The Health-Giving Theology of Christian Science
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
The National Cyclopedia of American Biography says of Christian Science, "Many people of the thinking class are turning to this Science and adopting it, because in it they find a solid foundation, a sure abiding peace, the verification of the promises of Jesus, and a demonstrable Christianity."
Because of the benefits they have received from Christian Science, its adherents are eager to have others understand it. They are certain that when understood, scientific Christianity will be accepted as universally as scientific astronomy. Their endeavor is to set forth the truth which has blessed them and will bless others. With this end in view an International Board of Lectureship has been formed by the Mother Church of Christian Science. A member of this Board delivered a lecture at The First Church of Christ, Scientist, on Wednesday evening, January 25, — the second lecture delivered in the Mother Church by a member of the official Board. The lecturer was Rev. William P. McKenzie, C.S.B., and the subject chosen was,
The Health-Giving Theology of Christian Science.
Healing the sick and the Christianization of character constitute a practical application of Christian Science. But in its investigation of fundamentals it is the Science of sciences, because its one Principle is God, the one Good, one Mind, in whom all things consist and exist. God is defined as Love, Light, Life, and in the theology of Christian Science proof of the reality of God is given, rather than theories regarding Him. Christian Scientists are a marked people because of their happiness wherewith they bless others. They have certainty regarding that of which poets have sung, which prophets have seen in vision, — the brotherhood of man, — because they understand the fatherhood of God. And is it not the aim of theology to make the true God understood?
Freedom of Sonship.
To phrase it simply, a Christian Scientist is one governed by that same Mind which was also in Christ Jesus. The searcher into Christian Science tacitly agrees with himself that the government of fear, disease, sorrow, animality, and sin, is distasteful .to him, and that his desire is to be transferred from the kingdom of the earthly, sensual, and devilish, to the kingdom of Heaven where all is spiritual, pure, and God-like. If a man who has been made wretched by the misgovernment of a cruel king, and exasperated by the injustice of tyranny, is transferred into full citizenship in a free country like this, the old laws have absolutely no grasp upon him. lie may tremble with the old fear under certain circumstances, but if reminded of his new conditions and the new laws governing him now, he banishes the fear at once. Christian Scientists who are learning what is their citizenship in the heavenlies, know that the tyranny of merciless fear is illegitimate. They know that unjust laws which fetter man with sickness, enchain him with evil habits, condemn him to conditions of ill-health and inevitable sin, become powerless to control or hurt the free man. When realization of the Truth sets free, there is the further certainty of Sonship with the Father, and to be free through Sonship is to be "free indeed."
Declaration of Independence.
We know how vague and indefinite seem the diseases that in human belief loom up threateningly. These powers for evil claim to set crooked the whole economy of life. If an accountant, upon the correctness of whose work the integrity of a business and its harmonious action depended, were told of a vague, unseen influence that could alter his sense of exactness and compel him to set down incorrect figures, and if every friend had some different charm or remedy against this influence to urge upon him, would not fear be induced as these conflicting recommendations were urged, and the terrible potency of the malign influence was enlarged upon? Then if the dread influence began to work, and he found himself out of harmony mentally with the science of numbers, and used one offered remedy after another without avail, would not despondency come? Is it not in similar ways that the sick are informed of an unseen, vague, relentless influence named disease, which can bring inharmony with the Principle of life, and unfit them for work or happiness? Now the quick and alert accountant does not fear such an influence as we have supposed, and with exactly the same sense and degree of certainty, the Christian Scientist is unafraid of the vague phantom called disease, which terrifies men. Once knowing the principle of the science of numbers by obedience, that knowledge cannot be lost. In the same way once knowing the facts of Christian Science and the truth of Being, that is, the truth about God, there comes freedom from fear. Since God is Love, fear is cast out, for "perfect love casteth out fear." "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," said Jesus; and in these two passages there is the Christian Science declaration of independence, whereby is set forth man's right to enduring life, liberty as God's child, and the happiness of heavenly origin.
What is God?
What, then, is God? The picture of the Jewish Jehovah, as given by the old writers, was intensely human. He was a "man of war." He is pictured as rousing himself out of sleep "like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine." To serve such an ideal meant that narrowness of mind which has so severe a rebuke in the book of Jonah. The rabbinical command was "Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy," which meant to love the Jew and hate the Gentile. When Jesus came, giving a new ideal of God, in the light of which brotherly love for all mankind was possible, he swept away the teachings of "them of old time." In these old writings this tribal Jehovah was represented as exhibiting caprice, irresolution, enmity, changeableness, jealousy, and other merely personal and therefore unspiritual characteristics. On the matter of Sabbath-keeping he was supposed to be very sensitive, and the man-made laws on this question had gone to extremes of the ridiculous. We remember how quietly Jesus swept away those traditions which made void the law of God, and how he interpreted God's law to mean liberty, peace on earth, and good will among men. There are many yet whose conception of God is personal. A learned professor on examining his thought, found that in his mind since childhood had been the picture of Deity as a severe-faced man wearing a long beard and a peculiar cap down over his brow. He remembered at last that he had when a child seen such a picture in a religious book. The revelation of God in Christian Science takes away the corporeal, personal, and limited sense, and brings out the spiritual sense of God as omnipresent Life, Truth, and Love. It was Jesus who said, "God is Spirit;" so to think of our heavenly Father as limited by corporealism, by physical existence and bodily senses, is manifestly error. John, in speaking of his message, "that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all," illustrated what he meant in saying, "God is Love." We can all understand how impersonal, incorporeal, and universal must be this Love if it is like light. It is this omnipresent divine Love, inexhaustible and unchangeable, which is the Principle of Christian Science. Upon this its theology depends, and its practical operation is to make manifest in human consciousness the all-governing power of Love, casting out fear, sickness, sin, and all else that is unlike good, so that, as in heaven so on earth, the good-will of Love may rule.
Foreordination of Good.
Starting with this First Principle one can see what a flood of light is thrown upon the puzzle of the ages, the doctrine of predestination. Much anxiety, and many illnesses can be traced to misconceptions regarding this doctrine. Even children, hearing it spoken about, puzzle over it. Once a child sitting by a pool with a pebble in his hand, debated upon the question of "fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute." Did God know whether he would throw the pebble into the water or not? After several false motions he threw it in of his own free will; then came over him like a pall the sense that he was in the grasp of a relentless, iron necessity and could not have done other than he did, — that all things are inexplicably fated; that even sorrow, sin, and death come from the irresistible will of God.
To elucidate this topic let us take a simple parable from the science of numbers which all comprehend. There comes a weary and fretted child to the mother's knee, bringing a slate covered with bleared figures that tears have dropped upon. It takes but a moment for the experienced mind to see the mistake and to show what the right figuring is. Knowledge of the science of numbers enables the child's helper to set in the right order and relation the figures that belong to the correct solution of the problem, and to wipe away the wrong ones. A little thought will reveal this truth, that the principle involved in the science of numbers foreordained the correct figuring, and the right solution of the problem. Also that the mistakes in addition or subtraction, the incorrect arranging of figures, or any other error in operation or result, were not included in that principle, — were, so to speak, outside of it and unknown by it. If, then, in the science of numbers, the principle involved foreordains the errorless process, and the solution wholly right, must it not be true that in the Science of Christianity where the Principle is infinite Good, foreordination refers to results that are wholly good? Who of us has not spent nights of agony over the problem of predestination which theologians in past ages have presented as the foreordination of evil for the hopeless many, and good for a favored few? But the Bible is full of promises regarding the ultimate triumph of Good and the wiping away of sins as completely as from the slate the errors are removed. "Sin is lawlessness," and has far-reaching results in our experience. So, for that matter, may wrong figures have when unlawfully arranged by dishonest motives. Yet the principle awaits the removal of the lawless figures, and the revealing of those exact and right, leading to the correct result, and knows nothing else. So may we discern as in a mirror, dimly, at first, but then face to face, the operation and excellent glory of the divine Principle, the everlasting Love, which foreordains the revealing of the children of God, free from blemish, disease, or sin.
Revealing what is Foreordained.
We know what the solved problem is like, and how necessary it is in its place amid the great whole comprehended in the science of mathematics. What is the individual man like, wherein is illustrated the Divine Principle? We repeat that the same Mind is in him which was also in Christ Jesus. This Mind means life and immortality, — while the Adamic mind, the fleshly and carnal pretence to mind, comes to death; that is, must be wiped out like an incorrect solution that pretends to be something when it is nothing. For a time the Adamic mistake may masquerade as real, and exhibit caprices that defy law. Sin is lawlessness, but law is victor in the end, and has abiding control. The normal action of the law of Good was shown in the life, the word, and the works of Jesus. He clearly understood the power, presence, and availability of Good. The mathematician looking at the pupil's mistake sees mentally the true statement because he understands the principle. The work of the pupil is empirical. He has to try and try and try again. In attempting to heal disease medical men show themselves to be empirical rather than scientific. They try one drug after another, one mode of treatment after another. But the healing done by Jesus was absolutely scientific. Observing the various errors in the problem of life, such as palsy, leprosy, fever, avarice, impurity, pride, insanity, and so on, he was able to rebuke the error, and reveal what was right and in accord with the Principle he understood. The practised calculator, where we see conglomerations of blotted and hopelessly wrong figures, sees what ought to be there by quick intuition, and skilfully makes the right solution manifest. So where we would see the birth-blind man, the paralytic, the leper, the demented among the tombs, the sinful woman of the streets, or the dishonest publican, and say that the case of each was hopeless, Jesus, as we know, saw the real man by the swift intuition of love, and brought out what he saw even as the mathematician brings out his solution. He could and did do this because he understood that the great First Cause, the divine Love, the heavenly Father of man, foreordained only the good.
In speaking of one case, where a woman had an infirmity for eighteen years, he designated the error as the binding of Satan, or bondage to that which presumes to oppose God. But he did not tolerate the error nor give it power. He recognized as a matter of truth that the woman was a daughter of Abraham, and this spiritual freedom he made manifest by healing her. In another case the law of heredity was involved. The theological question, in the case of the man blind from his birth, was, Who did sin, this man or his parents? Sin was considered real by the theologians, and the afflicted were hated because the judgment of God was supposed to be manifest upon them in suffering. The whole book of Job is a protest against this theory that God is the author of man's misery. How did Jesus meet the question? He replied in words which bear the meaning: "Sin is not real either in this man's case or in that of his parents; but that which is real can be revealed, namely, the glory of God." The man himself had a glimpse of the truth, for he argued with the Pharisees on the basis that the healing, not the disease, was God's work, and that if Jesus were not of God he could not do such healing work.
Take one more case, that of the strange woman who anointed the Master's feet at the feast in Simon's house. The forgiveness, or reducing to nothing, of sin, was set forth in a startling way, when he said that the measure of the error to human sense was the measure of the love set free when the sense of sin was destroyed. In this case it may be noted how Pharisaism never heals, because it is a sense of the reality of sin in others, whereby they become worthy of despisal, and incidentally set off by contrast the supposed righteousness of the despiser. The sinner makes sin real in himself, and loathes it after he has had experience of its results, so is more ready for the kingdom of Heaven which brings the destruction of sin by the appearing of humility and love.
These cases illustrate how Jesus understood the foreordination of Good, and the powerlessness of disease, of the law of heredity and of sin. He understood the law which established good as a uniform and orderly occurrence, and did not acknowledge power in that which opposes Good. There is a great desire to gather into the limits of a personality that which opposes Good, that which is "a liar and the father of it," and so give majesty to Satan. Just as well try to personalize all that opposes the correct in figures, and teach a child that when he does wrongly it was the influence of this vague personage and not his own error. If we do not believe in an indefinite personality who misleads children into mistakes in figures, what better reason have we for believing in a satanic majesty who compels men into lawlessness and opposition to God? When a mistake is made the pupil is led away from his own idiosyncrasy and ignorance, or possibly by listening to the wrong advice of others. When error is indulged, man is "drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." This death, however, is the destruction of the sin, that is, the finishing of the lawlessness. Then the abiding law becomes once more apparent, and Good is revealed as the real and eternal; thus what God foreordained becomes manifested.
Now, if it be so that what God has foreordained is good, it behooves us to seek for an understanding of this good, and for affiliation with it. Too long have we been tossed about with varying winds of doctrine, drifting upon seas of hopelessness, discontent, and despair. It is written by Paul and has become an article of faith in all Christendom that through Christ Jesus we received the atonement, or reconciliation with God. I need not speak of those misconceptions of atonement which explain that it was God who received the atonement, or reconciliation, with a small proportion of the human race, through having some portion of his wrath against fallen man appeased by the sufferings and death on the cross of His son. For if God is from everlasting to everlasting the same Good, the same Love, alteration in his attitude is needless if men are to be blest, and hostility to a multitude which no man can number would be impossible. The atonement that is to be worked out is one between man and the truth regarding God. The perverted sense of man resultant upon tradition and the sins of the ages has to be corrected. The life and work, the sacrifice and love of Jesus indicate the condition of mind which must be gained in order to understand God. Jesus' work was for himself and for the world, that man might be saved through knowing the truth about God. Here an illustration may help us.
Once all thinking men believed that the earth was a flat plain. Scholars declared that Scripture proved this, for they found it written of God that He "streteheth out the heavens as a curtain and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in." The curtains of a tent come down on all sides, said they; ergo, earth must be the floor of this tent whose curtains are the sky. Moreover, any one could see with his eye that it was so. These arguments were used against Columbus when he proposed to sail in search of unknown lands; the scholastics accounted it blasphemy to believe that the earth extended beyond the boundary they had set. But when, at last, the rotundity of the earth was established, a reconciliation had to be wrought out between the minds of men and this truth. Then the ready scholars discovered that the first part of the verse already quoted said of God, "it is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth;" then they said that the Bible proved that the earth was round.
When the truth was first declared regarding the principles of astronomy which we now accept, men were out of harmony with that knowledge because of previous false beliefs and traditions. It was necessary that an atonement should be made between man and a true knowledge of the movements of the planets. One can estimate how great an atonement has been wrought out between the truth of heliocentric astronomy and the minds of men, when traces of the old false belief persist so strongly yet, for we still say the sun rises, and our almanacs preserve that phraseology. How foolish it would be to talk of placating the astronomical laws by a sacrifice which would make them include some men and not others in their operation. It was not necessary to change the order of the universe, but only necessary to change the perverted sense which man had regarding the universe. Misconceptions of God that have prevailed might suggest that He required to be placated or His wrath appeased through human suffering; but understanding God as the one Cause, the eternal Good, or Love, removes these pain-dealing misconceptions. Christian Science reveals the atonement as coming to man when he recognizes and obeys the eternal and inexhaustible and unchangeable love of God. "We believe that the Christ-mind which so understands God must come to every one. We believe that "Sharon's rose must bud and bloom in every heart."
So perverted and peculiar seems to be the human mind that every truth has been combated until the power of the truth conquered, and the patience and faith of its advocates were rewarded by seeing an atonement wrought out between truth and the thoughts of men. Fierce indeed was the conflict aroused when Jesus declared the truth about God. The common people heard gladly the teaching that God was Love, and accepted the proof given by healing. But those who made gain by teaching ritual and performing lifeless ceremonies in the name of Jehovah, opposed the Christ of God. He taught one God, the Father of all, Jew and Gentile alike. He proved this God to be Love by manifesting the healing power of Love to Jew and Samaritan. He discarded the false teachings of the olden time and established new ethics by the Sermon on the Mount, and most clearly did he teach one Life, the enduring Life, which was to know "the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he had sent." The whole thought of men was out of harmony, in disunion or lack of oneness with God; because men thought then, as so many do now, that life was in body, and substance in the material. Through this reversal of the legitimate relation came the results of inharmony, and the discords of life were manifest as sin, disease, and intense fear of death. These inharmonies Jesus came to destroy; he came to destroy the works of the devil, the opposer and perverter of Good. To the true atonement with God he was our Way-shower. He exhibited a character so accordant with the divine Principle that he could say "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father." He was so at one with God that he said "I and my Father are one." Not that he represented the only case of concord, or was the only manifestation of atonement with the Father; for he is spoken of as "the first-born among many brethren." He also said, "My Father is greater than I," indicating that the Father-Love is infinite in comprehension, while each child thereof is in unity with Love, as the innumerable chords in music are at one with their principle, Harmony.
Working Out Atonement.
It is the cardinal point in Christian Science that by knowing the unreality of disease, sin, and death, you demonstrate the Allness of God. This point is set forth in "Unity of Good," written by Mary Baker G. Eddy. Jesus made the way of reconciliation clear by exactly such proofs. He showed the unreality of leprosy, palsy, paralysis, fever, hysteria, congenital blindness, the withered hand, lameness, deafness, and dumbness. He restored to moral health the maniac, the Magdalen, the publican, and other sinners. He raised from death the child of Jairus, the youth who died at Nain, and Lazarus, who had been four days dead. All through his life on earth Jesus was working out the atonement. His teachings, his acts, his rebukes and counsels, his perpetual healing of the sick, his triumph over hatred and murder through love, and his resurrection, were all part of the revelation of the truth about God to which he sought to reconcile men. It is curious to note how the mediaeval imagination fixed upon the hours of apparent physical agony upon the cross, and morbidly decided that the God of Heaven was being in some way placated by this torture. Then to fulfil this theory, scholastic theology posited a law greater than God which He must "satisfy," by inflicting agony upon His Son. Should we accept this theory and remember that Judas was the efficient agent in bringing about the crucifixion, we must then believe his treachery to have been ordained of God. But these human theologies have had their day. Depending upon morbid sentiment and heartless ratiocination, they were devoid of any healing power. The true theology has appeared once again — that which Jesus proved by healing the sick and redeeming the sinner, even Truth which he proved to be Life, by his resurrection. Once again Truth demands of man to receive reconciliation with it. Christian Science calls upon the world to be reconciled to the God who "healeth all diseases," and also "forgiveth all iniquities."
The Sacrifice Demanded.
But some one says, Does not atonement require sacrifice? What about all the lambs slain upon the altars and the offering of the blood of bulls and of goats? Does not Paul say "without the shedding of blood there is no remission"? Let us dismiss all our predilections in theology, the result of traditional thought taught us from youth up, and ask what Jesus said we were to sacrifice to gain atonement with God. Did he ever refer to the heathen idea of placating a Deity with the steam of blood, and the smoke of burning flesh, thus gaining favor by sacrificing the life of others? Even David had seen the incorrectness of such an idea for he said, "Thou hast no pleasure in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." The question might well be asked, How will sin be washed away and the meek spirit revealed through any ritual, or occurrence that is outside a man's thought and life? Must it not be through some renewal within? We have from the Master's lips a teaching as to how the old life can be sacrificed and the new life appear. We have to put upon the altar and sacrifice the wrong sense of life — sacrifice the corporeal self that jars and conflicts with others in its interests, and gain unity with the one Life which is Love. This is involved in the teaching "Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it;" and that other teaching, "Except ye turn and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of Heaven."
Christian Science reveals to us that the main error of man is placing life in matter and thus ruling out Spirit, or God; and a second error is the effort to preserve life by caring for the body as its source. Before an atonement can be wrought out with Love the anxious thought and fear which is thus propagated must be lost. Let a free-hearted child fall into the care of one who is without God in the world, and it is compelled to take anxious thought for its life. Fear of disease, colds, and contagion are taught rather than the care of the beneficent Love which clothes the lily. When Jesus bade men "consider the lilies of the field" and "behold the fowls of the air," they were dwelling in the poverty and bitterness of heart brought about by Roman oppression; and he desired to make them think rather of the all-embracing care of the heavenly Father. In Love they lived, and they needed to be converted from their anxious thought and to become at one with the child-like sense and peace of heart of the kingdom of Heaven.
Losing and Finding Life.
Is it not noteworthy the way in which a child lives in Life rather than in body? Knowing nothing of life in matter until he is taught that error, he lives in sunshine, joy, beauty, hope, and memory of pleasant things. The big things that seem evil he soon forgets, and even little things that had happiness in them he makes present in thought. He does not brood upon slights, because the sense of a personality to be wounded is not developed; so he will forgive a wrong as naturally as the sun shines when the fog is gone. He is usually fearless regarding animals, and they often reward his confidence by obedience and gentleness. The thing to be observed is that the child lives in Life and Love, in the joy of the world, not in matter, until through fear and false testimony he believes the lie that the body is his life and must be guarded with anxious fear. This limitation begins with that parental fear which is falsely called love; fear of the keen weather of winter, or of the hot sunshine of summer days; fear of breezes, and rain; fear of animals and men; fear regarding food and water and clothing; dread of contagion if disease be spoken of, — until the world becomes the prison house of fear, and the spaces about him become peopled by unseen terrors. He is made to expect evil to fall down upon him as naturally as the sparks fly upward.
Just in proportion as life is limited and shut up in body, so is personality developed and the sense of a separate mind. The interests of this mind being corporeal, its aims and desires are in conflict with others. Being without God in the world, it is without hope save in its own ability to provide for itself, and being unaware of the infinite supplies of Love, it contends with others for what is visible, and to sense limited. The millionaire without God is dogged by the fear that he has not enough, or may lose what he has. The poor man without the thought of a heavenly Father, is bitter with envy and hate of the rich man who has what he desires to have.
Christian Science comes in as interpreter of the word of Jesus. To "become as a little child" is to forget human tradition and the God-denying fear of the ages; to live not in body, but in the omnipresent Life which is Love. By this Science the rich become contented and useful, the poor satisfied with good; and caste-hatreds disappear as the one God is known to be omnipresent Mind. When all men have this one Mind, and are animated by the divine Love, the kingdom of heaven, which in Christian Science is come, will be known of all mankind; and the "new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" will be finally established. The least in this kingdom is greater than the greatest among men. Jesus ranked John as the greatest prophet, yet indicated that even an infant in the real kingdom was greater than he. Why? Because even a child who knows the premise of Christian Science, that Mind is All-in-all, and Mind is Love, knows eternal life.
Perhaps the best illustration of losing life in order to find it is given in the lives of the three disciples who became nearest in thought and understanding to the Master, Peter and James and John. In helping them to work out their atonement Jesus healed the two sons of Zebedee of the cruel thought which possessed them when a Samaritan village had refused hospitality and they wished to obliterate the whole town with flames. He also set them free from the malign influence of their scheming mother who urged them on to worldly ambition. He taught them to be meek and loving, and to obey Love; and John, who understood the teaching, has given us our best definition of God, and also the apocalyptic vision of the new heavens and new earth. Peter, who left all to follow Christ, found that he had still more to give up. He had to lose the wrong sense of life expressed in pride and self-importance and unregulated impulses. Thereafter he became patient and wise and at one with God. These three best understood their Master and were nearest to his heart. The same love was lavished on Judas with the same power to heal, but he preferred the flattery and the favor of the Pharisees rather than the love which rebuked his sins; and his latent thought was made manifest in the rueful bargain he made. A bagful of half dollar bits of silver outweighed, to his sense, his own honor, truth, and fidelity, and the Christly love of his Master. The sins of the others were Love-destroyed as they came nearer to the Christ-love; the sins of Judas had to be pain-destroyed, for he turned his back upon Love. Yet in so far as sin disappeared and the understanding of Love appeared, in either case there was wrought out an atonement.
This one thing we must notice, that Jesus did not have any theory of two lives, one fleshly and one spiritual, bound together. Real life to him was the spiritual, for he was "the Son of Man which is in Heaven." Moreover, he said, "If a man keep my word he shall never see death." He also said, "He that heareth my word and believeth him that sent me, hath eternal life, and cometh not into judgment but hath passed out of death into life." It is evident that the understanding of the Science of Christianity not only relieves men from sickness, sin, and the fear of death here, but also includes redemption from the thronging fears of the unknown and the imagined terrors of future punishment.
Fears of the Unknown Removed.
The time is not so far away when people thought that space was "peopled by demons and gods with earthly passions and natures." One can imagine their anxiety and the tension of terror because the unknown was thus full of fear. Even religions have not helped to remove this fear; indeed, the fears of the unknown have been multiplied through priestcraft. The hell depicted by the imagination of heathen Buddhist priests is similar to the descriptions of punishment indulged in by mediaeval theologians purporting to disclose the mysteries of Christ's teaching: because the use of fear by priestcraft has been prolific of profit. After the Reformation the teaching in Protestantism allowed but a very small remnant to expect heavenly joys, and satisfiedly predicted a future of agony for the countless unsaved. When there came a revulsion of thought against this belief, it was extreme. Protestantism had predicted glory after death for the few; the new thought would make no distinctions, and held that death led to glory for all. In this way death was exalted to be the friend of man, giving entrance to the heavenly joys, even when such had been unsought and undesired during life on earth.
If Jesus could not give the vision of the kingdom to the unready, he could by parables indicate to the crude mind what it was like. All the world can see the truth of Love in the story of the prodigal son, that pearl of the parables; but the prodigal had to return to the waiting love and relinquish his desire for any life separated from it. Then he became at one with love. It was not death but a new life that gave him entrance to his father's house. In like manner Christian Science furnishes us with illustrations and proof of salvation now and here by initiating the new life. The healing of a sinful man or a hopeless invalid is a parable, reflecting as in a mirror the truth of God's Love; like Jesus' illustrations of the kingdom of Heaven, it illustrates the "same mystery, for the healing of a sufferer by the Christ-truth is the first ray to him of the coming of Christ. If the clouds of despair hang low, rosy hope touches their outline with beauty. When the truth is received in an honest and loving heart the glory of the light grows, — the light of Truth that never fades away. In this light the sinner learns the deceitfulness of sin, and Truth sets him free from believing its lie. Thus to the sick, bodily health is proven and to the sinners moral health. It is made clear that this new life depends on Spirit, and thus realized, it becomes known that it cannot be lost. The problem of salvation, then, depends on the proving of Truth and upon progression in Love, rather than upon arbitrary decree. In this probation now going on each one has to work out his own salvation, as is just and right. But the satisfactory thing is that in Christian Science there has been given to us an exact method according to which we can work. When we find the unlearned proving their knowledge of God in the same way in which the early apostles proved their understanding, viz., by healing the sick, we are made certain that the kingdom of Heaven has again come nigh unto us, and fears of the unknown disappear.
The tendency of mankind is to desire a mediator between himself and the Divinity which he worships. A priest is one who is set apart as the medium through whom worship is to be given, prayer offered, or sacrifices made to the Being worshiped, and through whom the pardon and blessing sought is to come to the worshiper. Among the Jews the male descendants of Aaron were consecrated to the service of the Temple and had sole authority to offer sacrifice on the altar. The priest then was the go-between when people would approach God. The priests were not always faithful. They became formal and emphasized the ceremonies rather than what had called for them. Hence arose prophets who came to the priest whose usefulness had died because of ritualism, and roused him and the people to a new sense of the vitality of Truth. The prophets were on fire with zeal, denunciatory where sin was found, but comforting to the oppressed. Jesus in his life, work, and teaching, illustrated the deeper meanings which priests, by ritual and ceremony, and prophets, by mystic figures and analogies, had striven to' make plain. He came to fulfil, not to abrogate. The wise and true later life of a man, fulfils the promise of childhood, and the childish things are put away. What was done in symbol by the Aaronic priesthood was done in reality by Jesus, so that the veil is gone from the Temple, and the way open for all to learn directly of God. This is the argument used in the epistle to the Hebrews, against those who were holding to the ceremonies which presented Truth veiled. The writer besought them to see that the veil was gone, and the true Light shining for every man.
The writings of poets, prophets, hymn-writers, seers, and recorders of visions, are full of suggestions, glimpses, hintings, dreams, and prophecies of Good. They were able to tell, or suggest, what they saw in vision, but not able to tell how the vision was to be realized. The true priest should be able to make men acquainted with God. The chosen people were intended to do this for the world. They were to be "a kingdom of priests and an holy nation." But we know how sadly they failed in their mission, turning aside to worship the many gods of the heathen nations rather than adoring the one God. We find similar turnings aside on the part of those who claim to be the exponents of God to-day. They do not recognize one God from whom man's life is derived, but turn aside to worship many gods, called remedies for disease, in order to gain life. The vision of John, the revelator, enabled him to see those who should be gathered "from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation," who were to be unto our God "a kingdom and priests; and they reign upon the earth." Those who are thus chosen and purified by much tribulation in order to represent God aright, are not selected by arbitrary decree but enter upon their office through spiritual fitness therefor. The purpose of their work is not to establish a new priestcraft, but to bring the kingdom of Heaven, wherein neither prophet, priest, nor king shall be required save the one Ruler, divine Love, known and obeyed in all hearts.
The ancient prophets did not have the Science of Christianity in a distinct and methodical way. They had glimpses of it but they could not impart it to others. One feature of the second coming of Christ is the appearing of the letter of Science, whereby all men who desire can be instructed. The great thing to be sought after is the right understanding of the kingdom of Heaven, — what it is, how we may have it within. In its text-book Christian Science fully answers this question. By line upon line and precept upon precept it shows all men how to have the fruitage of spiritual life in consciousness, "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control." It also teaches men how to have without, or outside of, consciousness, such conditions as are represented by the designations "the dogs, and the sorcerers, and the fornicators, and the murderers, and the idolaters, and every one that loveth and doeth a lie." When such a condition of consciousness as bears the fruit of the Spirit, is gained, it is easy to see how "death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more." The beautiful thing about Christian Science is that it makes this condition of consciousness a present possibility, and through its healing and regenerative influence sets forth to-day "the man of new mould which after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth."
The Discovery of Christian Science.
This movement, now world-wide, with its three hundred chartered churches and more than one hundred other congregations, with new churches forming at the rate of six a month, with ten thousand devoted workers, three hundred thousand confessed adherents and twice as many sympathizers, with far beyond a million cases of healing, really began with one case of healing in Lynn. More than thirty years ago, just as the tumult of war was subsiding and the freedom of man had been established, there began in that city the crusade for a higher liberty. Julia Ward Howe had written the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," Mrs. Livermore had done the work of love in the hospitals, and many other devoted mothers and sisters of men had shown that it was woman's hour. It was not strange, then, that through a woman should come the discovery which announced to this age the healing power of Truth, and gave to Christendom, in Christian Science, the philosophy and method whereby the brotherhood of man will be established.
The discovery came in this way. A woman met with an accident which her physician considered fatal: he said she could not survive over three days. On the third day, which was the Sabbath, her pastor called to say farewell, believing the injury to be fatal and the end to be near. When he was gone, the other people were sent from the room, and the sufferer opened the Bible and read about the healing work of Jesus. Then dawned upon her consciousness the assurance that the divine Love must be omnipresent, and the sense of this truth came like warm sunshine. Agony ceased, life warmed the cold limbs, strength was restored, and she arose healed.
When Newton saw an apple fall, he gained the vision of an unseen force, and thus became the discoverer of the law of gravitation. By this experience of healing through the beneficent action of the divine Mind, there was gained the vision of divine Science, and since then the understanding of the law of Love has been established; that is, the Discoverer has also been the Founder of Christian Science, she who is now known to the world as the Rev. Mary Baker Eddy. For three years after this restoration to life, she studied the facts of healing recorded in Scripture, seeing them no longer as unrelated happenings of a miraculous nature, but as the necessary result of spiritual power and law; then the Science involved was understood, but it required six years more of experience and proof of the divine Principle involved in healing before it was possible to give to the world the text-book of Christian Science. All the propositions in a text-book must be proven beforehand, else the students will fail in their proof. It is an interesting fact that from the very first those who have studied "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," with the Bible, have found themselves able to heal the sick, and to cast evils out of themselves and others. Any reasonable mind will see that if by study of a text-book they become able to heal the sick as the early disciples and followers of Jesus did, it is an understood Principle that is being proved, and that Christian Scientists are not merely following a person.
In Christian Science where all depends upon demonstration, there cannot be hero-worship; there must be following in the way pointed out through the toil, the self-sacrifice, and the wonderful love for humanity evidenced by the Shower of the way. At the same time if the tens of thousands of sick healed by virtue of the Principle thus revealed were not grateful to the Revealer, men would be on a lower plane than the brute creation. But those healed have learned the true nature of man, humane and Christlike, and therefore express gratitude and pure love as naturally as a flower blooms in beauty and sends out fragrance. The excellence of this love is that all mankind share in the benefit of it. The singular purity and consecration of the Discoverer of Christian Science made the revelation of the omnipotence of Good come to her naturally. There was no catastrophe as in Paul's case. Since the meaning of her mission dawned upon her she has labored with a devotion unceasing and a zeal untiring for the good of humanity, in line with former intentions, but now in accord with Christian Science, whereby the whole world is to be regenerated. The singleness of her purpose, the continuity of her sense of God's presence, the simplicity of her obedience to God's will, encourage every working Scientist to follow her example; and furnish an illustration of the unity of Good in character which is to bless all mankind.
Those who understand the theology of Christian Science are best able to estimate the character of the one who has taught it, and in its healing and saving power see the evidence of its origin. In an early translation of the Bible we find a significant expression where Luke tells of the mission of John to make ready the ways of the Lord and "give knowledge of Salvation unto his people." Salvation to our ears has a theological sound, and in popular thought means eventual escape from hell and its eternal misery. The sense intended is lost when salvation does not become a present blessing. Wycliffe touches the real meaning of the passage by writing "Science of Helthe," where "Knowledge of Salvation" is given in our version. If the "gospel of salvation" were recognized to be "the good news of Health," people would understand that the blessing is now to be enjoyed, and would not vaguely postpone happiness and heaven. It is interesting that the book wherein the good news of Christ-healing is elucidated scientifically should not only re-assert the knowledge of salvation from disease and sorrow and sin, but be named, "Science and Health."
[Delivered Jan. 25, 1899 at The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, MA and published in The Christian Science Journal, April, 1899.]