The Significance of Christ Jesus' Mission
Edward A. Kimball
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
I suppose that everyone knows that there is such a thing as the truth about everybody and everything. We may not think that we know what the truth is, but we at least know that it exists, must exist. That is, I suppose, one of the most conspicuous things about the race, that although there is the truth about everything, we disagree about everything. We do not agree about politics, or economics, or education. We do not agree about ways and means, about the ordinary affairs of life.
It is not strange therefore, that people who disagree about everything else should disagree about religion, about man's relation to God, as to what are the rights of man, and what is the natural history of being. The world has shown itself to be instinctively in search of truth, and in search of God.
We have, in our colleges, a splendid manhood and a splendid womanhood devoting itself to the endeavor to acquire knowledge and to practise that knowledge. We have splendid men and women throughout the world trying to labor for humanity, trying to better men and women, trying to minister to the wants of all mankind. Now in the realm of philosophy and in the realm of religion, as well as in the realm of science, we have conflicting theories and conflicting influences. We have the different schools of philosophy, the different schools of law, the different schools of medicine, and so on, and we know that they include some of the best conditions of human thought, that they stand high, not only in the estimate of man, but in the accomplishment of good works.
I am very glad to raise my voice in recognition of, and in gratitude to, every good man and every good woman who labors on behalf of his fellow-men, and I want to say one word here concerning a matter that is liable to be somewhat misunderstood. It is this: that although Christian Science comes with a somewhat new theology, or rather new philosophy, and comes to declare something rather different in the way of curative endeavor, nevertheless, I have the most profound respect, the most profound gratitude for and to the splendid men and women who are endeavoring to effect the remedy and the cure of disease. Some of the best friends I have ever had have been my physicians, who did their best for me, and no word will ever be uttered by me concerning them other than a word of respect and esteem and gratitude.
We who are in advocacy of Christian Science as a religion come to declare our deep conviction of the fact that it is in every way parallel with the teaching and the work of Christ Jesus. We come to declare our conviction that it is practical Christianity; that, as a religion, it is eminently God-like and spiritual, eminently Christ-like and Christian, and eminently moral. I come to declare that we are being taught in Christian Science to-day nothing other than that which Christ has declared we must do, and can do, in order to be saved; and it is for the purpose of indicating the parallelism between Christian Science as a religion, and the teaching of Christ, that I am to raise my voice tonight.
We who are Christian people have been told for centuries that Christ came to save sinners; that Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost; that he came as the Saviour of a fallen and sinful race; that he came to be a redeemer, came to show the way heavenward; and we who are Christian Scientists coincide with that statement at every point without the slightest reserve. We accept Christ Jesus as Saviour and redeemer, and as the only Way-shower whereby men are to be saved from evil.
Now in endeavoring to justify the religion of Christian Science in your minds, let us remember that it has always been declared that Christ Jesus came on earth to do the will of God. Then let us inquire for a moment what we are to declare God to be, for you know very well that there are thousands of creeds and religious sects that define God differently. Right here, you know, in our midst, we have different Christian sects. We who are Christian Scientists coincide with your belief on almost every point. We declare that there is one God; that that one God is infinite, self-existent, as Spirit, as a conscious spiritual individuality. We declare that this God has created all that has existence; that God is really the sole basis, origin, and foundation of the universe. With you do we declare that God is Life and has created life and life only. We declare the omnipresence, the omnipotence, and the omniscience of God. We declare with you that he is the sole governor of the universe, the sole lawgiver, sole controller of the destinies of man. I do not know of any particular thing that is declared by orthodox Christianity concerning God, that we do not ourselves accentuate and emphasize.
There is one point, however, wherein we differ. When we declare that God is good, we mean by it that God is the infinity of good, that God is good only, that God has done no evil, and that He does not need to involve Himself in, or to coφperate with evil for any purpose whatever; and specifically we declare that God is not the author of disease. We declare that God has not procured disease, and I believe that almost every physician on earth will fall in line with that declaration. The physicians do not believe that disease is spiritually imposed upon the world. They do not believe when they go to a patient that God has blighted the patient. They do not believe that they are contending against God when they try to cure a patient, and we who are Christian Scientists are persistent on this point; we believe that mankind must divest itself of the supposition that God does evil, and must more scientifically solve the problem of evil, disease included.
Now here is one of the important or distinct features of Christian Science in its interpretation of Christianity. We simply halt at this place, and declare that the evil of the world does not have its origin in God. Now then, it is this will of God that we claim Christ came to do. He did not come to do the will of a God that makes men sick and kills them; he did not come to do the will of a God that blights humanity with pestilence and famine. He came to do the will of that which was infinitely and forever good in every way.
It has been said that this Christ was the son of God. What does that mean? What ought it to mean to us, to a people as enlightened as those of this century are? What is the son of God? Where is the reality and significance of Christ Jesus? Christian Science teaches that it was the Mind which was in Christ that was divine; it was that mental or spiritual individuality, the immortality of Christ's soul; it was the sublimity of spiritual knowledge that constituted the real essence of Christ. Therein is his divinity; therein the power; and it was because of the Mind that was in Christ that he was enabled to do many wonderful things and accomplish so many things that are called miracles, in behalf of humanity.
I believe that nobody here will dissent from the proposition that that which created the earth and man and the universe was an intelligent first cause; nobody will deny that it was an intelligent God that created the universe; nobody will deny that God had wisdom, knowledge, and intelligence; none will deny that God is the exclusive divine Mind of the universe. Christian Science teaches that the Mind which was in Christ was the Mind that is God, precisely as he declared: "the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." "My Father is greater than I." "I and my Father are one." You recognize the unity, the inseparable nature of the relation that exists between God and Christ.
What did Christ come to do? The record declares that Christ came to do the will of God, the God that is good; the God who hath done all things well and who hath done nothing for the discomfiture of any man. He came to do the will of God; to do according to, to set forth, the divine purpose; and we claim, as do you, that Christ Jesus is the divine manifestation of God to man. It is observed that he came to fulfil law. Do you think for a moment that he came to fulfil a law of disease? Are we any longer to suppose that God is the law of sickness and death to man, that it was the law of death that Christ came to fulfil? Christian Science urges mankind to know that it was the fundamental law of Life that Christ Jesus came to manifest, and that he did manifest. Moreover, he came to prove it, to demonstrate it, to attest it by means of object lessons.
In our estimation, much of the significance of Christ Jesus' mission lies in the fact that he proved to and for humanity that there is something about God, about the divine nature, plan, and law, that is available to a man who is in trouble; that is available to a man who is a sinner, or is sick, or is poor, or in grief. There is something about our God, manifested through our Christ, that ought to excite the hope of every man, and the reasonable and favorable expectation of everyone. Surely we should be lost indeed, and hopeless indeed, if we could not hope that in some way we have a supreme friend in our God.
Now Christian Science comes to urge us to know, or to discover, that we are not getting one-hundredth part of the good out of Christianity that we are entitled to get. We are not being saved as much to-day as we are entitled to be saved. We are not being benefited as largely; we are not utilizing if I may use the word we are not utilizing the splendid benevolence and efficacy of Christianity; and we come, not to superimpose anything upon it, but rather to testify to the fact that we are confident that much is being discovered; that we are becoming more enlightened on the subject of Christianity, as well as on every other subject.
Then the one thing that is being brought out by Christian Science is a new foundation in the way of philosophy. It is this our God is not the author of disease; there need be no more fear, no more consternation, no more dismay on the part of the despairing invalid in this respect. I know, and so does every physician know, that the patient who is afraid is the most difficult to heal, all things being equal. We all know, everyone knows, that fear, worry, anxiety, and alarm act as a deterrent influence upon the body. They protract the recovery of the patient, and almost everybody would know that one of the most difficult people to heal all other things being considered is the man that is afraid of God; or the man whose philosophy concerning the divine dispensation has led him and his fellow-beings to be afraid that God has ordained his discomfiture and imposed upon him the tragedy of his life.
Christ Jesus came to fulfil law, not to violate it; not to act in contravention of law; not to overturn any legitimate law or order of being. Christ Jesus came to manifest the sublimity, the majesty, the utility of fundamental law. That being the case, we urge everyone to divest himself of the supposition that Christ was a mere mystery worker; that he came merely to perform the miracles that no one understands; that his service was a most impenetrable mystery. On the contrary, everything that he did was done in the wisest possible way; everything was done in the right way, in the lawful way, in the normal and scientific way. If it could be proved that Jesus was not wise, was not right, was not lawful, then Christianity would fall in ruins, because it would show that we had an inferior or incompetent Saviour.
Is there any objection to our estimating the service and mission of Christ as being lawful? Do we gain anything by subscribing to a mysterious Christianity? Can we better ourselves thereby? Christian Science teaches that the whole utility of Christ's mission is in its universal application, in its splendidly normal modus operandi.
The record of the work of Christ Jesus declared that he came to seek and to save that which was lost. What did he find? Why, he found a people involved in sin, vice, sickness, and distress of every conceivable kind, and his ministry addressed itself in their behalf. And what did he do? Why, he surely reformed the sinner, according to the record; and according to the record, he healed the sick men and women of all manner of diseases. That is a fact of Christian faith. Christian Scotland believes that, through and through. It believes the record concerning Christ, that in his endeavor to help humanity he healed the man who was involved in sin, and he healed the man who was involved in sickness. According to his very work, his whole service and mission was for the betterment of our race; for the uplifting of them that were cast down; for the deliverance of them that mourned, and were in the anguish of pain and disease; and when he did that, he did it according to the will of God. He showed that it was the divine will that humanity should be delivered, and ought to be and can be delivered from every phase of evil that infests the race.
Again, the Bible says that he came to destroy the works of the devil. Let us put it in a more metaphysical way, that he came to destroy the works of evil, evil conditions, evil activities, evil forces, and the consequences of evil. That was his purpose, to upset and destroy the whole condition, and according to our teaching he did it. This brings me to a point in Christian Science that is a matter of a great deal of contention, though not so much as it used to be. I know in our country, in America, very many of the physicians are uniting in the opinion that disease is an abnormal thing that is to say, that it is not an indispensable or primary constituent of science.
I know that one of the most eminent American physicians told me that he was satisfied that if the world or humanity had never departed from the normal, there never would have been any disease. He said he regarded disease as an abnormity, something that had fastened itself upon the race through generations as a matter of abnormal disorder, rather than an inherent right. That is one of the points of Christian Science teaching, that disease has no right primarily to infest and crush out the body; that it has no legal position; that it has no fundamental basis in science or otherwise. And every endeavor of the physician coincides therewith, because no sensible physician would try to cure a disease if he thought that God had planned to have the disease prevail.
All curative endeavor, no matter who puts it forth, has no rationality unless it rests upon the supposition that the man who is trying to cure his patient has a right to try, has a right, if possible, to overthrow the disease, upon the ground that disease is an outrage, a monstrosity and an illegitimate imposition upon the world. Christian Science is teaching that Christ Jesus proceeded along the same lines. In one place the Bible says that through sin came death into the world, and that surely would mean sickness. Jesus said concerning the woman, "Satan hath bound her, lo, these eighteen years." He did not say that God had bound her. It is a fact that Jesus, according to the record, healed all manner of diseases without a failure.
You will remember, most of you, about the American philosopher, Benjamin Franklin. He said, more than a hundred years ago, that the time would come when the practice of healing would be so thoroughly understood, and so adequately practised, that it would by sure means either prevent or cure all manner of diseases; and in accordance with that, the physicians are to-day addressing themselves more, I believe, to the prevention of diseases are using their endeavor to enlighten men with the view to having them avoid disease more even than they are addressing themselves to its cure. It certainly is more scientific and more rational. That was precisely what Christ Jesus was doing, according to our understanding. He understood the Science of healing; and he understood that disease was an abnormity; and he understood that it operated according to abnormal conditions and laws; and he knew that it ought to be abolished and could be abolished.
Jesus Christ, according to the record, abolished the law of sin and death. That means much, because if he abolished it, the law of sickness is something that can be abolished. You take to-day an intelligent physician, what does he do? He strives to avoid scaring his patient. I remember when I was for months a patient, the best physician I had was the one who took most pains to deliver me from my fright, and from my alarm, for the reason that he knew that it worked in a spurious way to injure my health. He knew that fear is a depressing condition of mind; and so it is with every physician in these latter days, he strives to sequester his patient from fear; he strives to alleviate all conditions by alleviating this one considerable cause.
Then, if it be a cause, do not you see that it is an abnormal one, and if an abnormal one, it can be abolished, and that was Christ's process of healing the sick. It was by abolishing, by exterminating, by extinguishing abnormal conditions. Last year, in the city of Philadelphia, there was a large convention of American dentists. At this convention one of the professors read an article in which he declared that mental causation was largely to blame for many of the diseases of the teeth. After this essay had been read, many of those present arose and thanked him for his very learned and instructive address. Everyone here almost will bear testimony in some way to the truth of this discovery concerning mental causation. This man laid almost as much stress upon mental conditions as being pernicious in connection with bodily health as we do, and it is a fact that day by day physicians are doing the same thing. They recognize and admit these abnormal mental conditions as being instrumental in procuring bodily disorder.
Our sense of Christ Jesus and his work is that he did not come to overthrow or overturn some mighty thing that had a right to be. Not at all. He came to demolish that which had no right to exist. Surely it is not rational to suppose that Christ's coming to do the will of God would have upset anything that God had ordained; that he would have extinguished something that was based on immortality and had immortal existence. That certainly would not have been rational or sensible; and our teaching is that his very work ought to prove to humanity and draw attention to the fact that disease and sin and insanity and fear and all of these kindred things that distress humanity are all of them illegitimate, abnormal, unrighteous, unlawful, and unnecessary. Christ's mission is proof in our estimation of the destructible nature of the different forms of evil that harass humanity.
When Christ Jesus had finished his mission he made a wonderful declaration. It was this: "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." "Go thou and do likewise." Note the universality of that declaration. He had not done something that was extraordinary, something that was of value only to a mere handful of people, but it was a service to humanity for all time, in attestation of the infinite nature of the divine purpose. "Go thou and do likewise." "These things shall ye do and greater." "I am the way." "Follow thou me." "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." Free from what? Following in his way, doing likewise, what does it all mean? Why, it ought to mean that you have a right to learn your way, to discover your way, to practise the way that will deliver you from the same phases of evil; and this is one of the cardinal points of Christian Science teaching. God gave man dominion over all the earth; that surely means dominion over his body, over his circumstances, his environment, and his surrounding conditions. It means dominion over every foe, over every obstacle, over everything that surges up against his life. The trouble with us is that we are afraid of everybody and everything because we do not know, never did know, that fundamentally God provided dominion for us. You would not be afraid of anything if you knew you had dominion over it; and everybody who reads the Bible has an opportunity to find upon its first pages that that is what God has given us, and we have all of us missed it until this day. We have all been, as it were, like bubbles upon the sea of capricious destiny, and ready to believe that an evil state of existence can overcome us, and abolish life, and make us sick, and kill us at any moment. We are educated to be reconciled to our own evil destiny, our own doom, and nobody has been educated to suppose that he has a right to resist, or adequately to contend against his foe.
At this point Christian Science is exciting the hope that you have a right to contend and win. You have a right to be the master of your fate. You have a right to succeed in everything that is right for you to do. You have a right to learn how to prevent disease; you have a right to learn how to cure disease; you have a right to learn how to cure poverty; and the awful strife of humanity against itself. We today are adrift, according to our own confession; and yet there ever rings out in the ear of Christendom this one thing, that in our Christ and his teaching and his way and his rule we are entitled to salvation, and it shall make us free. Free from what? The teaching of Christian Science is that it shall make you free from everything that to-day harasses and casts down this race in the mire of trouble and affliction. We believe that there is a vast significance in the manner resorted to by Christ Jesus in the healing of the sick. We believe that he understood the very best possible way in which to heal the sick. We, as Christian people, believe that he knew more about the cause and cure of disease than all other people that ever lived. We believe that our God inspired and educated and endowed Christ with absolute, perfect, scientific knowledge. We believe that he proceeded with the utmost accuracy and perfection of method and knowledge. We believe that he accomplished his results in a perfectly scientific and natural way. We believe that he did it in accordance with, and by the use of the supreme power of the universe that which was powerful enough to cause the universe to exist, that which was powerful enough to maintain it, that which maintains it to-day, that which absolutely brought to pass the creation of man.
Christian Science comes, as it has been doing for years, to plead with Christendom to recognize the omnipresence of God, and to find in that all-power, in that supreme power, all the power that is necessary for man whereby to overcome sin and death and all kinds of evil. Christian Science teaches that sickness, and poverty, and fear, and sin, and all kindred evils are existent by way of negation, by way of the impropriety of existence; we come to declare that its power is spurious, that its law is spurious and it does not act in accordance with divine law, but in accordance with human belief, fear, ignorance, and superstition; and Christian Science is teaching men, or urging men to find by means of proof, that our God is a real power; that it is no far-off event, but that it is an ever-present thing, available wherever you are, present wherever you are; and our teaching is that Christ Jesus demonstrated that power, showed it forth, enforced the divine law, and incidentally that he abolished the spurious law of sin and sickness and death. That is good Christianity, isn't it?
We do not regard disease as being fundamentally incurable. Of course it is a problem. It has been a problem that the physicians have struggled with for forty centuries; it is a problem before the world to-day the problem of disease; but Christian Science is urging men to investigate this proposition namely, that because disease is an abnormity it is not fundamentally incurable; and so we have a statement that scientifically there is no such thing as incurable disease. Of course to-day, to-morrow, men will die, because nobody can cure them, but that does not offset my statement, as a scientific proposition, that disease is curable; and it will be found through investigation and practice that there will be a complete offset for disease, there will be something by way of discovery and practice that will master and ultimately exterminate disease.
Look at the work of Christ. He did it most scientifically. According to the record, he instantaneously healed every kind of disease that presented itself, and every little while we find to-day, in the medical profession, the announcement that somebody who has been studying, and who has been puzzling over it, has found a remedy for an incurable disease. Indeed, the medical profession is turning itself hopefully, and with some expectation, toward discovering a remedy for diseases called incurable.
There is nothing so very irrational or extraordinary in our thinking the same thing. We are consistent, however, without reserve on that point, that disease is an abnormity, and will be found to be absolutely curable; and inasmuch as I am seeking to show the coincidence between our work and the teaching and practice of Christ Jesus, I ask you to see that his work proves that disease is curable. He cured it; he showed it could be done; and when he did it, he upset all theory to the effect that it could not be done.
Again, next to the man that is afraid of God, the sick man who is most difficult to heal is the man who is afraid of devils, and hell, and of the preeminence of evil, and of the existence of something that in spite of him and his endeavor is entitled to crush him out. Christian Science comes to urge men to divest themselves of that, and to learn that there is no ordained evil of any kind. Christ did the same thing. He said, "I have overcome the world." I have overcome the whole miserable, outrageous business. I have overcome everything. I have come to save humanity, and I have overcome everything that afflicts humanity. I have proved that it can be done. I have proved that it ought to be done. I have demolished it. There is an exact parallelism.
We are very much criticized at this point, laughed at because of the teaching of Christian Science concerning the unreal nature of evil. Nobody knows better than a Christian Scientist does that people are suffering, that there are sinners, but we also know that it is a spurious state of existence, not ordained and not legitimate, and we do know that the race can disengage itself and deliver itself from the whole thing. In the meantime, of course, we know that the man who sins has got to stop; we know that the man who is hateful and angry has got to stop being so; we know that the one who is sick has got to recover himself; but all the time we fix our gaze steadfastly upon the illegitimacy of the whole thing, and that is what we mean by the unreality of sin and of disease.
Our crusade against disease is made on the understanding that a man who is sick has a right to get well, and that there is a way whereby it can be accomplished, and that he has a right to find out what the way is, and he has a right to avail himself of that way. The consequence is, we do not stand aghast at disease, upon the supposition that it has a right, and is determined, to undo this race.
Christ Jesus came to the world as an everyday manifestation of utility; something in hand. Every promise in the Bible on the subject encourages you to believe that you may find that as you learn your way in God you can resist evil. The Bible declares that God is the healer of all thy diseases. That which is included in God by way of disposition, rule, power, and law, that is the natural healer of diseases; and moreover, it is the only, supreme power that is equal to the total eradication of disease.
Christ Jesus comes to prove that; and it means that all by way of law, and power, and divine plan that is necessary to your recovery from sickness is in the room now. You do not need to procrastinate. You do not need to go on year after year in despair or deferred hope. Now is the day of salvation. It is the day of salvation from sin, and it is the day of salvation from sickness.
Now then, am I degrading your estimate of Christ by urging that we may see that he is the fulfilment of a splendid benevolence for us? Does it lessen your affection for God to know that He is infinitely good, and on your side all the time? Does it lessen your sense of His wisdom and capacity to be told that evil is not of God, and that He is not involved in it; that it is merely an illegitimate sense of life, the upside down of existence?
What I have been saying is, of course, more or less by way of comparison, and very largely the whole subject is theoretical until you come to consider the question of manifestation. Now then, what difference does it make to a man or a race whether they believe that God has ordained disease for them or not? Whether they believe that sickness is necessary, and pain a common incident? Whether they believe that Christ is merely the saviour of the sinner, or is the saviour of the sick man as well? What difference does it make? You hear much said about pessimism and optimism, but suppose you start a man or a race out on the understanding that God fundamentally has provided for the undoing of them, for their sickness, their possible failure, their lamentation, their tears, and so on. Let this man or race go on, and where will they land? That philosophy will just as surely kill them as they are sure to live on to the day of doom. It is a blight. The very belief is destructive. It breathes fear, it disturbs the nervous system. All the way through it acts as a deterrent, as a hindrance upon the life, activity, and faculty of that man or that community.
On the other hand, let another community or man go forth based upon a philosophy that God Himself has done nothing of the kind; that whatever he encounters in the way is something that has no right to impede him; with the conviction that he has a right successfully to resist. Let that man go on without fear, with light, and new hope, and expectation, and where will he land? He will land in the midst of life, and health, and dominion over all the world. One means doom, and the other means joy and happiness, so powerful are the influences of mind upon the state and elevation of man.
Christian Science comes to plead with the world to let this Mind be in you which was also in Christ. Why? Because the Mind which was in Christ was the Mind of Life. It cast out fear. It cast out dismay, consternation, evil foreboding, and disease. It enabled Jesus to be the master of every situation.
Let this Mind be in you which was in Christ. Why? Because it will mean for you a new manhood and a new womanhood; it will cast out fear; it will master the situation; it will lead you in the way of success and prosperity; it will do away with the mildew that to-day rests so largely upon the race.
Paul says "to be carnally minded is death." What does that mean? Why, it simply means that a sinful sense of life is crushing the world, killing it and undoing it. It is imposing upon it a philosophy of despair, and the consequence is, we go on and down, and on and down, and now there is an arrest. Whether you are conscious of it or not, or whether you are disposed to believe me or not, as I tell you, it is a fact that something is happening to this human race and happening very rapidly. The philosophy of our day is changing. The day of gloom is itself doomed; it is bound to come to an end. We are on the way to happier days, the kingdom of heaven is more nearly at hand. We are learning that we have made a frightful mistake, and we are learning how to have that mistake very easily corrected.
Twenty-one years ago, I was in this city of Edinburgh. I had been sent over here by my physicians, who could not cure me, in the hope that I might find some physician in Europe who could. I went around from place to place, and in the course of time I came to a halt here in Edinburgh, disconsolate, wretched, and in agony. This was the last place before my return. I had given up all hope in Europe when I turned from Edinburgh one day to Liverpool, and then on to a steamer to go home to die. That is of no consequence to you, and it is of but little when I tell you that after having tried everything else in the world, in a state of despair I turned to Christian Science and was healed. That is of no consequence to you; but when I tell you that there have been over a million other people, equally sick and equally desperate, who likewise have been healed and delivered from grief, then I submit to you that it is evidence of some mighty transforming influence that is working on behalf of this race; and the people themselves, a million of them, rise up insistent to declare that they have been delivered from unspeakable depths of misery.
It has been said that that is not a very valuable recommendation for a religion. It has been said by some people, "I do not think much of a religion that has nothing to offer by way of results but the healing of the sick." Neither do I. But it is to be said that the one who founded the Christian religion manifested his purpose by healing the sick.
Christian Science does not offer the healing of the sick as its only effect. The primary object of Christian Science is to effect the moral reformation of this race, the regeneration, the uplifting of this whole race; and its whole teaching is in this direction. We are taught to obey the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the moral law. We are taught to become more honest, more upright, loving, kind, charitable, and compassionate. We are taught to live in imitation of the life that is Christ's, without reproach before God and man. We are taught to live according to a highly moral standard of being. We are taught to love our neighbor as ourselves, to do justly, and in every conceivable way to become better men and women.
Do you know of anything more or better than that, that is taught by any phase of Christianity? Is there in Scotland a standard of Christianity that means more to fallen men than their complete and absolute regeneration and salvation? That is what is taught in Christian Science.
You may say, "Wherein are you distinctive?" We are distinctive on this point God has not imposed disease upon the race; Christ is not only the saviour from sin, but the saviour from disease. His way is the way of recovery from all evil, and each one of us has a right to learn how to accomplish it.
Instead of that, people are taught to be afraid; the necessary result of our philosophy and our teaching brings to pass the man that is afraid; and that constant condition of fear means our constant undoing. We are afraid even of the food we eat, the air we breathe, the sun that shines upon us. It does not make any difference which way we go, somebody wants us to be afraid; and every day we are more afraid, or asked to be afraid of something we never were afraid of before. It is an abnormal condition, and Christian Science is coming, among other things, to eradicate it, and to bring to pass the deliverance of humanity from under its blight.
We, as Christian Science people, are taught to reverence the Bible; to study it, and to find in its inspired Word "a sufficient guide to eternal Life." (Science and Health, page 497:3.) I know of no one who studies the Bible more earnestly or more profitably than we do. Fault is found with us because we use our textbook as a guide. Just look at the inconsistency of that. You go to any clergyman's study, and you will find on his shelf books that are labelled, "Helps to Bible Studies," "Commentaries," "Notes on the Gospels," and so on. Ask him what they mean, and he will tell you they are aids to the study of the Scriptures, and every minister thinks he has a right to have a hundred of them, and yet there are a good many people who think we have not got a right to have one, not even one.
We have one, and I confess to you, as being people in the midst of millions of other people, we have just as good a right to have one as other people have to have fifty. We are confident that our one sheds a desirable light upon the Bible. I can tell you one thing that it does for us. You know, as a mere matter of history, people have read the Bible, they have interpreted it to suit their own fancy, then they have founded different sects; and right here in your own Scotland, according to your own history, the Catholic and the Protestant used to fight each other off the land. Your land has been the historical scene of religious conflict over the Bible, or what it means.
One thing that our study of the Bible does for us is this: by the time we get a fair understanding of the Bible, we cease to want to fight. You cannot get a Christian Scientist to fight any more on the subject of religion. The history of religion shows that there has been a tendency for the different sects to fight for their own existence, for their own growth, their maintenance, or to fight against the growth of some other denomination. The Christian Scientists have got no fight of any kind at all. They do not stand for anything in the way of a militant Christianity. We are simply witnesses, to testify as to what Christian Science will do for the man that understands it.
And we are taught, moreover, to have the most reverent and loving respect for every other man's right to do the same thing. There is not the slightest disposition on our part to molest or hinder any other religious sect that chooses to go its way according to its own light; on the contrary, we believe that it is an abomination in the sight of God and a decent manhood for one religionist to waylay another who chooses to have a different sense of that light and of that guidance.
We not only do not want to fight, but we do not care how much people fight us. We are entrenched upon the basis of demonstration. We know where and why our redeemer liveth, because we can prove it. We can prove that God is God. We can prove the efficacy of Christian salvation. We can prove that it is equal to the healing of the sick, the reformation of the sinner. Nothing moves us at all, and all the fighting that is done against Christian Science does nothing more than to accelerate its progress; and that progress is almost more rapid than we wish it were, for the simple reason that we cannot assimilate the people that come to Christian Science, as fast as they come. It is a fact that in order to take care of them today, we have to establish a new church every four days ninety churches a year. I know that mere numerical strength does not prove the value of a religious belief; but when you come to think that the growth of the Christian Science denomination is because people get up off sick-beds to come and join the church of God; because they have been healed; because drunkards who have been reformed come to unite with us, and come also to be serviceable men of sobriety and usefulness; then it does make quite a difference as to whether their numbers are few or many.
What do we Christian Scientists do who are testifying to these benefits? People will say, we seem to be a happy people, "you seem to be happy and joyful." As a people, we are just like the rest of the people; we have had the same God, the same ancestry, the same education, the same history, the same pursuits.
We are distinctive simply because this thing has happened to us we have been unspeakably delivered from some miserable condition. We have learned, or are gaining a knowledge and a power that enables us more largely to contend against evil, to be victors instead of victims. We do not pretend to be better than other people, we simply rejoice because we are a little better than we used to be.
We do not pretend to be immune from sickness entirely. We are upon the threshold only of the possibilities of Christian Science; but already it has done that for which multitudes rejoice; and let me tell you that the man who thinks it is all a joke, who thinks it a mere fad, greatly mistakes the signs of these times. It is a fact in America, and it will be a fact in Scotland and in England, that before very long everybody will be wanting to know about it; they will be studying it, looking into it, they will be learning its splendid utility, the practical nature of its application.
In America almost everybody now knows about Christian Science, everybody is beginning to respect it. They are beginning to respect its people, and the reason of this is because, instead of having a silly notion as to what it teaches, and what it pretends to do, they are learning that it is in every way practical, sensible, well-based, well-founded. Go and ask the people of this world what they would like to have done to them in order to be saved, and as each one tells you what he would like to have, what he would like to be rid of, and you take them all together and make an inventory of them, you would find that these needs, these desires, these necessities, these prayers are having an answer through the direction of Christian Science.
I do not ask you to say you believe in Christian Science. I am simply come to tell you as much as I can in an hour about what it teaches, what it promises, what it does, what the testimony is; and then leave it all with you, for you to do with it just as you please. But I know the time will come, soon or late, when everyone in this room will learn more than he knows to-night that will be to his advantage; soon or late he will learn to be less afraid, he will learn to trust God practically, sensibly, he will know that he has salvation at hand, he will know the splendid satisfaction of it all; soon or late, you will learn to have and manifest more dominion over your household, your children, your foes, your fears, whatever they may be; soon or late, you will rise into an altitude of more potent manhood or womanhood; soon or late, you will begin to succeed where failure has been; soon or late, you will dominate, and why? Because it is in the air. We are at last in the very era of overcoming, and Christ will reign, Science will reign, Truth will reign; mankind will manifest that dominion and that success.
Now I want to speak to you about something that is inseparably connected with this. There are ever so many people on earth that would turn to Christian Science, if they were not turned away from it by a sort of misrepresentation about the Leader, the venerable woman who stands at the head of this movement. As against the possibility that some day you may be turned away, I want to remind you that ever since the day of the first reformer, the day of Abel, every prophet, every righteous man, almost every scientific discoverer has been stoned by humanity at large, and there has been no exception in the case of this venerable, delicate, tender woman.
You might think that we Christian Scientists would mourn greatly about it, that we would be greatly cast down to see and to notice the brutal assaults upon this gentle woman. How would you feel if you had a venerable, splendid, devoted Christian mother who had been a woman of excellence and goodness all her life how would you feel if humanity were to turn itself loose and defame her, mistake her purpose and activity? You probably would be indignant, and you may wonder why we are not; but we are not. Why? Because we know that it is inevitable; that history is bound to repeat itself. We know that every such person is bound to incur the animosity and antagonism of others.
But against all this, Mrs. Eddy is doing the only thing possible, her position is one of dignity, she has a dignified mission, her work is of a dignified character, and she knows that she cannot afford to stop and quarrel with everyone who would like to quarrel with her. But she has one recourse, and that recourse lies in the way of a life, a daily procedure in the way of daily living and progress that justifies her before God and man. And she is doing this very thing to justify herself before humanity, and a million people rise and testify to that which is without a parallel in all the history of our ages.
No one living, no one that ever lived, except the founder of the Christian religion, has a procession of such beneficiaries as that which has been left as the result of Christian Science, and I submit to you that there is in Scotland, there is in the world, no society, philanthropical, religious, or ethical, that would not be glad if it could point to such benefits as have arisen from Christian Science.
[Delivered at Edinburgh, Scotland, 1908. This is the seventeenth of 18 lectures featured in the book Lectures and Articles on Christian Science by Edward A. Kimball.]