An Address

Delivered Before The Christian Science Society Of Harvard University

 

The Rev. William P. McKenzie

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

Young Gentlemen: — You have come from far to this ancient seat of learning to find out if possible what is the value and true meaning of life. When the motto of Harvard University, Christo et Ecclesiae, was adopted, the truth must have been perceived that education should train the minds of men into conformity with the mind of Christ, so that their lives might therefore be influential in behalf of the Christian church. This, at any rate, is the truth we emphasize in Christian Science, and I esteem it a privilege to speak to you concerning spiritual things, and the ability of man to know and to prove the truth Christ Jesus taught. A good many years have gone since I was related to college men as a teacher, but the kindly interest engendered by that experience will remain always. It is inspiring to think of the perpetually renewed classes of earnest seekers who throng the halls of our colleges, most of them clean of countenance, pure-eyed, zealous, eager to know what wise men think to be worth knowing, ardent in ambition to express in life-work the gain of knowledge. But they find the standards of knowledge unfixed. Text-books once authoritative are obsolete; for ten or a dozen years only they live. And so desire awakes in every student's breast for something abiding and true which is both rest and strength to the mind.

Tennyson compares knowledge with wisdom thus:—

 

Who loves not Knowledge? Who shall rail

Against her beauty? May she mix

With men and prosper! Who shall fix

 

Her pillars? Let her work prevail.

But on her forehead sits a fire:

She sets her forward countenance

And leaps into the future chance,

Submitting all things to desire.

 

Half-grown as yet, a child, and vain —

  She cannot fight the fear of death.

  What is she, cut from love and faith,

 

But some wild Pallas from the brain

Of Demons? fiery hot to burst

All barriers in her onward race

For power. Let her know her place;

 

She is the second, not the first.

A higher hand must make her mild,

If all be not in vain; and guide

Her footsteps, moving side by side

 

With Wisdom, like the younger child:

For she is earthly of the mind,

But Wisdom heavenly of the soul.

O friend, who earnest to thy goal

So early, leaving me behind,

 

I would the great world grew like thee,

Who grewest not alone in power

And knowledge, but by year and hour

In reverence and in charity.

 

When the university building at Upsala was completed in 1886, they placed over the portal of its largest hall, in letters of gold, the words of Thorild, —

 

"To think free is great.

To think right is greater."

 

A traveler has said that kindness is the basis of Swedish character, and this would naturally follow if righteousness is exalted above even liberty, because relationship to God is thus attained. To be free in thought from superstition and tradition is much; but to be right in thought is to be at one with divine Principle. It is the domain of science to establish fact and so dispose of guessing and imagination. Wheresoever a truth is known, there men are set free from subservience to a lie or a half truth, or to some unbased tradition. But where the Science is Christian the revelation is not the uncovering of a fact of nature, but the discovery of the constitution of things, the revelation of eternal truth.

There is a right thinking which is related to the changing conditions of life. We have perpetual evidences of this in the completed work of inventors and engineers. How well the problem of transportation has been solved, yet how the method has changed and is changing. Once the burdens of commerce were borne over seas in open boats, and over land by caravans of pad-footed camels; but now steamships and railway trains traverse seas and continents then unknown, and bring nigh the ends of the earth. To-morrow there will be swifter transport, because of new discoveries in the utilization of power. But is not man the same amid these changes? Is his right thinking as related to the constitution of things changed? Surely not. The sense of God's friendship achieved by Abraham may be known to-day by the man who will cherish "like precious faith." The moral truth discerned by Moses is just as applicable to the actions of men who comprehend modern science, as it was to the people whom he led out of slavery. The power whereby Naaman was healed of his pride and his leprosy, under the teaching of Elisha, is not changed, but is being proved to-day. Elijah's discernment that God was not in earthquake, tempest, or fire; not in the destructive agencies of nature, nor manifest in the destructive ferocity of man, but in the sense within that humbles pride, "the still, small voice" that quickens love — this discernment was not for him alone. The manifestation of sonship with God, whereby Jesus Christ proved to the world that God is the Saviour and Healer and Father of man, was not merely an historical episode but a revelation for all time. The work of Christ Jesus was the evidence of his right thinking. He ministered to what were the deepest woes of mankind, and by his knowledge, or Science, he brought relief and salvation to the sick and the erring. His actions were not temporary interruptions of law, but were in full accord with the abiding constitution of things. They controverted the fixed human opinions which men have erroneously termed law, and ignorantly obeyed; but they revealed the reality of good as law or power. This mode of right thinking revealed by Jesus to his disciples should never have been lost, and when re-discovered, it was correctly named Christian Science.

The great need of the world to-day is for Christianly scientific thinking. Suppose you have a railway perfectly constructed. Surveyors have planned the route well; engineers have rightly constructed the bridges. The steel rails represent the perfected product of the best workmanship. The inventions of a thousand men are combined to make the locomotives. An innumerable multitude have sent their offerings from mine and furnace, foundry and forge, draughting room and shop, and the work is done well. This vast system which is the result of right thinking in relation to present conditions is ready for the service of man. What is now needed is right thinking in relation to divine Principle. Should the composite human minds which guide any such operation be ignorant of true law, that changes not from age to age, they may be influenced by senseless avarice and unreasoning pride, and so use the perfected result of human effort and thought to bring about injustice and injury. Penurious plans may exclude what ministers to safety, and accidents may result in the suffering and death of innocent individuals. Communities also may suffer from unfair dealing. Thus knowledge is not enough, nor skill and good workmanship. Not only must man's work be right according to the knowledge of the time, the man himself must be right according to the laws of all time, the laws of justice, of goodness, and of mercy.

Sir Oliver Lodge in an address to students said, "I am very much impressed with the power and responsibility of the human race, and with the management of this planet, which seems to be given to it, so that things will not improve unless we improve." The claim of Christian Science is that we may improve and become representatives of the true God; its teaching shows how we may become consciously animated by that same mind which was also in Christ Jesus; its demonstration gives results throughout the whole gamut of human life. By it the sick and useless have been restored to life's activities and joys; proud oppressors of the weak have been converted to kindness; discontented beings, whose malice to humanity was like a burning acid, have learned that "godliness with contentment is great gain;" dipsomaniacs, after unavailing trial of every known "cure," have found healing and freedom and regeneration; monomaniacs, absorbed in utter selfishness and sensuality, have had their fetters broken, their lusts superseded, their manhood and womanhood revealed; agnostics have learned to know truth, infidels have come to believe in goodness; atheists have found God, — through Christian Science, in which is revived the demonstration of divine Love inaugurated by Christ Jesus and continued by his apostles and followers.

It is important at this point to identify Christian Science, for some are using the name without accuracy in connection with mental suggestion or hypnotism, which this Science repudiates. It is now nearly forty years since, in her own experience of healing, the first dawn of this truth came to Mrs. Eddy. When the aid of her doctors was of no avail, when her pastor had given up hope from prayer, she turned to God in such a way that a discovery of His unchanging power to heal brought to her consciousness the living presence of the Christ. Whittier wrote, —

 

The healing of the seamless dress

Is by our beds of pain;

We touch him in life's throng and press

And we are whole again.

 

This to Christendom seems theoretical, but it has become practical through Mrs. Eddy's experience and discovery, because she was not content to be healed alone, but has given her life to the service of the world, so that "the knowledge of salvation" (or as Wycliffe phrases it — the Science of Helthe) may become a universal blessing. Has her Christian endeavor been opposed? Yes, by some who could not understand spiritual motives, and so could only judge, by the processes of the carnal mind. The Psalmist experienced like enmity, and said, "They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is." Those who know best the life of the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science are most alive to the importance of having Christian Science identified with the name of Mrs. Eddy, with her life and teaching, in order that seekers after its provable truth may not be misled by confused thought nor involved in the tangle of beliefs which are occasionally offered in its name. As the lawmakers of our country have come to see the importance of legislation to prohibit adulteration of food, so Mrs. Eddy has long been aware of the dire results of adulterating truth, and has taken every reasonable means to forestall it. When Paul and Silas were at Thessalonica their success was great until opposition grew on the part of those who were "moved with envy." Had you been there you would have gained the true idea of Paul and his work from the Jews who believed, and from the devout Greeks. You could have gained no sense of truth whatever from those who opposed him. Paul's message was greater than was he. To misunderstand him was to miss the benefits of his message, and the same rule is applicable to any teacher of truth to-day. So do not credit unauthentic rumors which would prevent you from endeavoring to find out how exalted is the life-purpose of the messenger by whom Christian Science came. She has put her message into writing in the text-book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," whose propositions were proven prior to its publication. She has also issued subsidiary writings which help students to understand the meaning and application of Christian Science. The Publishing House, which belongs to The Mother Church, issues periodicals that might be termed Chronicles of Redemption, because they record current testimony from the men and women who through this teaching have gained emancipation from blank despair, evil habits, sorrow, disease, antagonism to God and antipathy to man. Do not be critical if sometimes the testimonies that you read, or listen to, have not perfect rhetorical form. They are the genuine utterances of those who are still amazed at the touch of divine good-will whereby they have been healed. I have seen unlettered men and women meet the attacks of clever and exasperating opponents with simplicity, logical clearness, and serene kindness, showing how character had ripened and mental processes had been quickened by their study and practice of Christian Science. Those who are worldly-wise and prudent may be put to confusion by the truth "revealed unto babes," for as Paul asks, "Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" He then gives as the pith of his preaching the watchword which Christian Science to-day reiterates, "Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God."

There are many theories of the worldly-wise as to the origin of man. Christian Scientists maintain that all theories regarding the universe and man should be brought before the judgment-seat of Christ. No one will deny, I think, that Christ Jesus maintained that God is Spirit and that God is the one Father of man. Let us question then the theories which regard matter as the origin of man. I heard a very elaborate lecture once which explained how from protoplasm came the highly differentiated organisms which we now find. The single cell divided, and multiplied by further division, advancing from homogeneity to heterogeneity. As the growing complex organism found certain modifications to be advantageous in the struggle for existence, these were retained and transmitted to offspring, so that they might be fitted to survive and procreate the species. Thus came into being the world of life as we know it, with man foremost among the animals because of higher development of brain and nervous system. This theory, you will observe, is an immense pyramid, balanced on its apex the single cell, or on such an aggregate of these as may constitute protoplasm. I asked the lecturer the ordinary question, Whence came protoplasm? And his candid answer was, "It must have originated in primitive slime." So there you are.

Now the question is legitimate, Does the doctrine of evolution posit the inherent power of matter to expand in its expression so that a microscopic egg grows into a man, so that protoplasm becomes a world? Do the activities of mind decrease as we trace them back, until they subside in primitive slime? Does matter bring to birth and develop mind? Lucretius originated the saying, "Out of nothing, nothing is made;" but what proverb will correct a theory which says, out of the mindless, mind is evolved? We are not much helped, either, by the suggestion that there are an infinite number of petty minds, one for every existent atom. When it is said, "Every atom has a portion of mind stuff," we either think of an infinity of mindlets, or of one mind so divided into parts and apportioned into an infinity of tiny enclosures that any unity of intelligence is inconceivable. From this polytheism of physics as well as from the atheism of matter we do well to turn to the restful and serene monotheism of the Scriptures.

Herschel, the astronomer, is reported to have said of his discoveries, "I am only thinking the thoughts of God after Him." Many of the clear-eyed prophets likewise beheld in the stellar universe the evidence of one Supreme Intelligence. The growth of an astronomer's intelligence may serve to illustrate evolution. Students who are not discouraged by the complex calculations, nor dismayed by the vastness of the conceptions involved, progress mentally from the simple views which the old-time shepherds cherished to the sublimer views and more profound knowledge of modern astronomy. Every onward step brings a richer discovery of rhythm and law — of intelligence in action. The student is not evolving these thoughts from a material brain, but learning from Mind. He is rising higher in the scale of intelligence, understanding better the harmony of the universe, and thus "thinking the thoughts of God after Him." If we accept the facts set forth in the theory of material evolution, are they not the evidence of change from a sense of matter and inertness into the realization of mind and activity, rather than evidence that mind can be the effect of the inadequate cause, matter? Christian Science emphasizes the teaching of the Bible that God is the creator, thus making Mind, not matter, primary. As the progress and discoveries of the astronomer reveal to him what God has already done, so does every discovery in the realm of the real unfold the divine Mind. When man rises in the scale of being so as to express intelligence, the urgency is not from brain and nerve; the man who exhibits true wisdom shows that he is "partaker of the divine nature."

The theory prevails that man is only mediately related to God, although Christ Jesus without doubt proclaimed the relationship direct. When he said, "Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven," he had prepared his pupils for this statement by many discussions as to God, naming Him, "Your Father in heaven," or else "my Father." He had also taught them in prayer to say, "Our Father;" and ere he left his followers he said, "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." Now if men could see that Christ's revelation of being is true, then like prodigal sons returning home they would enjoy "the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him;" they would discover the true birth to be "not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." The government of but one Mind would then be obediently expressed by all mankind as it was expressed in "the man Christ Jesus." Christian Science teaches how to recognize and obey the government of this one Mind. It emphasizes the first command, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," and explains how this "me" is Spirit. It explains how Christ Jesus could say, "The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works," and how his words that follow must be true of his followers, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." The students of Christian Science understand how true the New Testament records must be which tell that the people "glorified God" when they saw the healing work done by Jesus and the apostles, for they have themselves seen the same immediate result whenever Christian Science has proved the love of God by healing the sick and sinful. The Science of Christianity requires that in man there shall be that same Mind which was in the Founder of Christianity. It calls on us to count ourselves brethren of Christ, and he, the Master, is to be to us "the firstborn among many brethren." But we are to show forth as did he the Christ-truth, "the power of God, and the wisdom of God." In other words, we must discover, and reveal, our immediate relationship to "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

The theory that matter is the creator is discarded by many who confess God, yet who admit the action of Spirit in the creation of one man only. According to such a theory of human generation, every child is one degree farther from the source of life than his parents. He looks back through an endless vista of human beings to a first man made directly by God, but who immediately became a sinner, and who entailed upon his descendants not his perfection but his sin, which, multiplied with every increase of numbers, becomes the conglomerate inheritance of each innocent child. Emerson says infancy is a perpetual Messiah placed in the arms of man to plead with him to return to Paradise. Jesus said of little ones which believed in him, "Their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." He indicated that they were nearer to God than the adults of the race, and he plainly said that the remedy for adultism was conversion from its self-righteousness, conceit, cruelty, and assurance of evil (or sense of God's absence) into the simplicity, tenderness, modesty, and faith in love which the young child illustrates. Truly he taught that God is not far from any one of us, and showed us how to gain the spirit of adoption whereby we may say Father. Nor must we postpone the knowing of the goodness of God till we have gone from the land of the living. Communion with the Father in secret was to bring immediate results, — the "Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly." This Father whereof Jesus spoke was no "Absentee God."

Allow me to discuss briefly two lines of objection sometimes made to scientific Christianity. I was once in a community where bitter feuds prevailed. Men hated their enemies, and they hated those who would not hate these enemies. Rancor and ill-will and malice made some of them appear to be children of the devil, in that they acknowledged evil as the only power. To one of these men I cited the words of the Sermon on the Mount, and his reply was quick, "Well, Jesus was God, and as men can't act like God, what he said wasn't intended for us." It was of little use to cite other passages urging men to be as "the sons of God, without rebuke." He preferred to act like that which was most in his thought. A somewhat similar argument against Christian Science implies that the work of Jesus was entirely supernatural and personal, not a revelation of Truth for the world to know and prove. Though the disciples and followers of Jesus and the Christians of the primitive church proved the truth consistently by healing, this is forgotten, and these lawful manifestations of divine Love are termed miracles, or interruptions of law, whose day is past. Then there are those who say that the works recorded never were done, since such works would be miracles, and miracles do not occur. In brief the two arguments are as follows: (1) Jesus was God and his works are supernatural to man, so his example cannot be followed; or, (2) Jesus was merely man, so did nothing which would reveal God. Christian Science demonstrates that the example of Jesus can be followed; and that such works as he did, the signs which follow them that believe, do indeed reveal God to man as his Father and Friend, as the ever-present Healer and Saviour of all. This truth is "the true Light, which lighteth every man," and it is again come into the world accompanied by abundant proof for all who will see.

Why should thoughtful men become interested in Christian Science? Well, for one reason it is accredited as truth, according to the saying, By this you may know a truth when it comes, in that it will solve many problems. Sickness, with its lassitude and debility, presents a problem. Many of the world's workers are sorely oppressed because they must support the disabled year after year. Yet, even after the verdict "incurable" has been pronounced, health and a cure have come to solve the problem in many a home through Christian Science. Broadly speaking, the whole question of evil is a problem — and how diverse the proposed solutions. Some believe that the problem will always be, since they consider evil a potency eternal and invincible, whereby discord and anguish shall be produced infinitely. Some consider that evil is included in the plans of the all-wise God. Philosophers speak of evil as the unripe good, or call it good in the making. Evil, they would say, is the unperfect or the unfinished, to be finally worked out into good. For instance, out of the horrors of warfare in which the unloosed passions of men degrade them hellwards, we are to expect virtue and courage to evolve. Finer than all other bravery ever shown was the courage of Christ Jesus in standing for the overcoming of evil with good, and for the overcoming of death and its fear with such love as made resurrection inevitable. Christian Science likewise presents life, love, good as realities and shows how, when reality appears, evil is overcome. We do not consider truth and a lie as two entities. The truth is real and unchanged in being; the lie is its reverse, existing temporarily to the sense of those who think it to be the truth. When truth appears the lie disappears.

If good only is real, what about sin? You may ask, Is not that the great fact in human experience? Well, we hope the saints are increasing, in spite of the prevalence of ungodliness. Christianity requires that we deny ungodliness, and how else may we do this than by God-likeness? We deny the wrong statement by the right statement, and so we deny sin by righteousness. Christian Science does not condone sin nor cover it, nor call evil good, as some affirm. In its application of truth to the overcoming of all error it searches deeply after hidden sin. The scientific method is relentless toward every attempted reversal of truth, and allows no place for error, but follows it till it is destroyed. Christian Science applies to man that Word of God which is "a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart," showing him, first, the perverseness of his motives and secret thoughts, and then persuading him to let "the beauty of holiness" displace the sin. More than any present-day teaching it discloses the unsuspected connection between sinful thoughts and bodily suffering, yet it comes not to condemn, but to express the Christ-truth which can say to the sufferer not only "Thy sins are forgiven thee," but also, "Rise up and walk."

The world is in need of better men. Are they being developed by the doctrines of the one hundred and fifty-seven sects which teach in the name of Christ in our land? Then let us grant that they are also being developed by Christian Science, the practice of Christianity which has "signs following." Let us hope ere long to see man liberated from invalidism, disability, hurtful prejudice, and the pitiful greed and selfishness that poison the wells from which the nation should drink. How liberated? By the coming of Christ, Truth, and of the kingdom of heaven within, till the old ritual is reversed, and men pure in heart can say, The good we would do, that we do, and the evil we would not do, that we do not, and there is health in us.

 

[Published in The Christian Science Journal, May 1905. Strictly speaking this "address" may not have been a formal Christian Science lecture, although the speaker was a member of the Board of Lectureship at the time of its delivery.

[In connection with Rev. McKenzie's comments in the opening paragraph of this address, it might be said that "Harvard Colledge" was initially an institution of strongly religious character. As he notes, its original motto was not merely Veritas, as it is today, but Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae, meaning "Truth for Christ and the Church". Those eligible for "the first degree" from the college had to be found "able to read the originals of the Old and New Testament [from Hebrew and Greek] into the Latine tongue, and to resolve them logically; withall being of godly life and conversation," according to the rules and procedures established in 1643 by Harvard’s first president, Henry Dunster. Among other requirements laid down by Dunster were the following:

["2. Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the maine end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternall life, Joh. xvii.3, and therefore to lay Christ in the bottome, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.

["And seeing the Lord only giveth wisedome, let every one seriously set himselfe by prayer in secret to seeke it of him. Prov. ii. 3.

["3. Every one shall so exercise himselfe in reading the Scriptures twice a day, that he shall be ready to give such an account of his proficiency therein, both in theoreticall observations of the language, and logick, and in practicall and spiritual truths, as his Tutor shall require, according to his ability; seeing the entrance of the word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple. Psalm cxix. 130.

["4. That they eshewing all profanation of God's name, attributes, word, ordinances, and times of worship, doe studie with good conscience, carefully to retaine God, and the love of his truth in their mindes, else let them know, that (notwithstanding their learning) God may give them up to strong delusions, and in the end to a reprobate minde. 2 Thes. ii. 11, 12. Rom. i. 28."

[It may also be interesting to add, in reference to Wycliffe's use of the phrase "science of helthe," as mentioned by Rev. McKenzie, that the Baptist clergyman Hugh Stowell Brown wrote the following in an article entitled "Wiclif's Version of the New Testament": "Wiclif's version brings before us another word which, unhappily, has suffered in the lapse of time. Health is a word which has now an almost exclusively physical meaning, or at most a physical and intellectual one. We speak of bodily and mental health, and, in a figurative sense, we speak of a healthy trade; but we do not apply either health or healthy in a purely spiritual sense. This, however, is Wiclif's constant practice. Health is, in fact, his standard word for salvation; the knowledge of salvation is 'the science of helthe;' the gospel of salvation is 'the gospel of helthe;' the way of salvation is 'the way of helthe.'"]

 

 

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