Christian Science: The Interpretation of Truth
Frank H. Leonard, C.S.B., of Chicago, Illinois
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Whenever I hear or think of that quotation from John, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," I likewise think of the question asked of Jesus, "What is truth?" And perhaps the most interesting thing, so far as I am concerned, in the entire quotation, is the fact that Jesus did not answer that question. He practically said: If in view of everything that you have known to be done in Judea under my ministry you are still asking the question, "What is truth?" then no words would ever convey one single item of information on that point. My conviction is quite well borne out by the fact that when John the Baptist again became doubtful, after he had admitted that Jesus was the Redeemer who was looked for, and sent to Jesus to find out whether or no he was the one they had expected, Jesus did not answer directly. He did many things, and then he said: Now, go and tell John what I have done, then let him find out for himself who I am; and on the basis of what Jesus had accomplished, John knew that he was the Redeemer.
Now, Truth is one Truth. In my recent lecture tour in Europe, a very eminent divine in the Lutheran church remarked that it was dangerous to say God is Truth, because, he said, there are so many truths that it would be a question as to which one God is. That was a theological opinion, but it was not Christian. All the human opinions on the face of the earth as to what constitutes Truth may be wrong. There are millions of human opinions, but when we begin to limit Truth, when we begin to say that there is this truth and that truth and the other truth, we are getting away from the Bible fact, which tells us that there is just one Truth, and that this Truth is God, the infinite One. In order that any one may be free from any kind of discord, he must know the truth that proves the discord untrue. In other words, nothing can really exist without Truth.
Truth is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Truth never began and it never will end. Truth is always good, it is always pure, it is always lovely, and it always accomplishes just one result, and that is the fruitage of God. Humanly speaking we could not build this building if we did not have Truth, for, humanly speaking, nothing on earth could be accomplished were it not for Truth. Why, as a matter of fact, you cannot even lie until you know the truth. Have you ever thought of that? Because a lie is a misstatement about Truth. And so you see the whole of our investigation and research along all lines will lead us straight and absolutely to the contemplation of Truth.
We must answer, each of us, to and for ourselves the question — what is Truth? We must every one of us prove in ourselves and to ourselves and for ourselves the freedom from everything untruthful which a knowledge of the Truth that is God brings to us.
Truth Comes to Human Consciousness
Christian Science came into this world as it came, not accidentally; it did not come under the impulsion of human opinions at all, but it came because away down underneath with everyone in this world is a desire and a hope for Truth. And so, naturally, sooner or later, Truth began to appeal to human consciousness, in a way it could apprehend until Truth finally sprang forth arrayed in all its beauty and glory and majesty, the manifestation of God Himself, in order that Truth itself should be known, and our acceptance of it be justified by reason of what it accomplishes in the world.
We have had a wonderful experience with Truth in our own day as it has been presented to us. It has been a marvel to those who have known it why or how anyone could question the fact that Christian Science reveals the truth. This has been questioned because it has been questioned as a revelation. It has been questioned as a revelation because it has been questioned as having had a revelator; and the wole thing has been questioned because the world, until Christian Science brought the fruitage of Truth into it, has not comprehended Truth at all in its spiritual sense; because men have turned away from the teaching and preaching of our Lord and Master while he was on earth, and have gone away after strange teachings and divers theories and beliefs.
Christian Science brings this Truth to us in such forms and manner that the little children understand it. They understand it so well that they are every day of their lives doing wonderful things to bring out the realization of Truth.
I just want to tell you one thing that came under my notice. A little girl of seven years of age had gone out to play with another little girl. She came in in about half an hour with a face which showed conclusively that she was not very happy. Her mother asked her what was the trouble. The little girl just shut her lips together and went right to her own room, sat down and played with her own things. She had been in there about twenty minutes when she came out with her eyes wide open and said, "Why, mother, what do you think? I almost forgot that we are both God's children." Then she went back to play with her companion again.
You see, she had analyzed Truth without human or personal distinction and when she had done that, Truth appealed to her as belonging to every one in exactly the same quantity and quality that it belonged to any one, therefore she recognized that what she had been doing was to limit Truth in seeing only herself as God's child. It then occurred to her if one of them was God's child they both were, and as soon as she saw this the disturbance was healed. The anger and resentment disappeared, her thought had been cleansed and purified, and with the simplicity of a child she said so frankly and went back to her playmate.
Now that ought to teach us how we may use the truth of being to bring about a cessation of discord and dissension, and to establish a universal brotherhood of man, wherein there shall be no distinction, no line of separation, no difference of any kind but we shall all be working for the universal good. That is the mission of Christian Science in this world.
The only way the Christian mission can possibly be accomplished is by the spreading of the truth about God, about Jesus the Christ, about man and the universe, so that the whole world shall understand and comprehend the infinite God and the infinite capacity and ability of His children to go to Him in any of their misunderstandings, whether these are called want or woe, sin or sickness, and find for every one the help which the Bible teaches us God has for us.
The Coming of Christian Science
One of the questions that has been asked very often is why we should assume that this revelation had come through a woman of whom no one had ever heard up to that time, rather than through some of the men or women who had consecrated years of their lives to the study of the Bible. Well, really, we cannot answer that question. Only God can answer that. But we can say us did Christ Jesus: "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." Mrs. Eddy assuredly conformed to what a babe means in her loyalty to the teachings of the Bible, in taking them as being absolutely true.
When other children were hearing the little fairy stories and things of that sort to which we all have loved to listen, Mrs. Eddy was hearing from her mother the history of things recorded in the Bible, the stories of true events. Her mother did not tell her about what this or that one said: she was constantly telling her stories of their works, and what the Word of God accomplished, so that Mrs. Eddy was familiar when a young girl with all the activities recorded in the Bible; to her they were not mere historic accounts or events, they were real, living, actual facts, the proofs of God's allness. She clung to them as she grew up; then when she had reached maturity she met with an accident which the doctors said would result fatally. All of her friends accepted and believed this, and her minister stopped to pray with her in the morning, believing, as they all did, that she would not be on earth to be prayed with at the termination of the morning service. After he had done his kindly loving work for her, she asked those with whom she was staying to give her her Bible and to leave her alone with God. They did as she requested, and when the minister stopped again later to see if he could be of any assistance, Mrs. Eddy herself opened the door to him, and stood before him for the first time since her girlhood perfectly well, normal and natural in every particular.
The Bible tells us of many happenings of that kind. Yes, and there are many events of that sort about which we know that have happened outside the Bible times. But what is the difference between those and Mrs. Eddy's case? This — the others all accepted their healing to be a manifestation of a special dispensation on the part of God, and the next time they had a pain they took a pill. They thought their healing was a special occasion and that a special privilege had been given to them to be specially made well by the Word of God. Mrs. Eddy did not accept this. We know in Christian Science that there is no such thing in heaven or in earth as a special dispensation, because, if we believe what Jesus said we know he said that if we believe on him, we shall all do the works he did. He intended therefore to say that it was not a special dispensation which had enabled him to do these things, but that it was a universal gift to men when they were willing to follow God in his footsteps as he had taught them to do. Mrs. Eddy did not accept her healing as a special dispensation, for she knew that she had been made well through the activity of the law of God, and that she had a right to her birthright, the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ whom He had sent, which would give her dominion over the earth and the fullness thereof, and take from her every sense of fear that God might be absent, or that there was another power to which she might be subject, therefore that God might not be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Then she became a student night and day, week in and week out, month in and month out, year in and year out. She studied. And what did she study? The Bible. It was the only book she had to study. No commentaries would help her, nothing but a determined and consecrated effort to know the truth of being in its spiritual import would suffice to bring about the knowledge which she felt was her birthright and which she was entitled to have. So she studied and studied and studied, and then after a while her old theological belief, instead of being a cloud, became simply a mist, and then that grew less and less, until finally she began to get hold of the light of God in its eternal activity, so that she was able to heal others even as she had been healed, and thus she learned to know God even better. She found herself able to tell others how to heal as she had been healed, and then her revelation fulfilled itself when it came to her so clearly that she was able to put it down in words that you and I can grasp and understand and comprehend, so that we take what she said and go to our Bible with it. We, too, find the spirit of the Word of God which enables us to worship Him in spirit and in truth, and so fulfill His law.
So we all know by results that the revelation came to Mrs. Eddy and through her to the whole world.
Impartiality of Truth
Please do not think that we Christian Scientists imagine that we have a peculiarly close position relative to God. Do not think for a moment that we are indicating or mean to indicate that we think God loves us better than He does anybody else. He does not. His attitude towards all His children is the same, and never changes. Truth is irresistible, irrefutable, and irreversible and is equally applicable by all. The only distinction to the human sense of things might be illustrated in the difference between perhaps a dozen students in a classroom in school. One grasps the fundamentals, the law, the progression and the rule, and so brings out a successful answer to his problem, Another does not grasp it so well, and fails to get a complete, correct answer. The others have not grasped it at all, and they do not get any answer that shows any intelligent knowledge of the subject whatever. But the principle is there, and when one uses it correctly, he finds himself in direct line and he is able to solve the problem and to get the right answer.
So it is just a question, my dear friends, of services. It is a question of using what you have or abusing it, or turning your back upon it. We find that it is essentially true that we have departed far from God. I always wondered why it seemed to be that there began in the year 800 such retrogression from the use of the Word of God for the solving of all problems. But when I learned, as I did in my trip to Europe, that Constantine, crowning himself as the vicegerent of God on earth, never became a Christian, never laid down his false gods, and that the Christian people of that day did not ask him to, did not expect him to, but followed him just because he was a successful fighter in war, I could understand then why at that time and period the Christian people began to find themselves incapable of understanding the law of God sufficiently to make it operative in the meeting of their necessities and desires.
One thing you may rest assured of. Your application of Christian Science must be honest from the inside out. It does not make much difference what you say if your speech is not the manifestation of what you have accomplished, what you know you are capable of accomplishing, when you are obedient to the Bible command wherein it is said unto us, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." You see that it requires something of us in order that we may get this Mind of Christ, because the Bible says, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." And so it requires and demands of us that our human theory and opinion should be set aside, and that we shall no longer glory in what we call diversity of opinion, but that we shall glory in the single purpose which brings out the one Truth, the one God, and the one Christ.
The Bible The Guide
The Bible to the Christian Scientist is not essentially a church book. Of course, he uses it in church — but it is also to him a work book. To the business man it is a business book. To the housekeeper it is a book of rules telling how to keep house comfortably, pleasantly and harmoniously. To the child in school it is the textbook which teaches that child how to think. And to every man, woman and child on earth it is the foundation of right thinking wherein we may find our freedom.
Christian Science is a field for everybody on the face of the earth upon which to get busy and work out his own salvation. We have not been accustomed to think that the laity should work particularly hard on religious subjects, because a man has sometimes thought that he was a pretty good Christian if he kept a pew in church, saw that his family attended regularly and he himself occasionally when the opportunity seemed ripe. He would go and he would listen to the result of another man's hard labor and work, and come away and nod his head, "That was a pretty good talk," and would feel that he had done his part of the religious work until he again associated himself with other members of his church in its meetings.
But, my dear friends, there is a great difference between creed and religion. Religion demands of us that we shall work constantly and continuously to think right, and consequently to do right. Well, one might say, it is pretty hard work to be a Christian Scientist. Consider, however, your human experiences, and all of the human differences between persons, and you will find it pretty hard work not to be one. The fact is, that you have had enough trouble in the experience you have had, and you would like to change it if you could. We have all had that suggestion. No, it is not hard to be a Christian Scientist, not as hard as it is not to be one.
Where do you start to be a Christian Scientist? With every right thought you think. That is your start. Therein is to be found your progress, and in the successful attitude of always thinking right do you find the key of heaven. You have had the thought that heaven is afar off. You have deemed it to to be afar off, and yet, every time you use the Lord's Prayer, what do you pray? "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Have you meant it? When you talk about "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven," have you meant it? Have you ever stopped to think whether you meant it or not? Has it ever meant to you that you are praying that there should come unto you and through you and in you such a consecrated knowledge of God that you would stop thinking and doing wrong, and think and do the right and that that would bring what has been termed the millennium here, — in other words, the kingdom of God and His righteousness on earth as it is in heaven?
Our Lord and Master saw the necessity for it, so he taught us all to pray that prayer, and he did not mean that we should pray for it to come at some other time. One thing we must learn is to know that we are not praying for a kingdom that is yet to come, but we are praying for that knowledge of God which brings that kingdom into our midst in proportion to our right thinking.
Christian Science and Prayer
But it has been said that Christian Scientists do not pray. Why, the whole activity of the Christian Science movement is prayer. It is entirely prayer. You know that the Bible says that we are to pray without ceasing. Now, you ask some Christian of the orthodox churches: "Do you know that the Bible says that you are to pray without ceasing?" And he will say: "Yes." Then you say to him: "Do you do it?" And he will say: "Why, no, of course I don't, I have to take care of my house, I have to take care of my business, to keep my books, to do my stenographic work: I have all these things to do and I could not do them if I prayed all the time."
I want to say that Christian Science teaches us beyond peradventure that we must pray without ceasing, and that there is no such thing as the possibility of true success unless it is predicated upon constant prayer.
The trouble is that we have a wrong conception of what constitutes prayer. We have thought prayer to be simply a petition to God to do this or that. Or to give this or that, or to take away this or that. To be sure, the Bible says that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, without variableness or shadow of turning. Nevertheless, in the human misapprehension which surrounds the term prayer, it has been constant appeal to the Unchangeable to become the very essence of changeableness.
Now, just to illustrate it, let me ask, have we ever thought how strange it would sound if we were suddenly endowed with the power to hear all of the petitions called prayer which are sent up to God at the same time? For instance, here are two perfectly sincere Christian business men in the same city. Their stores are on the same street in the same block and they are side by aide. One sells umbrellas and rubbers and the other sells spring bonnets. One man prays for rain, and the other prays for fair weather, and what is God going to do?
That is not the kind of prayer that Jesus used at the tomb of Lazarus. He did not ask God if God were willing that Lazarus should live. He simply said, "Father, I thank thee" — and then on the foundation of this thanks unto God he turned to the tomb and said: "Lazarus, come forth;" and Lazarus came forth.
Now the greatest book of prayer that there is in the whole Bible is the book of Psalms. We all know that David had been wonderfully blessed; that he had more opportunities to serve God than it seemed possible for a human being to have: than he began to be pretty proud of David; he began to think that David was doing a lot of these things instead of God's doing them, and the result was that he began to slip backward and downward until he finally got down into the mud and mire of doing everything that he ought not to do and leaving undone the things he ought to have done. We never get so far down into the mud and mire of disloyalty to God but that if we turn in the right direction we shall find God standing by our side giving us, in proportion to our willingness to accept the Christ-mind, relief and surcease from the discord which has environed us. And so in the very depths of his wretchedness and misery, David found God again. If we will take the Psalms we shall see how full they are of praise, how David glorifies God, how he recognizes that all there is is the manifestation of God in His great consideration even for the sons of men in their striving to work out their salvation. To be sure, once in a while we find a psalm that is pretty doleful — that is the human side of David — but he always gets hold of it in the next psalm and his prayer then is more joyful than ever. So it shows that he recognized that thanksgiving unto God is real prayer; and that indicates to us that there is nothing so infinitesimal in our daily occupation that we may not praise God for it.
I want to tell you — it may not interest the gentlemen much, but it will interest the ladies — that we can praise God in washing dishes. How? By being happy that you have the dishes to wash and the ability to wash them, rather than getting mad because you have to do it. In every human experience we can praise God, because every blessing flows from Him. He is the Father of light, and every good and perfect gift cometh out from Him unto His children, and for the service of the sons of men when they are willing to use them.
Christian Science and Business
We have heard a great deal of the discord surrounding us, that we are in the midst of the greatest financial depression the world as a world has known in history. Everybody is worried — that is, no, not everybody, but everybody who is not a Christian Scientist is worried, and a perhaps a few of the Christian Scientists are, too, because we find ourselves at times looking on the doleful side of things.
Some person maybe asks the question: "Do you use your religion for the solution of your financial problems?" We most assuredly do, and why not? Well, then, some one of you says that the Bible says that the Son of man had not a place to lay his head. Yes, it does say that, and on the basis of that we have been taught from generation to generation that Jesus was poor beyond the expression of words. But if we are thoughtful, and become familiar with the conditions and circumstances of the age in which he lived, we shall see that he simply made reference to the fact that like all religious teachers of that time he wandered continually from village to hamlet, doing the work of a man of God as he saw it, and resting peacefully with some true believer wherever the shades of night found him; because the Bible tells us that at the time he made that statement he was clad in a seamless garment, the most expensive form of clothing that they knew in those days. Poor! Why, the riches of Jesus were beyond human computation or expression. He made the greatest demonstration of provision that the world has ever known anything about. I am going to tell you about it, and you will recognize it when I begin to speak of it.
It was at the time when Jesus stood as usual discoursing to the people, and one of the disciples came to him and said in substance: "Master, the collector for Caesar's tribute waits without and wants his money." And what did Jesus do? Did he dismiss the concourse of people and gather the disciples together to see if amongst them they might be able to raise the pittance required so that Jesus might go on raising the dead? Isn't it strange that the incongruity of the two beliefs has never appealed to us as it does now? This is what he did. He did not dismiss the people at all. He just stopped for a moment and said to one of his disciples: "Peter you go down and cast in your line and the first fish that you get, open its mouth and there you will find a piece of money which will be for Caesar's tribute."
A lady in Kansas City said to me one time she was glad I spoke of that, because she had always thought that that passage meant that Jesus told Peter to go down and fish, and that Peter went down and fished long enough to get fish enough to take up to town and sell for money enough to meet the demand of Caesar's collector.
Well, as a matter of fact, is there any other interpretation to it when we come to know the spirit of the Word as Christian Science gives it to us? A person asks a Christian Scientist: "Do you believe that that thing actually happened?" "Absolutely." There is no question about it whatsoever. It is absolute proof to us when there is a time when we seem to be called upon to be obedient to the demand of owing no man anything save to love one another, that we can take the word of God and find the wherewithal to do it if we glorify God and cling to Him everlastingly.
What do you say? You say that your money will do just such a thing. Just so much, and that is all that it will do. Well, so long as you count your dollars that way that is all they will do for you, there isn't any question about that. But do you remember the multitude which Jesus fed with the few loaves and fishes? Do you remember that five thousand had all they could eat, and that after they had finished there was more left over than they had when they started?
Oh, yes, you say, but that was Jesus. He said that if we believed on him we should do the things that he did. Are you going to let God be true and believe it, and let every man be a liar, as the result of the human theory of limitation?
I want to tell a little experience of my own on the question of finance that will probably be helpful. I had at one time a salary of one hundred dollars a month. I was always rather methodical about such things, so I took my hundred dollars and I put it down here, and on the other side put house rent and clothing, and food, and incidentals, and my little innocent amusements, and then church — when I got down to church I didn't have anything left, the other things took the whole hundred dollars. May I say — and I say it without criticism or intentional criticism — that often times the penny or the nickel in the contribution plate represents the thought of the man who has put everything else down first and the church last. But I did that for a while and then it began to worry me: In other words, a knocking at my thought said to me: The only reason you are upon the face of the earth is because of what Christian Science has done for you, and yet you are putting the church last; and after a while I saw it, and then I took a desperate plunge, and I turned it around and put the church first. And I put down for the church what seemed to me a perfectly enormous amount — yes, and I put it in, too. I did not just put it down, I put it in. I did not change my method of living. I was not conscious of having made any change whatsoever; but at the end of the third month I found that I had paid all my bills, I had given to the church what I had pledged my own conscience to give it, and I had five dollars left over to put in the bank.
Now, then, what was the difference in the two methods? In the first I trusted my dollars and they were limited in their ability; in the second, I trusted my God and I found the limitation removed. In this present day crisis it is for the Christian Scientists to put trust in their God and go on with joy and happiness in the realization that the inexhaustible treasure of God is at their command, until they stop counting their dollars, and begin to count their blessings, and the result will be that Love "will lift the shade of gloom" and for all "make radiant room, midst the glories of one endless day," as Mrs. Eddy has taught us in the "Communion Hymn."
Christian Science is the open way for us to come out from "the shade of gloom" to find the real, legitimate, lovely peace which passes understanding, wherein God is glorified first, last and all the time.
Synonyms for God
Mrs. Eddy has unfolded to us a marvelous knowledge of God in the synonyms which she has given in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" for the word "God." Many people have thought that they did not believe in God, but every one believes in God when he knows what He is; and so these synonyms which Mrs. Eddy has given to the world would eventually have been sufficient to have saved the entire world if she had never written another thing. And I am going to speak briefly on a few of these, in order that we may have the blessing which comes to the Christian Scientist who knows these synonyms. They are not unusual, except in perhaps one instance, but they are exceptional in the enlightenment which they give us as to what God is.
Now Mrs. Eddy, in using these synonyms, does not limit or consent to the truth of the statement that there are two kinds of love, for instance; one that may turn into envy, murder, and hatred; and the other the love which Jesus Christ showed when he was enabled to say of those who were attempting to destroy him: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
Mrs. Eddy teaches us that God is Life. The Bible teaches us that God is Life. It says so in so many words — Life, that is without beginning or without ending; Life, which manifests itself to be the eternal activity and creator; Life, that we are all longing and looking for. Any one knows that God and Life are one, and we are all working for Life — we all believe in Life, and that is why we are working for it, and so because we believe in Life, we do believe in God.
I have spoken to you of the teaching that God and Truth are one, and we do know that nothing on earth can be accomplished if it be not for the realization of Truth which is changeless, and, because we all do believe in Truth, consequently we all do believe in God.
Then Mrs. Eddy teaches us that God is Love, the Love which Jesus showed in that hour of great testing and tribulation, and when we acquire that depth of Love we have reached a place — and not until then — when we can love our neighbors as our selves, and when we find our own in establishing another's good.
Then Mrs. Eddy teaches us that God and Principle are one. A person when he hears that statement very often will say: "Well, now, that is one of the objections that I have to some of the teachings of Christian Science. It takes my God away from me, and it gives me nothing but an ephemeral theory that I am to take and believe in."
The Bible says that God is Life. Do you think that Life is a person? The Bible says that God is Truth. Do you think that Truth is a person? And the Bible teaches us that God is Love, and you know that Love is not a person. It is the impossibility of the finite grasping the infinite that makes the appeal to some of us in a strong way humanly that we want a God who is like ourselves. We want to think of a man sitting on a throne in a place as a Judge; and we cannot have that kind of a God, my dear friends, if what the Bible teaches us about God is true, because the Bible teaches us that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, All-in-all, and we know that no human sense of person can possibly be omnipresent, or All-in-all.
Mrs. Eddy teaches us that God and Principle are one, and, as I say, that seems to be an abstract statement, but it is not when we understand it. What is it that always brings to a successful issue, if properly used, every problem? Is it primary law, the rule of progression? Is that the problem or the solution? No. It is the principle of mathematics which underlies all mathematical problems upon which the superstructure of all harmonious action is builded, and the result is the correct answer. It is in this method and manner that Mrs. Eddy uses the statement that God and Principle are one. She means that God is the foundation, the literal foundation of all that is true, and that on this foundation we build the superstructure wherein God, man, and the universe are coincident and in co-agreement, all of them manifesting eternal Life, Truth, and Love, which constitute God.
Mrs. Eddy also teaches us that God and Mind are one. That has been a controverted point, perhaps more so than any other of Mrs. Eddy's teachings. I don't know why. There isn't any thing new in that statement or teaching. She has not propounded anything new for our acceptance in teaching that God and Mind are one.
What does John say in opening his gospel. He says this: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." On a simple analysis let us see where that statement leads us, so far as the foundation is concerned.
What is the word? The word is the expression that accompanies or precedes thought. Thought is the activity of Mind. Therefore, because this is true, Mrs. Eddy's statement would be equally correct if it were used to say that in the beginning was Mind, and Mind was with God, and Mind was God — and then we instantly see why it is implored of us that we should let that Mind be in us "which was also in Christ Jesus," and we see what our Master meant when he said that it was not he that did these wonderful works but that it was the Father working in him who accomplished them. And, incidentally, therefore, in further corroboration of the correctness of this teaching, let us revert to the first chapter of Genesis, wherein we read: "God said . . . and it was so;" and we know that the spoken word is the expression of the thought which goes with it, and thought is the activity of Mind.
Therefore, it is not an abnormal, it is not an abstract statement to say that God is Mind, and when we come to know that God is the Mind of Christ, then we know that our God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and without variableness or shadow of turning.
It has been said also of the Christian Scientists that they are not Bible students, that they devote all of their time to the study of Mrs. Eddy's works. We may think we know some one in the Christian Science church, or attending the Christian Science church, who does that; but such a one is not a Christian Scientist. Mrs. Eddy gained her whole revelation from the Bible, and Christian Scientists are Christian Scientists only as they know the Word of God and are able to analyze its spiritual import and meaning as we find it in our Bible; and when we do that with the aid and illumination of the Christian Science textbook, then we are proving ourselves to be Christian Scientists, because we are striving to follow the Word of God to its ultimate demonstration and proof, and nothing less than that constitutes real, legitimate, lovely, Godlike Christian Science.
I have called attention to the Biblical teaching that God is Life, and because God is Life it is natural and normal that all of us should be striving to know Life and striving to demonstrate life. That is the reason that a calendar is such a liar. When it says life is born, it lies; it lies when it says that it is a year old; it lies when it says it is forty years old; the calendar lies when it says it is dead. It never did tell the truth and it never will, because it tries to fix Life between the point called birth and another point called death. The time for us to refuse to have anything to do with the calendar is when we begin to think, not waiting until our hair is white or gone. Begin it and cling to it, and keep on clinging to the thought that it does not make any difference to us what the calendar says, that we know that God is Life, and that man, the image and likeness of God, knows that He is not a God of the dead, but a God of the living, and that man's birthright is Life.
Now we Christian Scientists do not claim that we have yet reached the point where we completely overcome what is universally termed sin, disease, or death, but we do call attention to the fact according to the returns of the 1910 census — I have not been able to get the figures yet of 1920 — that during the twenty-five years preceding that time there was an average increase of longevity of sixteen years, and that was the first twenty-five years during which Christian Science had become universally known and was being practiced the world over. If in the first twenty-five years of this knowledge of the allness and changelessness of God as Life in our feeble grasp of it, it could have produced such a condition as that, we know that, as we come to a better, and a higher, and a holier, and a purer knowledge of God, we shall continue to grow in longevity until we shall again have upon the earth the age of the antediluvians, and then if that sense of limitation will pass away, we shall know God and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent, and to know Him is eternal Life, as the Bible teaches us.
That age of the antediluvians has been an unhappy feature for the natural scientists. They could not explain it away. They could not get around it; but recently they decided that they could get around it, for just before going to Europe last spring, a little magazine published in New York was sent to me in which the editor expressed himself as delighted to think that at last the scientists — not the Christian Scientists but the natural scientists — had found the explanation for the age of the antediluvians. The magazine went on to say that they had resolved, or rather had determined, after all these ages of research, that the only measure of time the antediluvians had was the lunar measure of time, which would mean a month, and that therefore in these stories of the age of the antediluvians, wherever the word "year" appears, there should be substituted the word "month," and then it went on to give an illustration. It said, for instance, these stories tell us that Adam lived to be nine hundred and thirty years of age, and the word "month" being substituted, and those months being resolved into years by the division of twelve, it would show that Adam lived to be about seventy-eight years of age, which was a rather close approximation to the theory of three-score and ten being the natural life of man upon earth.
Now, that sounds quite logical, and coming from the natural scientists it is bound to have a good deal of force. But there are one or two little things that interfere with the acceptance of that theory and I want to call your attention to two of them. In the same story in the Bible where they teach us that Adam lived to be nine hundred and thirty years of age, it also tells us that when Seth was born Adam was one hundred and thirty years of age. Call that months, resolve it into years, and it shows that Seth was born when Adam was ten and one-half years of age; and he already had two children.
It is even worse with Methuselah, because the Bible says that when Methuselah was born his father Enoch was sixty-five years of age, and reading that in the same way it shows when Methuselah was born, Enoch, his father, was five and one half years old.
It is not amazing that every attempt on the part of human theory to explain away the almightiness of the Word of God and its truth always slays itself, because it is not and can not be logical; but when it is presented to us as it should be, the logic is clear to us and brings to us the thought of the old patriarch, who cried to us, "Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die . . . ?"
I have been much interested in an advertising sign that is liberally sprinkled all over the United States. Part of the legend of that sign is this — "Eventually — why not now?"
That is the question which Christian Science is asking. Eventually you will turn, then why not now? I want to say that nothing that was ever good in all of our life, nothing that we ever found good in any of our own experiences, theories, or beliefs, but that we shall find when we come to grow to a knowledge of God and our Lord and Master, wherein there is no limitation in our thought about His ability or His willingness to help.
We are no longer to think that the Word of God is given just to heal from sin, but we shall know that it is given to heal from every one of the ills to which the flesh is heir. We shall find coming to us more and more a knowledge of the almightiness of God, and the more we know He is almighty the less shall we be concerned with the human theories, and we shall learn that there is no power apart from God that can thwart those who have the wish and desire to make the measure of the children of men unto eternal, everlasting Life.
We shall find that the more we turn to know God as Christian Science teaches God to be, the more loving we shall be, the more consciousness of Life we shall have, the more Truth we shall discern, and as every step presents itself unto us, the more we shall become conscious of the Principle of right thinking, so that we can make no mistake, but shall go on with the light which never lost a case which came to it for healing; and the more we cling to that, the more shall we have that Christ-mind which enables us to do for ourselves and for our brethren in this world the healing from every discord that seems to afflict us.
"Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as
it is in heaven."
[Delivered May 1, 1923, at Elks' Assembly Hall under the auspices of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Gloversville, New York, and published in The Morning Herald of Gloversville, May 2, 1923. The title was supplied from another copy of the lecture.]