Christian Science Reveals the Ideal Man
Evelyn F. Heywood, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
A famous man of letters, when questioned as to the method to be adopted in seeking literary perfection, replied, "Study the finest writers, be satisfied only with the best models, and then put into practice what you learn."
Do we desire spiritual perfection? If so, then maintaining the ideal of perfect God and perfect man, made in His likeness, ever before us, we shall seek to model ourselves upon it. Christian Science teaches that because God, the Mind of man, the only cause and creator, is perfect, everything that He has made, everything that actually exists is perfect also.
Christ Jesus called upon his followers to express, that is, to make manifest in human lives, the ideas which he lifted up for them. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," he said (Matt. ). In the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, we read (p. 290), "Perfection is gained only by perfection." How contrary is this to the accepted theory of mortals, who believe that through imperfection, through trial, suffering, indeed through death itself, perfection can alone be attained.
In Christian Science we learn that perfection is conscious spiritual being; it is the divine ideal revealed, not as something afar off, but as that which can be proved and made practical in daily living, replacing sorrow with joy, sickness with health, fear with confidence. It is the Christ-ideal, expressing the dignity, the beauty, the sinlessness of man in God's image and likeness. This Christ-ideal had been foretold in the ancient Scriptures. With the opening of the Gospel pages, we find John the Baptist telling the people that the prophecy of a Messiah who should give men "power to become the sons of God" (John ) was about to be fulfilled.
What mighty credentials were those
of Christ Jesus, when he stood up for the first time in the synagogue at
And this was the passage he read from the book of Isaiah, as set forth in the Gospel of Luke: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." The Christ-ideal which had been spoken of and prophesied, for which men had prayed through centuries of exaltation and despair of glory and humiliation, was in their midst. "This day," they were told, "is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."
"The Spirit of the Lord" − what could it not do for them? It could bring them good tidings of present salvation: it could deliver them from sorrow, from captivity, from suffering. Here among them was the witness to God's kingdom, to "the acceptable year of the Lord."
We know how few were ready to accept that which had been brought to them; how few were able even faintly to perceive the vast import to the whole world, throughout all time, of this coming of the Christ in the flesh. Is it apathy, indifference; is it ignorance of the priceless value of the divine ideal; is it resistance; is it fear of the demand to relinquish the indulgences, the habits, the practices of materiality which begets such blindness of spiritual perception? Is it the argument of personal sense, which all through the ages has made men unwittingly choose bondage and darkness rather than freedom and light? Many of these states of thought must have been involved in the people's reluctance to recognize or acknowledge the mission of Christ Jesus; for human will and mortal desire have ever been loath to yield in their struggle for supremacy however great the promise of spiritual reward. Nevertheless, then as always, he who was prepared to turn from his material way of thinking and lay hold of the true ideal, found what alone could bring true satisfaction, security, and peace.
Christian Science Revealing and Demonstrating Truth
To this age Truth has been again revealed in the teachings of Christian Science, that which was presented and demonstrated by Jesus in fulfillment of the Scriptures is here in the complete and final evidence of the "acceptable year of the Lord." In "The First Church of Christ Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 272), Mary Baker Eddy writes: "The real man was, is, and ever shall be the divine ideal, that is, God's image and likeness; and Christian Science reveals the divine Principle, the example, the rule, and the demonstration of this idealism." Christ Jesus, because he was the Son of God, showed forth truth, grace, power, the indestructibility of Spirit. That which he presented, the Word made flesh, while it appeared as mortal to those who did not perceive its true meaning, was actually testifying throughout his three years of ministry to his spiritual origin, in healing sickness and destroying sin.
In the Gospel of John there is recorded this saying of the Master: "Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee." Herein lies the innermost meaning of the Christ-purpose, to teach and prove that the only true and real is that which belongs to man because it emanates from God. In these words, in amplitude, in benediction, Mrs. Eddy thus expresses it: "God giving all and man having all that God gives" (Miscellany, p. 5).
Would we know what this "all" is? Would we be conscious of the infinite nature of that which God bestows upon His ideal man? Then we must look to Spirit alone. Not merely a few, but all things belong to us in beauty, in power, in intelligence, in joy, when we perceive, even as did Jesus, that what we possess is ours because it is given us of God.
The following is an illustration of what fidelity to the divine ideal, in unselfed love, in spiritual alertness to the ever-present opportunity of blessing those with whom we come into passing contact, can do.
One morning in a small town in
Passengers on the train could hardly bear to look upon this piteous picture of distress, but the mother continually declared to herself that God would help her. Very soon a young woman asked if she might hold the baby. "Why, yes," she was told, "if you feel that you would care to." For three hours the young woman sat in quiet meditation, holding the child upon her lap. When they parted, she briefly mentioned that she was a student of Christian Science.
The mother reached her destination, and as soon as the specialist saw her and learned of the long journey with her baby, he was deeply moved. He expressed himself as amazed that she had been able to bring him there under such conditions. He examined the child, and then stated that there was something here he did not understand, some sustaining power at work, which the human diagnosis did not explain. For this reason, he decided not to operate until he had made further observation. The operation was not found necessary. The sustaining power which he had been aware of from the first, became more and more apparent, and no medical aid was ever given. Within a few weeks, the light and smile of freedom had come into the baby's face; strength and symmetry were manifest where before there had been weakness and deformity. The mother, filled with gratitude to God, knew that the healing of her child had begun with the loving, impersonal action of an unknown young woman on the train. Returning to her home with a happy, healthy little boy, she was from henceforth to take up the earnest study of Christian Science and to bring this healing truth to others. Today, her son is an authorized practitioner with his name listed in The Christian Science Journal.
"The nature, essence, and wholeness of Deity"
On page 408 of Science and Health, we find set forth seven synonyms for God. In Mrs. Eddy's words: "They refer to one absolute God. They are also intended to express the nature, essence, and wholeness of Deity." These synonyms as given in the Christian Science textbook are, "Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love."
Would we possess all that God gives? Then assuredly we must understand Him. We must perceive God as the all-knowing Mind, and man as His intelligent idea, reflecting Him; we must perceive God as Spirit, the great I AM, and man as the expression of Him in substance, continuity, and might; we must perceive God as Soul, divine consciousness, and man as the embodiment of spiritual being; we must perceive God as Principle, the cause and origin of all existence, and man as governed by His unerring law; we must perceive God as Life, eternal Being, and man as the evidence of immortality, without beginning or end; we must perceive God as Truth, as He who alone is, and man as witnessing to the forever facts of spiritual existence; we must perceive God as Love, as Father and Mother and man as the expression of this tender, sustaining, enfolding relationship.
Through the study of these seven synonyms and their application to human experience, we learn to understand the infinite nature of the Supreme Being, and to show forth in our lives the symmetry of the divine ideal.
What Is Our Ideal?
In Science and Health (p. 359) we read: "A Christian Scientist and an opponent are like two artists. One says: 'I have spiritual ideals, indestructible and glorious. When others see them as I do, in their true light and loveliness, and know that these ideals are real and eternal because drawn from Truth, − they will find that nothing is lost, and all is won, by a right estimate of what is real." And the author continues "You are bringing out your own ideal. This ideal is either temporal or eternal. Either Spirit or matter is your model. If you try to have two models, then you practically have none.' "
"You are bringing out your own ideal." My friends, are we always aware of this in everything we do, from the smallest to the greatest tasks we undertake; in our most intimate relations; in our passing contacts, where we meet perhaps only to part, that we are bringing out our own ideal? He whose ideal is spiritual will express it in his character, in his daily living; and the reverse is also true. He whose thoughts are based on materiality, on selfishness, dishonesty, pride, will show these forth in countless ways. Which ideal are we choosing? We see in the life of Jesus what was the result of the divine ideal that he brought out. He healed men and women as he passed through the crowds; so did Peter and John: the same blessed experience came to Mrs. Eddy. Christian Scientists have many times brought immediate healing by a kindly word, affirming Truth, by an assuring smile; by their very presence, expressing serenity and love, have others found comfort and strength in time of need. Harmony has come in the place of distress, health in the place of disease, unity in the place of disunity, friendship in the place of enmity, because a divine ideal has been maintained.
To preserve and bear witness to the true ideal, men must look not to person but to Principle. In themselves and others; they must learn to depend, not upon human ability, experience, influence, or attraction; they must learn to remain unaffected by praise or censure, by popularity or neglect; they must refuse to be involved in what Shakespeare calls "the uncertain sickly appetite to please." True idealism is seen in the divine nature, forever expressing itself in nobility of thought and purpose, in graciousness of speech and action, in compassionate understanding of human needs. In the confidence which, undismayed by temporary setbacks and disappointments, goes serenely on its way. The divine Principle of all idealism has been revealed in Christian Science and the practical means of its demonstration. Thus it is that men can be conscious of where the only true and eternal values are to be found. In the perfection which God bestows will they turn ever more certainly to Him for inspiration and direction in everything that concerns them.
Ever-present Divine Intelligence
A young woman engaged in highly responsible work, calling for long hours of close application, determined that she would devote her early mornings and evenings to the study of Christian Science. She had been recently healed through Christian Science of a severe physical condition which had threatened to incapacitate her. The opportunity of working for a diploma which would be of value not only to her but to those with whom she was associated, presented itself. This appeared to call for even longer hours of application during the next few months. But the young Scientist saw that while it was right she should achieve satisfactory results in her examination, nothing must be allowed to interfere with the spiritual unfoldment which was coming to her through her close study of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook. She determined that during this period she would devote even more time than before to the gaining of spiritual understanding, trusting God to give her the intelligence she needed in preparing for the work she had to do.
When the examination paper was put before her, she found that this was the major question, on which indeed the others largely depended, and that she, as a result of the work she had done in the train, was fully prepared and equipped to answer it.
When the lists appeared, she learned that owing to what was regarded as the stiffness of the examination she and but one other had passed, from among the large number who had entered, and that she was the only one to receive an honors diploma. Deeply grateful as she was for the authority and assurance this gave her in her work, she was immeasurably more grateful for the evidence of God's guiding presence, for the proof of the ever-availability in human affairs, of divine intelligence.
Meekness Is Spiritual Ownership
"The meek shall inherit the earth" (Ps. 37:11), affirmed the Psalmst and this was also set forth by Jesus in what we know as the third beatitude (Matt. 5:5). What is this meekness that inherits the earth? Surely the consciousness of spiritual ownership. He who is governed by divine Principle, who knows that that which is his, in rightful possession, is the evidence of God's all-giving, has learned to express both the meekness and might of Mind's imparting. In meekness men are aware of the blessings which are theirs, not as a result of personal effort, but because of the beauty and bounty that God imparts; these blessings will be evident everywhere to those who love good and express it in their lives.
"What hast thou that thou didst not receive?" Paul pertinently asked the Corinthians. And he continued, "Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?' The meekness which inherits the earth knows that everything which it has received that is good is from God. Such recognition must bring a continually unfolding sense of spiritual power, since its source is infinite.
Jesus inherited the earth, in full and complete dominion over every phase of evil, even the last enemy death. And this because he never claimed anything apart from God, never lost sight of the divine ideal, never separated himself from Spirit. In the consciousness of eternal spiritual selfhood, of oneness with divine Principle, men can say, even as did Jesus, "The glory which I had with thee before the world was." This continuous expression of the beauty and power which identifies man with Soul is the glory which God bestows upon His spiritual creation. All material sense, in its personal desire for satisfaction, success, power, in the urge for the fulfillment of mortal purpose, ambition, and desire, is laid aside when men learn the true meaning of selfhood as expressed in the apprehension that all which is theirs is given them of God. Thus does each one find his individual identification with Mind.
"The heart of prayer"
On page 15 of the Christian Science textbook, in the chapter called "Prayer," we read: "To enter into the heart of prayer, the door of the erring senses must be closed. Lips must be mute and materialism silent that man may have audience with Spirit, the divine Principle, Love which destroys all error." The beliefs of personal sense, and identification with them, alone separate men from prayer, from knowing that which is true, from knowing that which God knows. Only in the consciousness of real being can we perceive and maintain the divine ideal which is man. Then do we have "audience with Spirit," and thus preserve the true model. This is the function of prayer, as set forth in Christian Science; this is spiritual communion. Such knowing will reveal and unfold the divine model, made manifest in health, in happiness, in well-being. In steadfast affirmation of the Christ, Truth, ever expressing itself to the humble, receptive thought, mortal discord and danger will give place to the spiritual fact regarding man. By these means will the eternal oneness of Principle and its ideal be shown forth in individual experience, will perfection be gained by perfection, and God be glorified.
A young man, after World War I, who as a soldier had proved the power of Truth to preserve him in every situation in which he found himself, sought a suitable occupation when he was released from the Army. A post was offered him which seemed interesting and intellectually valuable, but he was told it had one grave handicap. The college professor in whose employ he would be was the victim of an irascible temper; he was regarded as eccentric, and almost impossible to get on with satisfactorily. The young man, however, saw immediately that as a Christian Scientist he could not accept this verdict. Whenever, therefore, people began, as they always did if the professor's name was mentioned, to speak of his unreasonableness, his ill nature, and sarcastic tongue, the young man silently affirmed the true qualities which pertain to divine Mind's ideal. He knew that his sole responsibility was to bring this out in his own life, by expressing usefulness, good temper, intelligence, wherever they were required. In this concept of his purpose and goal, he was confident that all would be well. And so it proved. A firm and understanding friendship grew up between the professor and his assistant. Their relationship throughout the time they worked together was based upon mutual respect and consideration. When the logical time came for them to separate, they did so with the utmost cordiality and good will.
To find the divine ideal, to perceive it in all its beauty of present and continuing unfolding opportunity, to consecrate ourselves to it, in gratitude − this alone will identify us with its divine Principle, God. This ideal revealed to us today, in all its practical, available perfection is not at the mercy of the temporal, the material; it is not vulnerable to the argument of loss or failure or disillusionment. "Can eternity end? Can Life die? Can Truth be uncertain? Can Love be less than boundless?" Mrs. Eddy asks (Pulpit and Press, p. 3). Let us answer these questions in our thought and, therefore, in our lives, positively, affirmatively. The divine ideal of eternal, spiritual being is here. Knowing that eternity cannot end, that Life is deathless, that Truth is changeless, that Love is infinite, there is demanded of us that we put into practice that which is true. Thus shall we prove the powerlessness of evil to refute, to darken, to betray, to confuse, or to overthrow our true concept of the divine ideal.
The supreme test of discipleship came to Peter in the hour of his Master's betrayal. It is recorded of him (Luke ) that he "followed afar off." If in the place of courage and resolution there is allowed to creep in timidity and vacillation men will be found following afar off. In that dramatic incident, so profoundly significant to mankind, because of its pathos and its warning, affirmation was replaced with denial, loyalty with disloyalty; the ideal and the real were lost sight of, blotted out by personal sense. If Peter in that moment of temptation had had "audience with Spirit," then how swift and vigorous would have been his avowal of discipleship; how unerring his evidence, whatever the human presentation, that the eternality, the indestructibility of Truth are continually preserved.
The Oneness of God and Man
Studying the life of Jesus, we see that every word and action was based upon his understanding of the statement, "I and my Father are one." This recognition of man's relationship with God is likewise the very cornerstone of the teaching of Christian Science. Here is the significance of the warning to be found on page 54 of "Unity of Good," where we read: "To admit that sin has any claim whatever, just or unjust, is to admit a dangerous fact. Hence the fact must be denied; for if sin's claim be allowed in any degree, then sin destroys the at-one-ment, or oneness with God, − a unity which sin recognizes as its most potent and deadly enemy."
What a call, what a challenge is here! Laying this profoundly important statement to heart, keeping our divine model ever before us, we shall not be separated from it. Whatever the situation, temptation, or argument of mortal sense, we shall maintain our at-one-ment with the true. Then that which has the audacity to call itself "fact," while it denies the allness of God, is seen to be an impostor, a fraud, however plausible its evidence and boasted proof may claim to be. In spiritual illumination, revealing the unity of God and man, it must be seen that evil has no claim whatever, "just or unjust."
There came to the office of a Christian Science practitioner one day a woman who had been pronounced by the doctors to be suffering from an incurable, malignant disease. She had been sent away from home for two weeks, to rest and recuperate; she was then to return for a major operation. In her fear and extremity she sought help in Christian Science. For a moment the great urgency of the need made the young practitioner, who had only recently been registered as such, ask herself whether her understanding was equal to the task. But turning immediately to the divine Mind for help, she felt assured and comforted. Truth being ever present, it would direct both her and the one who had reached out for healing.
In her book entitled "Christian Healing" (p. 6) Mrs. Eddy makes this statement: "Man thinks he is a medium of disease; that when he is sick, disease controls his body to whatever manifestation we see. But the fact remains, in metaphysics, that the mind of the individual only can produce a result upon his body." As this statement is considered, it is
seen how mortal mind, using matter as its medium, argues through the material senses that man can be separated from Spirit. Accepting as real a mortal body which is incapable of recognizing God, men reason from the basis of this material evidence. Thus producing its own false phenomena, mortal mind attempts to give substance and sensation to matter. What wonder, as Mrs. Eddy writes, that "lips must be mute and materialism silent, that, man may have audience with Spirit."
The practitioner, therefore, knew what she had to do. It was to see and maintain the divine facts of being as expressed by Mind, and ever made manifest in health and harmony, untouched by disease. That which mortal mind had seen and felt, and had delineated on its belief of body, was a false concept, having no claim to existence. It could, therefore, be eliminated, and that which spells normality and order take its place, as the mind of the individual was instructed in spiritual reality. In the recognition of divine Love's presence and power through such means does the belief of liability to disease and suffering disappear, and the vision of the ideal man, of God's creating, take its place.
During the next two weeks, the perfect model was held persistently in thought. The facts about man as the idea of Mind were continually upheld, and the powerlessness of mortal testimony to interfere with or to claim mediumship between God and man was maintained. He who thus turns in Christian Science to spiritual knowing or prayer, has "audience with Spirit"; he learns to dwell with the fact of God's allness, forever revealing the infinity of spiritual being; he learns to deny that which calls itself fact, since it is but illusion.
At the end of two weeks the patient returned to her home. Her thoughts and those of the practitioner were filled with gratitude and confidence that their prayers had been effectual. As an appointment had been made to see the surgeon on her return, the patient decided not to cancel it. A few days later the practitioner received a letter informing her that the examination had taken place, and no trace of the disease had been found. Another surgeon had been called in, so strange, so unprecedented, did this conclusion appear to be, in view of the former diagnosis. But again there was the same verdict − no evidence of disease. The individual, therefore, was informed that an operation would not be performed, because all was well. With this proof of the ever-availability of God's law to nullify the mortal verdict and restore health, she found herself free to return to her former occupation. But, as she wrote, rejoicingly, with what a transformation of thought, with what supreme evidence that the only real is that which is outlined of Spirit, Mind! Thus another earnest intelligent, grateful Christian Scientist was added to the great army of those who, through the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy, have been delivered from bondage and fear, and lifted into health and liberty, into the consciousness of spiritual dominion.
Idealism and Realism One
Were the adherent of Christian Science asked to state briefly what its teachings have brought into his life, might he not reply somewhat on these lines? They have proved to him, even as it was revealed to Mrs. Eddy, that God is ever available in every circumstance and condition, assuring him of the divine All-power and presence, and therefore, logically, the powerlessness, the nonexistence of evil. He has learned that perfection is here to be understood and demonstrated, because idealism and realism are one, even as the works of Christ Jesus exemplify in human reasoning. Idealism and realism have been so widely separated that they have appeared almost contradictory terms. The realist has been regarded as he who faces squarely and accepts grimly the worst that mortal evidence and anticipation can conceive. But the realist, in Christian Science, is he who, instructed of divine Mind, knows that the only realism is divine reality. He therefore does not accept, because he knows it to be causeless, either the seeming evidence or threat of evil.
Idealism to the Christian Scientist is not something elusive and remote; it is spiritual reality applicable now and always in his human affairs. A Christian Scientist is a realist in the true sense of the word, because he recognizes as the only realism the divine Mind's ideal of health, of prosperity, of order, of right relationship. He recognizes perfection as his model. He has learned, in the words of Mrs. Eddy that "perfection underlies reality. Without perfection nothing is wholly real" (Science and Health, p. 353). He knows therefore that imperfection,, apparent in discord, disease, sorrow, and loss, has no place in God, and therefore no power over man.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science
To Mrs. Eddy there came, in the latter part of the nineteenth century, the revelation of Truth, not only in its healing power, but in its scientific availability in all things She perceived that the law of God is no less applicable to the human need than it is in the realm of Spirit. This brought her immediate relief from physical suffering. As a result of her own healing, she turned to the Bible with added impetus and illumination. Here in her unfolding sense of the Christ-ideal, she learned of the eternal, practical availability of the words, the works, the example of Jesus. In the recognition of man's heritage or spiritual dominion, of the power to be wielded by all who understand and obey the Christ-teaching, there was revealed to Mrs. Eddy, in this age, the Science of Christianity. The magnitude of her discovery of the spiritual laws of being; the greatness of her work in establishing the Christian Science movement throughout the world, with its many activities, bringing healing, redemption, enlightenment to mankind, are sufficient evidence of her enduring energy, wisdom, and love. She sought nothing for herself; she waited patiently, humbly, trustingly on God, praying always that every step she took be in line with the divine will and purpose.
He who has proved, as many thousands have done and are doing, what Christian Science can do for him, in transforming his life, in teaching him how to know God aright, in healing, in regeneration, in deliverance from fear, is ready at all times to testify gratefully to what Mrs. Eddy has done for mankind. He rests assured that the majesty, the profound significance of her accomplishment on behalf of the human race, will become ever increasingly apparent in its influence upon the history of mankind.
Man's Heritage of Peace
He who looks out upon the world today, while he sees that the cessation of physical strife has come in many lands, cannot but be aware that the universal peace born of righteousness, such as spiritual seers foresaw, such as Jesus promised to his followers, is not yet made generally manifest in human thought. There is fear and distrust in the minds of many as to what lies ahead, as to what mortal invention and discovery may accomplish, geared to menace and destruction. Nevertheless, all down the ages comes the divine assurance of Isaiah, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." Jesus foresaw the evils which would befall mankind, "men's hearts failing them for fear." But he saw also, and offered to his followers, the eternal remedy − peace, the Christ-peace, which, once understood and taken possession of, nothing can disturb.
In her 1902 Message to The Mother Church, Mrs. Eddy writes, "The heaving surf of life's troubled sea foams itself away, and underneath is a deep-settled calm." Awakening to the world's great needs, with understanding, with compassion, with unselfed love, may we continually maintain within ourselves this "deep-settled calm." As we do so, the troubled sea of mortal thinking will no longer frighten, because it will have ceased to disturb or deceive us. Above its turmoil we shall hear the voice of Truth declaring: "My peace I give unto you. . . . Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
He who, however fierce and menacing, however near or far, the conflict and distress of mortal thinking may appear to be, maintains the fact of man's "at-one-ment, or oneness with God," does not lose sight of Spirit's model. Thus amidst the threatenings and predictions of evil he neither wavers nor retreats; he knows that everything which truly exists, all reality, permanence, and power, emanate from, are sustained and directed of God. In Christian Science we learn that God is Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love; His likeness, the ideal man, has also been revealed, in Mrs. Eddy's words, "the example, the rule, and the demonstration of this idealism."
Understanding, demonstrating this idealism, each one can prove the Christ-presence in his own life in healing, in transformation, in a "deep-settled calm." This is the Spirit of the Lord; this is the Scriptures fulfilled in our ears; this is the acceptable year of the Lord. In Science and Health (p. 170) we find confirmation, assurance of this fact in the following words: "Truth is revealed. It needs only to be practised."