Lecture on Christian Science, Title Unknown (1)
William D. McCrackan, M.A., C.S.B.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Today as in ages past suffering and sinning humanity utters the cry of the keeper of the prison to Paul and Silas: "What must I do to be saved?" What must I do to find the way of escape from sin and sickness; to assure myself of the future; to disentangle myself from the grasp of relentless foes; to protect myself from the assaults of outrageous fortune? Is there a God who saves and heals, and, if there is, is there any tangible proof that he has answered the cry of humanity in the past and is ready to hear my cry today? Where shall I find the assurance of all this which my mind demands — where the safety, peace, quiet, tenderness and satisfaction which my heart requires?
Christian Science answers this cry for help by offering practical proof that there is a way out, and that this way is the way of Christianity and of Science. It instructs humanity in the true understanding of God, and points to the irrefutable testimony drawn from the history of Christianity itself that God's saving and healing grace is ever ready to be showered upon His faithful followers in all ages in answer to their right thinking and obedience. It assures the doubting questioner that the way of salvation is traced by the finger of God and that the sound of the still, small voice directs those who walk in that way.
Let us therefore first of all consider certain facts in the history of Christianity which cannot be too strongly emphasized or too often repeated — facts with which we have been familiar from our very childhood, the significance of which, however, has sometimes escaped our notice. Let us assemble these facts in their natural sequence and bring them down to our own time, so that we may appreciate their bearing upon present-day lives and problems.
All down the ages sick and sinning humanity has reached out for help to a power outside of and beyond itself. All down the ages humanity has been in the habit of turning to this power as a last resort. Faith in the goodness and mercy of God has survived the shocks and disappointments of material experience, and there have been persons at different periods of the world's history who could realize His omnipresence and omnipotence sufficiently not only to save the sinner but also to heal the sick.
According to the Scriptures God promised this healing power to Moses and Israel when He declared, "I am the Lord that healeth thee" (Ex. xv. 26), and also, "I will take sickness away from the midst of thee" (Ex. xxiii. 25).
God has kept His promise given unto the fathers. With the help of this power the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea on dry land. By this same power they were fed with manna in the wilderness and their thirst was quenched from the living rock. By this power Elijah replenished the widow's cruse of oil and raised her son from the shadow of death. By this power Elisha cured Naaman's leprosy, the three Jews came forth unhurt from the fiery furnace and Daniel was delivered from the lions' den.
It was by this realization of God's omnipresence and omnipotence that Jesus the Christ did his wonderful works, forgiving (i. e. destroying) sin, healing all manner of disease, causing the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, the lame to walk, raising the dead, feeding the five thousand, stilling the storm, walking the waves and finally passing through the triumphant experiences of the resurrection and ascension. To read the gospel records from an unprejudiced standpoint means to recognize that Jesus the Christ proved his teaching by his works and that he never committed the error of preaching without practice. He repeatedly enjoined upon his disciples the doing of the works in connection with the preaching. "And as ye go," he commanded them, "preach, saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils."
The preaching of the kingdom of heaven was always to be associated with the proof of its presence among men, and no sinner was to be considered wholly lost, no sick man incurable, no devil, or evil, too tenacious or too deeply rooted to be cast out by the power of omnipresent God.
How faithfully Jesus' disciples and apostles carried out his injunction is recorded in the book of the Acts, where we find described the founding of the early Christian church, and its extension to comprise also the Gentiles. If the power to do these works was a special gift to Jesus alone, as has often been thought, what shall be said of the works recorded in the Old Testament before Jesus appeared upon earth? What shall account for the works recorded in the book of the Acts? How shall we explain the healing by Peter and John of the lame man "whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple called Beautiful," how the opening of the prison doors for the apostles, the healing of Aeneas of the palsy and the raising of Dorcas? If it be thought that Jesus had transmitted his special gift to these apostles because they had known him personally, how shall we account for the works of Paul who had not sat at the feet of Jesus, but at those of Gamaliel, and who at first was a persecutor of the Christians and not a follower of Jesus? How shall we explain Paul's healing of the cripple at Lystra, his casting out the spirit of divination from the damsel, his raising to life the young man, Eutychus, who had fallen and been "taken up dead," and the "special miracles," we read, which "God wrought by the hands of Paul?" How account for the circumstances attending his rescue from shipwreck on the island of Melita, now called Malta, his shaking off the viper that had fastened itself on his hand leaving no ill effects, and his healing of the father of the chief man of the island?
How else, indeed, can we account for these works except by the recognition that we have to do here with the power of God, promised unto the fathers and continued unto the children for all time, a power that answers the cry of the human heart, "What must I do to be saved?"
So also in Post-Apostolic times, according to the evidence of the early Christian fathers, these natural works of Christianity continued to be performed to the glory of God and the salvation of man. Indeed, a careful reading of history will show that all through the ages, in the great crises, when the struggle between good and evil seemed especially severe and religious thought was especially awakened, instances of Christian healing followed upon Christian preaching.
This was the case at the time of the Crusades; at the time of the Reformation, when we read of Martin Luther raising his friend Melanchthon from a dying condition; at the time of John Wesley; and also under the stress and misery incident to the Napoleonic wars when many turned to God for help.
But until the middle of the nineteenth century had been passed the Principle of Christian healing had not been scientifically stated. History had been repeating itself. As the Pharisees of old had been unwilling to admit the healing of the man born blind, had tried by questioning him and his parents to overthrow his testimony and failing in this, had reviled him and cast him out, so in all periods of the world's history the carnal, or fleshly, or material mind has tried to cast doubt and disrepute upon Christian healing by denying the power and willingness of God to heal, and attempting to restrict the practice of healing the sick to the use of material methods only. By every subterfuge within its power this carnal mind has attempted to throw discredit upon indisputable cases of Christian healing, generally by representing that the disease had been imaginary or hysterical, or that the patient would have recovered in any case, or that he had not really been healed and that the disease would return.
Until the middle of the nineteenth century had been passed no one had been able to explain the ever operative law, equally applicable in the past, the present and the future, which correlated the acts of the patriarchs and prophets, of the great Exemplar, of the disciples and apostles, and of the early Christians, to the acts of those who in more modern times had been able to demonstrate God's ever-willingness to save and to heal.
The Discovery of Christian Science
This great discovery was reserved for Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science and author of its textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." Finally there had come some one who having experienced physical healing by spiritual means was not willing to rest until she had found its Principle, demonstrated its present availability and made it accessible to all mankind. In her work entitled "Miscellaneous Writings," p. 24, Mrs. Eddy tells us how while lying disabled by an accident which was considered fatal, she called for her Bible and on opening it at the ninth chapter of Matthew read the story of the man sick of the palsy who was healed. She tells us that as she read, the healing Truth dawned upon her and she rose, dressed herself "and ever after was in better health than" she had been before. This was in the year 1866, nearly fifty years ago. For three years after her discovery of the healing power of Principle, Mrs. Eddy devoted her life to the working out of the Science which should make this healing available for mankind. She searched the Scriptures, using the Bible as her only textbook, and healed the sick to prove the correctness of her conclusions, until she had demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that God is as powerful and as willing to heal the sick today as He has been in ages past, and that His law of harmony is perpetual, unconfined by time or space.
In 1875 Mrs. Eddy published the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." Then she founded one by one, as the need developed, the different institutions which have proven their usefulness in bringing the gospel, the Good-news, of Christian Science to the world. She founded The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, of which all other Christian Science churches are branches; she established a Metaphysical College; she wrote the Church Manual; she founded the different periodicals, The Christian Science Journal, a monthly; Der Herold der Christian Science, a German monthly; the Sentinel, a weekly; and The Christian Science Monitor, a daily newspaper which records the good that men do the world over.
To do justice to the work of this great and good woman would require more time than I have at my disposal in this lecture. Suffice it to declare that the world can never adequately repay the debt it owes to Mary Baker Eddy. At the present time Christian Science is found in all quarters of the globe and is steadily growing in favor with those who hunger and thirst after righteousness and are willing to obey God's commands.
Science and Religion
A few years ago there used to be a good deal of discussion in books and periodicals about a supposed irrepressible conflict between science and religion. Very little is heard of this subject at the present time because public thought is slowly but surely accommodating itself to the fact that religion, in order to be worthy of its name, must be scientific, i. e., it must be definite, exact and demonstrable. The conviction is also gaining ground that science, in order to be worthy of its name, must not merely concern itself with effects, but must also seek to explain causation, must be able to give some satisfactory definition of the First Cause, of the source and origin of all things, the creator and controller of the universe, of God Himself; in other words, that science must concern itself with religion.
Christian Science by its very name indicates that the union between science and religion has been established; that to be truly religious means also to be truly scientific and that to be truly scientific involves being truly religious. So it is that Mrs. Eddy declared in the Christian Science textbook concerning the most religious man of whom history has any record, Jesus of Nazareth, that he was also "the most scientific man that ever trod the globe" (313:23). It has not been customary for the world to think of that great and good man in that particular way. Yet, if we analyze the life and work of Jesus as presented to us in the gospels, we must come to the conclusion that a man who could perform those works must have possessed in a superlative degree that science which is also religion, and that religion which is also the science of sciences.
Christian Scientists take Christ Jesus as the great Exemplar, the Wayshower, and following in his footsteps, as best they may, seek to apply his teaching to overcome all evil conditions, both sin, sickness and death, want and woe, poverty and the disastrous effects of so-called material laws. They are learning to know the Principle he demonstrated and to obey the rules he laid down for their guidance.
First Four Rules
What some of these rules are Mrs. Eddy has indicated in a message to The Mother Church, entitled "Christian Science vs. Pantheism." She there designates "four first rules" as follows: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me"; "Love thy neighbor as thyself"; "Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect"; "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." (John xi. 26.)
Superficially considered, these rules seem impossible of fulfillment. They seem to demand more than man can grasp, much less carry into effect. How often have we been puzzled by the demand, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." It has seemed that with the best of intentions this could not be done; that it was unreasonable to expect of anyone.
So with the rule, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." It seems to involve a demand quite beyond our reach. It seems to assume that man must be like God, or Godlike, and this is quite contrary to the prevailing notion about the essential nature of man, who is generally believed to be either a miserable sinner or a material mechanism. As for the fourth rule, "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die," this seems so far out of the range of what is practicable that it has not even been considered as a rule, but merely the expression of a pious wish. Christian Science accepts these rules in the definite sense in which they were uttered, and explains how even now humanity can make a beginning of obeying them. It shows how the last three depend upon the first, how loving one's neighbor as oneself, realizing perfection, and demonstrating eternal life can only proceed from having no other god but the one God, the only Creator, the source and first cause of all that really is — incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite One, who is Principle and not person, Spirit and not matter, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent Father-Mother God.
To know Him aright is life eternal; to know His man as made in God's image and likeness, is to love that man and recognize his essential perfection.
These rules of a definite science are possible of eventual fulfillment; they are practical helps in our everyday existence, but only through a right understanding of God Himself.
God is Invisible
Now this God whom we are bidden to worship to the exclusion of any other god is invisible. He is cause, source, origin of all things, but no one has ever seen Him. He is invisible "Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love" (Science and Health, p. 465). He is power and He operates through law. The materialist declares that he will not believe what he cannot see. But the power governing the universe cannot be seen. The power that holds the stars in place and directs the revolution of the planets cannot be seen. All human endeavor implies reliance upon invisible power. Not only religion itself, but even mechanics and all the arts, are based upon invisible power.
Many of us can recall the first time we saw an electric car in motion. What impressed us most of all was that it seemed to be propelled by some unseen force. We could see nothing pulling or pushing it. We were accustomed to a train of cars pulled by an engine and to vehicles drawn by horses, but here was something that seemed to go by itself, and the effect was to our unaccustomed sense both uncanny and weird. Yet if we stop to consider the action of a horse, that is just as wonderful as the running of an electric car, for in either case the power is invisible. The power that moves us as we go on our daily rounds, the power of government, the power of the law, the power of public opinion, the power that drives a locomotive, that raises an elevator, that transmits a telegram or a wireless message — these powers are all invisible. So is the power that guides the hand of the artist, that makes the statue and paints the picture; the power that enables any one to sing a song.
How absurd it would have been for sensible people to have declared as they watched their first electric car go down the street that they would not believe in the power that propelled the car because they could not see it. They might have waited long; they would still be waiting for a sight of this power because no one has ever seen it from that day to this.
But some one will say, the explanation of power is simple enough. The horse moves and the electric car moves by power operating according to physical law. Such an one will imply that physical law is the propelling force. His explanation does not explain, for law is just as invisible as power. Nobody ever saw a law, and no law is physical, for law can only be thought of, can only be known, ascertained by reasoning, cognized. Law is always mental, never material. Nobody has ever seen the law of the land under which we live, yet he who disobeys that law soon feels the effect of disobedience, perhaps even in a physical way. It will not do for any one to say, I will not obey the law because I cannot see it.
So likewise is the power invisible which saves the sinner and heals the sick.
Christian Science is seen in its effects and these effects come from invisible power, from the Principle demonstrated by Jesus the Christ, discovered in modern times by Mary Baker Eddy, declared unto suffering and sinning humanity to be salvation, cure, comfort and consolation, regeneration and rejuvenation, happiness and heaven, even forevermore.
The materialist demands a material basis for all effects. He can never find such a basis, for there is none. He can never find cause in matter, search he ever so long or ever so far. The physical senses can never reveal source and origin. Cause is never something to be seen, heard or touched. It is always mental or spiritual.
So it is sometimes objected by persons, uninstructed in the operation of mental activities, that nothing is being done for patients under Christian Science treatment, because they do not see any physical manipulation being performed or material remedies administered. Material sense clamors for material treatment. The materialist would be better pleased if he could see the patient swallow some medicine, or be rubbed with some ointment. It would be a source of satisfaction to him if he could at least see the application of a plaster or a bandage.
But in the Christian Science treatment, though no material means are used, the invisible power of God and His invisible law are there, the reflection of omnipotence is there, and a little of omnipotence will go a great way and accomplish wonders.
A material tendency has crept into the thought of many earnest and sincere people concerning even Christian healing. So ready has the human consciousness been to grasp at material means for the attainment of spiritual ends that many have thought it essential that there should be a visible laying on of hands and a visible anointing with oil in the practice of Christian healing. A literal and physical interpretation has been placed upon the promise of Jesus, "They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover" (Mark xvi. 18) and upon the advice of James, "Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord" (James iv. 14). Whereas it is obvious that both Jesus and James spoke metaphorically i. e., in spiritual terms. The laying on of hands denotes the laying on of invisible "spiritual power" as Mrs. Eddy has explained (Science and Health, p. 38) and the anointing with oil is the anointing with "the oil of gladness," of which the Psalmist sang. Jesus' healing was always done spiritually, and we have no reason to suppose that James departed in any way from his Master's example in this regard.
Here then is a necessary condition incident to the fulfilment of God's promise made unto the fathers and continued unto the children for all time, a condition upon which depends the right response to humanity's cry for help, namely, that neither God, nor His power, nor His law, must be considered material. The whole process of man's redemption from sin, sickness and death, from all the woes incident to human life, is absolutely invisible, for it is spiritual and mental. The physical senses cannot understand, much less point out the way of this redemption, but Christian Science, the spiritual understanding that reveals divine Principle, explains the rules by which humanity can demonstrate peace, quiet, tenderness and satisfaction here and now, freedom from want and woe, from the fear that would oppress and paralyze right motive and right activity.
God is Infinite
Moreover, this God, whom we are bidden to worship, to the exclusion of any other god, is infinite. He is the invisible, infinite, incorporeal, indivisible One. The very fact of His infinite nature denotes that there can be no other real god, no competitor with Him for our adoration and love. He is the only God, because there can be but one God, if that one is infinite. He is not circumscribed nor limited in any way. He is not enclosed in outline or form. This God whom we are bidden to worship is incorporeal. He does not enter matter and become subject to the so-called laws of matter, to the deterioration, decomposition and destruction of matter. He cannot be compressed within a molecule, an atom or an electric ion. He does not become part of the atomic theory to be divided up ad infinitum or reduced to zero. God is the indivisible One. Modern physicists have come to the conclusion that matter in its last analysis is only a form of motion or energy. God is not in that form of motion or energy which can be used for destructive purposes. Mrs. Eddy defines matter as "an error of statement" (Science and Health, p.277) and says of matter that it "disappears under the microscope of Spirit" (ibid., p. 261). God is not in that "error of statement," nor does He disappear "under the microscope of Spirit" because He is Himself Spirit, and in His presence the belief of materiality vanishes. Spirit and matter cannot coalesce. They are mutually antagonistic. They cannot both be eternally true. One or the other must be real and indestructible, and that one is God, the God whom we are bidden to worship.
The error of looking for God in matter ultimates in the worship of physical force. By inevitable gradations this error leads to the belief that might is right. The individual who yields to this temptation builds upon the sand. The structure reared upon such a foundation has no stability: when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow and beat upon that house, it must fall, for God's power is the might of Mind, not of physical force.
It would be an unhappy day for humanity if God could be reduced to human proportions, encased in a human body and thus made subject to human disabilities and failings. Humanity might then well despair. If infinite God were capable of failure, what a failure that would be! But He whom we worship is the great I Am, who is eternal Life, omnipotent Truth, inexhaustible divine Love, the "King of Kings," and "Lord of Lords," and therefore He is available as Principle to a sinning and suffering humanity. Because He is divine and not human, because He is infinite and not finite, because He is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, all knowing, all powerful, ever present, therefore He is our refuge and strength, in whom we live and move and have our being.
Of Him we can declare as David did in ages past: "Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty, for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the Kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all." (I Chronicles xxix.11).
God is Just
Our God is just. Justice is a necessary attribute of His being, the justice which means holiness, happiness, health and heaven to his creation. But the prevailing belief about God would make Him, if it could, a very pattern of injustice. It would make Him the author of evil as well as of good, and so make Him responsible for sin, sickness and death, for all sorrow and suffering, misery and woe, for poverty, oppression and tyranny of every form. It would make Him the source and origin of all accidents. catastrophes and calamities. So deep-rooted is this false conception of God that it has embodied itself in the law of the land, and physical phenomena which destroy and maim defenseless men, women and children, which carry ruin and starvation in their wake, such as hurricanes, cyclones, typhoons, earthquakes, floods, pestilence and so on, are specifically called acts of God in legal documents, and these supposedly divine acts are declared to make null and void the ordinary human obligations of men. As though to cap the climax of this false belief about God, He has even been called a god of war and the god of battles. This invisible, infinite, incorporeal, indivisible One whom we are to worship, to revere and adore, is in the minds of multitudes the very cause of war, directing the engines of war and leading in the frenzy and fury that hurl masses of unthinking combatants into the very jaws of destruction.
Such a misconception of God is responsible for the turning of many away from religion into the barren fields of agnosticism and atheism. It is argued quite logically that if God is the author of evil, as well as of good, then in the final analysis He must be a veritable persecutor of man, the cause, not only of what are generally called physical catastrophes, but also of the degradation, deterioration and destruction of man, through rapid or slow stages.
Moreover, the prevailing belief about these so-called acts of God is that they are done in accordance with His law, and therefore are necessities. From such a god there would be no escape. He would be a god of implacable wrath whom it would be impossible to love, or to worship, either in spirit or in truth.
Christian Science repudiates this false belief about God, and declares that He is eminently and superlatively just; that He is the antithesis of injustice. That He is neither the near nor the remote cause, neither the direct nor indirect source of any of the evils commonly attributed to Him. That the acts erroneously called His acts in legal phraseology are not of His procurement, but are only the self-destructive activities of evil, reducing itself to impotence, nothingness and void.
Would it be just for God first of all to create sin and then to punish man for committing sin? Would it be just for Him to create sickness and then refuse to heal the sick man? Would it be just for Him to create laws which must inevitably lead to physical catastrophe and to widespread destruction and then to place man at the mercy of these so-called laws?
But if God is the author of good only, if He has created man in His image and likeness, without the tendency to sin or sickness, if His laws are laws of holiness, happiness, health and lead to the consciousness which we call heaven — then God is absolutely and entirely just, and it is possible to love Him, to adore Him and to worship Him in spirit and in truth.
Evil Not a Necessity
Mankind can take courage from the recognition that God has not implanted in His universe any necessity for evil. Is any one bound by some bad habit which seems to have power, then he is entitled to know according to Christian Science, that God did not make that seeming power, nor the law producing the power, i. e., that sin is not a necessity. False theology may imply that man is essentially a sinner by reason of God's decree, but Christian Science declares that no divine decree has inflicted sin upon man. The sinner is not a sinner by reason of some inescapable or irresistible impulsion, but only through his ignorance of God, the God of justice, as well as of mercy and loving kindness.
Is any one subject to disease, then let him or her straightway rejoice that God is not back of that disease, that no law of His has inflicted it — that it is not a necessity. The theories of material medicine may declare the disease incurable, may mark out a supposedly inescapable process to an inevitable end, but let the sick take courage, such is not the verdict of God for He has neither created sickness, nor made its so-called laws, nor prepared an inevitable end for man.
Rather let the sinner and the sick asserting their divine rights declare with the Apostle, "The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."
Let them remember Mrs. Eddy's description of the God we are bidden to worship found in "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 206), as "the active, all-wise, law-creating, law-disciplining, law-abiding Principle, God."
God is Wise
God's justice is tempered with mercy, wisdom and goodness. His mercy forgives sin and heals sickness by destroying these evils through His law, through the operation of divine activities. God's law destroys sin, but saves the sinner. When God's mercy has completed its work, justice is satisfied, wisdom is obeyed and goodness is triumphant. God is wise, so wise that He is omniscient, knowing all that really is — all substance, beauty, symmetry, all continuity of being without beginning or ending, without pause or break, all power, all presence throughout eternity.
But it is equally true that God cannot be expected to know what has no real existence. He could not include in His infinite knowing that which is not, or that which is false. God cannot be expected to know a mistake for a mistake is not knowable. God cannot know sin, sickness or death. He cannot know the misconceptions and misunderstandings of the erring human mind which seem to have existence today but tomorrow are gone. Is it reasonable to expect God to know that which is in its essential nature only lack of knowledge, which is based upon ignorance of Himself? God's wisdom concerns itself only with actual, indestructible realities, and these realities are mental and spiritual, because He is Mind and He is Spirit.
God in His infinite justice, mercy, wisdom and goodness comes to those suffering from injustice, from the merciless assaults of evil, from ignorance of Truth, and removes the curse on Adam, wipes away the tears, the sense of resentment and grievance, the desire for revenge, wipes away all self-righteousness and self-justification, all malice and uncharitableness, as well as the secret sin and the suppressed fear, and out of His divine compassion cleanses the human consciousness with the radiance of immortal love.
This is the God we are bidden to worship and in doing so we can learn to love our neighbor as ourselves, to realize the perfect man of His creation, and to make a beginning of working out the demonstration which shall ultimate in life eternal.
The Perfect Man
For what is this perfect man who is even as perfect as his Father? Is he a material thing of flesh, blood and bones? Has anyone ever seen him with the physical eye or perceived him with any of the physical senses? The perfect man of God's creation is spiritual. He can be apprehended only by spiritual sense. He is not mortal, beginning with the cradle and ending with the grave. He is immortal and indestructible. No words can fully do justice to his supreme excellence, his unfading beauty, his glorious capacities. He expresses God, he reflects the eternal Mind, the invisible, infinite, incorporeal, indivisible, just, wise, merciful and loving parent. He is the child of God.
The prevailing notion about man is colored by the prevailing notion about God. If God can be unjust, unwise, unmerciful and unloving, then His man, made in His image and likeness, can be so also, and it would be impossible to carry out the commands, "Love thy neighbor as thyself" or "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." But if the one and only God is altogether perfect, lovable and adorable, if there is nothing at all about His nature which can cause fear or apprehension, and the man we are bidden to love is His creation, then what is to hinder us from carrying out these great rules, stated in the Scriptures and explained by Christian Science?
Now this perfect man is the Christ idea, dwelling forever in the bosom of the Father. Jesus was called Christ Jesus because he beheld and understood the Christ more clearly than had anyone before. He was the Messiah because he fulfilled the prophecies that someone would come to proclaim the truth about God and man. The Christ is the Savior coming to deliver humanity from the false belief that man is material, and so establishing in human consciousness the glorious gospel or good news of man's at-one-ment with God, inseparable from Him, like Him, expressing and reflecting perfection.
Christian Science, therefore, reveals the right understanding of Jesus' mission, as the Wayshower to Life and Love, the Exemplar whom we are bidden to follow, who demonstrated the actuality of the Christ-idea, the Christ-man, as here and now and forever the image and likeness of God.
Mrs. Eddy has described this perfect man in the following words:
"The sinless joy, — the perfect harmony and immortality of Life, possessing unlimited divine beauty and goodness without a single bodily pleasure or pain, — constitutes the only veritable, indestructible man, whose being is spiritual."(Science and Health,p. 76).
This man we can love as ourselves, we can recognize as perfect and as immortal.
Ignorance of God
On the other hand, ignorance of God and of His Christ, doubt as to God's omnipotence or as to His willingness to save and to heal, produce that which is the cause of more misery, sickness and sorrow than can be weighed in the balances — namely fear. Ignorance of God is the procurer of fear, and fear is the mesmerism that paralyzes every right desire and haunts every prison cell and every bed of sickness. Fear is the thief lurking in the corners of human consciousness, ready to spring out and rob man of that which he values most highly, if he will let it. It tries to rob man of his desire for holiness, of his health, his happiness, his hope of heaven. It will take from him, if he will let it, his friends, his wealth, his good name, his peace of mind, his intelligence, his capabilities and his usefulness. Fear prowls about in the shadows of sin, sickness and death seeking secretly to turn the saint into a sinner, to complicate and inflame disease, to hurry mankind into the grave. Fear, if uncorrected by right thinking can be used to wreck a home or ruin a business, to hurry a nation into hard times or into war. In and of itself fear is the most prevalent form of mental contagion known to man, and deserves no treatment but instant destruction at the hands of Truth.
This destruction can only be accomplished by the realization of God-with-us, Immanuel, by the coming to human consciousness of His Christ, to save humanity from its groundless fears and self-created panics. This is the new birth of the right idea, heralded by angels, by "a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke ii. 13 and 14). Thus can every day become Christmas day.
This realization is also the prayer of Christian Science which does not merely supplicate, but also knows the prayer of an understanding faith which saves and heals. The characteristics of this prayer, of what is generally called Christian Science treatment, are unmistakable, and since there has been some misunderstanding in the public thought about the nature of Christian Science practice, let some of its salient features be here noted for our better understanding.
Christian Science Practice
First of all, Christian Science practice places no reliance whatever upon matter as a curative agency. It does not resort to medication, manipulation or material applications. It does not prescribe drugs or diet. It does not expect to heal man through change of climate or through the exercise of the body. Its practice is not the practice of material medicine and no legal enactments can make it so. It is wholly mental and spiritual. It recognizes disease as a false mental belief and relies solely upon God who is Truth to correct this falsehood.
Christian Science practice must be unselfish. It repudiates anything which savors of mercenary motives, it is entirely voluntary. Those who seek its ministrations do so of their own accord. No pressure of any kind is brought to bear upon them. Christian Science calls upon the practitioner to cast evils out of himself. Mrs. Eddy describes this practice as a prayer of "unselfed love" (ibid., p. 1), and she declares, "love for God and man is the true incentive in both healing and teaching" (ibid., p. 454).
Again, Christian Science practice eschews personal control of any kind, the domination of one human mind over another. It relies upon Principle, not upon person. Therefore it is not magnetic. Its practice is neither animal magnetism, mesmerism, nor hypnotism. It is not the mental suggestion of psychopathy. It is the prayerful reflection of Truth to the patient, the Truth which never harms nor injures, never enslaves, but blesses and makes free.
The world is today full of happy people who in their extremity turned to Christian Science for help and were rejuvenated and healed. Every form of evil has yielded to its ministrations, all manner of disease, supposedly curable or incurable. It heals not only nervous disorders and hysterical conditions, as professional opinion has already conceded, but by the testimony of irrefutable witnesses in all parts of the world, printed in the Christian Science periodicals or gratefully related at the Wednesday evening meetings of the denomination, Christian Science has healed and is healing disease called organic as well as inorganic, acute or chronic, or whatever else human belief may choose to call its particular type and character. The effect of Christian Science is to deliver man from the bondage of evil in all its forms, to give him the necessary atmosphere for his normal growth and development. It gives him the opportunity of being born again.
Being Born Again
Christian Science therefore points to the new birth which is "of water and of the Spirit" (John iii. 5), of purification by Spirit.
Are there those who have in mind the mistakes of the past and who fear that the consequences of these mistakes can never be undone? Then let them rejoice that the supposed consequences of mistakes can be corrected along with the mistakes themselves. God's proclamation of freedom for man involves also his freedom from the effects of evil. From the vantage ground of Christian Science, standing on the Rock of Ages, humanity can learn to declare and to realize scientifically that since God cannot be cognizant of evil, no one need fear it nor submit to be belabored with the strokes of its adversity, but that man can be washed clean through the purification of Spirit. Man can be born again.
Are there any among us harassed by sickness and the false fear of its incurability? Then again let Christian Science illumine the situation with the pure radiancy of Truth. All sickness is false belief, and right thinking can stop this false believing, and with it the supposed consequences upon health, upon daily life and usefulness. All sickness can be effaced, root and branch, cause and consequence, because it is not real. Man can be forgiven and healed and presented pure and undefiled before the infinite, incorporeal, all-just, all-wise, all-merciful and all-loving God, who has kept the promise made unto the Fathers and repeated all down the ages to those who were willing and ready to hear the still small voice.
Then the ultimate of Christian Science is satisfaction. First comes the awakening from materiality into spirituality. Then peace, quietness, tenderness, satisfaction. Of this final result the Psalmist sang when in a moment of transcendent spiritual vision he declared, "I shall be satisfied, when I awake with thy likeness" (Ps.xvii. 15) — with the likeness of the loving Father-Mother God.
But satisfaction in Christian Science does not imply drifting with the current of prevailing false beliefs, allowing oneself to be swept down to the open sea, there to be engulfed by the waves of error. Satisfaction in Christian Science gives mortal man courage to stem the tide of erroneous conservatism and convention, and makes him willing to see the resisting waters stir and break about him while he holds undeterred on his course up stream.
Satisfaction in Christian Science does not suggest the admission that evil is a necessity, that suffering is to be welcomed, that fear can be a proper deterrent from sin, that disasters are wholesome inflictions sent by God. It does not imply that what was good enough for our fathers is good enough for us. It does not indulge laziness or lethargy — inactivity and idleness. On the contrary, the satisfaction nurtured by Christian Science is based upon realization of Truth and goes hand in hand with gratitude. Man knows what he has received. He knows that he is in the possession of all good, that he has all things to enjoy, all activity, freedom, health, harmony, talents and capabilities; that the present is full of enjoyment, the future of promise, and that only good can reach out from the past into the present.
He realizes that the belief of mortal material origin for man is an illusion, a dream without substance that passes away with the awakening into spiritual being. He recognizes that all the beliefs attendant upon this original false conception about man are equally erroneous, that the real man has his origin in God, Spirit, that his inheritance is spiritual and wholly good. Man is therefore satisfied that the fear of hereditary disease is unfounded and that no divine law upholds it. He rejoices that no bad habit, no obnoxious idiosyncrasy or peculiarity can be transmitted to him, that his divine rights and qualities are safeguarded by the law of God.
God was satisfied with His creation. He "saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Gen. i. 31), He approved of His man and His universe. Shall mortal man attempt to strike a note of dissatisfaction? Shall he find fault or try to improve upon what God has done and pronounced to be very good?
The duty of mortal man is to learn to be satisfied with what really is, with "the laws that be." Dissatisfaction with the realities of being implies criticism of the One infinite, invisible, indivisible, incorporeal, all-just, all-merciful, all-loving and all-wise God. Dissatisfaction with the actual facts of existence involves the belief that something is lacking in His creation. Dissatisfaction with Truth means satisfaction with error; dissatisfaction with divine Mind, satisfaction with matter; dissatisfaction with Spirit, satisfaction with "the world, the flesh and the devil," or evil; dissatisfaction with Soul, satisfaction with personal sense, personal desire, personal control; dissatisfaction with eternal Life, satisfaction with the temporal life which ultimates in death; dissatisfaction with divine Love, which is unvarying and inexhaustible, means satisfaction with the unstable and unreliable counterfeit of love which readily turns to jealousy and hate.
Dissatisfaction with reality is a sign of false desire, of greed, of lust. It is the expression of underlying self-will, self-righteousness, self-justification, grievance, resentment, baffled rage or desire for revenge. Dissatisfaction with "the laws that be" is based upon obedience to "the laws of sin and death."
Now reverse the case and give satisfaction with God and man and the universe as they really are its rightful place in human consciousness, and behold the radiance of Spirit dispersing the shadows of dissatisfaction. Behold man rising to his true self as the image and likeness of God! Behold the Adam dream beginning to vanish, fear tending to disappear, the illusion of physical sense becoming too transparent to deceive. Behold the hopes and ambitions, the longings and aspirations being purified and rising to greater heights, and man finding himself pursuing the narrow way into "the secret place of the Most High," charitable to his fellowmen, patient and full of lovingkindness and forever protected and satisfied.
What, then, is the answer of Christian Science to the cry of humanity for help? It gives to all men the assurance that there is a God; that His power is as potent today as it was in ages past to save the sinner, heal the sick and comfort the sorrowing. It presents in brilliant array the proofs of this potency drawn from the history of Christianity and brought down from ages past to our own times. It explains the nature of God so that He can be understood as the altogether adorable One. It shows that evil is never a necessity. It reveals the perfect man of God's creation as already existing, warns humanity against ignorance of God as the prolific source of human misery, provides for the new birth, and finally opens the way for spiritual satisfaction with what really is, with "the laws that be."
Having all these bounties placed within its reach, can humanity ask for more?