Christian Science: The Panacea for the World's Unrest (2)

 

The Rev. William P. McKenzie, C.S.B.

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

Science means true knowing. It is the knowledge of what is, the fact, the truth. And by science, by knowing the truth, man is set free from superstition in the present, and from traditions which are relics of superstition in the past. He is set free from all forms of hate and fear, so that he may know himself now as the child of God; and "it doth not yet appear what we shall be." So this remedy offered must come as something which will minister to mind, and reform man by changing his mode of thought-action; transform him "by the renewal of the mind."

 

What is The Truth?

Certainly it must be that Truth which Jesus bore witness to. To the question, What is Truth? the answer used to be "that which in past ages has been everywhere accepted." In its support authority had to be quoted, and in its acceptance the faith of the acceptor had to be exercised.

To-day this is changed. What is Truth? That which may be proved! That which I can understand and verify. To-day the fact is sought as against the philosophic guess; the demonstration rather than the tradition; the proof in experience rather than the legend.

The argument used to be that the wondrous works of Jesus were done to support the church dogmas afterwards to be formulated regarding his Deity; and that apostolic miracles were the signs of apostolic authority. To-day it is clearly seen that the works of Jesus were proofs of the truth of his message, or proofs of Christianity; and that where the truth of Christianity is fully manifested there must be "signs following" in similar proofs. Should one say that the electric flash coming through Franklin's kite-string was a special phenomenon tending to accredit him as a scientist, rather than the symptom and sign of a power to be known by all capable of understanding it, his argument would be similar to that of those who fail to see in the works of the apostles and their Master the evidence of a universally beneficent law, a power that is good, a God who is Love.

Jesus came not to be a ruler, though he might have governed. He came to manifest the glory of God. He spoke much of not doing his own will. Obedience is the keynote of every science. Will-power may cherish a theory and enforce it on others; but the true scientist ever says, "Let not my will be done, but let Truth be revealed." When another proclaims a discovery of truth, he endeavors to verify it by obeying the law; and when there is exact obedience results do not vary. He can of himself do nothing; he but reveals the action of the law he obeys. Jesus revealed the action of the law of Love he obeyed. Of his works he himself said, "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works."

He knew God so well that in our thought we set him in the nearest place to God. A scientist who is nearest in obedience to a law others may not understand, we look to as the typical son of that law, and we expect the testimony of an expert to be supported by proof. Jesus was the spiritual expert, the one from whom as the son of the law of Love, we have had proofs of that law's action. His works give us this proof, and so furnish the demonstration of Christian Science.

 

A Christian Basis Needed For Reform

The unrest of the world is shown in the multitude and variety of its reformatory endeavors. As safeguards against sickness and poverty we find men offering certainly "many inventions." But does the hospital reform the sick man, or the refuge cure the mendicant? The fact is, as Ruskin points out, that our philanthropic agencies do not purge out the ulcer, but rather put over it a pleasant covering, while it continues its destructive work. The method should be changed.

The sick man seeks health and a cure, by attempting to work out his atonement with various health theories, each different from the others. He may try in turn medicines, mineral waters, climate, electricity, massage, magnetism, hydropathy, hygiene, hypnotism, and be no better, but rather grow worse from finding from many doctors how many things are wrong with him. What he really needs is to work out atonement with the God who can send him "health and a cure," the living God who "healeth all diseases."

Then for sickness of the body politic men try as remedies temperance societies, benevolent associations, labor unions, and even strikes and lockouts. Others build hospitals for the sick and refuges for the weak and poor. Let me warmly appreciate the motive of philanthropists. Lovers of mankind must have their reward of responsive love. But the great variety of methods indicates uncertainty, and gives those who know a true way the right to declare it. We do not believe in criticism. The world suffers from flesh-tearing sarcasm and from irony, pain-bringing like spear or bayonet. But we have the privilege of laying a kindly hand upon the arm of one who is zealously building with "wood, hay, and stubble," upon the true foundation, it may be, of Christian love, and we have the right to say to him: "You may on this foundation build with gold and silver and costly stones, and then your work, when proved by fire, will stand and have its reward; the work which shall be burned is lost, and though the worker shall be saved, it is as from a fire."

Christ Jesus did not attempt to make over or reform the world that then was. The usual method of reform is to fasten upon the old fabric of thought some new patch of opinion. About this method Jesus offered a parable: "No man," he said, "putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old: if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old." Jesus attempted no patchwork reform of existing conditions, but sought to make a new man who could receive the truth of the kingdom of heaven. Hence his work was regenerative. His endeavor was that man should be born again, filled with the impulse of that creative life which is Love. Christian Science in like manner endeavors to bring new life to men. The things that are seen, diseases, sicknesses, and sins, as well as the entrenchments of cruelty, the monuments of superstition, are temporal. Of them, as of the temple, it may be said "not one stone shall be left upon another." But the spiritual realities shall be revealed and abide, because there is at work "the unseen and immeasurable might of a creative life." This power Christian Science reveals to the world, and proves its operation by the fruits of the Spirit in human consciousness.

What reason is there for confidence that Christian Science gives the best results as a reformative, or transformative, agency? The fact that in its normal operation we find, re-appearing, results prophesied by Jesus as inseparable from true believing in his gospel. The evidence of healing is so extensive that every one can find proof. Every observer has remarked the new joy, activity and usefulness, honesty, health, and fidelity of those uplifted by the movement into a new life. There are not divergent theories to war about in legitimate Christian Science, for it makes man to know his Father, the divine Love that satisfies the heart, gives full measure of joy to-day, and can forever supply man's capacity for joy as it enlarges.

 

The Truth Regarding Man

Christian Science establishes the fact that the real man is the reflection of the supreme Intelligence, and so a spiritual being of one nature, responding to the one Principle, God. Before understanding comes, and God is revealed, mortal man dwells in the kingdom of beliefs, theories, traditions, often of superstition.

One theory makes man physical and affirms that his fate is decided for him by heredity before his consciousness awakes. This theory holds that sin of his ancestors may govern his life, and gives him no hope of recovery from certain diseases which come to him according to the lineage of the flesh. Connected with this theory are others which affirm the possibility of man, through contact as well as consanguinity, contracting diseases in his flesh for which there may be no cure. For diseases that tradition considers curable, the man is offered many remedies. The schools are so many that his life in the flesh is not long enough to investigate their claims. But they endeavor to affect the matter in his body by means of other matter, with the hope in some way of affecting his life. The accredited value of these material remedies depends upon tradition and is liable to very radical change, insomuch that we laugh at the remedies of past times, and even at those in vogue when we were young. One would hardly expect to remedy the mistakes of a problem in arithmetic by coloring the figures upon the slate. If the acting mind be in error, vari-colored chalk will not help the problem. The real remedy must bring the problem into harmony with the principle and so be a mental remedy, not a physical one. And for man a similar rule applies. For him to have health, he must learn how to be in obedience to that true life, creative and preservative, which is God. The accretion of theories or mere beliefs, cannot enlarge his life. He must in some way for himself reach the spring of life, and in himself allow it to have pellucid flow.

If we discern the error of making heredity the fixed fate for man, is it wiser to say that man is the product of environment? Is the soul of man what is real? We define soul as sense, and perhaps "personal sense" would properly describe that supposed entity which is built up by education, suggestion, and association and named soul. Theories regarding life and conduct, prejudices and racial antagonisms which divide men and cause hate and murder to prevail instead of Christly ministry and healing love these are certainly the theories of personal sense. This is the self created by error "Such stuff as dreams are made of." History shows us that personal sense moves in cycles of pride and resistance to pride, lust, vainglory, despair, "without God and without hope in the world." Against all such theories of life, the word goes forth, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die."

But how shall we find that which cannot die, how know eternal life? Jesus said that to know God was life and peace. And Christian Science shows us that to know God aright is to know the real man and to find one's self. Let the truth be accepted that man is spiritual, the answerer to God, in nature correspondent to Divine Mind, and therefore God's image and likeness, and then freedom comes. The false laws which established cruel oppression over the body and the false theories which induced anarchy in conduct and fear in religion, are seen to be powerless. Life is recognized to be from above, not from beneath. It is seen that no death can come to qualities that are God-derived, and it is understood how in all its manifestations, life may be harmonious, so that the prayer of Paul for his friends may be realized: "The God of Peace himself purify you perfectly, and keep your spirit, and the soul, and the body, spotless for the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ."

 

Propagation Of Christian Science

The endeavor to promulgate Christianity through the call of many voices can hardly be termed successful when we think of the number and variety of the sects. In foreign countries it is a puzzle to the "heathen" to find one Master represented by disciples whose views are so divergent. Those influenced are converted to some denomination, and so must fail to appreciate the universality of true Christianity. Missionaries have had success only as they have understood that "the aim of Christianity is to impart a blessing rather than challenge a comparison."

Previous to 1894 individual sermons were preached in Christian Scientist churches. But Mrs. Eddy was guided to make a change which will be recognized in future times, when through Christian Science the re-union of Christendom has been brought about, as one of the most important moves in ecclesiastical history. This change was the ordination of the Bible and the Christian Science text-book, as the Pastor for the denomination. The text-book is named "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," and was written by Mary Baker G. Eddy. This book is full of exquisite phrases setting forth a heavenly philosophy, which is nevertheless practical in daily experience. Were one to quote from it as an appreciator might, the beauty and consistency and power of the truth behind the words would be made manifest. But there is really no need for doing this because of the manner in which public services are conducted. The sermon consists wholly of selected passages from the sacred Scriptures, to which are added correlative passages from the text-book, which bring out the spiritual meaning and power of truth which is one.

It may be of interest to those looking to the re-union of Christendom to know that the mode of public prayer in all the Churches of Christ, Scientist, is that which marked the uniting in devotion of the delegates at the World's Congress of Religion, namely, silent prayer, followed by the audible rendition of the Lord's Prayer. The fact that "the Father which seeth in secret" does "reward openly" the prayers of Christian Scientists, as evidenced by their healing the sick and curing the sinful, establishes the precedent fact that they are indeed a prayerful people.

The equality of service to the world of man and woman is illustrated by having two Readers conduct the Sunday services, one of whom reads the selected verses from the Bible and the other the explanatory passages from Science and Health. It is sometimes said that one book should not be used to explain Scripture. The usual method is for a preacher to study many books and add his own view to those of other students, in proclaiming his message. The result is that there are few voices concordant, since many men show many minds not as in mathematics, where students must come into accord and be of one mind to get true results. The study of this book gives its proof scientifically, and calls for accord among Christians, just as mathematics demand concord from all who use its methods. The method of public service is by lesson-sermons on Sunday to set forth the Principle of Christian Science, and at the mid-week meeting to have testimony presented as to the results of the practice of Christian Science; that is, to present the good tree and its good fruit to the world, which from many trees has gathered so much evil fruit. At all the assemblies throughout the world the sermon for each Sunday is the same. In every part of this land, in Canada and Brazil, in lonely places in Africa and the populous cities of Europe, in Tahiti, in the Hawaiian Islands and Australia, those who worship in this name hear the same teaching and declare similar results from the practice. By the quietness and power of this mode of propagandism, which does not attempt to make proselytes, but proves the beneficence of divine laws, one is reminded of the old prophecy regarding the chosen servant of God (I quote from the New Testament in modern English):

 

He will neither wrangle nor contend;

Nor shall any hear His shouting in the streets.

He will not crush a bruised reed,

Nor extinguish a flickering light.

Until he leads justice to victory.

 

Hope For The World

There is a sympathetic kinship between good men of all times and races. Their hopes and aims have been similar. They have recognized a oneness in the Good, and a First Cause that was wise. Some have even believed that the primal force might be Love. Their high hopes are being fulfilled to-day, since what they hoped might be true is being established as true by unmistakable proofs. Amid the strife of tongues, the business contentions, the conflict of opinions, the sectarian combats, the caste hostilities, and international wars of this time, the voice of Christian Science is heard saying, "Peace, be still!" It gathers up the meanings of every prophet voice which foretold or foretells the kingdom of God on earth; from Moses, the lawgiver, to the later prophets, and from John the Baptizer to Lyof Tolstoi. Coming not to destroy, it fulfils the true good of the law and the good hope of the prophets.

A speaker at a labor meeting in New York a dozen years ago spoke most earnestly regarding the volcanic forces which he saw at work under the crust of society. To him the mass of the people seemed as thoughtless as the pleasure-seekers among the vineyards of Herculaneum and in the palaces of Pompeii, while beneath them were the pent-up, fiery forces, cruel, blind, ferocious in strength. The speaker, observing how many were dwellers at ease, indifferent to the welfare of others, declared that to his thought nothing could prevent an outburst of the suppressed volcanic forces of the human mind, and upon this continent a most bitter internecine combat, more dreadful than the world ever had seen, unless it should be a better sense of Christianity. Nothing to his thought could prevent an experience like that of the French Revolution except a great Revival of Religion. This revival has come and has been leavening thought for years, imperceptibly at first, but with such acceptance that branch churches in the movement are now being established at the rate of two each week. Professor Harnack said of Luther, "He was only great in the re-discovered knowledge of God which he derived from the Gospel, that is, from Christ." This greatness belongs also to the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, who since the time when the Civil War ended, has been promulgating "peace on earth, good-will among men," through her re-discovery of the healing and redemptive power of Christianity, lost for ages, though undoubtedly proven in apostolic times.

 

Christian Science is Different From Mind Cure

The truth of Christian Science regenerates, and at the touch of it the patient becomes a better man. He is Christianized in being healed, and has become illumined as to the availability of Mind, God, to supply every need of man. Mind cure tries to change the belief of the patient; Christian Science to change the nature of the man.

A good teacher in mathematics reflects the principle of numbers, and enlightens the student so that he for himself may learn to apply the principle. If he act as a primary agent, stand in the place of principle, and merely tell the bewildered student what figures he must put down, instead of helping him, he renders him helpless. As morphine deadens the sensibilities, but does not remove the cause of the pain, so a mental potion may become a hypnotic to a sufferer; but in such a case he is worse off. One who receives seeming health and then becomes separated from the mind curist is very much like one who has learned to trust wholly to a drug and is unable to procure a supply. Both these experiences are different from such as are had through Christian Science. A child in school who becomes acquainted with the principle of mathematics finds his nature enlarged, and is able intelligently to help others; in the same way the one who has been healed through Christian Science proves his understanding of its Principle by bringing relief to others.

It is with diffidence that this topic of mental healing is touched upon, for the reason that there are scores of books on the subject setting forth divergent views, and the acceptance of such teachings by readers must depend, to some extent, upon their finding true statements in the books. Yet. these teachings are so diverse, it is impossible to say that no error is included. Now there is positive disadvantage in studying what is partly true and partly plausible, because of the great confusion of thought which follows. That which is true offers its proof, that which is plausible seems to be supported by arguments, but arguments do not prove a truth, though they may confirm an opinion. Among the advocates of diverse opinions regarding mind-cure, there may be said to be a general agreement that one human mind has power to influence another; that the rarefied will-power of one man may control the acts of another, and that hypnotic agency can influence the emotions and intentions and beliefs of one controlled thereby.

Let us suppose the case of a dull boy who cannot see that nine and six make fifteen. The hypnotist will show the value of his art by mentally influencing him into belief of the numerical fact. But reason or intelligence is not reached by this mode, and what is to prevent the mental operator from hypnotizing the youth into the belief that he ought to alter figures on a check, for instance. The Scientific mode of mental action does not work by putting the mind into a sleep or stupor, but awakens it to apprehend the facts of life, and to understand the law that governs them. Mind-methods, where will-power and mesmeric force are concerned, bring darkening to the victim. Christian Science in its legitimate operation brings the "light of life," and proves to man's awakened apprehension the spiritual facts of the universe. For a statement of the true mode of healing the reader is referred to page 270 of Mrs. Eddy's "Miscellaneous Writings."

 

Brotherhood the Ideal of To-day

The prophetic dream brought out in "Looking Backward," and in other books and magazines, indicates the deep-down desire of the human heart for the equality which will depend upon fraternity. There are so many indications of social unrest that any one almost can read the signs of the times. Then again, there are many affiliations being brought out among business men, and much incorporating of interests. But these brotherhoods are too often like the formation of clans that make war upon others. As a matter of perception, the Christian Scientist can say that the true brotherhood of man will not appear until the true God is known by man, for obedience to the second command to love the neighbor, is not possible apart from obedience to the first commandment, to love God.

The great feature of Christian Science is this, that it gives a clear view of God. In defining God as eternal Mind, it shows that this omni-active divine Principle is Love, omnipotent as Truth, omniscient as Intelligence, and in action, potency, and science wholly Good. This Intelligence was illustrated in operation by the life of Jesus. So far as the records go the healing works which he accomplished cannot be doubted, and in what he did he declared plainly that he was wholly doing God's will. A wrong sense of God's will has evidently been gained by theologians and taught to mankind. It is the customary belief that it is the will of God to send affliction upon man. Then the help of medicine is invoked to remove, by the agency of drugs, the sickness which comes by the will of God, and the next step is, when prayer for the drug is made that God would give it power to undo the other work which He did. If all drugs and medicaments that are tried prove to have no inherent power to relieve the pain, and if prayer fails to add potency to them, then usually comes in a sense of resigned fatalism which agrees that the evil work is God's will, and that the hurt is incurable. How can men love God if He is viewed as the great Dispenser of calamity? By the tens of thousands healed from all manner of diseases, Christian Science is revealing the true God to men as the Infinite Benevolence. When men see God as He is and so become like Him in character, how heavenly will be their association in purity and love.

Brotherhood is perpetually ruptured by the belief that there is a fixed and limited reservoir of good known as material wealth. However wealthy a man may be, the fear of loss may torment him, and that fear may lead him to cruel exactions. What, then, of the agony the poor man feels when deprived of his just share in the world's wealth, and ground in the mill of poverty! For these conditions cruelty and force do not provide the remedy. Both capitalist and laborer must learn the true good of life, which is knowing God and finding His likeness in man. Among rich and poor the effects of Christian Science are already manifest in such mental qualities as honesty and fidelity, contentment and godliness, health and happiness. In business, tireless fidelity to employers' interests, and, vice versa, loving appreciation of faithful work, generosity and kindliness, are establishing happier conditions. Those who have experienced them know how these changes have come to them through the spiritual impulse of Christian Science; and as sickness, poverty, ill-will, jealousy, and fear vanish before the spiritual knowing of the true God, the love of the one Father draws men into a brotherhood of joyous affection.

 

Coming Era Of Obedience

A Christian Scientist is a man of principle; he has gained the understanding heart which recognizes and accepts the modes of divine rule, and wherever placed he is establishing the kingdom of heaven on earth.

The man of principle is a God-obeying man, related to his Father as a son. The man who does not understand, relates himself to falsities. Reading, for instance, the attractive presentation of some patent medicine, he obeys the spell woven by greed, and relates himself to that medicine and the theories connected with it. Or, changing his mind, he relates himself to another and different system, and occupies his mind with its theories and claims. But at last he is compelled to find his true relationship to life, and gain health from God only. In like manner a man will relate himself to dishonesty in business operations, to anger and cruelty and wantonness; and becoming adverse to good may find adversity come upon him. Strife, ambition, envy, greed, self-will, lust, may all claim to have relationship with man, but the true man, the God-related man, is disconnected from these.

The natural man lays imposts upon others. By selfishness he makes the world a place of masters and slaves. Controlling others by arbitrary will he is himself by others controlled, or becomes the victim of fear. The tyrant, ministered unto by slaves, surrounded by silken hangings, receiving food from golden service and wine from jeweled cups, dreads the envy and the plottings of those who fear and hate him. The schemer who has stolen by law the earnings of many and is housed in magnificence, hears like the roar of the far-off sea the mutterings of discontent, and dreads the gathering storm which may wreck and overthrow his house built on the shifting sands of selfishness. Some men cry brotherhood when they mean confederacy in self-interest. They desire to combine men so that their power will be greater to compel others to minister to them.

But Christ Jesus came to make the earth the dwelling-place of friends. Greatest of all, he was friend of all, and so truly the servant or server of all. To those who through love were as devoted to him as slaves, he said, "I call you no longer servants, but friends." The servant was unacquainted with the reasons for his Lord's acts. Jesus made the Principle of life so clear for one and all, for the great and the lowly, that the highest and lowest could be friends in recognition of their government by the one Intelligence, divine Love.

 

Where God is known

All men are friends;

For Truth is sown

Where God is known.

Love reigns alone

And dolor ends

Where God is known

All men are friends!

 

Christian Scientists are proving their affiliation with the ideals of Christ Jesus by doing such work as he did. "Out of great tribulation," indeed, have many of them come, and perceiving the universality of human woe, they are devoting their lives to compassionate service. As among the disciples of Jesus, so in this movement, some may seek to be greatest in worldly ways of mastery and cruelty; but the true hearts are those purified and seeing God, who see the divine likeness in man. Beholding the divine beauty, they become like what they see, and for them jealousy, envy, and murderous lust are impossible. Their love goes out to bless, and there is no demand in this love; it is the sunshine of peace and joy.

Equable and ever kind is this pure affection. Its quality is heavenly. It feeds the lonely heart and "setteth the solitary in families." The heart that loves purity is satisfied, for its own are found by it as it recognizes brothers and sisters in all seeking to do the good will of God. Labor is lightened for others by sweet appreciation of their struggle and toil. When joy triumphs in one heart, it remains not at home, but calls to the friend, Rejoice evermore! This love pierces through the mask of personality to the real goodness which in every man exhibits what he has attained of God-likeness. Thus by love all good is encouraged; by healing, gratitude to God is invoked; by regeneration, true worship is made possible; by the coming to men and women of Christly natures, God is glorified. This healing, regeneration, and purification, whereby the rule of Love upon earth is proved, Christian Science is accomplishing. And why? Because, as Science and Health says, "The vital part, the heart and soul of Christian Science, is Love."

 

[Published in The Christian Science Journal, April, 1901, with no indication that it was a lecture.]

 

 

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