Christian Science: The Science of Spiritual Consciousness
Ezra W. Palmer, C.S.B., of Denver, Colorado
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
I am going to begin this lecture by asking you a question. What evidence has each of you of your existence? I am inclined to believe that in answer to that question the majority of you would say, I know that I exist. I am aware of the fact that I am conscious and have a state of being. That answer has been accepted by thinkers generally. They agree that existence for each of us is a state of consciousness and that without conscious knowing existence would be a blank. It was Descartes who formulated the statement, "I know, therefore I am." Since every person has consciousness, it is pertinent to ask, What are we conscious of? Because if we are conscious we must of necessity be conscious of something. Are we today in a darkened, pained state of consciousness? Are we conscious of fear, pain, ill health, or poverty? Are we in that state of mind in which latent fears are ready to spring into conscious thought at the first suggestion of evil or adversity? Or do we have a deep-toned faith in God, a consciousness of His ever present protection and power which enables us to be peaceful and harmonious despite all the assaults of evil? Furthermore, does our state of consciousness have any relation to our environment? Is there, for instance, any relation between fear and ill health, between a fearful state of mind and disasters which may apparently come from without? And, conversely, does a harmonious, peaceful state of mind manifest outwardly in health, plenty, and freedom? Human theories shed little light on these questions, but Christian Science makes clear that the mental state of the individual is manifested outwardly in sickness or health, poverty or plenty, discord or harmony. On page 411 of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says of disease, "Disease is always induced by a false sense mentally entertained, not destroyed. Disease is an image of thought externalized. The mental state is called a material state. Whatever is cherished in mortal mind as the physical condition is imaged forth on the body."
The patriarch Job met with a series of disasters. Apparently they came like thunderbolts out of a clear sky, and to the casual observer it might not appear that there was any relation between those disasters and Job's state of mind. But after Job had had time to view the wreck and think out the sequence of events he evidently came to the conclusion that there was a relation between those disasters and his fearful state of mind. He said, "The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me." In other words, Job saw that the fear hidden in his thought had finally objectified itself in outward disaster. Christian Science makes clear that we live in a mental world, and that all problems which present themselves are fundamentally mental problems, whether the problem be to operate a railroad, build an automobile, or heal a patient of disease. It shows, for instance, that disease is a wrong state of mind — a mental picture which has become objectified on the body — and that when a better state of mind supplants the wrong, the disease disappears.
In our human experiences we may entertain many different states of consciousness, unless our thought is controlled in a Christianly scientific manner. We may even in one day or one hour go up and down the gamut of fear, peace and despair, health and sickness, and therefore we might conclude that there are many different states of consciousness. But that is a wrong conclusion. Christian Science demonstrates that in reality there is but one genuine state of consciousness and that is the spiritual, based on the reality of the universe of Spirit. There is but one God, therefore there is in reality but one knowledge of God, one consciousness of God. God is "perfect in knowledge," as the Scripture declares. When we perceive that there is but one genuine state of consciousness, we can likewise see that mental states of fear, discord, evil constitute a false state of consciousness. A false state of consciousness is one opposed to the divine nature of God. God is not the creator of evil! God never made a sick man, a discouraged man, a poverty-stricken man. A mental state which cognizes fear, pain, sickness, poverty is not therefore a genuine state of consciousness. I believe you will agree with me when I say that we cannot at the same time entertain two distinctly opposite states of consciousness; and an appeal to your individual experience will also bear me out in that statement. We cannot be at the same time both sick and well. We are either sick or well in belief. One or the other is predominant in our thought. We cannot be at the same time both peaceful and discordant, happy and unhappy, pure and sinful. The Christian Scientist soon discovers this distinction between right thinking and wrong thinking, and he strives to retain a right basis of thought, and to keep his thought free from mental darkness of whatsoever character. True consciousness is the expression, the emanation, of God. This spiritual consciousness is supreme, universal, all-powerful. It is always the victor over all opposing states of ignorance. Whether we are happy or unhappy does not depend on outside material conditions. These conditions are in all cases mental states. Our happiness and peace of mind do not depend on our environment. In a wrong state of mind we are wretched, sick, unhappy; in a right state we are joyous and peaceful, no matter what the surroundings may be. A right state of mind is heaven, a wrong state is hell. Paul and Silas sang in prison and straightway that prison became a sanctuary. Hence we see the meaning of the Scripture: "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live."
The True Consciousness
Now let us examine carefully what spiritual consciousness is. Our great Exemplar, Christ Jesus, declared that God is Spirit. That was a radical and revolutionary statement, because by that statement Christ Jesus wiped out the human belief of a physical universe. God is Spirit, and God is All, and there is no place in the infinitude of that universe for anything unlike Spirit. A material, physical universe, being unlike Spirit, has no real existence, and the belief of its existence is false. Let us reason further on this basis that God is Spirit. We cannot conceive of Spirit unless we admit that Spirit is intelligence. Intelligence is the primal quality of Spirit. Since Spirit is intelligence, Spirit is Mind. Spirit and Mind are synonymous terms. Mind, Spirit, is infinite, universal. What, then, is the nature of God's universe, that which He creates, that which expresses Him. It must of necessity be like Him, a boundless, infinite, spiritual universe of ideas. These spiritual ideas reflect the beauty, wisdom, holiness, and intelligence of their Creator. In the Science of Mind, all men, women, and children are the ideas of God, the highest ideas, pure, perfect, and eternal. As God's idea, spiritual man is the full expression of the divine nature, just as the rays of light fully express the sun, and it is necessary that we know this real selfhood in order to combat successfully the opposite state of thought which would try to make us believe that consciousness includes pain and that life is limited. The Bible teaches that God is Life, Truth, Love. Now, since God is Life, we as the ideas of God manifest Life, and this is the only consciousness of Life which we ever have had or ever will have. Likewise, because God is Love, we as the ideas of God manifest or are conscious of Love, and because God is Truth, we as the ideas of God are conscious of Truth. Let us apply these conclusions to our daily affairs and see what we arrive at. You will recall that I stated earlier that we cannot entertain in thought at the same time two distinctly opposite states of consciousness. When we are conscious of Life, we cannot be conscious of its opposite or counterfeit, death; and when we are conscious of Truth, we cannot be conscious of error. When we are conscious of Love, we cannot be conscious of hate. Knowing these facts, Jesus said, "Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." In other words, whosoever is conscious of Life, God, can never be overcome by death, Life's opposite. This consciousness of the ever-presence of divine Love and Love's ideas constitutes the kingdom of heaven, which Jesus declared is within us. In this kingdom is no beginning nor ending; no birth, no death. God's children always have existed in it and always will.
At tins juncture you may ask, Do you mean to arrive at the conclusion that men and women can here on earth become so clearly conscious of the things of Spirit that mortal ills are nullified? That is the conclusion I wish to convey, and that conclusion has been demonstrated to a greater or less degree by hundreds of thousands of Christian Scientists all over the world. You know the story of the three Hebrew captives thrown bodily into the burning fiery furnace. The narrative in Daniel tells us that upon their bodies the fire had no power. Why? Because they were so conscious of ever present, universal, eternal Life that the human belief of fire could not reach them.
I knew a business man who had contracted smallpox. He was isolated in a tent in an open field to undergo quarantine regulations. This man was an earnest, clear-minded Christian Scientist. The first day of his isolation he underwent a struggle with doubt, loneliness, and the false consciousness of disease pressing upon him. Then the thought came to him to wake up out of this false consciousness. He saw that he was entertaining a false mental picture of the physical senses which had objectified itself on his body as smallpox. Then some passages from the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, flashed upon his mind. He opened the textbook, found these passages on page 14, laid hold of them; their spiritual power and light illumined his thought, destroyed the false consciousness of disease, and he was healed. The passages that man used to effect his healing are as follows: "Become conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual — neither in nor of matter — and the body will then utter no complaints. If suffering from a belief in sickness, you will find yourself suddenly well. Sorrow is turned into joy when the body is controlled by spiritual Life, Truth and Love."
Christian Science shows us that spiritual consciousness, this grasp of heavenly harmony, this kingdom of God within is the normal, natural status of men, and it shows likewise how we can maintain here and now this right status of thought, and thus overcome every ill that assails us.
The Value of the Bible
Does the Bible support the conclusion that through understanding of God we can nullify mortal ills and gain peace and harmony? When we turn to the Bible, we find that prophet and disciple, through righteous prayer and spiritual understanding, controlled the destructive forces of nature. Mark Twain is quoted as saying, "Very, very much has been said about the weather, but nothing has ever been done about it." Mark Twain is mistaken, something has been done about it. Elijah prayed and it rained not, he prayed again, and it rained; and Christ Jesus controlled a storm with a word. The weather is not an automatic something which runs its course, blessing and destroying irrespective of human needs. The weather can be controlled through the prayer of the righteous. The great Bible thinkers not only controlled the weather; they proved their mastery over matter and so-called material laws. They healed the sick; they healed all manner of diseases; they were victors over malice and hate; they raised the dead; they proved conclusively that spiritual understanding is the most powerful agency among men, since it utilized the omnipotence of divine Spirit. We find that these Bible men and women struggled with much the same problems that confront us. The manner of life, the customs, may have been different; the speech of the thinkers and strivers more symbolic and figurative, perhaps; but when we come to study these men and women, we find that in their upward strivings to know God and to grow into the divine likeness, they were traveling the same narrow path out of distorted views into spiritual consciousness which we all must tread. Their vicissitudes, trials, victories and visions are a mirror of our own experiences. But they were not dull and stupid victims of disease, hate, and sin. They rebelled against these evils. They were not what Longfellow termed "dumb driven cattle"; on the contrary, they were heroes in the strife. They knew the presence of a greater power than the power of evil and they relied upon it. Amidst the darkness of mortal beliefs they saw a light — a light at times dim and distant, perhaps, to some of them in the midst of their struggles, but still a light. They indeed discerned that light which, as St. John declares, "lighteth every man that cometh into the world." And the more clearly they saw that light, the more effectively they were able to rise above human ills and prove their falsity. The lives of these men inspire and cheer us. If they could overcome human weaknesses and rise into newness of life, why cannot we?
There was Daniel who three times a day prayed and gave thanks to God. Daniel communed with God and gained spiritual strength so that when a crisis came in his career and he was thrown into a lions' den, he kept his poise and peace of mind. Like Paul of later centuries, he could truthfully say, "None of these things move me." Now, if Daniel could retain his peace in a lions' den, why cannot we retain peace in the midst of peril? There is only one answer to that question in the whole Bible, and that answer is this: We can, every one of us. Salvation is universal. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters," cried the prophet. Salvation is gained through knowledge of God and is for all men, since "God is no respecter of persons." The same spiritual consciousness which redeemed man centuries ago is just as effective and available now as it was then.
The True Creation and the False
Down through the centuries of Bible history the great spiritual facts of God and man stand out, the distinction between the true consciousness and the false, between Spirit and the human concept called matter, between the real man, the image and likeness of God, and the false, human mortal man. This distinction between the true and the false is clearly seen in the first two chapters of the book of Genesis where two records of creation are presented, and if we keep clearly in mind the fundamental difference between these two accounts, we are prepared to understand not only the whole Bible, but likewise the problem of human life and man's relation to God. In her masterly analysis of the book of Genesis in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy makes clear the meaning of these two records of creation. In the first record, the one God, perfect, infinite, boundless, measureless, is the creator. All that He creates in the teeming universe of Spirit is good like Himself. The all-inclusive Spirit is satisfied with His creation because it is good and perfect. "And God saw, everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." In God's universe of light, sin, disease, and death are unknown; in God's universe is no parting, no sorrow, no pain. Man is the perfect likeness, the full embodiment of the divine nature, manifesting the wisdom and majesty of his Maker. He is free born. God gave him dominion through spiritual consciousness. He understands the ideas of God. These ideas impart to him power, wisdom, and intelligence, and by use of these qualities he asserts his God-given dominion.
The second account presents the belief of a matter creation, the opposite of Spirit. We are told that "there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground." Because of that mystification — mythology — mystery — man is supposed to be created from dust, nothingness. And remember that nothing cannot become something. He is supposed to begin and end, to live in a physical body capable of experiencing pleasure and pain, of knowing, seeing, feeling, smelling, tasting, hearing both good and evil through the five senses. But remember that this second record of creation deals with mist, darkness, ignorance; a misunderstanding of the real, spiritual creation that has ever existed and will ever continue to exist. It has no more substance than the shadowy illusions of a dream. It is a state of false mortal consciousness, mesmerism, a lie; a supposition without continuity, without form, and void. From this false consciousness, this Adam-dream, have issued all the ills of mortals. These ills are just as imaginary, just as illusive, just as transitory, as the parent-dream that produced them. It is therefore easy to understand why Christian Scientists declare that human ills are unreal, while God and His creation are declared to be real. The real is indestructible and the unreal is perishable. This distinction between the real and the unreal, between the true consciousness and the false, is revealed throughout the whole Bible. Elijah perceived at Mount Horeb that God was not in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but that God was revealed to man's true consciousness through the "still small voice" of Truth. The Psalmist saw that man gains true happiness only when he grasps his own spiritual sonship, hence his declaration, "I shall be satisfied, when I awake with thy likeness." St. John the divine, while yet in the flesh, beheld from the God-crowned summit of spiritual consciousness "a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea."
He saw that in this divine consciousness, this tabernacle of God, all tears shall be wiped away, "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
Moses the Lawgiver
Bearing in thought the allness of Spirit, and the power of spiritual consciousness, let us look briefly at the career of Moses, the great lawgiver of Israel. He could not prove the things of God in the atmosphere of a pagan court, so he was compelled to flee to the desert of Midian. For forty years in the desert stillness he pondered the eternal things of God and man. There, too, he had his Peniel when the glory of the divine immanence illumined him with the fire of revelation. "And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed." The consciousness of God, His self-existence as the great I AM, appeared to him and transformed him. In that regeneration, Moses the Egyptian disappeared, and Moses the Israelite, the prophet thundering the majesty of divine law, appeared. No longer was he dominated by the fears and doubts of the Adam-dream. His consciousness was uplifted to know and understand spiritual law, which annihilated all that is opposed to Spirit. With that change of consciousness which came to him as a flame of fire, Moses saw his duty to his brethren. There they in Egypt were crying aloud to God for deliverance, but ignorant how to avail themselves of the divine succor forever at hand. Moses returned to Egypt. He returned submerged in divine consciousness. He defied the lightnings of despotism and cruelty. He demonstrated the divine presence which turned hate and selfishness back upon themselves in what are known as the plagues of Egypt, and, through reliance on the outstretched arm of righteousness, he led his fellow Israelites triumphantly out of bondage into liberty. So exalted was Moses in divine consciousness, so imbued with the ever-presence of Spirit, that the human beliefs of old age and decrepitude could not touch him. The Scriptures tell us that in the one hundred and twentieth year "his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated." The experiences of Moses are a type of the experiences of every one of us. Every one of us can turn away from illusions, the pangs and pleasures, of the corporeal senses. Every one of us can through constant striving exchange mortal consciousness for divine consciousness. We may have to go down into the desert and wilderness and there in doubt, desolation, and solitude overcome the mortal sense of things and gain the spiritual. But if we are faithful and persevere, the veil of materiality will be rent, God will be revealed to us as He was to Moses, and then we too are Israelites; we too have power with God and men. We then can speak as one having authority; we can preach the word and heal the sick, as our Master commanded us to do.
The Discovery of Christian Science
Even to the casual observer it is evident that the Christianity of the nineteenth century differed greatly from the Christianity of the first century. In what did this difference consist? The Christianity of the first century was a Christianity of works. The Founder of Christianity proved his words by his works. His works were therefore greater than his words, because his works proved the truth of his words. He said, "Believe me for the very works' sake," and "The . . . works that I do, bear witness of me that the Father hath sent me." Primitive Christian healing had been lost by the third century. In the nineteenth century there was much preaching but no healing. What need was there for a new religious denomination? There was no need unless that new denomination reinstated great spiritual truths vital to the salvation of men. That was the need, and to supply that need and to reinstate primitive Christianity and to rescue men from the bondage of sickness, sin and death, Christian Science came to the world.
But, although spiritual healing had been lost in the third century, the Bible, the revealed word of God, still remained with men. That revealed word was a light that could not be stifled, and when man turned to the Bible to escape the pangs of mortal thinking and living, they began to perceive, perhaps dimly, the great fundamental truths of that Bible. In the exact ratio of their understanding of Bible truths did they perceive the errors of the human mind as manifested in religions and governments. Men enlightened by Bible study began to challenge these errors, and as a result the centuries following the advent of Christianity witnessed great reformations in religions and governments. One result of this leaven of the Scriptures, purging human thought of error, was that the Pilgrims came to America, seeking freedom to worship God. A new nation, America, was founded, "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal," and here in the free atmosphere of liberty-loving and God-fearing New England was born the woman who gave to men the Science of Christianity, Mary Baker Eddy. Mrs. Eddy was of Puritan ancestry. She was reared in the atmosphere of a Christian home. She loved God and she studied the Bible. She early saw that modern religions lacked the healing works of Christ Jesus. She tells us in the Christian Science textbook that she pondered the meaning of these words of Scripture: "And these signs shall follow them that believe; . . . they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." As she pondered these and other passages of Scripture, she began to grasp the great fundamental truths of the Bible. She began to see the line of demarcation between Spirit and the human concept called matter, the line of demarcation between the true and false consciousness, the true and the false creations, the difference between man, the divine likeness, and the mortal Adam-man, the man of flesh, that cannot inherit the kingdom of God. She saw that since God is All-in-all, as the Scriptures declare, the only creation is spiritual. On the other hand, everything that is unlike God has no actual existence, even though it may seem very real and tangible to the physical senses. Following these spiritual intuitions, Mrs. Eddy saw that all which proceeds from God was governed by law and that back of the healings of prophets and disciples was the exact, demonstrable Science of Mind, available like the laws of mathematics for every man to apply in the affairs of life. But Mrs. Eddy was not content merely to know these things; she proved them. She began to heal people, not by hypnotism, faith-cure, or mental suggestion, but by the scientific understanding of God which repudiates sin and disease as false and therefore powerless to harm man. In the year 1875, she gave to the world the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." Unprejudiced minds welcomed this book. The meek and humble found that it unlocked the treasures of the Bible and proved that the Scriptures have a scientific unity from cover to cover. The sick were healed by reading the book; sinners were reformed. This textbook threw a great light upon the Scriptures, which caused them to glow with the pristine splendor of old, so that their truths freed men the same as they did when first revealed centuries ago.
Divine Mind the Center of the Universe
Four hundred years ago Copernicus grasped the secret of the stellar universe. He discarded as untenable the Ptolemaic theory that the sun revolved around the earth. He proved that, contrary to the testimony of the physical senses, the sun was the center around which the planets revolved. That discovery immensely expanded the mental horizon of men. What joy, what sweep of vision, must have filled the mind of that man when he saw the simplicity and order of that law which binds the stars in their courses! Following Copernicus' discovery came in logical sequence the discoveries of Newton and Kepler. But, great as were these revolutionary discoveries, they are not to be compared to that discovery by Mary Baker Eddy in the year 1866 of the one Mind, the central life around which circle harmoniously all the countless ideas which fill the boundless spiritual universe. What was the nature of the human thought in the nineteenth century prior to that discovery? The human mind was obsessed with the belief that matter was real and universal, that matter was the substance and origin of creation, and that a system of rationalism could be built on a material basis. Now, in order that any false belief may be universal, it is necessary that all men believe it. One single exception destroys its universality. In the year 1866, Mrs. Eddy proved that matter is neither real nor universal, and she therefore destroyed for all time the belief of its universality.
You remember the old nursery rhyme,
"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,
And all the king's horses
And all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty Dumpty together again."
My friends, the human belief of the reality and universality of matter has received a great fall, and all the wise men of earth and all their laboratories can never reinstate in human thought that belief where it was prior to Mrs. Eddy's discovery.
Today all men accept the discovery of Copernicus. Anyone who argues for the Ptolemaic theory would be laughed at. That theory is obsolete, archaic. Likewise the day is not far distant when all men will accept Mrs. Eddy's discovery of the one Mind and man the divine likeness. In 1866 one lone woman knew the facts about Mind and matter. Today unnumbered thousands all over the civilized world know they are not in bondage to matter, but they do know that they are guided, guarded, and sustained by the omnipotent law of divine Love.
The Real Man Spiritual and Perfect
The Declaration of Independence asserted that "all men are created equal." That declaration is an immortal truth, and on that fundamental basis the Constitution and laws of this great republic have been established for almost a century and a half. Theorists have argued in vain that all men are not equal: that one is strong, another weak; one intelligent, another ignorant; one rich, another poverty-stricken. But these arguments are drawn wholly from corporeal sense evidence. The bonds and limitations which these senses impose can be broken and every man can prove for himself that in reality he is the equal of every other man. Our Master blazed the path upward for all men so that every man can climb the heights of holiness. The weak can become strong, the ignorant intelligent, the poverty-stricken can demonstrate plenty, the sick can become well, the sinner can become a saint. On what basis can we prove these things? On the basis that God is Spirit and that man is the divine likeness. If we hold firmly to this ideal, and refuse steadfastly to accept the suggestions of poverty, pain, ignorance, and fear we can rise above them. When temptations and suggestions of evil assail Christian Scientists, they refuse to entertain them. Christian Scientists know that God gives only good gifts to His children. They strive to hold in consciousness only the perfection of God and man.
When I first heard of Christian Science I was living in a western mining camp. As I went back and forth from my home to my office, I frequently noticed a little girl limping along the street. On one shoe she wore an extension sole, that limb being several inches shorter than the other and very noticeably shrunken. She was pale, listless, and apparently despondent. After a time I began to notice that she was looking better, had fresher color, walked more freely. I made inquiries and found that she was being treated by a Christian Scientist. I observed the child closely as the days went by. Soon the extension was left off her shoe; later she appeared on the street skipping along like the other children, free and normal. The healing of that child silenced my doubts, and from that time I knew that the healing power of Christ Jesus was again redeeming men. How was that child healed? I know now, but it seemed a mystery then. She was healed on the basis that she was a perfect child of God. Before that fact the lameness disappeared, the shortened limb was elongated. Freedom and joy were demonstrated. In contradistinction to this healing, note what befell Asa, King of Judea, as recorded in II Chronicles: "And Asa . . . was diseased in his feet, . . . yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign."
Christ Jesus the Master Christian
Christ Jesus, the messenger of Truth, came teaching and demonstrating a gospel of love. His consciousness was uplifted to behold the beauty of holiness, and the word of his mouth was as a flaming sword in the destruction of evil. He saw that because man is spiritual he is superior to the ills of matter pictured by the physical senses. He knew the nature of evil and how to destroy evil. He saw that the human belief of a devil or evil, manifesting itself in storms, sorrows, and tragedies of a matter world, was a self-evident falsity, a mirage of the deceitful senses. Of this lie, matter, mortality, he said: "He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it." His grasp of things divine was so clear, so sure, so true, that he not only healed men with a word, but he was able to teach others the knowledge of God, which he himself possessed beyond measure.
By degrees his disciples grew in spiritual understanding. The reality and presence of things eternal became to them a mighty inspiration which transformed them. They saw that through the power of God they too could destroy the ills of the flesh. When Jesus sent forth the seventy disciples he said to them: "Heal the sick, . . . and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. . . . And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name." It is well that they rejoiced, since they again had fellowship with the God of their fathers.
The truth the Master demonstrated reached all classes of society. It reached the teachers of Jewish theology and stirred them. You remember Nicodemus, the Pharisee, who who came to Jesus by night seeking the truth. What was the difficulty with Nicodemus? He was materially minded, mentally blinded by rabbinical theology. How clearly the Master discerned the darkened thought and pointed the remedy. He knew that Nicodemus must undergo a change of thought, a regeneration, in order to understand the things of God. So he simply said: "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." But the dulled thought of the Pharisee could not at first fathom that simple utterance. He interpreted it materially and was puzzled. How could a man be born again? he queried. The Master became more explicit. He pointed out the impossible gulf between mortals and immortals, between Spirit and matter. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." The Master knew that God's children always have been spiritual and perfect and that a mortal is a counterfeit which must be put off. Awakening from the fleshly dream to see the kingdom of God is being born again.
The Human Mind Not a Healer, Either Consciously or Unconsciously
But when we come to follow the leadings of Truth and put them into practice, we encounter resistance. The human, mortal mind, being itself material, opposes spiritual understanding. It repudiates spiritual healing and assiduously searches in matter for healing agencies. It leans on matter and relies on the suggestive influence of drugs; these failing, it falls back upon the futile devices of mental suggestion and hypnotism. Now the human mind is the cause of its own ills. Its false beliefs of fear, sin, and disease bind it with chains. Accepting mental pictures of disease, it is terrified when they appear on the body. The human, carnal mind itself is "enmity against God," as Paul declared. How can the enemy of God manifest the healing power of God? Yet attempts to heal on the presumption that the human mind is a healer persistently occur. Recently much publicity has been given to that form of hypnotism which purports to heal through the so-called subconscious or unconscious thought, the theory apparently being that there is another mind asleep somewhere in the back of a man's head which by much coaxing will finally wake up sufficiently to come out and tell all the ills that beset the patient to cease their nonsense. This brings squarely to the front the question, Is the human mind a healer of disease, either consciously or unconsciously. That which causes disease cannot heal disease. Therefore the human is not a healing agency. The human mind can never produce good, nor can it be refined into good. Attempting to lift mortals out of ills by the human mind is as futile as to attempt to lift one's self by the bootstrap. Walking the corridors of a prison will not bring freedom to a prisoner; the doors must be unlocked to get beyond prison walls. The only remedy for mortal ills is to cease to think materially and to think spiritually. We must get out of mortality into spirituality. The old man. mortal thinking, must be put off, and the new man, spiritual thinking, must be put on. But is it not true that a person can become so deeply impressed with a picture of a disease that he will later in life manifest that disease? And can he not in childhood be taught dogmas, medical and religious, to which he will react all through life? A person may be taught to rely on drugs, to react to a religious dogma, until he seems to be reduced to a mere automaton. He may believe that sense impressions can be so deeply set on nerves and brain that escape seems impossible. Recently I heard a clergyman say that in thirty years of service he had never seen an adult reformed. His reason for this failure was that wrong sense impressions received in youth could not be overcome. Evidently that clergyman had no conception of what Paul meant by being transformed by the renewing of the mind. Truth frees men whenever they turn to it, no matter how old they are. Unconscious mortal thought can no more control man than can conscious mortal thought. A belief of nervous reaction can neither free a man nor make him a slave. The Science of Mind breaks for a man all these subtle devices as easily as Samson broke the rope that bound him.
The Application of Christian Science
When a patient comes to a Christian Scientist for help, what does the Christian Scientist do? Frequently the patient comes after all material means have failed. He may have tried drugs, climate, baths, operations, electricity. These having failed to restore him to health, as they inevitably do fail, and with nothing but the grave ahead, he turns to Christian Science for help. Usually the Christian Scientist does not need to ask the patient about his difficulties. The patient has probably ruminated over his condition so long that he is ready to pour his troubles into a sympathetic ear. He comes believing that he lives in a physical body and that he is experiencing pains and disarrangements in that body. Does the Christian Scientist accept that? He does not. He knows with Paul that "in Him (God) we live, and move, and have our being." If the Christian Scientist believes that a man lives in a physical body he cannot help him. He knows that the difficulty with the patient is that he has accepted in thought, either consciously or unconsciously, certain false beliefs, which are the cause of his difficulties. That being the case, what does the Christian Scientist do? He declares the eternal truths of God and man for that patient. He denies the fear of the patient. He knows and declares that God is Life, Truth, and Love, and that man is the perfect child of God. He holds firmly to the fact that man is perfect, that man is upright, free, strong, healthful. He finds the type of the disease and its symptoms, and arrays his arguments against them. His arguments are powerful because back of his arguments is the power of God, the Word of God, "quick, and powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword" in the destruction of evil. These false beliefs that have beset the patient, having no real entity, no actual existence, being merely mortal illusions, give way before these powerful arguments. They yield, they vanish into their native nothingness, and the place that knew them knows them no more forever. The man is healed, and when a man is healed by Christian Science he knows he has been touched by the finger of God and gives to God the glory.
Sometimes we are told that a Christian Scientist has no business treating a patient because he is not an expert in the diagnosis of disease. A Christian Scientist does not pose as an expert diagnostician. His attitude toward physical diagnosis is a good deal like the man down in Georgia who applied to a commission for a license to pilot a steamboat. A member of the commission said to him, "Do you know where all the snags are in that river?" The applicant said, "No, sir." Then said the member, "If you do not know where all the snags are in that river, how can you pilot a steamboat safely?" 'Well," said the man, "I don't know where all the snags are in that river, but let me tell you something, I know where they ain't." Now I submit that it would be safer to ride on a steamboat the pilot of which knew where the snags were not, than where they were. A Christian Scientist knows where diseases are not. He knows they are not in the Mind of God, nor in the consciousness of the spiritual man. He knows diseases are not in the secret place of the Most High, where man dwells. He knows enough about diseases to destroy them, and for that reason the Christian Scientist is the safest, most successful practitioner on earth. He is a safe and successful practitioner because he knows that God alone is the healer of man's diseases.
But the healing of disease is not the ultimate of Christian Science. That ultimate is to understand God. Every sin that is destroyed, every disease healed, lessens the sum total of evil and frees human consciousness so that we more and more clearly discern the glory of God. As Christian Science is better understood and applied, this progress will continue until false consciousness disappears and man beholds himself perfect even as the Father in heaven is perfect. Then patriarch and seer, Israelite, Christian, and Christian Scientist, will find themselves of one kin, of one mind, of one consciousness, the sons and daughters of God. Then, and not until then, will the brotherhood of man become a reality.
My friends, we have all experienced what is termed inspiration. In that experience, thought is illumined; doubts, fears, ambiguities vanish. We see clearly; we think coherently; we are free, active, and strong; we work in the glow of light. But human inspiration is only a faint echo of that divine inspiration which fills consciousness when man beholds the infinitude of Spirit. In that divine inspiration, the struggles, pangs, and illusions of the senses cease, peace reigns, and man, clothed with wisdom and power, holds audience with Spirit. Let us watch, work, and pray that that day of perfect understanding come quickly and remain with us.
This lecture has had much to say of consciousness. I have pointed out to you the true spiritual consciousness, born of God, which heals, saves, and exalts us. I have also pointed out to you the nature of that false consciousness which binds and enslaves us. I have likewise pointed out to you that in change of consciousness from the false to the true is a change from despair to peace, from hell to heaven. Spiritual consciousness is the "pearl of great price," the supreme goal of man's endeavor. What its regenerating power is, Mrs. Eddy has clearly shown in the following passage from the Christian Science textbook, page 598: —
"One moment of divine consciousness, or the spiritual understanding of Life and Love, is a foretaste of eternity. This exalted view, obtained and retained when the Science of being is understood, would bridge over with life discerned spiritually the interval of death, and man would be in the full consciousness of his immortality and eternal harmony, where sin, sickness, and death are unknown."