that God, divine Mind, is conscious of, and therefore includes, evil, sin, discord, and death, which is utterly impossible. Why? Because, if the great first cause or creator knew and therefore included both good and evil, life and death, it would be a "house divided against itself," and therefore destructive, not creative or a creator. All Christians, and therefore all Christian Scientists, acknowledge that God is the creator and that He is good.
No one would approve of an insinuation to the effect that he was not intelligent. Yet, here we are faced with the fact that, while admitting that like produces like, people, a great many people, believe that God or Spirit created, and is therefore manifested or expressed in His opposite, matter. Jesus taught quite the contrary, and so does Christian Science. None of us like to be told we are being deceived. Nevertheless, every man is being deceived who accepts the testimony of the carnal, or mortal mind, or the physical senses as to the material universe, including man, being real. Let us proceed to prove this. Everyone realizes how frequently his physical senses deceive him. What about the train you are in, which you believe is moving, when it is the one alongside that is quietly sliding away? Those senses are always deceptive. How do we know it? By exercising our reason.
We agree so readily that there must be a first cause. We call that cause or creator, God, Spirit; and we say with certainty and assurance that He is infinite. And at this point, I would ask you to be willing to reason from cause to effect, and not accept unthinkingly what the physical senses present or suggest. God is Spirit; therefore, His creation must be like Him, spiritual. Spirit cannot and does not include its opposite, matter. Therefore, there is no matter in the creation which is spiritual, the only creation.
At this point, one might be thinking, Yes, but what about the material evidence which my physical senses tell me is very real? I believe you know enough about the material universe, and I will ask you to be willing to consider, in a child-like, but not a childish way, this great but simple truth which I am endeavoring to explain; and let me assure you that, to the extent you are willing to admit these logical and divine facts as to what and where God is, ‒ you will be able to demonstrate, or prove them.
We all declare that, where God is, is heaven. God is, infinite. Therefore, God, Spirit, good, is everywhere; and everywhere includes here. Therefore, the "kingdom of God" is at hand. It is not afar off. It is here. It is where you are thinking it is, as the Master said, "within you." In other words, to the extent that you understand and accept the truth, you see or experience the kingdom of heaven; you awake to the fact that, actually, you are in heaven. Do many people believe that they can find or recognize the kingdom of heaven, here and now, without going to some other place or passing through the experience called death? Yet, did not the Master say, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God"? He obviously meant that we should seek it here where we are. He did not tell us to go somewhere else in order to find it.
Oh! one might say, You do not mean to say that heaven can be found or experienced literally on earth? Yet, my friends, do we not pray daily, and some of us many times a day, "Thy kingdom come," the spiritual sense of which Mrs. Eddy gives (Science and Health, p. 16), "Thy kingdom is come; Thou art ever present"? Heaven is not a locality. It is mental, spiritual.
Then, where is "on earth"? It also is where we are thinking. Now the earth of God's creating is not the earth our physical senses present to us; and in order that we may see the answer to our prayer, we must, through the understanding of truth, get rid of the evil in our concept of earth. Did not God create heaven and earth and all that therein is? That earth is surely a better earth than our physical senses suggest to us. What is truth? Are we not beginning to recognize the truth about heaven and earth?
There are many people who are in the habit of using some such expression as this: Would it not be heaven if only I were free from suffering? Many people turn, are compelled to turn, to Christian Science, because everything else has failed. Is not that a sad thought that so many of us turn to God only as a last resort, and not as the one and only healer, friend, guide, comforter? Let us consider the way to get rid of suffering through Christian Science, and to that extent at least demonstrate the kingdom of heaven at hand.
Would you be shocked if I dared to ask you, Can God, good, suffer? Then, if God cannot suffer, His image and likeness, man, cannot suffer. Here let me say that the man I refer to is man; the God-erected man, the only man; not the kind of man made of dust.
The Truth about Man
Here the question arises, What is man? Since man is the image and likeness, or expression, of God, we must first have had a true concept of God, the only creator, in order that we may understand His expression or reflection, man. What makes it possible for man to have a true concept of God? It is the fact that man is spiritual, is idea in divine Mind.
The general trouble is that men believe that they are separate entities, independent of God. Man is no more separate from his Father-Mother God than the reflection of yourself before the mirror is independent of you. Imagine the joy, comfort, assurance of knowing that you are never separated from God. What is truth? Are we not beginning to understand the truth about man?
What is God? On page 465 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy gives the following definition of God: "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love." This God is the only creator and he created all that was made, as the Bible states. Must it not follow, then, that if God's creation is the only creation and it is good, that we have a very erroneous concept of that creation, including man? Can that creation of God include evil, destruction, fear, vice, death? Can man, God's image or reflection, be subject to what God does not include? No. He is not, and never was. A bold statement, perhaps, but nevertheless true. Therefore, what is true about God is, in a degree, true about man.
Man, you and I, are as much the children of God now as we always have been and ever will be. Why then do we act frequently as if we were the children of a most un-godlike parent?
God is Spirit. Therefore, His creation, including man, is spiritual. This may be said to be the key to the question. One might say at this point: This is obviously true from a logical point of view, but it is beyond me to prove it. My friends, I might say, it does not need to be proved to be true. It is true; always has been. We need to recognize it. The physical, or material man, or the physical senses, can never see or define God, because, as St. Paul writes: "The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Now, if man were material, he could never recognize or demonstrate his Godlikeness, his divine sonship. St. John said, "Now are we the sons of God." Does not this mean that now, at this moment, we are, or our true self, is Godlike? Like Spirit, not like matter? Because he is spiritual, and because the material is but the lie, the counterfeit, man has the innate ability to recognize and love good, God. Mrs. Eddy states in "the scientific statement of being" (Science and Health, p. 468), "Man is not material; he is spiritual." Remember, the counterfeit, the lie, or error, could never claim, or seem to be, until after the truth, the real had been established. You must first have the genuine, or true, before the belief in the counterfeit can claim to be; so that it is well always to remember that the lie, the counterfeit, or error, is not original, an originator, or creator. It, error, is always late; always too late. Consequently, it cannot interfere with, or hinder, or harm us, and we need never fear it.
God is divine Mind, so that man is spiritual. The material or physical body is the expression of a belief in the reality of the material creation, the belief that matter produces or creates itself.
Man is the expression of divine Mind. The understanding of this divine fact enables us to have dominion over the body because matter, or the material body, is merely a belief in something which does not emanate from the one and only cause, Spirit, and therefore is not of God.
Here let me say that you need never be afraid of losing your individuality, for in Christian Science we find our real self; in other words, we awake to the truth of being, and in that proportion does the mistaken belief disappear.
Now, can that man ‒ the true, God-like, spiritual man ‒ suffer, or be sick? Can that man be angry, fearful, believe in lack or anything that does not emanate from the one Mind, of which he is the expression or reflection? As we recognize that divine fact, ‒ the truth about man, ‒ the lie, manifested perhaps as sickness, deformity, sorrow, or want vanishes.
Healing Through Christian Science
The Way-shower showed us how to get rid of the belief in sickness. He knew and was able to demonstrate the truth, the knowledge of which he declared would make us free. As Jesus showed, so in Christian Science, the healing is not the result of wrestling with the belief in sickness as something real to be overcome. The healing in Christian Science is brought about through the demonstrable knowledge of the truth. As we rouse ourselves to recognize the truth revealed by Christian Science, ‒ to understand that, after all, the teaching of Jesus is not only true, but demonstrable, we are in a position to refute those erroneous statements, thoughts or suggestions to the effect that man is sick or controlled by sin. Then that which is incomprehensible to the carnal mind occurs unfailingly, ‒ the sick are healed, the sinner is reformed. We have the evidence of this healing, constructive work in the rapidly increasing number of Christian Science churches springing up all over the world.
God and evil, complete opposites, cannot both be true; and is not mankind continually struggling to obtain good; and does not the concept of good vary according to the character or the spirituality of the individual? Every man desires good; but how does the human concept of good vary! Good or God, is immutable, infinite, cannot change. Christian Science reveals the summum bonum, that heaven "at hand" the Master described, and shows us also how to attain it.
Christian Science is universal or universally applicable. There is no situation or condition in which you may ever find yourselves where Christian Science, or the Science or knowledge of the truth, cannot be demonstrated. Therefore, Christian Science is just as effectual in healing social troubles as it is in healing physical discord. Why is dissatisfaction sometimes expressed among certain sections of the labor world? Because it seems to them that what is right or good is afar off, not available. Now where is good, or God? Ever present, omnipresent. God, or good, is the only presence. Then what is the remedy? It is to know the truth, that is, God's omnipresence, in a scientific and demonstrable manner. Ah! one might say, That sounds simple, but you do not know what it is to work as a fitter in a factory with no opportunity to air one's legitimate grievances in the proper quarters. It so happens that I do! But the mere airing of legitimate grievances may not be sufficient; it frequently is not, because of the limited vision or spiritual understanding of the masters or governing bodies. The fitter at the bench, the machine hand, or the director will only succeed, not as each looks to man or man-made methods or rules for success, but as they each look to God and recognize and demonstrate His government. Men may, and very frequently do, err in their judgment so long as it is based merely upon human conjecture or opinion. On the other hand, be it a director or mechanic who is listening for, and in so far as he is able, following God's guidance, he inevitably succeeds. And at this point I want to say that no one individual man is subject to or controlled by another. At the same time, Christian Science does not advocate lawlessness; on the contrary, Christian Science teaches us how to be really law-abiding citizens in the strictest sense of the word. What I want to show is that to the extent that one understands the truth about God and man, to that extent does he demonstrate his true nature, his freedom, his God-likeness. God's law, the law of good, is now and ever operative, protecting, guiding, and sustaining you, me, here, now, in the factory, in the office, at home, always. We need only to understand that fact. It is. So, let us recognize it, rejoice, and be grateful.
Thus it is evident that by revealing the real equality of man as the image and likeness of God, or idea in divine Mind, Christian Science has revealed to this age the truth about government, or the true idea of government ‒ true democracy. Christian Science reveals the iniquity of autocratic control, and also explains the fallacy of the destructive, chaos-creating systems so frequently offered as panaceas today. Christian Science reveals the true remedy for human ills, and it demands the practicing of pure Christianity.
The Solution for All Social, Labor, and National Problems
The remedy then for all labor, social, national or even international problems is to understand and practice primitive Christianity taught by our Master, and brought again to the world by Mary Baker Eddy in Christian Science. As with the individual, so with the nations, and so with mankind. No other solution can ever be substituted. What more wonderful or comforting thought than to realize that as we are able, through a scientific undertaking of God's omnipresence, to rouse ourselves from the mesmeric belief in the reality of evil, dishonesty, sickness, hatred, we recognize the presence and government of God, of good. Thus we find the kingdom of heaven "at hand." Think of those international conferences of a few years ago, which engaged the attention of the civilized world. Suppose all, or even the majority of those participating in them, had had a scientific understanding of the power of good and the impotence of evil! One can scarcely imagine the results. What is Truth? Are we not beginning to discern the truth about government?
In Christian Science we gain the true concept of government, and while I am referring to the application or demonstration of this true form of government with respect to nations, it will readily be seen that it must commence with the individual and consequently in the home. Thus the home of Christian Scientists should be orderly and harmonious. The children should be taught to respect their parents and others; to be considerate, unselfish, courteous. Withal, they should be given the legitimate freedom all children should have. While taught proper control, they should not be harassed; they should be shown the difference between freedom and license. They should learn the joy of self-sacrifice; the happiness in thinking of others instead of continually being pampered to. The education of children is a sacred responsibility. Mrs. Eddy refers to them as "the hope of our race" (Pulpit and Press, p. 9).
But how can we educate children until we understand what children really are? Let us consider children from the standpoint of Christian Science. What are children? In Mrs. Eddy's definition "children" on page 582 of Science and Health, she refers to them primarily as "the spiritual thoughts and representatives of Life, Truth and Love." Was there ever a time when Life, Love or God was unexpressed or when God had no representatives? Then, these representatives of God have no beginning; they are as infinite or eternal as Life, Love, Truth, God. Whence comes the belief in the material origin of children? It is surely as false a belief as is the belief about man being material. The children of material parents are certainly in need of proper education and discipline, and Christian Science shows also that the larger children must be disciplined or discipline themselves just as the smaller children need to be properly educated or disciplined, in order that they may bring "into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."
"What is it that is taking place as the healing power of truth is revealed and demonstrated through Christian Science? What is this replacing of the belief in sickness by health, of insubordination, revolutionary or ultra-socialistic tendencies and chaos by law, order, and permanent power? It is the appearing of Christ. Just as the watchful shepherds discerned the pale star heralding the birth of the infant Jesus, so today, those who are ready, watching, recognizing that the final revelation of the Christ, Truth, has appeared in this age through Christian Science, for, as the Bible states, "unto them that look for him shall he appear." The "Christ," Mrs. Eddy defines in Science and Health, on page 583, as "the divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error." The Master surely demonstrated the Christ, the evidences of which were seen in healing the sick, reforming the sinner, and raising the dead. Jesus was the man who revealed or demonstrated the Christ. The Christ was not a person. It is common history how, through the effort to misuse Christianity, the healing, the essential proof of its divine nature, disappeared. It remained for Mary Baker Eddy to give primitive Christianity again to the world, and so in this age we have the final revelation of truth, in fulfillment of the Master's prophecy: "But the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
The Truth about Life
It will perhaps have occurred to you that with the recognition and demonstration of the fact that sin and sickness are not of God, and therefore are not true, must come the realization that sickness or the belief in sickness cannot affect the life of man. In other words, that not only sin and sickness, but also the enemy, death, must be overcome if we are going to accept the teaching of the Master in its entirety.
Christian Science lifts the veil of mystery from all those questions over which mankind have so long puzzled. Christian Science reveals the fact that the future, or, as it is sometimes defined, the "hereafter," is not shrouded in mystery. In fact, there is no hereafter; there is but the eternal now. What is the future and when will it come? When it does come will it not be now? God is Life, and Life, therefore, is infinite; so that man, the expression of God, is the expression of Life. In Life there is no death. Just as darkness is expelled by the light, so is the belief in death healed and destroyed by the understanding of Life. Enoch knew enough of God, of truth, or life, to enable him so to improve his concept of man, body and life, that he "walked with God." Also did not the Master first demonstrate the unreality of the belief in death for others, and finally in his own experience?
Let us dwell in thought for a moment on that remarkable scene described so vividly in John 11, when the brother of Mary was dead. He had recognized the Christ revealed by Jesus. We all know with what authority Jesus summoned Lazarus forth from the dream of death, saying, "Loose him, and let him go." Thousands today are being loosed from the graveclothes of material beliefs, yes, and from the belief that Life is subject to, or in, matter. Mary recognized and acknowledged the Christ. She did her share in the work of the resuscitation. We need to do the same. That same Christ which Jesus declared he had come to reveal is as much with us now as when the Master called forth Lazarus from that cave upon which the stone lay. The stones of belief in a life apart from God are continually becoming lighter, and sometimes being removed altogether. Hence, the increasing number of Christian Scientists. As on that occasion in Bethany, Mary "believed on him," so today many recognize gladly, through the proofs afforded, that Christian Science is the final revelation of Truth, that is, Life, to this age; that it has again made available to each and all of us the Christ, "the divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" (Science and Health, p. 583).
As Christians, we accept the teaching of the Master without questioning it. Through Christian Science mankind is being shown, in this age, how to practice it. Whether we accept or reject it, Truth remains as it has been all through the ages, unalterable, immutable. The day must surely come, and is coming, when the fact that Life is infinite will be understood and demonstrated. Why not be at least willing to admit that fact now and stop this limiting policy of postponement?
Someone may be thinking, perhaps, that this certainly gives food for thought and opens up a wonderful vision; but how can I avail myself of the freedom and dominion the application of such teaching must bring with it? The answer is: Through prayer. Mrs. Eddy states in that remarkable chapter on "Prayer" in Science and Health (p. 1), "Desire is prayer." She states also that "no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds."
In my experience, as in the experience of innumerable others, one of the greatest blessings and revelations of Christian Science is the understanding of how to pray aright. You may be thinking, perhaps, What is there to pray about, if God, Principle, the divine Mind is infinite, all, and man is His expression or reflection? The answer is that just so long as there is any belief in the presence, power or effect of evil, it will be necessary to pray without ceasing. Prayer is not only the desire for a knowledge of the Truth, but it also exemplifies or demonstrates it. For example, suppose you understand something about Christian Science and have demonstrated the truth of what you understand by healing yourself of some physical troubles, and then someone comes to you and says, I am suffering and want you to help me; I want you to give me a Christian Science treatment. You have learned at least something of the truth regarding God and man, and by reason of your understanding you can prove or demonstrate it. In asking for treatment, the patient is reaching out for truth, his honest desire is prayer, but it is probably rather along the lines of blind faith. The Christian Science treatment given by the Christian Science practitioner would be prayer based upon understanding, ‒ the understanding of the truth about God, and man as the reflection of God. That knowledge of the truth frees, because it destroys the erroneous or false belief about man, and the patient is healed.
Recognizing, affirming, and demonstrating these divine facts about God, man and the universe constitutes prayer.
"Prayer is the heart's sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.
"Prayer is the simplest form of speech,
That infant lips can try;
Prayer the sublimest strains that reach
The Majesty on high.
"Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,
The Christian's native air;
His watchword overcometh death ‒
He enters heaven with prayer."
(Christian Science Hymnal, p. 91)
All down the centuries mankind have prayed. The Master said, "When ye pray, believe that ye receive." Do people generally pray in that way today? Do you think we are justified in telling God what to do, or in asking Him to do some specific thing? It follows, therefore, that to the extent that our desire is honest will that prayer be answered. Now, if we honestly desire to do God's will and not our own, we shall be able to discern what that will is, and then we shall have the ability to obey. The first verse of Mrs. Eddy's hymn, "Shepherd, show me how to go" (Poems, p. 14), constitutes a most remarkable and complete prayer. In the first line we have the simple appeal for guidance, ‒ the simple request to be shown "how to go." In the fifth and sixth lines, "I will listen for Thy voice, Lest my footsteps stray," is the willingness expressed to listen for God's voice or guidance. It surely follows, then, that if we are determined to listen for God's voice, we will refuse to listen to the arguments or suggestions of evil or error. Also, listening for God's voice, we must certainly hear it, ‒ that infinite voice of Truth. Then follows that culminating statement or determination, "I will follow and rejoice"; that is, the willingness to be obedient, and being obedient we have good reason to rejoice as the natural result of following God's guidance, or doing as God does, by reflection. Thus, the only responsibility we have is to free ourselves from the belief in a selfhood apart from God, and so be in a position to rejoice because God takes the responsibility, and we can well be grateful and glad in the realization of our God-given heritage or unity with our Father-Mother God.
Dare we, ‒ have you or I the audacity to attempt to tell the Deity what to do or when to do it? Has not that, however, been the general practice for many centuries? Let us be logical and recognize, affirm and be grateful for the fact that God's work is perfect. We need to improve our feeble concept of God, man, and the universe. The desire to know more of God is prayer, and that prayer is answered. Then the false beliefs as to the presence or reality of evil vanish, ‒ die of their own inanition; the scales fall from our eyes and we are rewarded.
Remember nothing in God's creation can ever be changed; but our concept of it must certainly be, and is being changed. Then why delay? When shall we begin, if not now? Reality is true at this moment, and you and I are the better for considering these divine facts.
Importance of Right Thinking
The secret of Christian Science is right, true thinking, ‒ not sometimes, but always. As we practice this right, true thinking, this acknowledgment of God's omnipresence and omnipotence, we shall witness wonderful results, for Truth is power, and error is impotence and cannot stand. Take, then, the daily newspapers. You read them, or should do so, intelligently. It will be obvious to you how very much better off the world would be if a great deal of what is published today had never been printed. The press or journalism, is, therefore, in great need of reformation or regeneration, and you can begin immediately to help along these lines. So, take your daily newspapers and read them henceforth, first, with a greater desire to help mankind, and secondly, with a clear concept of the power of right thinking. Would it be possible to exaggerate the privilege of realizing that by right thinking, we become constructive world workers?
To the extent that we realize the power of right thinking we refuse to accept the arguments or suggestions set forth in a great section of the press. We merely allow them to remind us of the truth about God, man, and the universe. It will be impossible for me to exaggerate the importance and vastness of the scope of persistent and consistent right thinking based on a scientific understanding of the nature of God, man, and the universe. In order to practice this right thinking, we must be willing to make a persistent effort, because the carnal, or as Mrs. Eddy defines it, the so-called mortal mind, cannot cognize the things of Spirit or reality. It will, therefore, be clearly seen how impossible it is in Christian Science to attempt to work by means of that counterfeit mind. That mind claiming to know good and evil, would claim to be able to accomplish evil as well as good. Being a counterfeit mind, however, it accomplishes nothing in reality, and only appears to when we believe it. Then we merely suffer from the effects of our own false belief, and from anything that counterfeit mind claims to do, because it is powerless. Consequently anything in the nature of mesmerism, hypnotism, spiritualism, psycho-analysis, and so forth, all of which are based upon the belief in a material or human mind, which is conscious of good and evil, is quite foreign to Christian Science. No Christian Scientist could practice such methods. Were he to endeavor to do so, he could no longer practice Christian Science.
The Christian Scientist is learning, not only to accept the truth as to the omnipotence of God as a theory ‒ he is learning to prove it. How? Not only as regards his physical health, his home relations and personal affairs, but also as regards the belief in evil operating as confusion, loss, failure in business, accident, discord, or interference of harmonious weather conditions, as well as the large and small political questions of the day. To illustrate, suppose a student of Christian Science learns of a certain international difficulty said to be developing ‒ one which it is declared may end in a declaration of war. Does he accept that situation? Certainly not, if he is persistently practicing right thinking. Is the world today entirely free of any attempt to bring about evil, strife, or even war, all for some ulterior purpose? Has that condition of mind which attempted to kill the Christ by crucifying Jesus been forever silenced? A Christian Scientist who is watching can only be reminded of the truth by such statements or suggestions, and he knows the irresistible power of right thinking. Do these sinister forebodings of evil disturb him? No, he realizes that the belief in the desire to do evil or in the ability to accomplish evil has to be destroyed. In plain language, he recognizes how the devil is beginning to know his time is short and, what is more, it is becoming shorter all the time. The watchful Christian Scientist would recognize the claim of evil to accomplish something, to operate as some evil activity or lawless law. That situation reminds the Christian Scientist of God's irresistible, unalterable and ever operative law, that is, the law of good, and he is proportionately grateful. Thus the lie of the belief in the activity of an evil, so-called, mind is refuted ‒ proved to be untrue and thus destroyed.
Perhaps there is no more significant chapter in the New Testament than Mark thirteen, where the Master reminds his followers of the urgent necessity to be watchful, telling them how "many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many." And again, "For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall show signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take ye heed; behold, I have foretold you all things." There is, therefore, surely no excuse for those who have a scientific or demonstrable understanding of the teaching of the Master to be deceived, led astray, or overwhelmed by fear. Christian Scientists who have a scientific understanding of the Christ, Truth, revealed and taught by Jesus, are, thanks to the discovery of Mary Baker Eddy, in a position to recognize and prove that "the Lord God omnipotent reigneth," and they are ever mindful of the remarkable advice given by the Master as set forth in the last verse of Mark thirteen, "And what I say unto you I say unto all, watch."
Christian Science Simple
Christian Science is preeminently simple. Do not think there is anything involved in it. It is as simple as primitive Christianity. Let me say before you leave this hall that there is nothing to prevent your beginning without delay to practice or apply what you now understand of Christian Science. You have only to begin to think logically, truly, scientifically. You need only honestly desire the truth and you will find it. Then, as you commence and continue the study of the Christian Science textbook, you will join the ever increasing throng of grateful men and women who find that all language fails when they try to express the gratitude they feel and owe to that Godly woman, their beloved Leader.
Do not be afraid to pray. Pray in the best way you can, and as your understanding increases your prayer will be less petition and more the joyful recognition, affirmation, and demonstration of good's omnipotence and omnipresence. Mankind has slumbered all too long in the mesmeric belief that the material is real, and that man is made of matter. Christian Science sounds the clarion call to awake from sleep, and then Christ will give thee light. Why pass the "pearl of great price" by? The way is clear and all can walk in it who will.
"Why search the future and the past?
Why do ye look with tearful eyes,
And seek, far off, for Paradise?
Beneath they feet, Life's pearl is cast."
(Christian Science Hymnal, p. 12.)
Let me close with these words from Science and Health (p. 174): "The thunder of Sinai and the Sermon on the Mount are pursuing and will overtake the ages, rebuking in their course all error and proclaiming the kingdom of heaven on earth. Truth is revealed. It needs only to be practised."
[Published in The Brooklyn (New York) Daily Eagle, Dec. 18, 1937.]