Lecture on Christian Science, Title Unknown (1)
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
In addressing an audience made up, in part, of persons who know little of the teachings of Christian Science, it is well to consider what Christian Science has in common with other religious organizations which accept the Bible, and the Bible teachings regarding God. Has Christian Science anything in common with other denominations that accept the Bible? Upon examination it will be seen that there is much in common. All Christian people accept the Bible. They understand that God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent; meaning by this that God has all power, is ever-present, and is the creator and source of all knowledge. These immortal verities of Deity have been accepted by all Christians because on no other basis can we conceive of God as infinite and supreme, a God of love who sends only good gifts to His children. Thus if you should ask a man who accepts the Bible if he believes that God is omnipresent, he would undoubtedly answer you in the affirmative. If you also ask him if he believes that God is omniscient and omnipresent, he would likewise answer you in the affirmative. But if you press the matter further, and ask him if he would rely upon the omnipotent goodness of God to heal him should he be taken suddenly ill at the midnight hour, he would probably hesitate and perhaps tell you that such reliance was too vague and transcendental for him; that he preferred to pin his faith to some favorite drug or other material means. His answers to the above questions would probably be the answers of many people who accept the Bible and believe in the power, goodness and love of God. But does not their refusal actually to rely upon God in a time of sickness indicate a fatal weakness, a distrust of God that accounts for the failure of modern religions to satisfy that hunger for righteousness which is characteristic of all men as sons and daughters of God?
Now we cannot adopt any halfway measures about our relations to God. God is good. He is ever-present, and all powerful, and that fact eliminates at once and forever any other power or goodness. Since God has all power, then evil, the opposite of God, has no power. The fact of the matter is, that the Christian world has for the most part theoretically accepted the omnipresent goodness of God, and has not had faith in, nor understanding of, its ever-present availability. What is controlling our thought is determined not by what we say, but by what we do. If men and women prefer to rely on drugs rather then on the power of God in a time of sickness, it is because they believe drugs are a more potent remedy; and all professions of confidence in God to the contrary are mere lip service and cannot be expressions of profound conviction of the heart.
Because modern religions showed this wide discrepancy between reality and practice, a re-statement of the eternal truths of the Bible became necessary if the race was to be saved from the myriad ills that beset it. For this purpose Christian Science came to the world. No matter what hostile critics may say to the contrary, Christian Science came to the world in response to the quenchless yearning of the human heart to know its God, a yearning that human wisdom can never supply. No matter what the testimony of the material senses may be as to the seeming reality of matter and evil, Christian Science holds firmly, logically, and consistently, to the eternal fact of the omnipotence of God, which overrules and destroys all the asserted power of sickness, disease, sin and death.
Christian Science Primitive Christianity
By teaching reliance on the omnipotent goodness of God, Christian Science has reinstated primitive Christianity. What is primitive Christianity? In the past, Christianity was too much considered to mean customs, traditions, dogmas and creeds of the early days of the Christian church. But if you will recall the words and deeds of the great Bible characters from Genesis to Revelation, you will find that their religion was something vital, — a living reality. They made no mere professions of trust in God; they had an understanding of God, and they proved their understanding by destroying sin, by healing diseases, by breaking droughts, by controlling the economic laws of supply and demand, and by overcoming the last enemy, even death itself. They made no empty pretenses of faith in God, and then followed after the latest advertised drug. No, they would have repudiated that procedure as contrary to the first commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
The Bible Message Simple
Now, the message of the Bible is simple, logical, scientific. Little children love the Bible. They love it because its message is pure, inspiring, regenerating. But the pity of it is that our family Bibles have for years been lying on the shelf covered with dust, — safety depositories for lost spectacles and forgotten photographs. Why? Because we have allowed doctrines, precedents, and traditions to pervert our vision so that we refuse to accept the plain teachings of Christ Jesus, the disciples, and the prophets. We have been taught to search the Scriptures for texts in support of some futile doctrine rather than to ponder the meaning of the Bible text and thereby grow in that understanding of God and man which heals the sick and casts out sin. Christ Jesus commanded his followers to "Heal the sick," and yet when that imperative command is brought to the attention of many religionists who deem themselves loyal Christians, they may sometimes resort to various sophistries in the vain effort to prove that they should not obey it. Christian Science is based on the Bible. Like the Bible, it is simple, natural, logical and scientific. There is nothing mysterious about Christian Science or its practice. It follows the plain teachings of Christ Jesus, and as a result, Christian Scientists live differently, and think differently than they did before they became interested in Christian Science. The beginner in Christian Science notices at once that Christian Scientists do not use drugs. They have no occasion to do so, for the simple reason that they have found in Christian Science a vastly better system of healing sickness and disease than is afforded by the drugging system. Furthermore, they have found that reliance on drugs obscures spiritual understanding and alienates men from God. If a person believes he has been healed by a drug, he, to that extent believes in the existence of another power than the Great I AM; he believes there is some other healing agency than God, and is consequently led to doubt that God is the healer of all our diseases, as the Psalmist declared. He becomes skeptical of the divine power to heal and save. It will be noticed likewise that Christian Scientists do not accept as authority physiology and medical works. Christian Scientists do not accept physiology and medical works because these reason, for the most part, from the basis that man is a mere physical organism, whereas Christian Science reasons from the basis that man is spiritual, the image and likeness of God. The basis of reasoning of physiology and medical works being the exact opposite of Christian Science, the conclusions arrived at cannot, of course, agree. Then again, the beginner in Christian Science notices that Christian Scientists do not talk about disease. They do not gossip about disease, do not tell about the diseases they had in the past, the diseases they have now, nor those they expect to have in the, future. They do not fear disease, because they know that God never sent it, and that a right understanding of Him completely destroys it. They see clearly that all there is of disease is human fears and false mental pictures. It is evident to them that if the mental picture of disease is not entertained, disease will not at any time be manifested on the body. They are well aware that the issue of disease is determined by thought, and they have no desire to entertain such an unwelcome guest as a mental picture of disease although Christian Scientists have an established reputation as a people "given to hospitality" as St. Paul advised. The fact of the matter is, Christian Scientists have discovered that there is a vast amount of unnecessary knowledge floating around in the atmosphere of human thought, knowledge based entirely on the evidence of the physical senses, which, if accepted, cannot fail to be productive of pain, suffering, fear, and alienation from God. "Unnecessary knowledge," says Mrs. Eddy in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, on page 374, "gained from the five senses is only temporal, — the conception of mortal mind, the offspring of sense, not of Soul, Spirit, — and symbolizes all that is evil and perishable." Christian Scientists have a race to run and they do not propose to run in vain because encumbered with a lot of useless impedimenta.
Man's Oneness with God the Ultimate of Christian Science
Then again, the beginner in Christian Science may receive the impression that Christian Science heals merely physical ills and is only a substitute for the drugging system or other material methods. Christian Science heals the sick; there is no doubt about that. He would be a brave critic indeed who at the present time would arise and deny that Christian Science does heal the sick. The living witnesses of its healing power are numbered by the tens of thousands. But the healing of physical ills is not the ultimate of Christian Science. Christian Science goes to the bottom of the human mentality, uncovers the latent errors of the human mind and destroys them, and arouses men to claim their divine heritage to be sons of God. Christian Science arouses men to see that man lives because God lives, for man's life is derived from God. A man does not live merely to keep himself in repair or to satisfy his human desires. A Christian Scientist sees that a man's real business in life is to know and to glorify God. The Westminster Catechism says "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever." If you buy an automobile you expect the machine to carry its occupants, not to undergo repairs. Repairs must be made of course, if the machine does not run. So likewise, when a man is sick or sinful, he must be healed before he is prepared to realize his sonship with God. But the healing of sin and sickness is only the preliminary step by which a man comes to see that his real duty, his ideal, is to understand God, and to live according to His eternal laws. The writer of Ecclesiastes summed the matter up when he said, "Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man." And so a man's regeneration has merely commenced when he is healed of physical ills by Christian Science. Dimly at first perhaps, but nevertheless surely, he begins to see a vision, — a vision of a God who is Spirit, Life, Love, and man and the universe spiritual and eternal. He begins to see a perfect model of manhood based upon man's eternal sonship with God. He notes how lamentably inadequate were his former habits and ideals, and he finds that a transformation of thought must take place if he is ever to attain this ideal. And so he begins to undergo that change of thought which is described in the Bible by various terms: "conversion," "regeneration," "renewing of the mind," "born of the Spirit," "reconciliation with God." He begins to measure himself by the model of a perfect God and a perfect man and to grow to that perfection of thought which the Psalmist saw when he said. "I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness."
But this process of regeneration requires work. We do not jump from matter to Spirit at a single bound, but when a man begins to work on the basis of the allness of Spirit, he is on the right road. As he works and prays, striving to be led of the divine Mind which knows all things, the path of spiritual light sooner or later stretches out straight and clear before him. "Blessed is he who has found his work," said Carlyle, "let him ask no other blessedness." "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day," said Jesus; "the night, cometh, when no man can work." And so, as the Christian Scientist works according to spiritual law, order takes the place of chaos; the ills of mortality are overcome, perhaps one at a time; sorrow gives place to joy, sickness to health, poverty to plenty, sin to holiness, and the fear of death to the certainty of everlasting life.
The Vision Supernal
This vision of the Fatherhood of God and all men and women as sons and daughters of God satisfies, as nothing else can, the infinite aspirations of man. The effect on the great Bible characters of seeing the divine nature of God was far-reaching and profound. So great was the change, so fundamental its meaning, that even their very names were changed. You remember that when Abram rose in thought above the human belief of polytheism, many gods, and grasped the sublime conception of monotheism, one God, his name was changed to Abraham. Jacob saw this eternal reality, and his name was changed to Israel. Prior to this he had been a crafty trader, preying on the weakness and follies of his fellow-men. At the present time he would perhaps be called a "profiteer." When, however, he saw the truth about God and man, he was so transformed that he became a prince who, as the Scripture declares, had "power with God and with man." Moses saw it on Mount Sinai and he was charged to do all things after the "pattern which was showed thee on the mount." Christ Jesus, on the mountain of transfiguration, saw this transcendent vision of the glory of God, and man His perfect expression, and we are told that "his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as light." Christ Jesus radiated light, because he had spiritual consciousness. He thought God's thoughts. These thoughts, these messages, these angels of His presence, came to him clothed with omniscience and omnipotence; and because Christ Jesus entertained them, he was endued with power which enabled him to destroy pain, sin, death and the grave.
So profoundly impressed were men by his wonderful teachings and unparalleled victory over the physical senses, that they have dated the calendar from his nativity. His career thus stands out in history as a beacon light, immeasurably transcending all other human events.
Mrs. Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, likewise more than eighteen centuries later, saw this same perfect pattern, this mode which enabled her to heal the sick and sinning, and enabled her to inspire unnumbered multitudes to forsake human opinions, dogmas, traditions, and drugs, in order to follow the light of demonstrable truth. Now it might properly be asked, how do we know that Mrs. Eddy saw this same model of God and man that the great Bible characters saw? In answer to that query let us suppose that some five thousand years ago a great writer and thinker climbed a lofty mountain, — a mountain, —
"Though round its base the rolling clouds are spread,
Eternal sunshine settles on its head"
and this writer wrote an account of his experiences in climbing that mountain and pictured the marvelous panorama that unfolded to his enraptured vision as he toiled his way to loftier heights. And as time went on, other writers and thinkers made the same journey and recorded their experiences for the guidance of future generations who would make the same ascent. Now, is it not reasonable that their experiences would be similar, and that they would see the same panorama, and that their records of the ascent would corroborate each other? So likewise have been the experiences of all who have climbed the mountain of holiness, and risen above the cloud of materialism that has darkened the vision of all peoples. Mrs. Eddy climbed this same mountain of holiness that all spiritual thinkers have climbed throughout the centuries. She saw the same vision. Her writings coincide with the spiritual sense of the Scriptures; they give the same spiritual illumination as do the Bible texts when spiritually understood and her followers are healing the sick and freeing the sinning, as did the disciples of old when they finally understood the spiritual import of the words and works of the blessed Master.
And Christian Scientists today see and pattern their lives after this same perfect model, and as a result they are happy, healthful and spiritually minded. Genuine Christian Scientists pray continually that they keep in thought this perfect model. They pray that they may continually see God as Spirit, and man as the perfect spiritual image of God. They strive to be governed by the qualities of love, perfection, and holiness, which emanate from the divine consciousness, and they are alert to destroy in their own thought the hate or fear which would injure or depress their neighbor. They pray that they may have spiritual power to overcome sin and sickness. They know that every thought, every motive, every statement, every deed, is cast into the scale of truth or of error, and they strive daily and hourly that their thoughts, their words, their deeds, their lives may weight in the balance with health, peace, and divine harmony. They strive to follow the words of the Psalmist: "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer."
The Consciousness of Christ Jesus
The consciousness of Christ Jesus so perfectly reflected Spirit that no suggestions of sin or mortality could enter. In the presence of his unparalleled knowledge of God, fear, disease, and death fled as darkness before the light. Knowing that God is Love, he loved with divine compassion his fellow-men, and because of that love, he healed them. We are told in the gospel that he healed "all manner of disease." Christ Jesus knew that disease was not of God, and he conceded no more power to one disease than to another. The modern classification of diseases as functional, nervous, organic, he disregarded entirely. He knew that diseases were all contrary to the divine purpose, and he destroyed them all alike. We read in Luke as follows: "Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And the people, when they knew it, followed him; and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing." (Luke 9:1, 2, 11).
Now two features stand out preeminently in the earthly career of this great Teacher. One is that he utterly refused to accept as final or conclusive the evidence of the five physical senses; the other is that he did accept to be final and conclusive the evidence of spiritual sense. Spiritual sense was his own guide, his only basis of thought and action. "It is the Spirit that quickeneth" he declared, and then he added, "the flesh profiteth nothing." To illustrate, let us note the manner in which he handled the case of the man with the withered hand. The materialist, the man who accepted physical sense evidence as a fact, would doubtless have argued that the withered hand could not be healed, that there was no remedy known that could restore those wasted muscles and revive the paralyzed nerves. That is the argument of the carnal, human mind which assumes that man is a physical organism, subject to birth, maturity, and decay. The great Teacher, the master metaphysician was never deceived by such shallow sophistry. He knew that man is perfect even as his Father in heaven is perfect; that the real man is not diseased, broken, deformed, but is the forever expression of divine Love, and he unswervingly held to that exalted conception throughout his whole earthly ministry, in the face of almost universal skepticism and opposition. Because of his understanding of Spirit, he said to the man with the withered hand: "Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other." Another thing that should be noted in the ministry of Christ Jesus, is that he kept clearly in mind the difference between the real and the unreal. What is real? God is real. God's creation is real. God's man is real. Life, Truth, Love, justice, peace, harmony, are real. What is unreal? Matter, mortality, sin, evil, disease, jealously, hate, and death are unreal. They are unreal because they are not God-created. They are opposed to the divine nature, they are the fleeting misconceptions of the human mind which will inevitably disappear as the "new heavens and a new earth" dawn on human thought. Christ Jesus destroyed the unreal and exalted the real. The beginner in Christian Science is at once faced with the necessity of keeping clearly in thought this vital distinction between the real and the unreal, because only by so doing can he have dominion over evil and demonstrate the supremacy of Spirit. At times misinformed critics seek to convey the impression that Christian Science makes a mistake in teaching that sin, disease, and death are unreal, claiming that they are "terrible realities." These errors may seem real to the uninstructed human thought; but they are not real in the sense that they are not God-created. If we believe that disease is real, that belief tends to strengthen the bondage of disease, not to destroy it. No man throughout the ages has been healed of disease by declaring its reality. The Christian Scientist knows that sin and disease must be seen as illusions of the human mind; then they can be destroyed through divine understanding.
Salvation for All Men
There has been much misapprehension in times past of the true nature of Christ Jesus and his relation to God and man. Scholastic theology has persistently reiterated throughout the centuries that Christ Jesus was God, but that cannot be because God is one God, the Great I AM, not made up of parts. Christ Jesus was not God, but the Son of God, as he himself declared. As a man born of a woman he was the Son of Man. Because he was the spiritual ideal of God, he was the Christ, manifesting the qualities of his divine Father. He knew that Christ, the divine expression of God, was forever ready to heal and save, and that salvation is for all men. All men are sons of God, and all men can understand the Christ Truth which heals and saves, and can exercise the power of spiritual understanding in destroying disease, sin, and death. Jesus declared that he prayed not alone for his chosen disciples, "but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." In his last recorded words uttered just before his ascension beyond mortal vision, he said, "And these signs shall follow them that believe;" (understand the Christ), "In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."
The Testimony of Apostles and Early Christians
The Bible teaches that the power to heal is a universal gift within the grasp of anyone who strives to know God aright. The patriarchs and prophets healed. The twelve disciples healed; the seventy did likewise. Paul healed the sick and raised the dead, and until the fourth century the early Christians recognized and practiced healing as a part of the work of the church. At the beginning of the fourth century spiritual healing ceased. Scholastic theology has tried in vain to make us believe that this loss of spiritual healing was due to an act of God; that spiritual healing was a special dispensation of Providence, extended to Christ Jesus and the early Christians to prove that they were under the divine protection, and that when this proof had been accomplished, spiritual healing was withdrawn. But that theory has no facts within the Scriptures or without, to support it, and it is contrary to the nature of God. "God is no respecter of persons." (Acts 10:34). His grace and goodness are for all men to partake. The spiritual law which Jesus demonstrated in healing the sick on the shores of the Sea of Galilee is an universal immutable law, and is just as operative to-day as it was nineteen hundred years ago.
No, the loss of spiritual healing cannot be charged to God. The real reason is that the early Christians failed to follow closely the straight and narrow way of eternal truth. They began to modify the teachings of Jesus, conforming them to the pagan thought about them. What was the result? The human mind became darkened and mystified and could no longer resort to the healing power of God; hence spiritual healing disappeared and did not reappear for more than fifteen centuries, when the Science of Christianity was again given to the world by a New England woman, Mary Baker Eddy.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science
In 1866 Mrs. Eddy was instantly healed of the results of a serious accident through the spiritual understanding of a passage in Matthew's gospel. The light that burst upon her consciousness in that hour of need was the result of many years' prayer, meditation, and study of the Scriptures. The world of the nineteenth century, in which Mrs. Eddy made the discovery of the power and availability of Spirit, was steeped in materialism, and there was a tendency to base reasoning upon matter and physical science. Mrs. Eddy took issue with the thinkers of the nineteenth century, who for the most part reasoned from a matter basis. She saw clearly that they reasoned wrongly. She discovered that "All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all." (Science and Health, p. 468). In other words, she discovered that the universe has a spiritual cause and not a physical. There is but one cause, God, one effect, man and the universe. But she did not stop there. Her further researches led her to distinguish between the divine Mind, its qualities and ideas, and the phenomena of matter and evil, which she termed mortal mind, or, — to use St. Paul's denomination, — carnal mind, She saw that the two were opposites, and that the divine Mind and its universe of ideas only, can be true. Mrs. Eddy also saw that the exactness, logic, order, coordination, continuity, and law of God was the only real Science, which she named Divine Science or Christian Science. For centuries men had been led to believe that religion and Science had nothing in common, that the acceptance of the dicta of natural science was tantamount to disbelief in God. Mrs Eddy saw that religion and Science were one and the same, both emanations from the divine Mind. True Science is wholly spiritual, and destroys the human counterfeit science in so far as the latter is based on matter and mortality. When Mrs. Eddy grasped the mighty fact that God is the only Mind and cause, she saw that she had a mission to perform for the race, and that mission was to pierce with spiritual vision the dark clouds of matter, mortality, fear, and sin, cast over the whole human race; to disperse these clouds with the reflected light of spiritual understanding, and to reinstate in human consciousness the healing leaven of the Science of the one omnipotent Mind.
And so she began her work by testing her discovery. She tested it by healing the sick, — many of them instantaneously, by breaking the bondage of sin, and by the spiritual light and freedom her followers experienced, who, with unbiased thought, honestly sought to know the truth that maketh free. In 1875, — nine years after her healing, — she gave to the world the textbook of Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, a book, the mere reading of which has healed thousands of the various ills that flesh seems to be heir to; a book which has done more to revolutionize the thoughts of men regarding the truths of the Bible than any other book that has ever been written. Sometimes critics will assert that the textbook of Christian Science is illogical and contradictory, but these critics utterly fail to grasp Mrs. Eddy's viewpoint. As a matter of fact, there is not an illogical or contradictory statement in the book, for the simple reason that all its premises and conclusions are founded on God, Spirit, as the only power, cause, and creator. Speaking of her experience at this time, Mrs. Eddy wrote in Science and Health (p. 110): "In following these leadings of scientific revelation, the Bible was my only textbook. The Scriptures were illumined; reason and revelation were reconciled, and afterwards the truth of Christian Science was demonstrated. No human pen nor tongue taught me the Science contained in this book, Science and Health; and neither tongue nor pen can overthrow it. This book may be distorted by shallow criticism or by careless or malicious students, and its ideas may be temporarily abused and misrepresented; but the Science and truth therein will forever remain to be discerned and demonstrated."
The Mother Church and its Manual
Sometimes we are asked, "Why did Mrs. Eddy form a distinct church organization, when there were so many denominations already established, dedicated to the extension of the religion of Christ Jesus?" The answer to that query is simple. Her message was refused by established churches and she was impelled to organize a church of her own. As a result, The Mother Church was organized in Boston, in April, 1879, and has since been followed by a host of branch churches now scattered throughout the civilized world. To guide and protect the church, Mrs Eddy evolved the Rules and By-Laws set forth in the Manual of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, the wisdom of which has been amply demonstrated in the prosperity and healing power of The Mother Church and its branches. Christian Scientists cherish and obey the Manual of The Mother Church because it unswervingly guides them and their churches in the straight and narrow way of demonstrable truth, and they have no notion, whatsoever, of departing from either the letter or the spirit of its requirements. The exalted purpose of The Mother Church is definitely set forth in the Manual on page 19, as follows: "THE FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST, IN BOSTON, MASS., is designed to be built on the Rock, Christ; even the understanding and demonstration of divine Truth, Life, and Love, healing and saving the world from sin and death; thus to reflect in some degree the Church Universal and Triumphant."
Truth When Understood Frees Man
Christian Science teaches as does the Bible that God is Spirit, that the universe of Mind is a spiritual, mental universe, and that man is spiritual, forever reflecting the divine nature. Christian Science makes a clear and absolute distinction between the universe of God, the universe of Mind, and the world of sense phenomena, — the mortal carnal sense of existence which mortals cognize through the five physical senses, the fruits of which are sin, disease, and death. The Science of Christianity makes clear that spiritual existence is the only real existence, and that the world of sense phenomena is unreal, false, nothing but illusion. In the face of general belief in the reality of matter, this was a revolutionary position to take, and Mrs. Eddy was the first thinker since the days of Jesus of Nazareth and the early Christians to arrive at that conclusion. The important question, however, is not whether the teachings of Christian Science are revolutionary, but are they true? And, if true, how do we know that the spiritual is true and the sensuous false? Now, a Christian Scientist is always ready to give a reason for the faith that is in him. We know these things by the test of demonstration. A genuine science proves itself in two ways; first it eliminates the non-essential, and, second, it carries within itself the proof of its own truthfulness. Thus the science of mathematics eliminates the erroneous statement that five and five are eleven. That error cannot possibly be a part of mathematics. It is non-essential. As the student gains a knowledge of mathematics, he finds that the science of numbers proves itself. He gains confidence in mathematics because he sees that it is demonstrable; that the science of numbers carries within itself the proof of its own truthfulness. Applying the same line of reasoning to our relations to God, because the Science of Christianity is not supernatural, but divinely natural, we find that as the perfection of God, His holiness, beauty, wisdom, and power dawn upon the illuminated thought, we are divinely assured of their reality. Did not St. Paul declare that "the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God"? On the other hand, as this understanding of God unfolds to the human consciousness, the evanescent and illusive character of the world of sense phenomena, the non-essential, becomes more and more clearly exposed and gradually fades from thought. The more clearly we comprehend the things of Spirit, the more surely and completely we can heal sickness, overcome sin, and break the bonds of every evil. "God is love," said the beloved disciple. "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear," and Love likewise casts out all that is unlike Love and enthrones peace and harmony in undisputed control.
Eternal Life an Ever-Present Fact
To the degree that we apprehend that God is Life, do we partake here and now of life eternal. Eternal life is not some "far off divine event," but it is an irrevocable fact, to be understood and lived here and now. Jesus defined life eternal as follows: "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." You will note in this declaration that life eternal consists in knowing God, that the present tense is employed. To-day is the day of salvation. Life is God, and God is ever-present, therefore life is here and now, an ever-present fact. No barrier is interposed, no door is closed between men and life. Death is not a transitory state between mortality and immortality; but is an enemy to be destroyed through the discernment of ever-present Life. Our duty is to prove these things in the face of the skepticism of the human mind.
We likewise can reason about man's relationship to God conversely. The more we are submerged in the belief that a matter-world exists, that man lives in a physical body, that pleasure, pain, happiness, and death inhere in matter and physicality, the farther we are removed from the ability to overcome these errors by spiritual understanding. If we harbor hate, resentment, or jealousy, if we are filled with human ambition, or glory in intellectual attainments, the light of spirituality waxes dim. No man can heal the sick by spiritual power, and retain fellowship with materiality. "Ye cannot serve God and mammon" was the declaration of him who was beloved of His Father.
Christian Science Destroys Evil
When we come in contact with the material world about us, we are confronted with the phenomena of evil. We note its destructive character. It manifests itself in myriad forms of fear, pain, droughts, wars, storms, and death. Where did this unholy thing come from? Is it of God or is it not? A false theology has attempted throughout the centuries to lead men into the belief that God created evil: that in some mysterious way, evil is good in the making, a crude form of good, as it were. But the fact is that God is not the author of evil. If God were the author of evil, then God would be a God of hate instead of love, a God of death instead of life. Evil is contrary to good, and there is nothing in all the infinitude of God's universe out of which evil could be created. Darkness is not farther removed from light than evil is from good. Light does not produce darkness, Life does not produce death. Confronted by these facts, false theology shifts its ground and argues that God permitted evil to be self-created. That is more sophistry, because God, having all power, would be just as responsible if He permitted evil to be self-created as if He created it direct. Some theologians, in theorizing about evil, assume that because God created all that was made, He must have created evil since evil has apparent substance to the physical senses. These theologians have utterly failed to see that the physical senses cannot interpret God, that evil is without foundation, has no reality, and is merely a phenomenon of the human mind.
Christian Science clears up all mysticism about evil, and shows that evil under whatsoever forms it masquerades, is a false claim, operating through the five physical senses. When we see even faintly the omnipotent goodness of God, we can never fear evil as we did before. Why? Because we have dethroned it. Before the omnipotence of God, evil shrinks to its native nothingness. We see it for what it is, — a lie, and a liar, "a murderer from the beginning" as the Master declared, a false projection of mortal belief, — nothing more. Does not the Scripture declare: "There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways"? Sometimes, in the face of the seeming activity of evil, men may become fearful and despairing. Accepting the scholastic lie about evil being God-created, and therefore invincible, they may throw up their hands and become its unresisting victims. But the genuine Christian Scientist waxes strong when battling with evil. He refuses to concede to it one iota of power, or reality. He refuses to allow a single suggestion of its presence or power to enter his consciousness. He knows that man has control of his own mentality through understanding the Christ, and that when we stand at the door of thought, refusing admittance to every whispering of evil and admitting only the ideas of holiness and health, we are approaching that perfection of thought which Jesus knew when he said, "The kingdom of God is within you." But if we fail to prove that evil is an illusion and fail to gain the mastery over it, that failure is due to the fact that we do not rely wholly and radically on God. Some people at times may listen to the seductive argument that it is the part of wisdom to be moderately good and moderately wicked, but such a course will never win the victory over evil in the day of stress and trial. The lukewarm saint never healed a case of sickness in the past and never will in the future. We cannot accept physical sense evidence, and expect to lay hold of the divine power in the destruction of evil. The Apostle James declared as a prime requisite of a Christian that he "keep himself unspotted from the world." To master evil, we must be whole-hearted, radically scientific Christians.
The Body Controlled Through Divine Understanding
Experience has proved that the human mind cannot control the body harmoniously. The reason for this is clearly apparent to the Christianly scientific thinker. The body is the expression, the objectification, of human mortal thought. It therefore manifests whatever state of thought we entertain about it. If we believe in and fear old age, sickness, contagion, heat and cold, we may have these wrong conditions manifested on the body, thus proving the words of Solomon, "As he thinketh in his heart, so is he." In, all cases, whether we are aware of it or not, sickness and disease are first accepted in thought before they can be manifested on the body. The drugging practitioner assumes that the body is a self-acting organism and attempts to heal it by the use of drugs, but takes little account of the human mentality, which is the breeding ground of all mortal ills. Wiser than the doctors of modern medicine, Jesus declared that "out of the heart,"— the human mentality, — "proceed evil thoughts . . which defile a man." The wise gardener does not merely cut off the top of the noxious weed that chokes his garden, — he digs it out, every root of it. The fad of surgical operations, stimulated by morbid fears and subtle mental suggestions never gets at the root of any ill. The effect may be removed by the operation, but the mental cause remains to bear fruit after its kind, and later may engulf the patient in a blacker cloud of fear and despair. The human thought must be purified before we can hope to cope successfully with sickness, pain, and disease. The body is not our master, but our servant, and it is the duty of every one of us to prove this fact. Paul's clear insight when he declared that "whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord" has not been generally comprehended. The remedy for bodily ills is to look away from the body, refuse to accept its false evidence of pain and disease, and to hold thought steadfastly to the realm of divine Mind, where man possesses unchanging health based upon the eternal truths of God. A man is immune to pain and disease only as he lives in spiritual consciousness. Mrs. Eddy saw clearly that thought must rest on things divine, and not on matter and the body, or health and peace would never be gained. And so she tells us in the Christian Science textbook page 264, "The crude creations of mortal thought must finally give place to the glorious forms which we sometimes behold in the camera of divine Mind, when the mental picture is spiritual and eternal. Mortals must look beyond fading, finite forms, if they would gain the true sense of things. Where shall the gaze rest but in the unsearchable realm of Mind?"
True Happiness Based on Spiritual Understanding
Happiness is the universal goal of men and women. But happiness is not possible without peace of mind, and peace of mind can only be attained when thoughts rests on a divine basis. All that the physical senses apprehend is fading, transitory, mutable. If we rest upon that basis, the foundation of our structure will sooner or later give way, and confusion and loss will be our portion. We must learn to reject the false and to hold the true, if we would "dwell in the secret place of the most High." We are to know that God is the only Life, and that our life is derived from God. We are ever to refuse to accept any human belief that man lives in the flesh, or that a matter world ever existed or ever can exist. We are to hold thought to the eternal fact that infinite Spirit is the creator and governs all, and there is no other creator and no other creation.
If we are wise we will seek to gain spiritual understanding, which is the "pearl of great price." With spiritual understanding we make clear distinction between right thoughts and wrong thoughts, between divine ideas which people the realm of Spirit, and mortal beliefs of sin, pain, disease, and death. And we are to hold to God's ideas and to repudiate mortal misconceptions. We gain spiritual insight as we ponder the things of God, and as we think on these things, their healing power and meaning are revealed. If we study the Bible, and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, our thought is uplifted and purified; we learn to detect the difference between spiritual ideas and sensuous concepts just as readily as the musician, through his grasp of the laws of harmony, can discern between tones that are true and those that are false. And as the nature of "the one altogether lovely," dawns upon our thought, we can sing with the Psalmist,
"How amiable are thy tabernacles O Lord of hosts!
My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord:
my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God."
Every man can begin now to gain spirituality. We can begin now to think God's thoughts and refuse to think evil thoughts. The problem of our salvation is worked out in the realm of our own consciousness. No man is so darkened mentally, no man is in an environment so unfavorable but what he can make a beginning in right thinking, and refuse wrong thinking. God has given to every man power to control his own mentality. We must arouse ourselves to exercise this control. Spiritual freedom, the freedom which comes through proving the ever-presence of divine Love, is for all men, and all men can and will realize their consciousness of this freedom. If your burden seem heavy and the conditions about you forbidding, take courage. Remember that the great Master came to this earth not to relieve us of our responsibilities or do our work for us; but to show us that, through the power of God, man can rise superior to all the ills of mortality. He overcame them. You and I can do likewise. Only be not fearful. Divine Love, all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful, is forever ready to heal you and to receive you "clothed with the wedding garment of righteousness," into the Father's house of many mansions.
[Delivered Nov. 21, 1920, at the Glove Theatre and published in The Morning Herald of Gloversville, New York, Nov. 22, 1920.]