Lecture on Christian Science, Title Unknown (1)

 

Annie M. Knott

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

In the olden time kings sent out heralds to apprise the cities they wished to honor of their approach, and seldom did earthly monarchs fail to receive a royal welcome from subjects, inspired either by love or fear. But what has been the reception usually accorded on earth to the messengers of the Most High? If we seek the answer to this inquiry in the Scriptures we shall find the statement made by the Great Master that some were beaten, others killed, and all rejected. And yet, beholding all this, he said to the disciples sent out to declare the ever-presence of the Kingdom of God, "He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward." So in the strength of his promise I stand here tonight as the ambassador of truth, to ask the privilege of giving to the weary and thirsty ones in this audience a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple.

When Christian Science first came to my notice it was with the startling statement that these people claimed to heal the sick by the same method which Christ and his apostles practised. Although the words were spoken in scorn they kindled anew my faltering hope and faith with the ardent desire that they might be found true − for who is there that has known sorrow or sickness but has longed for such ministration as they were wont to bestow?

 

Curiosity not the Only Motive

In looking over the audiences which assemble at these lectures one cannot help being impressed by the thought that more than mere curiosity is needed to bring together so many people, representing the widest area of religious belief, to investigate the claims of Christian Science. None can deny the world's great need of something more definite than the teachings of either past or present; for human want and woe are but ill-concealed, or, at best, bravely endured. The Delphic Oracle gave a wise admonition to the seeker after truth when it said, "Know thyself," and it has not been unheeded, for mortals have been looking into every conceivable mirror in order to discover something of their origin and destiny. They have taken the model of clay and subjected it to the severest scrutiny; have worked with scalpel and microscope; but to this hour no trace of the soul has been found therein; and from this we conclude that one must look higher to find immortal being and learn what man is.

Jesus of Nazareth gave the true direction to thought when he declared that to know God aright is life eternal. And so we begin with causes, and bend our energies to know what God is: and while at work in this new sphere a change comes over the spirit of our dream, and we at last begin to awaken in His likeness − to know something of God and man. Then we learn how to pray, for prayer becomes our vital breath, whereby we draw our conscious life from the divine Principle of the universe, for aspiration and prayer are inseparable from life. Man may pray well or ill, but pray he must, since life without some conception of God is impossible. So the nations have gone their way from the cruel sacrifices of earlier days up to a nobler and truer sense of Deity. In the celebrated confession of faith of the Presbyterian Church God is declared to be "Infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, most loving, gracious, merciful, and long-suffering," etc. In the same confession, later on, the doctrine is taught that this same God decrees the eternal misery of millions of His creatures, including infants, many of whom never even heard His name.

 

Teaching Darkens the Mind

The tendency of this teaching has all been toward making man unmerciful and unjust, and it has darkened the human mind in all ages, and will continue to do so until the true idea of God takes the place of the mere belief and opinion about Him. In our own Whittier's words, −

           

            Fade, pomp of dreadful imagery,

            Wherewith mankind have deified

            Their selfishness and hate, and pride;

         Let the scared dreamer wait to see

            The Christ of Nazareth at his side.

         Gone be the faithlessness of fear,

            And let the pitying heaven's sweet rain

            Wash out the altar's bloody stain −

         The law of hatred disappear,

            The law of love alone remain.

 

In all lands and ages there have been earnest seekers after the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, catching glimpses of eternal sunshine through rifts in the heavy storm clouds, but the best word of promise seemed to be this: "Expect nothing here, for it is vain to do so, but beyond that gloomy portal awaiting you and all, some at least will find what they have never found here, peace and rest." That this was at best an uncertain sense is most evident from the awful grief which overwhelms those whose friends die, for surely none would indulge in such distress did they believe what they have been taught, that their dear ones have gone to heaven.

To the New England shores came, nearly three hundred years ago, a band of men and women, seeking a place of shelter from the storm and tempest of political and social tyranny − the necessary resultant of religious intolerance − and there they laid the foundation of a faith which had in it life enough to grow, and to prepare human thought for the reception of a final revelation of God and His law − "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone."

 

Mrs. Eddy Receives the Light

In the midst of such surroundings Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, was born and reared, her character, even from childhood, being a rare product of all that is best in the moral and intellectual realm of national thought. Keenly alive to the greater problems of life, she was ever seeking their solution − treading with reverent footsteps the galleries of thought where the sages and philosophers had gone − seeking as they had sought − but finding not the truth of being. At length, when hopelessly ill, according to human decree, the light long sought burst upon her vision, and the thrill of divine Life told her that she was healed, and by the power of God alone. Without hesitation she rose from her bed, dressed herself, and proclaimed to the first one she met the great truth, which I here tonight urge upon your acceptance, the fact that Christ has never left us.

I would love to linger over the wonderful story of the unfolding of this new idea − the reappearing of Christianity which heals the sick as well as reforms the sinner, just as of old; which binds up broken hearts and makes the dreary wastes of mortal existence bloom with newly awakened hope and faith − but time passes, and I can only say this, that Mrs. Eddy learned that Christian Science, as revealed to her, was the truth taught and practised by Christ and his apostles, because it was characterized by the signs which he said should follow them that believe. She learned also that it was not of the world, because the world hated it and poured out its impotent wrath upon the head of the woman who stood alone as the messenger of God, well knowing that she must drink to its dregs the cup the Master drank. But she knew that nothing could hinder her mission, because the science of the Bible had been discovered, and the law of healing demonstrated as a law of Mind. She had learned how Christ and his disciples healed the sick, how their work was the necessary outcome of all that the ancient prophets had achieved; and how the religion of the present time must be characterized, as was his and theirs, by victories over sin, sickness, and death, to be consistent with the fundamental idea of the Bible, namely: the omnipotence of God, Good, and the consequent powerlessness of evil.

 

Truth Comes when Most Needed

That this Truth came when most needed there can be no question, for all the Churches were deploring the blighting influence of the crassest materialism, and yet unable to cope with it. Christ said, "When the son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" How shall we answer that question, since faith is so often looked upon as the evidence of ignorance, and is treated apologetically by many professing Christians; and yet it is said in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews that without faith it is impossible to please God. An eminent writer of the present century says that "mere incredulity is the surest sign of a weak head and a corrupt heart."

With Christian Science has come such an awakening of faith and understanding that even the bitterest prejudice is compelled to admit that the like was never witnessed since the days of the apostles. Let me relate an incident illustrative of this fact, which occurred recently near my home. In this neighborhood there had been a number of remarkable cases of healing, and in a humble home a little child lay very ill, dying, the neighbors said. Material means had all failed, but when the eyes were glassing over, and the baby fingers becoming black and lifeless, the mother lifted the little form from the bed, wrapped it in a shawl, and, despite the protestations of friends and relatives, who said she was crazed by her grief, she started out saying, "I know if I can reach a Christian Scientist my child will be saved."

She had to go some miles, but her faith and love sustained her, and when she reached the Scientist's home the student, though startled, felt that such faith could never be kindled by anything less than the spirit of God, and she felt that the victory would be given; and it was. The struggle was most severe, and error threatened the arrest of the mother and healer in case of failure, but after a night of prayer and demonstration, the clouds rolled away and the child was healed. The Scientist realized that she had seen God face to face − yes, and lived. Friends, those who have passed through such experiences are as ready to go to the prison or the scaffold as any in the past, but they will never take back the words of Truth, "The word of our God endureth forever."

 

Science and Health Key to Truth

Now you ask what is it that gives such courage, such sublime faith? If you would know, you must read this marvelous book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." Study it, seek in it the meaning of life, and ask of God that He will show you truth and clear away all error from your thought. Let its simple yet sublime teachings open up to you the long-hidden treasures of the Bible, and as you read you will see that Christ's words are true, and that the kingdom of God is within you. You will learn, too, that you have always been in that kingdom, for it is within and without, since God is all and governs all that is real and harmonious. In the so-called material realm are mighty forces which symbolize the might of Mind, and yet for long ages men have been ignorant of them. It is but a few years ago that people sneered at the possibility of using electricity in any way, making of the lightning a servant or a slave.

Today what does it not accomplish on the plane of human activity? It lights our cities, is the motive power for our railways, carries our messages around the globe, and promises to do much more. All this tells of progress, and yet it is nothing when compared with what is to be revealed when Life, Truth, and Love are understood as supreme over all, the one almighty intelligence controlling all the phenomena of being, from a blade of grass to a star. It is needless to recount the splendid triumphs of physical science, so-called; for if a man is the helpless victim of sickness, sin, and death, why amuse him with the playthings of time and sense? What are either comfort or luxury to the man who neither knows God nor himself, who guesses not that he has in his true being God-like powers and possibilities, which are the birthright of every man, woman, and child?

 

Methods of Science are Sure

To the sick of all classes and conditions Science comes, declaring the omnipotence of God. Its methods are sure and certain and not mere guessing, for we know that there is no effect without a cause, and that effects can never be different from their causes. Here is the point of departure from merely material methods and beliefs. We cannot predicate of either disease or sin a divine cause, hence neither has reality, since God made all that was made. Thus we discover the difference between truth and error. Truth is never that which appears to the physical senses, as we discover when the facts of astronomy are known. To the physical eye the sun appears to rise and set, but this evidence is overruled by the fact that the opposite is true. It is all-important here to know what Christian Science teaches, since people who know nothing about the subject suppose we say and try to imagine that there is no sickness when there is. How, then, are we to know the truth about it? Well, we have revealed in Christian Science an unvarying standard − even God, the divine Principle of Being, and whatever may be the evidence given by the corporeal senses, we deny its reality and appeal to the unchanging standard, even God and the spiritual law.

How often do sick people say: "I want to know the truth about my condition, no matter if death be impending." Who is to tell them this? Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Christian Scientists seek to live by this standard, and they are made free from sin and sickness, because they understand what Truth is. God alone is Truth, and as the mortal eye can never see God, so Truth must be discerned by the spiritual sense, and before this sense all evil disappears, since God never gave it authority nor power. To know the truth about any one you must know the mind of the Lord, and thus you will see that Truth is always beautiful and full of blessedness and power.

 

Truth Healing Not Hypnotism

At this point it is well to define the wide difference between Truth healing and what is termed hypnotic suggestion. The latter method, which is the very opposite of Christian Science, may be illustrated in this way: A boy is beginning to study arithmetic. You examine his slate and find that, according to his sense, twice two does not equal four, nor twice four, eight; but this does not alter the fact. It is merely the expression of a mistake. Now, what is to be done? Simply show him the self-evident truth, for the mistake never changes the fact, either in mathematics or in life itself. In the latter case the ordinary doctor believes the disease to be real, because it is down on the slate, i.e., the body, and he may try to remove it by suggestion, or by a drug, not knowing the truth himself; but only a clear sense of Truth can accomplish the needed result and set the captive free. To merely suggest that one is well when you believe him to be sick will do more harm than good, for it is Truth understood which does this mighty work, and nothing less. Further, Christian Science has no relation whatever to spiritualism, to mesmerism, or to theosophy.

When Christian Science was brought to my notice, over fifteen years ago, I was a hopeless sufferer, because I had exhausted the skill of several eminent physicians, both in this country and in Europe. A very severe and frequently recurring malady had darkened the years since childhood, with not even the slightest alleviation of suffering from drugs, although I followed faithfully the advice of my physicians, guarding against every change of temperature, until my prison house was slowly but surely narrowing around me, by the limitations thus imposed.

 

Where Doctors Disagree

On one occasion, during a visit abroad, I listened to a most eloquent sermon by a famous preacher, the text being from the 68th Psalm, "He that is our God is the God of salvation: and unto God the Lord belong the issues from death." It seemed, indeed, as a light shining in a dark place. Not long after I had occasion to appeal to the speaker for advice on behalf of a relative who was a member of his church. No words can describe my disappointment when I was told, in a kind and courteous note, that he could neither give advice nor help, being ill himself a great deal of the time; that it was a case for the doctors. Their skill was tried in vain, and it was difficult to throw off the feeling that it was almost useless to read the Bible, and especially to preach long sermons about it, when we were so far from the evident meaning of Christ's teachings in our sorest need. But at the same time a clear conviction remained that without God life is impossible, so I waited for more light.

Soon after the following experience occurred. During the illness of my child Dr. Hahnemann, the grandson of the founder of the homoeopathic system and himself an eminent physician, was employed. As Dr. Hahnemann was suddenly called away an allopathic doctor was summoned, who began to congratulate the agonized mother upon her change of schools, saying that no homoeopathic doctor could sign a death certificate in England at that time (1881). When Dr. Hahnemann returned in a day or two he called and said that it would be useless for him to resume the treatment, as the remedies employed by the allopathic physician were sufficient to kill a young child, and that the case was hopeless now. He admitted also that, although he was a graduate of several colleges, he could not sign a death certificate. The child died, but the whole sad experience prepared the way for the acceptance of Christian Science, which came at a time of great need, and soon after the return to this country. It is indeed strange, in view of the wide extent of human misery, the almost universal want and woe, that all the world does not help to remove every barrier which stands in the way of the alleviation of its ceaseless suffering.

 

Bible Was a Sealed Book

Little did I think at this time that the help was so near, though I had read in the Bible, "It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us," and also, "That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, . . . for He is thy life."

Though loved and reverenced, the Bible was a sealed book, so far as deliverance from suffering was concerned. Soon after we returned to this country, and ere long I learned of the healing of the sick in Christian Science. Some of the cases were indeed marvelous, but, like the disciples of old, I doubted. The struggle with pride, prejudice, and doubt was long and severe, and I had not at first the good fortune to see or even hear of the blessed book which would have given me the much needed help. But God's purpose can never really be hindered, and I was seeking and knocking, and in an hour of supreme agony the door opened. The healing messenger came and the Father was revealed in Science and Health as divine Love. It is only just to add to this the statement that never once has this blessed Truth failed me in over fourteen years of "endless toil and endeavor." It has kept ever before me the supremacy of God, Good. It has given me health, strength, hope, and happiness. It has enabled me to do what I never supposed was possible, because I have learned that God is the only Mind. It has made the Bible dear to me in an ever-increasing sense. It has made the world beautiful because it has taught me that all things in nature are but hieroglyphics of Deity. It has taught me gratitude to the Church of my childhood, wherein I learned so much of the great possibilities of Christ's teachings that I could not rest until I had found the full content of Christianity in Christian Science.

 

God's Healing Power Ignored

It is claimed by a good many persons that the great good which Christian Science teaches is also taught by religionists of other churches, and that doctors admit and employ the power of mind in healing diseases. I can speak both for myself and hundreds of others whom I have known since being a Christian Scientist, and never in a single instance do I know of a minister telling a poor sufferer that God could and would restore him; that the same power prevailed today as in the bygone centuries; nor did my physicians ever once suggest that there was power in mind to warrant me in resisting disease and overcoming it. On the contrary, I was continually warned against taking any risks from over-exertion, or by neglecting precautions, all of which tended to exclude Mind and limit its possibilities.

After this marvelous experience came to me, an unfolding took place to which human lips can never do justice, but that it will be understood I am certain, for it has been the experience of many thousands who have been healed in this same way, and thousands more are awakening, and all would say with the Psalmist, "I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with Thy likeness." I had been born again, had seen in a flash of light, as it were, the true meaning of life. In my long, dreary struggle I had often wondered what life could be; for even physical science showed that it was not the phenomenon of existence, that there was a wide difference between the thing which lives and life itself. It did not seem possible that life could be that which was manifested by savage beasts and no less savage men, and yet, where was life to be found? In reading Science and Health all this was made plain indeed − that life is not a blind force, subject to matter and its limiting conditions; but that life is God, Mind, Spirit, Soul, Intelligence, Truth, and Love. Here, then, is to be found the meaning of Christ's statement, "I am come that ye might have life, and that ye might have it more abundantly." This life is what heals the sick, and at the same time saves from sin, for this life embodies in itself all moral power, and what is equally important it is All-in-all. "The Lord is God, and there is none beside him." This life recognized becomes such a mighty transforming force that it sweeps away both fear and everything which does not represent God.

 

Thought the Basis of Everything

It is an astounding fact that after nearly two thousand years of Christianity, the only absolute basis of unity in human thought is the belief in death, for of earth's millions, there are many who do not believe in God at all, and amongst the multitudinous sects, there is but little agreement as to the nature and laws of God, while all are agreed that whatever is uncertain, death is the one certainty.

Yet St. Paul wrote, in a burst of triumph, that "Christ hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light." We are told in the Scriptures that as a man thinketh so is he. Christian Science is proving beyond all question that thought is the basis of everything. Can you conceive of anything which did not first exist as thought, whether in art, commerce, or invention? A man's thought is the basis of all he is and does. It determines his words, deeds, and destiny, so far as mortal existence is concerned. In view of this fact, think of the human race holding in thought continually the idea of death, and talking constantly of the evils which lead up to it, sin and sickness, and see how, through this blindness, God is shut out of human existence as it were.

Now, suppose this were all reversed, and God made the basis of all thought and consideration, which is done by genuine Christian Scientists always. Let all the toiling and hopeless ones of earth turn away from this belief in death, and instead, think of God as their life in a simple, practical way. Let this life be the basis of unity in the home, in society, in the place of business. Make it your central theme of consideration, the motive for all you plan and execute. Can you think of the revolution it would bring about in the world? Would it not be indeed God dwelling with men − they His people, He their God? If, with all this, you take as your model the Christ of the Gospels, you will see that life was a theme on which he dwelt, and toward which he directed all thought. He told them of the bread of life and of the water of life, and, toward the close of the fourth Gospel, the beloved disciple says that all that is written of him is that "believing, we might have life through his name."

 

Science Meets a World-wide Need

That Christian Science meets a world-wide need is surely self evident so far as healing is concerned; for materia medica has no relation whatever to the permanent element in life, even the moral and spiritual. Not only do drugs fail to heal the sick, but the whole system makes mortal man a veritable slave to his body, and according to this mistaken belief, mind, which is the greater, is made subject unto the lesser, even the body.

I do not for a moment deny the philanthropy and fair motives of large numbers of physicians, but this does not alter the fact that their methods are wholly wrong, because they are not based upon divine Principle, and ignore the fact that man is a moral and spiritual being, both primarily and ultimately − and the correctness of this statement is fully sustained by the Bible. Jesus said, "Take no thought for the body" − and why? Because on the body only effects can be found − in mind, the cause − and until this is understood and acknowledged no system of healing will be either scientific or successful.

If, instead of devoting so much time to the study of bacteriology and pathology, doctors would study man as a moral, spiritual, and intellectual being, not merely "so much liver, lung, integument," they would begin to discover what has been so long hidden from the scientific gaze, namely, God's man, endowed with limitless powers and possibilities, having embodied in his true consciousness all needed remedies, because he is the reflection of God. If they would turn the lens of truth upon the secret and open sins of their patients, which blight the moral nature, and so react upon the body, they would see the need of studying the great system of therapeutics set forth by Jesus. He taught us that if we make clean that which is within, that which is without will be clean also. He said, "The words which I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." And again and again it is emphasized, both in the Old and the New Testament, that He, God, sent out His word and healed them.

 

Simply the Power of a Word

"Ah," you say, "is that all, the power of a word?" Yes, that is all, but whose word is it? It is but the repetition of the almighty Word which dispelled the ancient chaos and said, "Let there be light, and there was light." Do you doubt its puissance − or suppose that the rolling on of centuries has lessened its force?

Go, if you will, with the disciples to Nain, where the widow's only son was being carried to his grave, or to the house of Jairus, where the little daughter lay dead. Call, if you will, the Roman legions and their bravest generals, and ask what they can do. They have slain their thousands and tens of thousands, but none of them can restore life. The carpenter of Nazareth comes forward, he who said to the people, "I can of mine own self do nothing," and he speaks the word which declares the majesty of God, and by the eternal law of Spirit the dead rise, and we know that his words are true, that, "As the Father hath Life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have Life in himself." So also on the stormy sea, where the skill of the bravest seamen was vain, he spoke the same word of power, and there was a great calm.

Was this miraculous? Not according to Science. It was but the fulfilment of God's eternal law of harmony. Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health, "The miracle introduces no disorder, but unfolds the primal order, thus establishing the science of God's unchangeable law." Any marvel must seem miraculous to the ignorant thought. What would it have seemed to any one fifty years ago to touch a button and flood a darkened room with light? The truth is that back of the miracle and behind the word of science is God's thought, which is high as the heavens above the earth; and Christ never once said that the works he did were his prerogative alone. On the contrary, he said, "Greater works than these shall ye do." The Bible says, "In him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily;" but it also says, "that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." What more than this can any one ask? Those who understand the meanings of his words can and do heal the sick as he did, and the Word will be spoken with more and more power as human thought is prepared to receive it.

 

Truth Makes Rapid Progress

We live in a period when the dawn of ideas takes the place of superstition, either religious or scientific. Of what avail is it to know what the person of God is, or the person of man, for that matter, when the all-important consideration is, what is the mind and character of God, and does man reflect this?

The truth taught in Christian Science is rapidly revolutionizing everything in human existence. It is separating the chaff from the wheat in religion, science, and art, and in all great reformatory methods. It is spreading over the entire globe, its simplicity and profoundness meeting alike the needs of the wise and the ignorant, for it reveals "the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." That so many counterfeits have sprung up in its name is but a proof of its excellence. But the true literature of Christian Science is so far above human opinion that we find in it the fulfilment of all the genuine aspirations of human thought toward God, Good.

Because I am a loyal student of Mrs. Eddy I feel assured of a loving welcome in this city, and I cannot leave it without telling how much I owe, how much the world owes, to her who, at such cost, has given us so great a treasure as we have in her writings. Jesus never once intimated that the sacred canon was forever closed, but, on the contrary, said that the Father would send another Comforter, whom the world could not see, even the Spirit of Truth. Her message of love, like that of the Master, has been despised and rejected by the self-satisfied and self-righteous; but there are thousands of others who were listening, faint and weary, like the soldier's wife at the siege of Lucknow in India, when, to her quickened ear came the sound of distant, but rapidly approaching music, telling that relief was near at hand.

They began at first to hear a new strain amidst the world's wild discord, and as its sweet harmony entered and pervaded their entire being they learned that it was the old story that God is Love, and the great song rolled on, "Love will finally mark the hour of harmony; and spiritualization will follow, for Love is Spirit."

 

Mrs. Eddy is Assailed in Vain

This is the song of the angels, heard not alone of the shepherds, but by all who have ears to hear. The world can never pay its debt to Mrs. Eddy, for, besides the unequaled literature of Christian Science, we have her own grand life and character, assailed in vain by envy, ignorance, and malice. As her student, I hesitate not to say that her spiritual power and insight, as well as her intellectual greatness, mark her as unique amongst the greatest men and women of this or any age; but it is her power of inspiring others with her own sublime courage and unfaltering faith in God which is the secret of her great success.

I cannot close this lecture better than by giving a quotation from one of her works, "Retrospection and Introspection" (p. 23), which but expresses the experience of thousands to whom God has spoken through Christian Science.

 

"Emergence Into Light

"The trend of human life was too eventful to leave me undisturbed in the illusion that this so-called life could be a real or abiding rest. All things earthly must ultimately yield to the irony of fate, or else be merged into the one infinite Love. . . . Thus it was when the moment arrived of the heart's bridal to more spiritual existence. When the door opened I was waiting and watching, and lo! the bridegroom came! The character of Christ was illumined by the midnight torches of Spirit. My heart knew its Redeemer. He whom my affections had diligently sought was as the 'One altogether lovely,' as 'the chiefest,' the only, 'among ten thousand.' Soulless famine had fled. Agnosticism, pantheism, and theosophy were void. Being was beautiful, its substance, cause, and currents were God and His idea. I had touched the hem of Christian Science."

 

[Delivered at Kansas City, Missouri, April 12, 1899, and published in The Christian Science Journal, June, 1899.]

 

 

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