Christian Science, or Deliverance from Evil (1)

 

William P. McKenzie

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

We know that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." The ancient Greeks endeavored to explain the experiences of life in a story of the gifts of their jealous gods to mortals. These gifts were enclosed in Pandora's box, out of which flew the thousand ills to which flesh is heir; only one good thing was in it, and that was hope. This myth gives an interesting account of a general characteristic of humanity, for nothing seems to destroy the perennial hope of men. Christian Science comes to give substance to the good which men have hitherto hoped for, and the assembling of large audiences to listen to lectures on the subject, indicates that many have an intuitive expectation of realizing their hopes in harmony with Christianity and also in accord with science.

It will be granted that the spirit of true Christianity constitutes the best moral influence the world has known. Students of history, while able to discern reasons for the rise and waning of empires, have acknowledged the beauty and permanency of Christian ethics. Human fame and power pass from obscurity into transient glitter and then into oblivion, but like an unextinguishable light remains the truth which Christ Jesus established. The expectation of impending good which has been cherished by some already, in regard to Christian Science, will be satisfied when they know that it is the true Christianity and is founded on the spiritual teachings of the Bible.

 

Christian Science Based on Scriptural Truth

Since it is the record of the first appearance and development of the Christ-idea, the Bible has been recognized as the most valuable collection of the world's literature. Many an author, writer, student, after exploring the written thoughts of men recorded in all languages, has found himself able to agree with the sage of Abbotsford, "There is but one book." To many, however, the Bible is an unexplored treasure-house. Some people, embittered by imperfect theological teaching, have felt prejudiced against the Scriptures which they supposed were the basis of such teachings. Others again have felt that Bible teachings were good, but unpractical in the world of action. But whether the attitude of men has been that of prejudice or reverence, the fact remains that the Bible is not studied as a guide for thought and action as it should be, nor is its spiritual influence generally understood.

Christian Science has for its text-book, or instruction manual, a book first published in 1875 by Mary Baker G. Eddy, and entitled "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." The author is now known to the world as the woman who has given to this age the true idea of God, and as the philosopher and thinker who is transforming the sense of Christianity from the theoretical to the practical, so that the mediaeval belief of Christianity as a scheme for future-world salvation is changing to the primitive conception of Christianity, to wit, a means for revealing to men on earth the goodness of God in healing and salvation. Her own experience of healing occurred in 1866, and she has described in her writings how from the gates of death she was brought to life again by the present power of the healing Christ. She had been a Bible student all her life, and for three years after this experience she gave her entire time to such further study of the Bible as enabled her to trace the action of spiritual law according to which the so-called miracles of healing therein recorded were wrought. Her desire was to discover the Science of the Christ-healing, so that the spiritual illumination which had quickened her own life might be made universal, and her exploration of the Bible in search of the foundation for Christian Science was thorough. In her book there are over eight hundred citations from Scripture, but it is to the students of its pages that the significance of the title, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," is made apparent, for they find an inspiration aroused for earnest and practical study of the Bible because the text-book does open to them the spiritual treasure-house of Scripture teaching. In commercial circles it is granted that the greatly increased sale of Bibles is to be credited to the influence of Christian Science.

In the public services of the movement the holy Scriptures are given a place such as "the book of the law of Moses" had in the days of the return from captivity in Babylon under Nehemiah, when readers were appointed who caused the people to understand the law. The record says, "So they read in the book, in the law of God, distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading." Those relieved from pain and anguish of body and mind have as much reason for rejoicing as those delivered from Babylonian exile, and they follow like methods. Instead of the promulgation of hypothetical opinions by preaching, the Readers in well-nigh a thousand Christian Science churches and societies endeavor to make clear to the listeners Sunday by Sunday the practical meaning of both familiar and unfamiliar Scripture passages. The Reader from the Bible gives the sense, and then the teaching of the Bible is elucidated by correlative passages read from the Christian Science text-book, so that the listeners understand the reading; and the value of this unique Lesson-Sermon is found in its fruits, for the sick are healed at the services, troubled hearts find peace, and inspiration is gained for honesty, good-will, and integrity.

If a widow at a crucial time in her poverty, when there was impending the loss of even the roof-shelter for her children, should come to know that an heirloom ornament, prized and worn by ancestors, but to her only a memento, was made of gold that had current value enough to save the home, it would be to her like the discovery of wealth. So it is with many Christians. They have had in memory from childhood the phrasings of Scripture truth which their parents loved, but when Christian Science makes known their practicability and value they feel enriched. As for those to whom the Bible has been a sealed book it is as if they fell heir to an unexpected treasure. What is happiness measured by? Is it not by the enrichment of thought?

 

Christian Science does not Establish a Sect

Christian Science, though founded on the Bible, has not come to establish a new religious sect. A sect is something cut off or divided from some main body, but Christianity is not in itself divided. As the robe which Jesus wore was woven without seam, so that the soldiers thought it ill to tear it into sections, so Christianity, depending upon the proof of healing instead of argument, is a complete and perfect system or science. In pure science you can have no variety of teaching; though in the work of pupils you may observe approximate or perfect demonstration of the rules laid down. Christian workers may make imperfect demonstrations of Christianity, yet the Science of Christianity is ever a perfect Science, based on perfect Principle, because God is that Principle. When God is understood the prophecy of Jesus will be fulfilled: "There shall be one flock and one shepherd." That we have the opportunity for this understanding is signified by the words, "A higher and more practical Christianity, demonstrating justice and meeting human wants in sickness and in health, stands at the door of this age, knocking for admission" (Science and Health, p. 224, lines 22 to 25).

 

Christ Jesus is the Master Acknowledged

One designation for Christ Jesus which has prevailed in the Christian Church to this day is the term Master. Strong objection is made to this term by some who think a man must relinquish legitimate freedom if he acknowledges one who is "the Master." But this is a groundless fear, because we are to deal with science rather than personality. Historically we may find cases of personal and despotic control of chiefs, governors, lords, princes, monarchs, whose servants were slaves, but where truth is concerned, the master is the one who best comprehends the details of the science and is most skilful in applying its laws, and his followers are disciples or learners. Christ Jesus is the Master we acknowledge in Christian Science, because he gained the mastery in truth, being "tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin," because he gained a familiarity with spiritual law and understood its application in healing and saving men, and because he is guiding us into a similar mastery or understanding of truth. Let us be careful to see the real meaning of the phrase, "the truth shall make you free." Jesus said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." The truth that really makes free is known only through discipleship, which you will admit means very much more than loyalty to a doctrine or membership in a sect. It means an understanding of the words. "I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you." The secret of the greatness of Christ Jesus was his spiritual understanding whereby he knew how to render mankind the best service.

How shall we measure greatness? Does it belong to those who control, or to those who release? Is it for the captain who wins the battle for one country against another, or for the "captain of our salvation," who conquers sin for us and opens a way for our escape from suffering? Is it nobler to hurt, or to heal? There can be but one answer: the soldier may be counted great in his day, but the saint belongs to the ages. And of all who have gone about doing good, relieving the sorrowful and liberating the oppressed, we acknowledge him to be the Master who applied to himself the prophecy of Isaiah, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised [or oppressed], to preach the acceptable year of the Lord."

What is Christian Science doing? It is carrying on that healing and saving procedure which is scientific and of which Christ Jesus was the Master; it is teaching the practice of that Christianity whereof Christ Jesus was the Founder, whose coming the prophets foretold for centuries, whose power apostles and evangelists witnessed, whose re-appearance is known by the "signs following," the same signs or proofs that were characteristic of the first appearance of Christianity.

 

Christian Scientists are Optimists

Christian Scientists, by virtue of their experiences, are confirmed optimists. They have seen healing accomplished where human love and human skill had given up hope. They have seen apparently incurable bad habits reformed, with such a change in the life as yearly takes place in the earth when the barren cold yields to the beneficent warmth of spring. They have seen bitterness and cruelty and cynicism melt away, and kindness and joy and gentle courtesy appear. They have seen such changes in their own lives brought about by the healing rays of the "Sun of Righteousness" that they bless the agency whereby their eyes were opened to its light, and honor the bravery and fidelity of the woman who faced the world's opposition, its harsh misrepresentations, when she elucidated the higher sense of God as the Saviour of man, which she had learned by her own healing. They find that their faithful application of the teachings of Christian Science to all the problems of life have brought so many proofs of the power of good to overcome evil, that they foresee the ultimate triumph of good, and "forgetting the things that are behind" they press forward in the direction of that goal.

 

Escape from the Supposed Law of Heredity

There are thinkers (no less fatalistic than those of the Orient), who would name the determining influence which decides all thought and action for them by the term ancestry. Their doctrine of heredity leaves a very narrow limit of action for the individual. The minds of some dead people who perhaps did not behave themselves very well, constitute fate for the living man. In this view there is no comprehension of universal man, or of universal Mind as a present intelligence with whom man may learn to commune.

Christ Jesus set forth the eternal truth which he knew from his oneness with that universal and ever-present Mind, or God, of whom he spoke as Father. Little was known then of the material sciences which since that time have been so arrogant in their biological theories of man's origin. Yet as the tall lighthouse, once established, sends forth its fixed gleam night by night unaffected by the vehemence of the winds, the rage of the waves, or the density of the fogs, so do the teachings of Jesus remain constant as a guide for men amid the ebb and flow of theories and the foglike darkness of materialism. On this point Jesus said, "Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven." Could there be a simpler explanation of life than that included in the recognition of its true origin? This is what Christian Science enables us to do; we then can eliminate from expression whatever is not found in the original. Whatever is "born in sin and shapen in iniquity" becomes separated from the thought and life of the man who acknowledges God as Father. To this man you cannot argue that he must indulge cruelty because his great grandfather was brutal; must be a drunkard because his grandfather was; must endure scrofula because his father had the disease. He counts himself immune from these inheritances of the flesh because he recognizes his fatherhood in God.

The secondary story of the origin of man, the story of the clay image into which life was breathed, has taken too tenacious a hold on the imagination of theologians. If you read theologies which ignore the record of the creation of man in God's likeness, you will find too little about the omnipotent goodness of God and too much regarding the potency of sin. Discourses upon "the exceeding sinfulness of sin," or picturesque and lurid descriptions of "Sinners in the hands of an angry God," are simply effects of a departure from the teachings of Christ in regard to the origin of man. Call no man your father. Then you do not need to repeat the words of the primer, "In Adam's fall, we sinned all," or feel that your fate was irrevocably fixed in sin because of a first sin committed by some one else. The truth makes free by its answer to the vexed question of heredity. "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." If in fellowship with the Son of God you learn your own sonship, you will recognize your individual freedom as a child of God governed directly by Mind.

 

Environment Does Not Constitute Fate

There are others who make fate more nigh at hand to men in believing that the present, that is, man's environment, rather than the past, decides what he shall do and be. Better philosophers use a term which is suggestive in declaring that "Self-activity" ought to be superior to both heredity and environment. Art is full of the pathos of longing for that superiority. The hope of perfection is ever before it, and its efforts at expression promise the ideal. Even philosophy brings to us Utopian dreams, or statements of beautiful possibilities. But how are they to be realized? Here comes the answer of Christian Science. It gives substance to the hope. Science and Health shows the effects of its teachings in such changes of thought as bring about changes of circumstance. Once men may have had to try Christian Science experimentally, but now it is not so, any more than one can be said to experiment with mathematics. You have to learn and obey in mathematics, and your results are certain. They have been established in countless cases. So with Christian Science, the results of obeying divine Principle are proven in cases innumerable, of lives saved from sickness as well as from sin. There is a great army of those who have come out of bondage to invalidism; there are witnesses to the cure of every disease with a name, and diseases which could not be diagnosed or named by physicians have also been healed. Sufferers tormented by cancers have had their flesh become again like the flesh of a little child; those who were hopeless because of inaccessible tumors which surgery could not deal with, have experienced relief by the disappearing of the trouble through the ministry of Christian Science. Through its revelation have come hope to the despairing, relief to the over-burdened, freedom to the oppressed, because they have realized their eternal relationship to Mind, and have learned the adoption of sons with God the Father.

 

Laws of Sickness Should be Annulled

People who approach this subject without knowledge of the Scriptural records, or acquaintance with Christian Science literature, say with doubt, "How can these things be?" Those who have begun to investigate the subject, and know that they are true, say, "How do they happen?" and they expect to know all about it from a lecture. A pupil could not learn to be a musician from an hour's talk by a teacher, but he might gain inspiration for the study, and learn how to begin. A lecturer on Christian Science desires to convince you of the reasonableness of its teaching, and show you how inevitably good results follow its practice. But a lecture cannot take the place of the study of the textbook, Science and Health, or give you what you will gain from daily application of its rules. With this understood, a few words may be spoken in answer to the question, How are the sick healed? Consider, for one example, the long list of hereditary diseases which men endure and do not resist, because they are so persuaded of their helplessness in the case. Their faith is fixed in the disease, and they are without hope. When we read in Scripture that "the prayer of faith shall save the sick," we need not be told that the faith intended must rest in God. One who can thus heal the sick shows that he has an understanding of God's law, and his thoughts, whether silent or spoken, reflect Truth. If he be called upon to minister to one who by his own belief in hereditary disease is self-condemned to incurable suffering, he brings to that sufferer, both by silent prayer and by audible explanation, a relief from his fear and an increasing assurance that health is his according to divine law, until at last the patient can say, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."

When the basic teaching of Christian Science is understood, and causation is seen to be mental, then the wonderful works of healing are recognized as the lawful and harmonious exhibitions of the power of divine Mind, annulling the control of erring mortal minds. Consider the exhausting agony of fear which is endured by those who dread contagion, believing the viewless air to be peopled with unseen emissaries of death. In a yellow fever epidemic Christian Science relieved both actual sufferers and those whose fear had paralyzed their mental faculties, and by the same method reassured them of God's presence, power, and love. People are becoming aware of the fact that they think sickness and talk sickness too much. The chronic invalid who exploits a cherished disease and depicts its lineaments, is listened to with less deference than formerly. Why? Because it is becoming understood that if sick thoughts are indulged as an individual or a racial habit, their expression on the body is apt to follow. While Christian Science has shown that disease is of mental origin, it has also shown that the ills of the flesh, whose mere naming would fill many books, belong nowhere in God's creation. This has induced a desire to know what is the true creation of God, and Christian Science in its healing work is just making manifest the good prepared for man from the foundation of the world.

 

Evil is to be Overcome with Good

Christian Science revives that faith in good which in ancient days was so potent. It shows how to obey with scientific certainty the direction of Paul, "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." But in this, its method of establishing by demonstration the reality of good, it meets the criticism of those who believe in the reality and power and permanence of evil. Some of them think of evil as a power eternally opposed to God with an ever-active personal agent or devil; others consider evil a potency in partnership with God whereby He disciplines and punishes His children.

Those of the first class are discontented with Christian Scientists. "Do you not believe in evil? Have you no devil?" they say; and then from imaginary and actual pictures in their thought, they offer descriptions of sorrow, agony, distress, want, and woe, claiming those to be proof of the reality of evil. Why do you not believe this witness? they say. In Jesus' day people likewise believed in the reality of evil, and supposed that there was an adversary to good, a personal devil. But Christ Jesus characterized this devil of his contemporaries as a murderer and false witness. He said, "There is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." May we not then be excused from accepting as fact or truth any of the testimony of evil? In John's epistle it is written, "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil." Christ Jesus was revealed to disintegrate the whole fabric of lies, to unweave the reticulated complexities of deceit, to erase from human minds their false beliefs in sickness and sin, and establish the comprehension of good, and thus to emancipate men from a deceived condition into "the glorious liberty of the children of God;" so all Christians who have named the name of Christ should be enlisted to become victors over every phase of evil. With good they can overcome and annihilate evil, even as a lie melts into nothing before the truth. But this good is not merely a sentiment, a feeling, or an attitude. When we speak of good in a scientific sense it is the manifesting and proving of an eternal Principle.

Christian Science maintains that the eternal Principle underlying all reality is God. Does any one naturally conceive of this Principle as being manifested in any condition which is admittedly adverse to God? Can a condition entitled, "a murder from the beginning" or "a liar and the father of it," be expressive of God's nature or be the agent of God's will? We must be careful then to deny all philosophies which make evil the agent of good, or give devil an equivalent existence with Deity, or which convey the idea that the divine plan for man is that his life should be a murderous struggle for existence in which success means the survival of the fittest. Such success is often the temporary predominance of the least scrupulous man. It may mean his concession to the temptation of the "father of lies," "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." Woe must befall those who call evil good and good evil in this way, for with pain and toil they will have to regain the ability to discern what good really is, and then will have to overcome with good the evil in which they have believed.

 

Evil is Not a Beneficent Reality

Some teachers who are selfless and sincere argue that evil is necessary. Moral evil and physical pain are not only realities, but beneficent realities to them. Observing how a good deed shines in a naughty world, they seem to think the good deed owes its lustre to surrounding wickedness. They infer that the patience of the bed-ridden saint is the product of his pain, and that the moral courage of the world's reformers is due to the wickedness they opposed. But it is his vision of God that inspires the saint to be meek, the reformer to be fearless, and in that vision physical pain and moral evil have no part. The beauty of the vision of God was given to us in Christ Jesus, who said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." I have never heard it argued that his goodness and power to bless had any other source than the Father-God with whom he was one. He was recognized as the expressed image of God's character, but who could say that the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, the envy of the priests, the treachery of a disciple, were agencies in forming the Christly nature? Why, then, will men argue for the beneficent reality of evil? If evil works good, then its agents are our benefactors; and why should the most active doers of evil be restrained from their beneficent activity by our prisons? If physical pain is the teacher of fortitude, why build hospitals or permit attempts to heal pain? The philosophy which declares for beneficent evil is inconsistent, and what if it has arisen because of the failure of its adherents to prove Christianity? Today the "signs following" are not considered essential save by Christian Scientists. To-day men have named many incurable diseases, as if there were evil which good cannot overcome. Disasters which bring ruin to some men and are due to lack of integrity in others, are broadly described by them as acts of Providence. When a man contemplates evil as expressive of power, and good as unproven, he tries to satisfy himself that this is in line with the inscrutable plan of God, and that somehow the rampant evil is to be a schoolmaster for his virtue. The philosophy of contrast is also urged. How are we to value honesty if thieves do not help us; how appreciate truth if no liars abound; how be grateful for the ease of health if it be not offset by disease. This leads too far, for if the action of error is in any way conceived of as having place in the plan of God, it would include in that plan the action of all the workers of iniquity. If lying lips were ordained to teach us to value truth, they could not then be "abomination to the Lord." If it is only by meeting offences that we grow in grace, then blessed is the man by whom the offence cometh, blessed be Ahab and Jezebel, blessed be Judas! But this we do not believe. When we say, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!" we mean one "that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace."

It ought to be universally clear to human comprehension that evil presents a condition of perverseness or reversal, from which conversion must be gained before what is true and normal can be known at all or man be apparent as the child of God. Jesus represents the Son of God. Judas presents the reversal of true manhood or integrity, and in that condition of mind misrepresents both man and God. It ought to be clear, also, that the process of overcoming evil with good is not merely a struggle with adverse environment but a contest with wrong habits of thinking. The kingdom of heaven must first be established within. Godliness or goodness must displace ungodliness or godlessness.

 

Sin Dealt With

Here we are confronted with a condition which seems to be a concomitant part of man's history, which theologians discuss under the name of sin. Some teachers claim this to be the great actuality of the present life, and some believe its disastrous effects to be eternal. But if we scientifically examine the claims of sin, we see how they can be overcome and annulled as they were by the Master, who "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

The first axiom regarding man in Scripture is that he was made in the image and after the likeness of God. Jesus reminded his disciples of this, saying, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." What, then, is sin? It is any theory or belief, thought or action, which misrepresents the likeness of God. Per contra, what is righteousness but right action, correct conduct, truthful thinking, whereby man expresses, as God's image, "the beauty of holiness"? To say that two plus two makes three, misrepresents the relation of numbers; it is in mathematics an error or sin; but does it not vanish, being overcome by the truth, when the relationship is truly expressed? We have a right to expect of men that they will express God's likeness. Does not the faith and trust of almost every child ask this of us? The child expects truthfulness, relies upon kindness, trusts to goodness, has faith in love; and in regard to childhood the sin of adults is in deceiving that trust and being false to that faith. Scientifically, anything is sinful which mars the image and likeness of God in man. A man sins against himself who becomes bestial through drunkenness, but he sins against his friends and family in disappointing their expectancy of manhood. Why is defalcation and graft so severely condemned? Not only because the breach of trust disappoints our expectation regarding the one man who is untrue, but because it poisons us with suspicion of others and makes us doubtful regarding manhood. On the other hand, why is it that a true man helps us and gives us joy and hope? He lifts up again the fallen ideal of man, he restores our trust in manhood, he expresses God's likeness and re-assures us of good. They who robbed widows' houses and for a pretence made long prayers were severely arraigned by Jesus, who saw in their deceptive hypocrisy worse sin than in the unethical conduct of those named publicans and sinners who were openly wrong-doers. The acknowledged wrongdoer may be nearer to that discovery of the effects of sin which will make him begin to overcome it, than the sinner who calls his evil good and justifies it, being, as Jesus said, like a "whited sepulchre."

Christian Science deals successfully with sin as with sickness, healing both conditions of distress, overcoming moral evil with spiritual good. Men fall into sin because they seek for good from a wrong basis. Christian Science shows that what is good comes from God primarily, and that men need not hurt nor destroy other men in order to find good. It reveals the fact that good comes according to inflexible Principle, changeless from age to age, ever providing blessedness for the pure, the honest, the chaste, the truthful, the loving. Under its tuition a man perceives why he must earn, not steal; why he must be chaste, avoid anger and hate, speak the truth regarding his neighbor, and rejoice in the welfare and prosperity of others. He then gives more than literal obedience to the commandments. He understands why they were given, and by his character he more and more expresses God's likeness. So peace abides with him and his joy endures.

 

Deliverance from Evil

Should there remain any misconception in regard to the possible permanence of sin and suffering, consider the petition used universally by Christians to express their desire for divine guidance. The Master framed it first for the disciples, who said to him, "Teach us to pray." When communing with Spirit, we say to the heavenly Father, "Lead us, not into temptation [where all other leadership than Thine takes us], but deliver us from evil." Some commentators read the petition as if they thought it customary for us to be scathed by temptation at the hands of God, and as if this were a prayer for special exemption from the regular process. But there is good sense in the words of James, "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man." If God were tempted with evil or knew evil, how could we expect from God deliverance from it? If evil constituted part of the area of divine knowledge, we should have to learn evil in knowing God. Jesus taught that to know the true God was life and peace. If this be so, and we may not doubt the one who best proved his teachings, then we are delivered from evil and find it to be neither actual nor real in proportion as we follow the guidance of Spirit. This the Psalmist understood when he said, "Thou art my God: Thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness." Christian Science teaches that the eternal Principle underlying all reality is good, hence all forms of evil are transient and false conceptions, which maintain their hold on man because of his recognition of them; whereas the purpose of life is to know the reality of good.

 

The Allness of Good Must be Proven

When we say that good constitutes all reality, this is quite different from any theory which says "All is good" and then tries to associate evil with reality by calling it the minister of good, so that the all of sense, a conglomerate of good and evil, may be named good. Nor is the theory either Christian or scientific which flippantly says "There is no evil," without any examination of the claims of evil or contest with them, for this also makes mortals become the servants of evil in the name of good. When one scientifically declares that good is all, he must face the arrogant and importunate claims of evil and overcome them. He must scientifically explore the ramifications of false believing and of false teaching, whereby godlessness, including illness as well as ill-doing, is rooted in the minds of men, and must uproot every plant that the heavenly Father hath not planted. He must be Christian enough in the process to return good for evil, blessing for cursing, to meet reviling with patience and contumely with meekness, for thus did the great Exemplar prove the reality and potency of good.

 

Faith and the Return to God

This requires the exercise of faith, does it not? Then think of the unfaltering faith exemplified by the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mrs. Eddy. What is faith? Is it a cloudy sense of believing and accepting what our particular circle considers worthy of credence? Or is it reliance upon God? Faith is not credence merely; it is not expectancy, but the certainty which depends upon understanding. The man of faith is sure. The faith which accounts for all Christian triumphs, and for the healing of the sick, has advanced beyond mere belief and become certainty regarding the unseen, the assured understanding of eternal truth and right, and unfaltering confidence in the victory of good. Is not the world weary of its disquieting doubts, weary of its fears, weary of unbelief? A senator, whose habit it was to question men and women of wide experience and proved ability, regarding their belief in immortality, found that they were more deeply interested in this than all other subjects put together. Said one, "I would rather be sure that when a man dies he will live again with his conscious identity, than to have all the wealth of the United States or to occupy any position of honor or power the world could possibly give." This is what many men would say, but they are not sure of God, "in whom we live;" they hold theories regarding the resurrection of the Son of God, and so do not "know the power of his resurrection," and they are uncertain regarding man, deriving him from dust rather than Mind, and so are insecure regarding immortality. How reassuring and comforting, then, is the message of Christian Science, which has come to restore to men faith in God, faith in the risen Christ; faith in the enduring life.

In the days of Nehemiah the thought of the exiles centered in the word Return. This is likewise true in the Christian Science movement. The lost children are coming home, and they say to the Father, "According as we ill have seen, so do thou make us glad." They prayed at many shrines, saying, "Deliver us from evil," and no salvation came. They sought for balm and healing lotions, they traveled far to bathe in healing waters, they humbled themselves to obey medical theories, and perhaps after all found their hurt incurable. Then in their trouble they cried to God. Then they said to God, "Restore unto us the joy of thy salvation." "He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions." So long as their faith was elsewhere fixed than in God, so long as they prayed to evil to rescue them from evil, they were homeless and unguided wanderers, the victims of troubling rumors, terrified by ghostly fears, dwellers in darkness; but through the influence of Christian Science they now know the meaning of the old teaching, "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." So soon as the prodigal came to himself, he returned to his father, and the parable teaches the truth that man comes to himself in oneness with God, and in that experience is delivered from evil.

 

Love and its Proof to Man

The effect of that faith which says to divine Love, "Lead us," and thereby finds deliverance from evil, must express itself in peace on earth and good-will to men. Faith makes its request, "Re-clothe us in our rightful mind," and the answer is manifest in the beauty of holiness. The universal practical effect of Christian Science is to revive the faith and quicken the understanding of mankind, but it goes farther, in also quickening that kind of love whereby man expresses to his neighbor the likeness of God. While the commandments are held to be sacred and binding, emphasis is laid on that last one of our Master's directions for blessed living, when he said, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." Since Christ Jesus healed the sick, cast out evils, so of his followers must it be said that the works he did they do also. Hence when Mrs. Eddy associated her students for organized effort, the purpose was "to organize a church designed to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing" (Manual of The Mother Church, p. 17). How gloriously this Church has continued its mission under the wise guidance of the Leader, named by the modest title of Pastor Emeritus, whose love inspires the humblest workers with courage, whose wisdom has averted again and again such mistakes as brought confusion into the primitive Church. May we not pray for the continuance and increase of this healing ministry, in order that the demonstration of love may provide eventually a platform upon which all Christians shall stand. If Christ Jesus healed the sick, if he cured sin, if he comforted distress, if he destroyed the works of evil, then all his disciples may likewise prove divine Love to mankind by following that example. "This is my commandment," he said, "That ye love one another, as I have loved you." We believe this duty of love to be universal. We expect that the health-giving influence of scientific Christianity will reach all mankind.

We have not spoken of the rapid progress of the movement. That is a matter of history. We have merely referred to the multitudes already healed. You may learn of these cases in the testimony meetings, or from the pages of our periodicals. But something remains to be said about the Leader of the Christian Science movement, since it is above all things important to know her aright, and to understand her mission and service to mankind. Let nothing prevent any from understanding that among the benefactors of the race Mrs. Eddy is the best friend they have. Her selfless consecration enabled her to discern divine Science, and her love for humanity impelled her to demonstrate and teach it. The text-book, Science and Health, teaches the universal truth, but her other writings make us acquainted with the author, and explain how she overcame evil with good. She has taught by example as much as by precept, and earth's best blessing is the inspiration given by a holy life. In ancient Jerusalem they stoned the prophets, and also in later times men have assailed with brute unreason those who exemplified good. Perhaps you have heard the clamor of misrepresentation regarding Mrs. Eddy; if so, what do you think of her patience for well-nigh forty years, during which she has shown love and good-will to those who were malignant in their self-inspired hatred? I do not know of one bitter word spoken in resentment against persecutors, and any one can understand that only the rule of "that same mind which was also in Christ Jesus" enables a human being not to revile again when reviled, but to do good to those who hate. If to the unthankful and hostile she is consistently kind, then where the flow of that good-will is unobstructed, it becomes to the appreciative an inspiration, as they see the beauty of Christian character unfolded. The purpose of love is to make its object lovable. Mrs. Eddy expresses this sense of love universally, with the evident desire that all mankind may be taught to express man's true nature in the likeness of God, who is Love. Those who know her best know the trustworthiness of her motives, the integrity of her aims, and the tireless industry of her life. When others become awake to influences by which they have been blessed, they will appreciate and love the one who has been the patient servant and friend of man, and will "rise up and call her blessed."

 

[Delivered Nov. 2, 1905, at Symphony Hall, in Boston, Massachusetts under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, and published in The Christian Science Journal, December 1905.]

 

 

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