Christian Science and the Steady Gain of Mankind
Henry Allen Nichols, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
You and I stand today at what is thus far the very crest of human progress - socially, politically, materially, intellectually, morally, spiritually. Because of humanity's increasing comprehension of reality, that is, of the real nature of God and man, including the universe, we have come far from utter subjection to matter, ignorance, animality, superstition, and fear. There is much of these yet to be overcome, but so surely as we have come thus far, there is unlimited progress ahead. In the words of John Greenleaf Whittier. . . . step by step since time began We see the steady gain of man.
The man that Whittier writes of - the human being that you and I seem to be, although our gain has indeed been steady - still is not the perfect man of God's creating, the perfect likeness of the perfect God. The perfect man, the only kind of man that a perfect God could create, is our true identity. In our true spiritual and real identities we do not progress from ignorance to intelligence, from animality to spirituality, from imperfection to perfection. The perfect man of God's creating does indeed express the glorious activity of God, divine Mind. As this glory of our real being appears to our human sense of being it causes us humanly to progress.
Progress by God's Power
Not by any human power of our own, but by the power of God have we come thus far. Mortal ignorance does not become wisdom, but it yields to divine wisdom. Error does not become truth, but it is corrected by truth. Christian Science declares that ". . . progress is the law of God, whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 233). The ability to progress is supplied by its divine Principle.
A great step in human progress, a great step toward our mental freedom today, taken centuries ago when Abraham discerned that there is but one God, had to come to human thought because it is true, and it is the basis of human freedom. It has freed you and me from the confusion and fear of the ancient pagan belief in many gods.
Even before pagan beliefs about God ever began, the truth of the oneness of God existed. There never was more than one God. Other gods were so many beliefs about God - not gods, but beliefs, superstitions. How was human thought to be convinced of the falsity of belief in many gods and be led to abandon the belief? How else than by the perception, the revelation, of truth? Although this truth came to Abraham as a discovery, it had always been urging itself upon human thought, impelling the slow evolution, the slow gain, of human thought out of animality and superstition. It is today impelling your thought and mine to be free from bondage to modern paganism.
As the true nature of the one God became clearer to the children of Israel, it led them another step out of paganism, out of the belief that God is in matter, toward the apprehension that the one God is Spirit. What does it mean to you and me today to know that God is Spirit and not matter? Why, it means that we are beginning to doubt the ancient pagan superstition that matter is the ultimate reality and that matter is the remedy for disease or poverty or insecurity or unhappiness. If God is Spirit and matter is the opposite of Spirit, which one is real, matter or Spirit? Which is superstition? Which is substance?
True Idea of God
This truth, this pure religion of
the one God who is Spirit, was progressively revealed to the prophets of
But not all the children of
This understanding, this spiritual consciousness - that God is Spirit, Life, and Love - demonstrates the Christ, which in Christian Science, is understood to be the true idea of God. Jesus was a human being, and it was the Christ that enabled him to accomplish his mighty works. He said, moreover, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also" (John ). He that understandeth the Christ shall do the works of the Christ. By means of this understanding we can work out our own salvation from the ancient pagan belief in the power and reality of sin, sickness, and death. We are on the gain.
For three hundred years following the time of Jesus, the primitive Christians healed the sick and raised the dead by prayer - that is, by means of their pure faith in eternal Life and divine Spirit. But the reversals, the contrary arguments, of paganism overwhelmed that faith, and Christians lost their ability to heal by prayer. Material theology and heathen mythology reimposed and perpetuated the traditional belief that man's life, substance, and intelligence are in matter instead of in Spirit.
Healing by Prayer
The ability to heal by prayer has always been in proportion to the purity of faith in the one God. It was not a special dispensation for Jesus and his disciples any more than the truth of God's oneness was a special dispensation for Abraham - both have always been universally true. Because of their pure faith, Elijah and Elisha healed by prayer. Moses did. Peter, Paul, and other primitive Christians did. Later Christians, especially since the Protestant Reformation, have healed the sick in moments of pure faith. But never in all history until now has healing by prayer been practiced by thousands of people daily - earnest, spiritually enlightened, faithful, joyous, humble, and prayerful people - like you and me. This healing Christianity is being lived by plain Christians today. Fathers, mothers, children, and others - people in all the walks of life - are healing themselves and one another by prayer. Christians are rapidly on the gain.
I have a friend who is a grandfather. One day his daughter told him that her baby was not well. The difficulty appeared to be contagious; so in obedience to the law they reported it to the health department. An officer came right over. He pronounced it to be poliomyelitis and demanded that the child be sent to the hospital. The mother protested. The officer threatened to enforce the law upon them. While endeavoring in such a case to have hospitalization, the law of the state did not require it. So the mother stood for the right to keep her little daughter at home. The officer went out saying that he would be back again at . This gave the mother and grandfather the opportunity to prove as Jesus did that God, Spirit, is the Life of man. They did not ask God to be what He already is. They knew Life to be the present and only reality, and the appearance of an opposite reality to be mere pagan superstition. Theirs was the prayer of scientific understanding. The officer did not return that day. When he did return, a day later, the baby was happily playing. He found no polio.
The belief that life, substance,
and intelligence are in matter, and the consequent belief that sin, sickness,
and death are real, is paganism today just as it was before Abraham. It is a
belief in other gods, other powers than the one God, who is Love. How are we to
cast it off? Are we still to believe with the superstitious and fearful pagans
that evil is more powerful than good? The prophets of
Love and Reason
How, by what means, were the people, you and I, to be convinced of the sole reality of Spirit, Life, and Love and so to be able to prove it for ourselves as Jesus did? This understanding, this conviction, could only come when we were prepared to perceive it. Jesus said, "I have yet many things to say unto you. but ye cannot bear them now" (John 16:12) What capacities, what faculties, of our human character would have to be enlarged and purified in order that we might be able to understand and to practice the ultimate truth? What capacities, indeed, but to love and to reason! No human capacities are more fundamental than these. How tenderly, yet insistently, did Jesus and John charge us that learning to love is the first great necessity. "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you" (John ). Down through the centuries Christians have been learning to love. And now in our age, because we have grown to a fitness to receive it, there has appeared the second great necessity - to learn how to reason on the basis of Love. "Reason is the most active human faculty," declares Christian Science (Science and Health, p. 327). Today, as never before in history, you and I have the means and method whereby to reason scientifically from the premise of divine Truth, infinite Love, and so to find the answer to every human need. Through reason, human thought is informed, awakened, and convinced of the nothingness of false beliefs and of the reality and grandeur of Spirit, Life, and Love.
Sir William Blackstone, in his famous "Commentaries on the Laws of England," declared, ". . . if our reason were always . . . clear and perfect, unruffled by passions, unclouded by prejudice . . . we should need no other guide but this." It was requisite that reason should find its basis in Truth, in Spirit, or God, and thus be reconciled to revelation. Human thought had to come to the perception that genuine love and genuine intelligence both find their inception in God, who is at once divine Love and divine Mind. Love and sound reasoning are like the two wings of a bird. Both wings must be poised for upward flight. It was, therefore, by this means that the people, you and I, were to be convinced of the sole reality of Spirit, Life, and Love and thus to be enabled to prove it for ourselves. This revelation of the unity of love and logic and of their divine origin is the Science of God's oneness and allness, the Science of the Christ, Christian Science. It has restored to Christians, to you and me, the ability to heal the sick by prayer. Christendom is again on the march.
The Great Discovery
This spiritual, scientific understanding
of the one Spirit that is God was revealed in our time to one who was so loving
and spiritually-minded as to perceive it, to one who had a pure and intelligent
faith in God. From early childhood Mary Baker Eddy had discerned and loved the
pure religion of the Bible. From grandmother, mother, father, and devout clergymen
she heard the inspired Word of the Bible spoken and expounded. This she
accepted with glad heart but the paganism she rejected. Many of you know the
story of her admission as a child of twelve to communion in the Congregational
For three years after her healing Mary Baker Eddy devoted herself to the study of the Scriptures. She discerned the pure religion of Spirit as it is set forth in the first chapter of Genesis. She traced the record of this pure religion as it runs from Genesis through Revelation - the religion of Abraham, the Hebrew prophets, Christ Jesus, Peter, Paul, and John. She discerned in it the foundation, the Principle, and the rules of pure Science which was previously unrevealed, unformulated, unenunciated. Mrs. Eddy also perceived in the Scriptures a paganized record of existence which begins in the second chapter of Genesis. There God is called Jehovah, the Babylonish name for God. This second record represents man as made of dust and shortly to be a sinner. She saw the unreasonableness of the proposition that the good God who is Spirit could create His son of matter and capable of sin. With new perception she traced also this pagan record from Genesis through Revelation. Now she saw the great import! She saw that from beginning to end both records show the superiority of the pure revealed religion of Spirit over the material tradition of paganism. She saw their climax to be Jesus' triumph over death and the grave - the triumph of the pure religion of the Christ. Thus is recorded in the Bible the steady gain of spiritual truth over pagan error in the human mind.
Science of Healing
Mary Baker Eddy set about writing down this spiritually revealed explanation of the Scriptural record with the result that you and I have this explanation in her great book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." These two books, Science and Health and the King James Version of the Bible are inseparable. Over four hundred and fifty direct quotations in Science and Health from the King James Bible inseparably link these two books together. These immortal volumes are the pastor of the Church of Christ, Scientist. They are the textbooks for students of Christian Science. Other translations of the Bible than the King James Version may be welcome for comparative reference; but the key to the spiritual and scientific meaning of the Bible has been given, and human thought is finding it in Science and Health. In this book this Science is recorded, formulated, and fully explained so that you and I, by careful study of it in connection with the Bible, can see how to heal by scientific prayer. Perhaps you and I have yearned for the days when the followers of Jesus healed the sick by prayer. Those and even better days are here!
With the exception of Jesus, healing by prayer was, up to our time, a matter of faith. Now it is Science - Science in every meaning of that word. This Science is based upon God as its Principle; it is an understanding of Principle, of law, of rule, of exact method; it has practical and certain results. It is available to everyone. In this Science of healing, faith has not been sacrificed but has been raised to a spiritual and logical understanding. This understanding is not by any means intellectual, for the understanding of Spirit is spiritual. Why should not the things of Spirit be more scientific than the things of matter - of paganism - when Science has God for its Principle and the teachings of the Christ for its rules; and why should it not be intelligible when its Principle is Mind, and man is the intelligent expression of Mind! The understanding of this Science does not require intellectual proficiency, for children can understand it. A three year old girl had been very ill. Her grandmother had prayed for her all day with no apparent result. At what seemed to be the depth of her suffering the little girl sat up in bed and declared, "God is Love! And, error, get out of here right now - and I mean it!" She slid over the side of the bed, stood up on the floor and asked to be dressed. That was the end of the illness. Such childlike faith is not blind faith; it is in its own degree spiritual understanding, and it includes both pure affection and sweet reasonableness. This little girl utterly repudiated the false reasoning that a bad effect could proceed from a good cause.
Unreality of Evil
This pure Science of the one creator who is Spirit and Love reveals to you and me so clearly that we cannot fail to understand that Spirit's creation must be spiritual and that it is utterly impossible that Spirit could create matter, the opposite of itself. This necessity, that Spirit's creation is spiritual and not material, is a divinely logical necessity. It is inescapable, and it is demonstrable. The fact that like produces like is self-evident to intelligence. When we understand it we can prove it. Therein lies the great importance of understanding this simple rule, that like produces like, and of putting it to use. How could we prove for ourselves as Jesus proved for himself that we are not subject to the old material beliefs of sin, sickness, and death if we did not know that because we are the son of Spirit, we are therefore spiritual and not material? Do you see the necessity of understanding the nature of God in order to understand your own nature? Do you see the necessity of knowing not only that God is, but what God is, in order to be able to prove what you are as God's image and likeness? For instance, although Abraham discerned that there is one God and although for centuries faith in this great truth has been the mainstay of true religion, yet for lack of seeing what God is and why there cannot be any other, humanity has never purged its faith from the persistent pagan fear of evil. Mesmerized by this fear humanity has never been able to prove as Jesus did that evil is not power. Even though Jesus declared, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation" (Matt. 12:25), no one ever reasoned out for himself, until Mary Baker Eddy did, that evil must be powerless and unreal because God is All and is wholly good. In the revelation of Christian Science which came to Mrs. Eddy, the allness of God and the consequent nothingness of evil were made equally plain. Christian Scientists are embarking upon the adventure of proving for themselves and for the world that evil is unreal because they have learned why it is unreal.
Mrs. Eddy asks: "What is the cardinal point of the difference in my metaphysical system? This: that by knowing the unreality of disease, sin and death, you demonstrate the allness of God. This difference wholly separates my system from all others. The reality of these so-called existences I deny, because they are not to be found in God, and this system is built on Him as the sole cause." (Unity of Good, pp. 9,10). The reason why sin, disease, and death are unreal is that "they are not to be found in God."
"Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation." If evil as well as good were comprised within the creator then the creator would contain within itself the seed of its own annihilation. So this creator has to be good in order to exist forever? How sound does an apple have to be in order to last the winter? Well, only that which contains no imperfection is good enough to last forever.
Perfection of Man
Because we see that the only creator is perfect it is easy to see why man, His image and likeness must be perfect. It is only when we really understand that we are thoroughly and scientifically convinced, and are finally able to repudiate and to disprove the pagan supposition that man is imperfect. Obviously we have to reason these things out. If we did not understand them we could not prove them with scientific certainty. Human reason could not lift itself by its own bootstraps out of its belief in evil. Reason based on the false premise of the reality of matter, sin, and death could rise to no conclusion above that premise. But lifted by divine revelation to accept God as the only premise, human reason arrives at the divine conclusion - perfect God and perfect man. Through the revelation of Christian Science we are now able to bear the things Jesus said he had yet to say. Jesus said "When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth." This Spirit of truth has come! It is the Science of Truth, and it is the promised Comforter (John ,17; John ,13).
Let us imbibe the spirit and the logic of this simple Science of God's oneness as Christian Science presents it to you and me: "The infinite is one, and this one is Spirit; Spirit is God, and this God is infinite good (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 356). And, "Having one God, one Mind, unfolds the power that heals the sick, and fulfills these sayings of Scripture, 'I am the Lord that healeth thee,' and 'I have found a ransom' " (Science and Health, p. 276).
God's ransom has been found! God has revealed it. Mary Baker Eddy perceived it to be the Science of the Christ. Christian Science unfolds to you and to me "the power that heals the sick." This understanding of the nature of the one God has a great work to do before it ransoms the pagan peoples; before it ransom's the children of Abraham; before it ransoms the Christian peoples. You and I have not yet outlived all pagan beliefs. God is working His purpose out - the purpose to redeem and save you and me and the whole world from the ancient pagan beliefs of sin, sickness, and death. He is working His purpose out by means of the Science of His Christ. Those who embrace this Science have embarked upon the greatest adventure in the world. Let us carry it forward with courage, humility, enthusiasm, and joy.
What We Really Are
In Jesus' time, the beloved disciple wrote, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (I John 3:2). In our time it hath appeared what we are. What we are appears in this great "scientific statement of being" by Mary Baker Eddy: "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual" (Science and Health, p. 468).
The truth of this "scientific statement of being" has become so self-evident to thousands of Christian Scientists that they use it constantly to confute all evidence to the contrary. They heal on the basis of it. And you can, too, as the meaning of it becomes self-evident to you. The ancient pagan evidence that matter is all-in-all, which to the material senses seems self-evident, is daily being proved temporal and unreal, mere superstition.
Since divine Mind, Spirit, has been revealed to be All-in-all, the conclusion follows inevitably that everything is included within Mind and is spiritual. The likeness of Mind is individual, spiritual consciousness. You and I are - each of us is - in reality, individual, spiritual consciousness. We are not a material frame of flesh and bones with a material consciousness inside. As spiritual consciousness, therefore, we are not subject to accident, injury, disease, or destruction. When we know this, we are able to prove it.
A young man involved in an accident was taken from the scene to a hospital apparently unconscious. When the mother heard of it she called a Christian Science practitioner for spiritual treatment and then went to the hospital. She sat down beside her son and told the doctor that she intended to wait until he regained consciousness. "My dear woman," exclaimed the doctor, "there is no use in your waiting. He won't be conscious in two or three months." The doctor said this because he did not expect the young man ever to be conscious or indeed to live. During this time the practitioner was declaring: "Why! God can't lose consciousness - and hasn't lost consciousness. All there is of man is consciousness. God's consciousness IS man." Immediately the young man in the bed showed signs of consciousness. The mother saw it. In a few minutes the nurse came in, and the mother said, "He is conscious." "Oh, no," said the nurse," "he can't be." "Speak to him," said the mother. Skeptically the nurse asked the young man, "Where are you?" "Here in the hospital," he replied. The nurse was almost overcome! It still seemed to the physician that the young man would never walk. But he was out in a short time and today is entirely well.
Mind Is Infinite
Thus the meaning of the declaration that the one God, the one Mind, is All-in-all is becoming clear. We perceive that this one Mind is infinite - infinite not only in vitality, not only in power, not only in space and eternity, but infinite in every way. God is infinite in resourcefulness, versatility, diversity, variety; and man in His likeness reflects these qualities.
Mrs. Eddy writes, "From the infinite elements of the one Mind emanate all form, color, quality, and quantity, and these are mental, both primarily and secondarily" (Science and Health, p. 512). The infinite and varied elements of the one God are not blended together indistinguishably; they are not absorbed or lost in a vague and indistinguishable whole. God is indeed one, whole and indivisible. He is wholly Life, wholly Truth, wholly Mind - wholly and indivisibly each and all of these. These are synonymous, yet each has a special meaning or character. This variety and distinctness in the creator necessitates variety and distinctness in the creation according to the divine law that effect is like its cause. Christian Science makes these distinctions beautifully clear. "Science is the prism of Truth, which divides its rays and brings out the hues of Deity," writes Mrs. Eddy (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 35). The hues of Deity exist in Deity and they emanate from Deity. Deity, creative Mind, produces an infinite variety of spiritual forms or ideas, is aware of every one of them, and loves every one.
Do you love the infinite harmony and variety of nature, its diversity or individual identity, form, outline, texture, and color? Nature obeys the divine law of infinite diversity and infinite individuality. No two snowflakes are ever alike, yet each one is beautiful and complete. This illustrates the diversity and completeness of every idea of God.
One day an ailing person was saying that while she knew she was a perfect child of God she supposed she lacked some Godlike qualities. Her friend replied: "Why no, you don't lack any quality of God. Just which one, for instance, would you like to have left out of your character?" She thought them over - goodness, truthfulness, loving-kindness - not one of them would she have left out. Not one is left out. Every individual child of God, every man, woman, child, is a full and perfect representation of God, possessing all the divine qualities of the Creator. This is a simple and healing idea. It healed that ailing person. It can dispel for anyone the miserable feelings of inferiority, lack of ability, incompleteness; it inspires us to prove our divine completeness and unique individuality.
Man, the Expression of Love
"Everything in God's universe expresses Him" (Science and Health, p. 331). Expressing God is an active, conscious, living state of being. You and I are, in reality, the expressing of Love, the practicing of Love, the living of Love. Expressing Love, you are lovely, lovable, beloved, and loving - all four. You are, in actual spiritual fact, the loving that is always reflecting divine Love, or God. Loving is not separate from God. Living is not separable from the Life which is God. Knowing is not separable from the Mind which is God. Being is the ever-expressing of the great I AM. This is what the little boy meant when he said, "I is always izzing." One night when my daughter was a little girl, I sat down on her bed after the light was turned out. I said to her, "You are not afraid of the dark, are you?" "No," she said, "I am not afraid of the dark." "Why aren't you afraid?" I asked. "Because God is here." "How do you know God is here?" "Because I is here!" How naturally a child knows her oneness with Love! Not only surrounded by Love, not only protected by Love, but being the very expression of Love!
Are you familiar with the affectionate line in one of Mrs. Eddy's poems,
"Father-Mother God, Loving me"? (Poems, p. 69.)
Do you feel close to, at one with, this all-enfolding God, this Father-Mother Love, who is fathering and mothering you, the Mind that is knowing, seeing, hearing, rejoicing in you now and always, expressing itself as you, just as the sun expresses or reflects itself not only in a ray of light but AS a ray of light?
How much then does God love you? How much does our Father-Mother love each one of us? With His whole Being! It takes all of God, the WHOLE of divine Love, to love just one of His children. Love is one and whole. Love cannot partition His loving, giving you a part of His love and me another part. "Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals," according to Christian Science (Science and Health, p. 13). It takes all of divine Mind, the whole of divine Mind, to know just one single idea. Therefore, the infinitesimal is infinite. Infinite Mind could not have a finite thought. Infinite Love does not love with a finite love. One has written, "I love to do the small things, so-called." Nothing is small in Science. Everything has infinite meaning. Nothing, no one, is unimportant. No one, not one, has less than all of Love's embracing tenderness. God's love for you is not lessened because it is universal.
How big then is your love? How big your heart? You may reply: "I love with my whole being, for I am wholly loving. No one is outside of my love." How great was Jesus' love? Mrs. Eddy's? How much do you love each other? With your whole heart! Do you divide up your love, giving some of your love to this one and some to that one? No, with all your heart you love each one for what he is, for what she is, recognizing each as an individual identity expressing God. You love brother as brother, sister as sister, son, daughter, friend; each friend, each child, each pet, flower, tree, each and everything individually, with all your heart! How much do you love the Christ? How much do you love God? True love is indivisible and impartial. It does not limit its bestowals, nor prefer one over another. It perceives the distinct identity of each and blesses all equally and universally. Thus do you love with all your heart.
Is this a healing idea, that because God loves all, man, expressing God, loves each and all? Indeed it is. When we truly understand it, it enables us to heal fear, loneliness, jealousy, self-pity, neglect, favoritism, infatuation, free love. It enables you and me to maintain our God-given integrity, magnanimity, tenderness, courage, humility, joy, purity. How glorious it is to have been brought by the grace of God to the understanding that, in the words of Mrs. Eddy, "We live in an age of Love's divine adventure to be All-in-all" (Miscellany, p. 158).
[Published in The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) News, Jan. 19, 1956.]