Christian Science Reveals
Godís Purpose Individual and Universal
Evelyn Heywood, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Evelyn F. Heywood, C.S.B. of
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Today there is increasing recognition by thinking men and women that we live in a mental world. Scarcely a day passes that some statement does not find its way into the newspapers or into public speeches with regard to the effect for good or ill, for calm or distress which thought reactions have upon the human mind and body. And what is proposed as the remedy? If one is offered at all, it is, for the most part, not to worry, not to overwork, not to be resentful, not to be afraid; in fact, not to think the thoughts which the individual of himself does not know how to avoid thinking.
In the epistle of James, we find this question: "Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?" While human thinking is supposed to be able both to benefit and to harm, the one spiritual remedy for every ill, taught and exercised by Christ Jesus, will remain unaccepted, and the struggle will continue. Not in, but apart from mortal thinking, in the Mind that is God, is deliverance to be found from the duality of "sweet water and bitter." On page 402 of the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy writes, "The time approaches when mortal mind will forsake its corporeal, structural, and material basis, when immortal Mind and its formations will be apprehended in Science, and material beliefs will not interfere with spiritual facts."
Christian Science teaches the fatherhood and motherhood of God, not as something afar off, academic and abstract, but as an intimate, tender relationship. In the light of Truth, men learn to know God as divine Love, ever present and available. The mission of Christ Jesus was to prove this by word and deed, so that in the consciousness of spiritual sonship the perplexities and afflictions of mortality might be met with the assurance of victory.
"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly," said Jesus, which Moffatt translates as, "I am come that they might have life, and have it to the full" (John ). Christian Science brings us the assurance that this fullness is ours as sons of God. It unfolds to us the true universe governed by spiritual law, where Love and Life, synonyms for God, are seen to be reflected individually and collectively.
As we gain the spiritual fact that man is the idea of God, forever expressing the divine nature, we perceive that material beliefs are powerless to interfere with what has been divinely ordained. To prove this was the purpose of Christ Jesus in healing and redeeming mankind, in overcoming death and the grave. This is also the purpose of Christian Science.
When we see that whatever claims to be a mixture of both good and evil, whether seemingly our own or that of others, is without actual origin or existence, we lose our fear of it. In the light of spiritual discernment, the distinction between what is of God, and therefore real, and what is its counterfeit, and therefore unreal, becomes clear. Thus only is evil disarmed of its seeming power. In the scientific apprehension of omnipotence, whatever has claimed to produce and perpetuate sickness and sin gives way to the government of the divine Mind. Thereby health and righteousness are established in human consciousness. "Suffering, sinning, dying beliefs are unreal," writes Mrs. Eddy in the textbook (p. 76). "When divine Science is universally understood, they will have no power over man, for man is immortal and lives by divine authority."
In any human undertaking calling for initiative, persistence, and diligence, noble achievement is accomplished only as the result of nobility of motive and method. And these are spiritual qualities. Victory over the handicaps, the frailties, the temptations which beset men and nations, is consummated only by willing self-discipline and trust in God.
The Way of True Success
There would always appear to be two methods open to humanity in the effort to reach its goal, the one entailing human will and human means, the other that of trusting wholly to the direction of the divine Mind. When it is understood that true and permanent success is reached only through reliance on divine Principle, the temptation to seek any other way ceases. To hold thought steadfastly to the divine facts of being is then seen to be the real purpose of existence.
"Trust in Truth, and have no other trusts," writes Mrs. Eddy (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 171). And she shows us in her writings, in the Science of Christianity, how we can trust wholly in Truth; how we can deal wisely, compassionately, and courageously with the human problems which confront us. There is no uncertainty, no fear of divided allegiance in the consciousness which has learned that Truth alone is trustworthy. The strain, the anxiety, the human responsibility of decision and action are at an end for him who has found Truth-reliance. He is proving the words of the Psalmist (Psalm 112:7), "His heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord."
If we study the experience of Nicodemus, as set forth in John's Gospel, we see that something had come to Nicodemus' attention which had aroused his wonder and curiosity; something which neither human experience nor human reason could explain. He had accepted the fact that the only way to account for the mighty works that Jesus was doing, was that God was with him. He therefore came to Jesus secretly, by night, for an explanation, and the Master's reply to him was that in order to understand these things, he must be born again.
The Hebrew nation had been accustomed to great prophets who exhorted, denounced, and commanded them. But to be told that to enter into the kingdom of heaven, he must be born again − this was astonishing in the extreme. He had to do something more than just accept and believe what he heard. He had to start afresh − and from the beginning. What was demanded of him, if he was to understand the Christ, was a new outlook, a new world. Is not this what Mrs. Eddy means, by the words already quoted, "The time approaches when mortal mind will forsake its corporeal, structural, and material basis . . ."? This is the way whereby alone, according to the Christ, these things can be understood.
The New Birth
In "Miscellaneous Writings" by Mrs. Eddy we read (p. 16), "This newly awakened consciousness is wholly spiritual; it emanates from Soul instead of body, and is the new birth begun in Christian Science."
Today how many men and women have become aware of a divine power in their midst, and turning to Christian Science have found salvation from sickness, sorrow, and fear! They have seen in the light of divine Science that thought alone governs men's lives and that all true thought is of God. They have found that material beliefs cannot interfere with the spiritual fact of the Christ-presence with its message of complete salvation.
Perhaps nowhere in her writings has Mrs. Eddy explained the process of forsaking the material for the spiritual more logically and consecutively than in the passage on page 251 of Science and Health: "We must learn how mankind govern the body, − whether through faith in hygiene, in drugs, or in will-power. We should learn whether they govern the body through a belief in the necessity of sickness and death, sin and pardon, or govern it from the higher understanding that the divine Mind makes perfect, acts upon the so-called human mind through truth, leads the human mind to relinquish all error, to find the divine Mind to be the only Mind, and the healer of sin, disease, and death."
The purpose of Christian Science, then, is the same as that of Christ Jesus, to enable men "to have life, and to have it to the full;" not because of any special gift, dispensation, or prerogative, but because in knowing themselves they have found their divine ownership or authority and power.
To the student of the Gospels, the purpose of Jesus' ministry becomes abundantly clear in Christian Science. No one who came to him was turned away. He was concerned with the solving of their problems, whether of circumstance, sorrow, sin, or disease. He healed the individual, physically and morally; he healed and fed multitudes. Despite the crowds that thronged him, he was never so pressed, so occupied, so greatly in demand, that he could not pause to restore, to encourage, to instruct those who sought him in some specific need. Yet he permitted no merely personal or arbitrary call to interfere with the work which according to divine Principle he had set himself to do. On one occasion he was told that his mother and his brethren desired to speak with him. Stretching forth his hand to his disciples, he declared, "Behold my mother and my brethren!" (Matt. 12:49) We see that in every step he took, leading up to his resurrection and ascension, he waited for and obeyed the dictates of divine Mind.
In the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus set forth who is our neighbor. It is he who crosses our path in need of care. Every prejudice, every selfish reserve or exclusion, must yield to the comprehension of universal neighborliness. No one in divine reality is ever outside the oneness of spiritual relationship with God.
The Significance of the Resurrection
Had the Master needed confirmation of the vital necessity of his resurrection, he would have seen it in its results upon his disciples. After his crucifixion, they did not remember that they had been called to be fishers of men, that their mission was the healing and redeeming of mankind. They went back to their nets. The once proud boast that they had left all to follow him was momentarily forgotten in the darkness of humiliation and bereavement.
Something of the spirit of defeatism must have gripped the disciples in that hour, when their whole purpose in life seemed to have been shattered and discredited. "I go a fishing," Peter told his brethren. "We also go with thee," they said, and immediately − note the word immediately − they got into a boat; no waiting upon God for a blessing; no searching of their motives; no reminder of the divine purpose which had inspired, instructed, impelled them during those years of discipleship. They who had been taught, who had observed in their Master, the profound significance of prayer, did not pause to pray now. And throughout that night they toiled, catching nothing.
How many, in pride and human will, in mortal rather than spiritual impulse, have experienced what it is to labor, hour after hour, void of inspiration and the divine assurance of God's presence! And this because they have sought to accomplish their task without trusting it to Him first. In such an attitude, material beliefs continue to interfere with our realization of spiritual facts. When morning came, the disciples saw Jesus on the shore, though they did not at first recognize him. How gentle and loving was the question he put to them, "Children, have ye any meat?" When he heard that they had none, he told them to cast the net on the right side. And behold, they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
Great must have been the lesson learned of the barrenness and futility of mortal labor, devoid of trust in God, shorn of spiritual communion. "His resurrection," Mrs. Eddy writes in the textbook, "was also their resurrection. It helped them to raise themselves and others from spiritual dulness and blind belief in God into the perception of infinite possibilities" (p. 34).
In Christian Science we perceive that this resurrection is what takes place in the experience of every individual as spiritual reliance replaces human will and desire. There was no condemnation by Jesus of the night's labors, but how profound the lesson for humanity. As material beliefs yield to spiritual facts, omnipotence is seen to be the only power. The utterly pretentious nature of evil is recognized, and man's God-given ability to resist and overcome it is understood.
Truth's Conquest of Error
In the second book of Kings (chapter 20), we read that Hezekiah in his distress at the warning that his evil deeds had forfeited the divine blessing, turned his face to the wall. How often do men confronted with fear or failure turn their faces to the wall! And why? For the same reason that Hezekiah did. Because they accept the hopelessness of their plight, and despair of their human ability to overcome evil with good. They have to learn that in Science there is no defeat; always within each individual, in the consciousness of spiritual selfhood, is the ability to overcome. Awaiting only our acknowledgment and adoption is the power which enables us to conquer error with Truth.
The Bible promises are never to him who submits to the enemy; never to him who turns his face to the wall. They are to him who knows that whatever the predicament, whether in his own personal experience or in the world, the call is to overcome. The "infinite possibilities," of which Mrs. Eddy speaks, are illustrated in the Bible verse, "Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it" (Rev. 3:8).
Throughout the ages there has been going on a conflict between Spirit and matter, and the conflict, while it may appear to be among men and nations, is always an individual one. Today it is being recognized as never before that the battle is primarily mental. He who in the light of divine Science has learned the suppositional nature of evil does not become disturbed, whatever phase it may assume. He knows that spiritual wisdom united to spiritual love will conquer, and that the responsibility to prove this in his own experience is not another's; it is his. In the measure of his own overcoming of hatred and fear, of distrust and suspicion, to the extent of his confidence in Truth, he is bringing nearer the time when not only individually but universally he can say as did Christ Jesus, "I have overcome the world." He who finds himself expecting disappointment and failure, rather than satisfaction and success, should immediately change his attitude of thought, reminding himself that the material beliefs which interfere with spiritual facts must be thought before they are made manifest.
In our daily tasks and relationships with others, awareness of the presence and power of divine Love will surmount every obstacle, reverse every defeat, heal every hurt, with a serenity which nothing can disturb. In alertness and discernment, in the preservation of a sense of humor − for how often the mesmerism of mortal folly can be turned gaily rather than ponderously aside! − life will unfold for us in ever-increasing grace and beauty.
The Power of Love to Eliminate Fear
The incident I am about to relate concerns a young married woman living in a city which, because of a state of war, had been overrun by alien troops. She learned with some alarm of methods being adopted by the enemy which threatened to menace her own safety and that of her young children, of whom, in the enforced absence of her husband, she was in sole charge. She was a Christian Scientist, and she prayed earnestly for wisdom and strength in her predicament. One day she opened the door to a stranger in military uniform who announced in a harsh and threatening way that her name had been found among a list of members of the Christian Science church in that city and he had come to question her. He began at once to ask her about her religion in an attitude of hostility and suspicion. She sought, despite a great sense of fear, to answer his questions intelligently and quietly. All at once she realized that he, too, was afraid, because his world was a world of enmity and distrust, ruled by, and ruling with, the weapons of tyranny and hatred. And she had been taught that Love is omnipotent; that evil of whatever name is powerless in this ever-presence.
She was no longer on the defensive; she found herself replying to him in the way she might have spoken to an angry, frightened child. With eagerness, indeed with compassion, because of her instinctive awareness of a fear far greater than her own, she told him that the purpose of Christian Science was to benefit, never to harm mankind. It came to tell of the universal nature of God's love. The truths it taught were true for him because they were true for all men and nations; they were to bring healing and blessing to the whole world. In the warmth and eloquence of her assurance, she had forgotten her own fears, and then she realized that she had dispelled his fears also. His expression, his attitude had changed. His voice, his manner became gentle and courteous; hostility and distrust vanished. He thanked her and said as he left that he did not think she would be troubled further. And this proved to be true. There was no sequence to the interview, and she received no further visits of this nature during the period of occupation.
In a moment the presence of something stronger than tyranny and suspicion had turned violence into gentleness, had turned hostility into friendliness. The Bible promise had been fulfilled: "When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him" (Prov. 16:7).
The Ability to Overcome
Let nothing ever tempt us to turn our faces, like Hezekiah, to the wall; to accept defeat, discouragement; in weariness and despair to think that for us there can be no overcoming. The ability to overcome, the power to exert dominion over evil, awaits only our recognition and development.
The spiritual fact that man is the idea of infinite Mind, once understood, delivers us from allowing the material beliefs, held to be man, to interfere with reality. On page 8 of "Miscellaneous Writings" Mrs. Eddy has written, "Simply count your enemy to be that which defiles, defaces, and dethrones the Christ-image that you should reflect." The thoughts which we entertain govern our lives; the world in which we live is of our own making. It will be for us a world of peace or of strife, of health or of sickness, of spiritual understanding or of material belief, according to the thoughts which we accept as real or unreal.
In Isaiah we read (): "The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand. . . . For the Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?" Would we know what are God's thoughts; what it is He has purposed that cannot be disannulled? The thoughts of God, the purposes of God, hold in them that only which represents Him, His universe and man, revealed in the Science of Christianity.
John, writing on the
Christian Science has revealed to us − and how profoundly grateful men and women are as they realize this fact! − that the Christ, or Truth, which enabled Jesus to overcome the world, enables us also to overcome all evil. Hence the divine exhortation to overcome and its attendant promise, uttered not once but many times.
The individual who is learning to find himself at peace in a world where the challenge to doubt or deny the all-power of divine Love is continuous, does so because he is proving in some degree the words of the Christ, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne" (Rev. 3:21).
Jesus told his listeners that all who had ever come before him were thieves and robbers. Was it because, though prophet and seer had called on men to obey God and forsake evil, they had failed to reveal to them the sovereignty of sonship and the spiritual initiative which are man's birthright? Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah had communed with God, had accomplished mighty deeds, but they had not taught that man's spiritual and real sonship is individual and universal; that it is the kingdom of heaven within; that it carries with it power over all the power of the enemy. Only with the coming of the Christ to the human consciousness is this universal purpose of God's allness and oneness revealed, arousing in those who see the light of Spirit the responsibility not only of seeing, but of reflecting it.
In the dignity, the majesty, the authority of divine sonship, the steadfast and invincible purpose of Jesus for himself and for humanity is understood. Here there could be no passing disannulment, no temporary turning back.
The Revelation as It Came to Mary Baker Eddy
In 1866 there came to Mrs. Eddy the proof that the law of Spirit annuls the so-called laws of matter. Awakened to this great discovery by her own healing, she set herself to understand what it was that in direct opposition to human evidence had wrought a seeming miracle.
In speaking of this experience she writes (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 28), "The miracles recorded in the Bible, which had before seemed to me supernatural, grew divinely natural and apprehensible." With this vision and the spiritual conviction of its practical meaning to humanity, she set forth to deliver her message to the world.
From then onward Mrs. Eddy's life was to have a single purpose. Briefly it might be summed up in these words: To prove indisputably that the genuine acceptance of God, or good, as the only power and presence involves also the acknowledgment of the unreality or nothingness of evil. In Science and Health she writes (p. 102), "Mankind must learn that evil is not power." This was the lesson Christ Jesus sought to teach his followers. By following his example in the conscious abiding with and acceptance of God's thoughts as the only real, we are enabled to distinguish between what is power and what is not. And this is the purpose of prayer in Christian Science.
The Meaning of Prayer
Mrs. Eddy had since childhood prayed continually to God. But now she had found a new meaning to prayer. In her Church Manual she sets forth this prayer which she calls upon her followers to pray daily (p. 41): " 'Thy kingdom come;' let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin; and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!"
Here it is seen that the purpose of this daily prayer is individual and universal. It calls for individual spiritual recognition of the kingdom of heaven within and therefore the exclusion of evil. But responsibility is not left there. "All mankind," in enlightenment and government, is embraced in the Christian Scientist's daily prayer. Thus in the apprehension of universal brotherhood is the command of Jesus fulfilled, "Go ye into all the world."
Vital and continuous is prayer when rightly exercised. It is the affirmation in daily living of man's oneness with God.
As we enter into the consciousness of omnipresence, the feeble, the halfhearted, the stereotyped method of praying − what might be classified as "the language of non-thought" − ceases. Such lines as the following well-known rhyme cease to apply:
"I often say my prayers,
But do I ever pray?
And do the wishes of my heart
Go with the things I say?"
In her chapter on Prayer in the Christian Science textbook, Mrs. Eddy analyzes such forms of prayer and their purposelessness. True prayer to the Christian Scientist is the awareness of the presence of divine Love.
As the result of prayer, or spiritual communion, thought consciously dwells with the qualities of divine Mind, which are understood and demonstrated in human experience, bringing healing to mind and body. In this way are the words of the apostle proved true, "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world" (I John 5:4). Aggression, tyranny, the threat of destruction and ever greater destruction, these do not frighten him who knows that the ability to overcome is his as the son of God. He is proving that the thoughts which fulfill the divine purpose can never be turned back, can never be disannulled.
Healing of Consumption
I know a young woman who had grown up under a great fear of consumption. It had claimed as its victims several members of her family, and she had been declared by the doctors to be suffering from the disease in an advanced stage. She had always prayed to God − not to be made well, because this she had never been taught to do, but to be willing to submit to whatever was God's purpose. One day, in the waiting room of a railway station, she picked up a copy of the Christian Science Sentinel which had been left there, and read a sentence that arrested her attention. It was as though a great shaft of light had suddenly penetrated the darkness. In that moment she glimpsed the fact that Life is God and that this Life is the life of man.
A few weeks later she was struck down with what was thought to be a fatal attack of the disease. As she lay in a darkened room, aware that those around her thought she had but a few hours to live, she remembered the words she had read in the Christian Science Sentinel. Something of the light which had flooded her thought then, returned to her. So vividly did she feel the presence of divine power, of Life as God, that when a little later her mother entered the room, she whispered that she was going to live. Supposing that she was wandering in her thought, her mother acquiesced merely to humor her. That evening, when the doctor called, not expecting to find her still alive, he was immediately aware that something unaccountable had happened. So remarkable a change had taken place in her physical condition that he declared, almost against his own convictions, that she might live. To those around her the whole event, including the days that followed as bit by bit she regained her strength, was a miracle. She herself only faintly understood that the thought of God as Life, as her life, was restoring her to health.
At this time she had never seen the textbook of Christian Science, she knew no Christian Scientists, but she clung to what had been revealed to her. Very shortly afterwards the textbook came into her hands. With it there was unfolded the spiritual fact that Life is God, and that it is the life of man, annulling all false laws of heredity and disease. In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy writes (p. 425): "What if the belief is consumption? God is more to a man than his belief, and the less we acknowledge matter or its laws, the more immortality we possess."
It is many years since the healing just related took place. Today this woman is an active member in a branch Church of Christ, Scientist, bringing to others the truth which opened the door for her into freedom and usefulness.
Spiritual Intelligence Available
It might be asked, Why has Christianity been so slow in delivering humanity from its ills, in solving the problems of the world, since its teaching was so clearly set forth, its healing power so undeniably illustrated in the words and works, not only of Jesus himself, but of his followers? We know that the Master had no other purpose than to bring to the world that which would enable it to overcome, even as he had, the sickness and sin, the sorrow and ignorance from which men suffered. He commanded his disciples to go forth and follow his example. But in the many centuries since he walked the earth, how slow has humanity been to avail itself of his promise, to obey his teachings, to recognize the kingdom of heaven within, to accept a whole salvation, even as he taught it, from sickness and sin. Men have continued to believe that a fountain can send forth sweet water and bitter; that the human mind unenlightened by the Christ can find, individually and universally, the path of peace and prosperity; in fact, that men can live without God and make a success of living.
Many thousands have found themselves stumbling and groping their way through what they believe to be life, afraid, anxious, dissatisfied, handicapped by their inadequacy, physical, moral, and spiritual, constantly unable to meet the demands of daily existence. And then there has come to them, as there came to Nicodemus, the awareness of divine power, which they know must be of God. In this way do they experience the new birth, the being born again of which centuries ago Jesus spoke to Nicodemus.
He to whom the new birth has become a reality knows that nothing evolved from mortal thought, nothing which does not proceed from and move in accord with divine Principle, can deliver humanity from the ills which its own ignorance of God has brought into seeming existence. Daily he seeks for "the reign of divine Life, Truth, and Love" within him. Daily he prays that "the affections of all mankind" may be enriched. He perceives that the thoughts born of God which overcome the world can be his thoughts; that the thoughts of love, born of God, overcome all enmity; that the thoughts of trust, born of God, overcome all fear; that the thoughts of divine intelligence, born of God, overcome all the subtleties and machinations of the human mind.
The Christ-Purpose Exemplified
In this forsaking of the material for the spiritual, the picture of a universe at the mercy of forces physical and mental, from which there is no escape, is blotted out. The meaning of these words by Mrs. Eddy then becomes beautifully real to us: "The divine hand led me into a new world of light and Life, a fresh universe − old to God, but new to His 'little one' " (Retrospection' and Introspection, p. 27). In the spiritual understanding of "a new world of light," men are indeed born again.
This then is the purpose of Christian Science: to imbue humanity with the knowledge of its God-given power to demonstrate, individually, universally, the Life, Truth, and Love which were expressed by Christ Jesus.
Christian Science does not ask you
to believe the truths it teaches. It invites you to prove them for yourself.
Once proved, they need no further confirmation. He who has been born again and
therefore has seen the
In this oneness of divine Mind and idea will the government of God enter ever increasingly in the affairs of the world, will divine Love and wisdom be found infinitely available to meet and master the demands of the hour. So it is that in the lives of men and women, these words of Mrs. Eddy can be proved true today and applied in their individual and universal significance: "As you work, the ages win; for the majesty of Christian Science teaches the majesty of man" (Miscellany, p. 188).
[Published in The Berkeley (California) Daily Gazette, April 12, 1952.]