Christian Science: Godís Law of Progress
Judge Frederick C. Hill, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
"Christian Science: God's Law of Progress" was the subject of a lecture given in the municipal auditorium last night by Judge Frederick C. Hill, C.S., of Los Angeles, member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass.
Judge Hill then spoke substantially as follows:
In presenting the subject of Christian Science to you I shall make an earnest endeavor to present its object and purpose from the standpoint of what it is and how it operates, as distinguished from that which it is often erroneously believed to be.
I can think of no better introduction, in presenting the motive and purpose of Christian Science, than to refer to a public declaration recently made by a clergyman who, in the course of a sermon, is reported to have said, "Christian Science sprang directly out of the Holy Scriptures, for Christ introduced healing and the driving out of superstition in his own day." From this declaration it should be plainly apparent that the religious world is beginning to recognize that Christian Science is a religion; and that the fundamental purpose of this religion is to reinstate the essential elements of primitive Christianity, including the element of spiritual healing.
The object and purpose of Christian Science may be recognized by many thinking people who do not subscribe fully to its doctrine, and the question may be asked, Can these desirable ends be attained in this day and age? In answer to this query it may be helpful to consider some of the positive statements which we find in the Bible and which are recognized as truths by all religious people.
Solomon, who has been declared to be the wise man, writing with reference to the mortal experience of man, has declared, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he," plainly indicating that the mental status is the key, or the index, to the man. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, has declared, "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God," further indicating that there are states and stages of transformation and that these transformations are brought about through the elevation, education and reformation of thinking.
The Galilean Prophet, Christ Jesus, once said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Since the time of that important declaration, humanity has asked the questions: What is truth? Can truth be discerned, interpreted, and intelligently applied? The answer to the last question is positive and direct. The truth is discovered, interpreted, and applied in proportion as an individual reforms and transforms his thought to conform to the law of spiritual, scientific thinking.
In the material universe we observe the operation of that which mankind has been pleased to define and term as law. We observe that humanity is made up of individuals bound together and held by the various phases and codes of man-made systems of law. We further observe that in the universe about us there is in active operation a force which has been termed the law of gravitation. We also observe that which has been termed the law of numbers, and the law of harmony. Would it not then be reasonable to assume that as mankind observes about them these various phases and forms of material expression, there is a fundamental spiritual law by which man lives, moves, and has his being? We not only affirm this to be a reasonable and normal assumption but that it is a provable fact − that there is a spiritual law of man's being. Hence, there must be, there is, a rational way by which men can discern, interpret, and intelligently apply this fundamental law, to the end that they can solve every distressing problem of mortal existence. Throughout the world there are hundreds and thousands of individuals who through the study of Christian Science have discovered and are interpreting and applying that law. Hence, in this lecture it is our purpose to discuss and present the subject of Christian Science from the standpoint that it interprets God's law of progress.
An Essential Element
Human law has been defined to be a governing rule of conduct prescribed by a supreme power, commanding that which is right, and prohibiting that which is wrong. This law is but the attempt of mankind to pattern infinite, divine law.
I ask you to pause and consider for a moment. That which is right, of necessity is good. And that which is both right and good, is true. When we apply this logical line of right thinking we shall at once discover that there is a law of God, of good, and that this supreme law finds expression in a positive command to observe that which is right, that which is good, and that which is the truth. Hence, just to the extent that men discover and obediently follow the law of man's being, they will have discovered the truth which Christ Jesus declared and demonstrated centuries ago that mankind should know. And the knowledge of this truth will make us free from every one of the deluded beliefs of the human mind.
It would be very reasonable to assume that there are many individuals before me at this time, or who will read this lecture, who are not Christian Scientists and who do not practice its religious teachings. We welcome this occasion and this opportunity to help such to form right opinions and right conclusions regarding this religious teaching. There are certain historical facts connected with the Christian Science organization which should be thoroughly understood by every thinking individual.
Christian Science: Its Inception
Christian Science is a discovery. It is the discovery of an absolute provable law. This discovery was made in 1866, by a gentle, New England-woman, Mary Baker Eddy. She named her discovery "Christian Science." She defined Christian Science "As the law of God, the law of good, interpreting and demonstrating the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony" (Rudimental Divine Science, p. 1). After her discovery, in 1866, Mrs. Eddy submitted her discovery to proof. As a result, she observed that just in proportion as she understood and interpreted this law of man's true being to the daily affairs of her human experience, that her thought was elevated and transformed, that this transformation of her thinking was expressed in the enjoyment of a better sense of health, happiness, peace, and contentment. Accordingly, she had a deep desire to share her discovery with the world. She wrote and published her book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," which she designated the Christian Science textbook. This book is not a Bible. It is not a substitute for the Bible, but it is just that which its name indicates, a Key to the Bible, to aid and assist in discovering, interpreting, and applying the healing spiritual truths set forth in the great English classic, the King James Version of the Bible.
Mary Baker Eddy was a great woman. She was born in 1821.
Up to the time that she was past 54 years of age her life was spent substantially
as the lives of many other
It is now more than 50 years since this book became public property. The interest of the reading public therein continues unabated. The interest in this book has grown by leaps and bounds, until it has become recognized and declared by many as the most important production among religious writings, with the exception of the Holy Bible.
The reading and the study of this book has inspired faith and confidence in the teachings of the Bible. It has brought elevation and transformation of thought to many, and there are hundreds and thousands of individuals throughout the world who have been so transformed in thought that this transformation has been, and is, expressed in health, happiness, peace, and contentment. These individuals owe their present existence on this plane of human experience to the transformation wrought in their lives by her discovery and the gift of Christian Science to humanity.
One such instance of transformation
that came under the personal observation of the speaker is that of the wife of
a clergyman, who had become so ill in mind and body that it was necessary for
her protection that she be committed to one of the state institutions in
A niece of the patient, who had experienced healing in Christian Science, interested her practitioner in this case. At this time the patient had been an inmate of the institution for more than ten years. Through the faithful work of the practitioner and her niece, "who daily read to her from the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, at the expiration of six months she was healed, and left the institution. At the end of one year she was discharged, cured, and was restored to her rights as a citizen and to the care and management of her property.
After her healing through the study and application of Christian Science she became the librarian of a public library in a city of considerable size, and later the Second Reader of the Christian Science church in that place.
In 1879, Mrs. Eddy organized a church; to use her words, ". . . a church designed to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost clement of healing" (Manual, p. 17).
It is now more than 50 years since the establishment of this church. The Christian Science movement has developed and progressed until there are now more than 2600 branch church organizations throughout the civilized world. And every branch organization is established upon the same fundamental foundation − an earnest endeavor to reinstate the essential elements of primitive Christianity and spiritual healing.
In 1908 Mrs. Eddy established The Christian Science Monitor, an international daily newspaper, which from the standpoint of clean journalism is regarded by many as the highest standard in the newspaper world.
I ask you to pause just for a moment, consider the measure, or standard of greatness as laid down by our poet. Draw a mental picture, if you please, of one woman who, between the ages of 54 and 87 years, has been successful in giving to the world three great avenues, channels, and means of transforming and elevating the entire mass of human thinking. Consider her contribution to humanity through giving to the world a great book, establishing a great church, and founding a great daily newspaper, and I am sure you will readily agree that these are not minor successes: they are major achievements, and as such are sufficient evidence to sustain our claim that she was truly a great woman.
Medicine − Science − Theology
When Christian Science, as a religious teaching, was given to the world, it challenged the thoughtful attention of three separate and distinct modes of human thought.
By, reason of the endeavor to reinstate spiritual healing, Christian Science, of necessity, challenged the attention of the medical world.
In her endeavor to secure a name or a phrase properly to describe her discovery, Mrs. Eddy took two words, "Christian" and "Science." She conjoined these words, and named her discovery "Christian Science." These words acted as a challenge to two other classes of thinking individuals. The material scientist at once was interested to know what connection, if any, there might be between science and religion. And by reason of the same logic the word "Christian" became a challenge to the religious world. The clergy at once became interested to know why the word "Christian" should be connected with the word "science"; hence, we have Christian Science, a distinct challenge to the medical, scientific, and religious modes of thought, as constituted 50 years ago.
I feel quite safe in assuming that there are many individuals who may not agree with the theology or the teaching of Christian Science who will readily subscribe to the truth of two fundamental statements made by Mrs. Eddy in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." She declares, "Progress is born of experience" (p. 296); and, "Progress is the law of God" (p. 233). If it is admitted that these are true statements, then there is an inescapable conclusion, namely, that the only progress that has ever been made is born of and is the result of, past experience. Hence, humanity has been and is continually ascending to higher levels of thought and action, until today "we are on a higher plane of unfoldment and development than that occupied by those who lived 50 years ago. And there is another conclusion equally definite and positive, that those who live 50 years from this time will continue to ascend to still higher levels of thought and action, and will thereby evidence the law of progress.
These conclusions are not mere idle statements; they are provable facts. Let us briefly review the progress and development in the medical, scientific, and religious worlds of today as compared with their status of 50 years ago.
Many of you are familiar with the
fact that in the treatment of the diseased conditions of humanity, the medical
world of 50 years ago failed to recognize thought as a factor in producing
disease, and consequently gave little heed or attention to the transformation
of thinking as an element in healing bodily conditions. By this we do not wish
to be understood as stating that none of our medical practitioners recognized
thought as a factor, but that the profession in general did not accept it as
such. All down the years, as we approach the present time we find physicians
who thought deeply on this subject and who have had the courage and the conviction
to speak boldly thereon. Let me call your attention to a specific instance. Dr.
Stewart Patton, M.D., of
"Peace, prosperity, and the progress of civilization are literally waiting for the physician to recognize not only that the sound body is essential for the sound mind, but that to know and understand the organization of mind is the first step toward the securing a really sound body." (Reported in Harper's Magazine, January, 1924. p. 165.) Another instance may be cited in which Dr. George W. Crile, head of the Cleveland Clinic of Cleveland, O., states emphatically that "medical research now points to the conclusion that fear, worry, jealousy, and hate stimulate an increased and destructive activity in many parts of the human body." He further says, "Man cannot fear, he cannot hate, he cannot worry intellectually − he fears with all of his organs."
Dr. Robert H. Halsey, president of the American Heart association, declares: "When we reflect on the powerful influence that mental emotions exercise over the action of the heart; on the changes effected, in this respect, by anger, hatred, and revenge; by love, by joy, or sorrow; by avarice and ambition; when we agree that functional derangement is daily and hourly produced by the activity of those feelings, then we are bound to believe that disorders of circulation and the heart have increased in later years." Thus we observe the progress made by physicians in the medical world as evidenced by their recognition of thought as reflected in bodily conditions.
Turning our attention to the changes observed in the realm of material science so-called, the materialist of 50 years ago read the Christian Science textbook with a view of determining whether this religious teaching set forth the essential elements of material science.
The materialists who read the textbook soon discerned that Christian Science draws the line of demarcation clearly and distinctly between the alleged reality of things material and the absolute reality of Mind, or Spirit.
This discernment aroused quite an interest and discussion in the scientific world. In due time, however, the subject was dismissed lightly with a wave of the hand and a jocular remark: "That's but the opinion of a woman. In due time she will change her mind." We ask you candidly whose mind has changed in the last 50 years? Read the books, the lectures, the public statements of our well-known and recognized material scientists of the day. Behold the spectacle! We observe that the materialists of today take issue with their brethren of 50 years ago, and declare that separate and apart from states and stages of consciousness there is no matter-stuff − a reversal of their former position.
What do we observe with reference to the changed attitude toward Christian Science in the religious world? The clergyman of 50 years ago formulated two very definite conclusions regarding this religious teaching. That it was a sure road to perdition and destruction − and that it was the teaching of atheism, because it was said that Christian Science did not set forth the true nature and the character of God.
As evidence of a changing and tolerant attitude of the clergy of today, I called your attention in the beginning of this lecture to the declaration of one of our clergymen, that Christian Science sprang directly out of the Holy Scriptures. He further said, "Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of Christian Science, did much good in the world, for she liberated many thousands of people from the fear of death and the ravages of disease." A president of one of our institutions of learning has declared that the Christian Science churches are filled today, due to the fact that Christian Science teaches that there is a living God − thus refuting the argument that this religious teaching is destructive or atheistic in character.
We have brought this evidence to your attention, not for the purpose of confusing your thinking or seeking to impress you that the medical world has recognized Christian Science as a healing agency, not for the purpose of having you believe that the scientific world has recognized the essential elements of true science therein, and not for the purpose of striving to convince you that the religious world has adopted the theology or the teachings of Christian Science, it has been submitted for your thoughtful consideration solely for the purpose of causing you to see the truth of the statements quoted from the Christian Science textbook, that, "Progress is born of experience" (p. 296), and, "Progress is the law of God" (p. 233).
God the Lawmaker
We have assured you that man lives by divine decree, and that there is a spiritual law of his being. We have been endeavoring to present to you God's law so that you may interpret and apply that law in human affairs. However, it should be plainly apparent to the thinking individual that before we can apply a basic law we must have some right knowledge and understanding of the nature and the character of the Lawmaker. Hence, it should be our fundamental purpose to discern the true nature and the true character of God, the infinite creator and the author of spiritual law and order.
In this connection we affirm positively and emphatically that the traditional sense or understanding of God as a superman or as a corporeal Jehovah is not the vision or view of God as presented by Christian Science.
In the Christian Science textbook (p. 465) God is defined thus: "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love." Let me ask you to make an earnest endeavor to apprehend and understand God as infinite Mind. An inquirer may say, Do you mean that God is Mind and that I can understand Him as such? Most assuredly! We may just as well understand now and here that the only vision or view of God that we will ever have is the vision or view which we obtain through the expression of the activities of Mind, which reveal to us His attributes, His nature, and His character.
The inquirer may further say: But I have a mind of my own. My mind is a separate, distinct entity. My mind is a mortal, material human mind. Is this mind God? If so, am I God? You surely do not contend that my mortal, material, human mind is the infinite divine Mind. If so, that would make man God. You are quite right in both conclusions. The mortal, material human sense which you call your mind is that defined by Paul as the "carnal mind," and which he declares is "enmity against God" and not "subject to the law of God."
Progress: Individual Responsibility
There is a divine Principle, or spiritual law which governs and controls man individually and collectively. Through the understanding of, and obedience to, the demands of this law, as an inevitable result his progress is natural and normal. However, when ignorant of, or disobedient to, this spiritual law, he pays the penalty therefore through discord, want, sorrow, and woe, and thus man is compelled to make progress through suffering and Science. This is one of the fundamental teachings of Christian Science. In the Christian Science textbook Mrs. Eddy directs attention to this scientific regeneration as follows: "Either here or hereafter, suffering or Science must destroy all illusions regarding life and mind, and regenerate material sense and self" (p. 296).
There seems to be at times a question of paramount importance, Are we making progress? The question is an individual one, and can be answered intelligently only by the individual as he views and comprehends the true nature and character of progress.
Now to many, progress is merely the attainment of some form of success, purely material in character.
Christian Science compels us to prove each step of progress through the spiritualization of thought and action. Just in proportion as we enlarge our conception of God as divine Mind or Spirit, we ascend in the understanding that man is spiritual, and not material. We thereby prove to ourselves individually that we pass from an illusive belief of life in matter to an intelligent recognition of the true idea of life in Mind; that we attain this understanding not through the experience called death, but through the proof of the understanding of Life spiritually discerned. This spiritual discernment is true progress.
I am sure we all readily agree that humanity in the past, through ignorance of this law, has faced serious conditions. Perhaps not an individual or a group of individuals in the world can successfully forecast or predict the immediate events of the future. There is one thing, however, upon which we all can and must agree. We face changed conditions and a new order of events. There must be, there will be, transformation and unfolding of new and better ideals. Every individual has a duty and a responsibility in bringing order out of chaos and a re-establishment of better conditions. This individual responsibility can be successfully met and mastered only as one clarifies his vision with reference to the nature and the character of God as infinite Mind, and as he seeks earnestly and intelligently to express and reflect in his thinking the wisdom, goodness, justice, and mercy of God.
In this connection, let me ask my hearers and readers to do a very simple but sensible thing. Assuming that you are all engaged in the activities of life, let me ask you, before assuming these daily duties, to pause for a definite, or a specific period of time and devote this specific period to an earnest endeavor to catch a glimpse of God as Mind. Exclude from your thinking everything that does not square by the understanding of that which is right, that which is good, that which is holy, that which is true. In your thinking, rise to the understanding that infinite Mind is infinite intelligence and as such is omnipotent, the only power there is; that in infinite Mind the only wisdom, truth, knowledge, understanding is there expressed as the omniscience of God. Realize that infinite Mind is here and everywhere, now and at all times; that infinite Mind is omnipresent. In this brief interval you no doubt will clarify and expand your vision of the infinite creator. Right ideas regarding His nature and character will unfold in your thought. I ask you seriously to reflect upon and consider this question: What effect, if any, will this clarified understanding of the nature and character of infinite Mind bring to your business activity? There is but one conclusion; to a greater or a lesser degree, as you have expanded your vision of the scope and the magnitude of Mind, you have enlarged your own mental horizon, you have discovered the nature and the character of your business − not as the activity of the barter and the exchange of goods and commodities, but you have discovered that the nature and the character of your real business is rightly to understand and rightly to reflect the intelligent activity of infinite Mind. You have placed yourself and your business activities squarely in line with the law of your being; hence, you have the right to expect and conclude that definite and positive right results will ensue in every right undertaking. By this process you have experienced a healing through the transformation of your thinking and you have the right to expect that normal results will be reflected in your business and in your body.
At this time I am reminded of the circumstance of a merchant who experienced the beneficial results in his life and business through his adherence to constructive, spiritual thinking and study.
This merchant had been a successful business man in his community, but through business and financial worries, fear, and discouragement, his physical condition reached a point where he was unable personally to attend to his business. During the following three years he was attended by several physicians who pronounced his difficulty chronic heart disease.
At this time a friend, a business associate, brought him a copy of Science and Health and showed him how to study the daily Lesson. This merchant had never been a Bible student prior to this time. Through the study of Science and Health he became deeply interested in the study of the Bible. His improvement was apparent from the beginning, and after five months of earnest study he was enabled to return to his store and once more give his personal attention to the rebuilding of his business.
Through this study he not only regained his business in a much greater measure than before his illness but he was perfectly healed of heart trouble, as was evidenced by the fact that he was pronounced by the examining physicians to be in perfect health and was enabled to secure life insurance at the age of 50 years. This healing was experienced some years ago and I have knowledge of the fact that these discordant conditions have never returned.
Definite End Accomplished
In the beginning of our lecture we stated definitely and positively that Christian Science is an endeavor to reinstate primitive Christianity and spiritual healing. . .
These desirable ends are accomplished in a definite and a fixed way. I direct your attention to the following religious tenet of Christian Science, as given in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 497): "And we solemnly promise to watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; to do unto others as we would have them do unto us; and to be merciful, just, and pure."
Every Christian Scientist, member of The Mother Church or of a branch thereof has obligated himself to express and reflect, in some way, that Mind which was in Christ Jesus. Just how many calendar years will elapse before mankind generally will express or reflect all the attributes of that Mind cannot be definitely stated or ascertained. This, however, does not in any degree relieve us of the responsibility of seeking to gain and to express that right understanding of Mind, looking forward to and expecting the advent of the day described, by Paul, "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
The perfect man is not a myth. The perfect man is here and now. He is not the mortal, material man, subject to the fear of death and the ravages of disease. The perfect man is spiritual man, made in the image, the likeness, of infinite Mind, of God.
Paul refers to the new birth, and
"O, sometimes gleams upon our sight,
Through present wrong, the eternal right;
And step by step since time began,
We see the steady gain of man."
(Christian Science Hymnal, No. 238)