Christian Science: The Joy of Living by Divine Authority
John D. Pickett, C.S., of Chicago, Illinois
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
In Proverbs we read (29:2), "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice."
The fast-changing events of today's world seem to point to the great need of all mankind for an authority under which they can live, work, and rejoice in righteous security; an authority that can lead them to freedom from fear, sin, sickness, and want. The inevitable appeal of Christian Science is that it reveals such an authority to be right at hand and within the reach of all.
There are many human authorities with which we are familiar such as tax authorities or highway authorities whose purpose is to bring order and harmony to those areas within their jurisdiction. But there is one authority that is supreme over all, that brings to us the joy and security that nothing can take away, and that is the divine authority that comes from God.
It may be helpful to know that by authority we mean a lawful or rightful power, which gives one the right to command, to act, and to exercise the power bestowed on him by virtue of his office or trust. By divine we mean all that pertains to God or proceeds from God. It is this divine authority that is ours to exercise as we learn to understand the allness of God's presence which carries irresistible power.
The purpose of this lecture, as of all Christian Science lectures as provided for by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, is that we, through this Science, may rejoice, be uplifted and healed of our ills and our discontent by the power of this divine authority. In our textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mrs, Eddy writes (p. 76): "Suffering, sinning, dying beliefs are unreal. When divine Science is universally understood, they will have no power over man, for man is immortal and lives by divine authority."
Christian Science: the Holy Comforter
Wherever we may be we can rejoice in the security which comes with knowing that man lives by divine authority. Whether in school, on the campus, in the home, in the fields of business or world affairs, or in the contemplative activities of advancing years, we can know and prove through Christian Science that right there is God's presence to guide us. Christian Science reveals God's will for everlasting joy to all of His children. Christian Science is the law of God, the law of good, the Comforter promised by Christ Jesus. It both interprets and demonstrates the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony which gives man the divine authority to command, to act, to joyously exercise God's universal power.
Christian Science is universal in nature. Therefore no one can be separated from the rightness and joy of its divine action because of race, color, nationality. As is true of the principle of chemistry or mathematics, no one is barred from exercising or benefiting from the infinite power of its divine Principle, God. Christian Science brings the holiness and purification of thought that spiritualizes human consciousness and lifts it to the revelation that God is divine Love; that we are His children and can know, obey, and love Him as our Father-Mother, God.
The healing power of Christian Science brings to human consciousness vastly more than is first seen. It reverses the world's false concept of man as mortal and material. It breaks asunder the bondage of one's consciousness to error or unenlightened thinking. It destroys the belief that the true consciousness of man is imprisoned in a temporal, physical body. Instead it reveals the true man and his God-reflecting thought to be in eternal unity with God and expressing as God's perfect reflection dominion over all of God's spiritual ideas, including His spiritual universe.
God's Allness the Basis of Man's Authority
Christian Science reveals God as Truth. Truth is a synonym for God used by the Bible, by our Master, Christ Jesus, and by Christian Science. God being infinite, Truth, which is God, must also be infinite. Infinite means without limit in capacity, knowledge, excellence, and power. God, revealing Himself as Truth to spiritual consciousness, must be expressed as transcending in authority and power the seeming threats of pain, sin, sickness, and inadequacy, which are the source of our fears and discontent. It is the Truth which is God that when accepted and expressed in spiritualized consciousness brings to mankind the joy of living by divine authority. Spirit, God, is the source of true consciousness, and therefore real consciousness must of necessity be spiritual consciousness. Joy is a quality of God, and therefore joy to be effective and eternal must be spiritual and carry the divine authority of Spirit, God. It is this effective, eternal, spiritual joy that our Master called his joy solely through the Christ, or the spiritual idea of God, which he understood and demonstrated. Therefore he was wise, enough, humble enough, and good enough to subjugate the human entirely to the divine.
Life is a synonym for God. Because there is only one God, there is only one Life, and man, who expresses God, expresses this one divine, eternal Life.
Life, being God, is infinite and therefore is without limit in capacity, knowledge, excellence, and power. This one Life that has unlimited intelligence Christian Science reveals to us as divine Mind. It is inspiring and assuring to know that the capacity, knowledge, and the power of true intelligence for which mankind is searching is found in the understanding of the divine Mind, God, and therefore whatever may be the problem, or whatever the seeming heaviness of one's burden, it vanishes as we lift our thoughts to the reflected truth of the divine Mind, God; the same truth which clothed the words and works of our Master, Christ Jesus, with divine authority.
Man Lives by Divine Authority
The world's unrest may haunt us in its blind, relentless search for an authority which can free it from warfare, racial prejudice, incurable disease, and mental ills, but our Leader, the great champion of righteous government, states (Science and Health, p. 544): "Matter cannot change the eternal fact that man exists because God exists." Righteous authority implies control and obedience, and our textbook assures us with these words (p. 544): "All is under the control of the one Mind, even God." If God, Mind, is All-in-all and the only control of man, let us ask ourselves this question: "Why does man believe that the physical body controls him?" The answer in Christian Science is that it is unreal mortal man, the counterfeit of the real man who is the likeness of God, that believes he lives and moves and has his being in a physical body and is subject to that body. But a temporal mortal has no real, eternal existence. Mortal man exists only as a suppositional mortal image of a suppositional mortal mind. Christian Science shows us how to put off this unreal concept called a mortal and put on the true concept of the ideal man made in the image of Mind. Mrs. Eddy calls this true man, or this man of Truth, "Mind's idea." Because all of God's ideas are eternal, that is live forever, man who is God's image and reflects these ideas must live forever.
Mortals generally are quick to think of created things as having physical bodies or as taking the form of material objects. Why? Because as is readily apparent, the unreal five physical senses of mortals can only see, feel, taste, hear, or smell material objects. Physical sense is completely in the dark about the images of Mind. Human thought is today changing its concept of matter. But Christian Science alone reveals the true nature of man and the universe as being the spiritual idea of the divine Mind, God. How far removed from mortals is the true spiritual man who is eternally correlated with his Maker, and expresses the authority of the divine Mind, God. Mrs. Eddy writes (Science and Health, p. 276): "Man and his Maker are correlated in divine Science, and real consciousness is cognizant only of the things of God."
Christians abhor the worship of idols. But one may worship an image in consciousness as well as an external image of stone, wood, or metal. Mental images are often more of an obstruction to one's journey Spiritward than graven images. For it is in mortal thought that the countless images of fear, sin, and sickness first find place and power. But Christian Science reveals to us that man lives by divine authority, and he has divine authority to reject the images of pain and sickness often deeply graven on mortal consciousness and which rob us of our joy.
Our Master's Authority
Our Master, Christ Jesus, was a man under divine authority. He spoke with authority, he healed with divine authority, he met and mastered every adverse condition with authority. He repeatedly told his disciples that his was not a personal power, but the power of God. When Jesus said (John 5:30), "I can of mine own self do nothing," he was not accepting a suggestion of inferiority or self-depreciation. He was, with true humility, acknowledging the supremacy of divine power. He knew that his so-called human self, apart from divine authority, was helpless; that he could not do the works of healing and regeneration without divine aid. He knew and proved that his mighty works were wrought on the side of all the power there is, the only power there is — the power of God. He proved the healing power of God's purpose for man, and the people rejoiced in his works. The Bible (the King James Version used by Christian Scientists) tells us that they were astonished by Jesus' teachings because "he taught them as one that had authority" and not as the scribes.
Jesus taught his followers that the same Christ-power which he exercised is universally available for all mankind to use through spiritually enlightened consciousness, and he showed his followers how to exercise this healing authority. The Bible records an occasion when Jesus sent seventy of his followers into surrounding cities clothed with the spiritual authority of the Christ to heal the sick and bring peace and good will to men. It concludes (Luke 10:17): "And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name."
Christ Jesus the Messiah
Christian Science, whose teachings are in accord with the Bible, demonstrates the same divine Principle upon which the words and works of Christ Jesus were based. It reveals the distinction between Jesus and the Christ. The understanding of the power and universal nature of the Christ enables every sincere seeker of Truth to experience the joyous rewards that come through living by the divine authority with which Jesus lived. Christian Science teaches, as does the Bible, that Jesus was the man whom God sent to enlighten humanity and to bring joy to the darkened thought of worldly mortals. The Christ was both his divine nature and the source of his divine authority. Because of the virgin birth and his coming as the promised Messiah, Christ Jesus holds a unique place among men. His mission was to reveal to all men their Christ nature and the joy and authority which comes from living in obedience to man's divine sonship. His religion was simple but sublime, his power exalted but available for the needs of all mankind, whose ills and sorrow he healed through divine Love.
Mrs. Eddy's Discovery
Until Mrs. Eddy's discovery of Christian Science the world had no divine rules for establishing a righteous authority based on divine Principle by which mankind could rejoice in the healing Christ. Until Christian Science was founded by its Discoverer there existed no spiritual rules by which one could defend himself from the sorrow, pain, and sickness of evil. Few who truly know Jesus and the basis of his healing works question the fact that the great Master of Christianity knew the scientific healing rules of this divine Principle. His marvelous works proved the authority of Christianity's truth and love which he taught and demonstrated.
But so dark was mortal thought that Christ Jesus could only talk to mortals in parables or in the simple terms of their own age. Through healing sin, sickness, and death he showed them that which their spiritually dull ears could not understandingly hear, that the healing truths he taught were based on a scientific Principle which is demonstrable. He promised his followers (John 14:17, 26) that God would give them a Comforter — "the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him"; and he added, "The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." Jesus discerned through his divine nature what human consciousness could at that time neither see nor grasp, the eternal Principle of his healing works. He taught that this Principle always has existed, exists now, and always will exist. It is the same Principle that Jesus demonstrated, that Mrs. Eddy discovered and has given to all mankind. And this Principle is Love.
Electricity, when used in modern electrical appliances brings comfort, light, and diversion. Because of its practical nature, the use of electricity is steadily increasing. In like manner, but on a spiritual basis, is quietly going on the irresistible advance of Christian Science. The spiritual power of Christian Science brings healing; its redemptive power brings spiritual strength, and its ethics is helping to bring righteous government to the world. Christian Science is freeing mortals from the control and fear of evil. It impels human thought to rise out of matter and its limitations and in the power of Truth find the permanent joys of Spirit which bring salvation from sin, disease, and death.
Mrs. Eddy's discovery of Christian Science is bringing salvation to mankind. Christian Science brings the realization of the unreality of matter and the allness of Spirit, God. Mortals in times past believed and many today believe that salvation from the bondage of material life takes place in some future time after the experience called death. But today, because of Christian Science, salvation is being placed on a practical, operative spiritual basis. Mankind, because of Christian Science, have an incentive for resisting evil's claims and saving themselves from the pains of sin, disease, and death. Because of Christian Science you and I can apply the divine Principle of all goodness and experience its power of salvation to save us from the fears, suffering, and discontent of mortal, material existence. Christian Science teaches that we have only to avail ourselves of God's ever-present authority to receive His joy and His blessing, which enables us to work out our own salvation now.
Mrs. Eddy's Life
Mrs. Eddy's life is an example of the power of divine Love to destroy the obstructions and ills of mortal life and to bring to us the spiritual joy of living under the divine authority of our Christ nature. Mrs. Eddy lived the first half of her life in a state of invalidism, with problems and sorrows that seemed insurmountable and which few are called upon to face. But throughout her trials she held to her love of true Christianity with an abiding conviction that God's nature was one of healing Love.
Mrs. Eddy's parents were deeply religious. They came from pioneer families in New England who came to America in search of religious freedom, and who had a righteous respect for true law and government. Her brother Albert graduated from Dartmouth College in 1834 and for several years was an attorney in the office at Franklin Pierce, afterwards President of the United States. Mrs. Eddy was well read, as her writings evidence. But the true urge in her life was to find the healing power of God's love. She had proved when twelve years of age that prayer heals when thought carries the conviction of the healing power of divine Love. Her mother and an attending physician were witnesses to her healing herself of a severe fever through prayer. She writes in her autobiography (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 13): "Mother saw this, and was glad. The physician marvelled."
It was in the later years of her life, after twenty years of research in trying to trace all physical effects to a mental cause, that her great revelation came. Her friends and a physician in an adjoining room were awaiting her death from an accident they thought fatal. In this dark hour she opened her Bible to Matthew's account of Jesus' healing of the palsied man. As she read, she glimpsed the divine Principle of our Master's healing power. She dressed, and her friends and physician were startled as she entered into their presence, healed. She spent three years searching the Scriptures for the rules and laws of the divine Principle by which she had been healed so that she might give them to all mankind. That her search was scientific and thorough is shown by the fact that it was nine years before she was ready to present to the world the textbook of Christian Science now known as "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures."
After her discovery of Christian Science Mrs. Eddy proved that all of the ills and problems of mortal life can be healed though the divine authority of the healing Christ. Her life was changed from one of invalidism to one of spiritual strength, dominion, leadership, and foresight. She established a church that is encircling the globe and teaching mankind the Principle of Christian healing. Mrs. Eddy had proved in her own life the healing joy and dominion that comes to one who lives by divine authority.
The Manual of The Mother Church was written by Mrs. Eddy. Of its By-Laws she tells us (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 148): "They were impelled by a power not one's own, were written at different dates, and as the occasion required." They reveal the blessing that comes to the world when men seek to live by divine authority as did our Master, Christ Jesus, and our Leader.
To the student this Manual is a guide for living. It reveals to him the laws and love of God that will bring to him the very same divine guidance that impels the progress of The Mother Church and that guided Mrs. Eddy. Each of its By-Laws, she tells us, came directly from God. They were her guide. They, too, can be our guide. They enabled her to establish a righteous authority by which mankind can be saved from sickness, sin, and death. Where else can we look except to the Science which the Church of Christ, Scientist, presents if we are to truly obey our Master's command to his followers (Luke 10:9) to "heal the sick ... and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you"?
It is sometimes heard said that Christian Scientists place over-emphasis on physical healing. But healing is what our great Master himself designated as the "signs" that "shall follow them that believe." In answer to John's messengers who came to ascertain if he was truly the Messiah, Christ Jesus replied (Matt. 11:4, 5): "Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up; and the poor have the gospel preached to them."
Jesus' words unmistakably implied that he considered spiritual healing by far more important than the letter of Christianity. Why? Ask any one of those Christian Scientists who have dedicated their lives to God and the Cause of Christian Science in holy, Christian service acceptable unto God. They feel they owe their life to God's love and its healing Principle. Here is one answer — part of a telegram sent to Mrs. Eddy by her Church where the five thousand members present rose as one to indicate their approval (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 36): "Beloved Teacher and Leader: — The members of your church have assembled at this sacred time to commune with our infinite heavenly Father and again to consecrate all that we are or hope to be to a holy Christian service that shall be acceptable unto God.
"Most of us are here because we have been delivered from beds of sickness or withheld from open graves or reclaimed from vice or redeemed from obdurate sin. We have exchanged the tears of sorrow for the joy of repentance and the peace of a more righteous living, and now with blessed accord we are come, in humility, to pour out our gratitude to God and to bear witness to the abundance of salvation through His divine Christ."
This telegram is evidence of the redemptive power of Christian healing. These five thousand loyal members are some among many devoted servants of our Cause that stand before the throne of God and serve Him day and night as foretold by the Revelator (Rev. 7:14), "which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Our textbook (Science and Health, p. 590) defines "Lamb of God" as "The spiritual idea of Love; self-immolation; innocence and purity; sacrifice." The power of Christian healing is irresistible in its current running heavenward.
Evil Has No Authority
The question is often asked: "If God created only good, why does evil appear so real? Where does it originate?" Mrs. Eddy writes (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 346): "To this question Christian Science replies: Evil never did exist as an entity. It is but a belief that there is an opposite intelligence to God. This belief is a species of idolatry, and is not more true or real than that an image graven on wood or stone is God."
We can rejoice that whatever its claim to reality may be, or whatever its unreal form may assume, evil wields no true authority. But God has given those who love and obey Him divine authority with which to resist error, to reject error and vanquish error. But we have no authority for sampling error, for indulging in error, nor for becoming a slave to error. And because of our Master's mission and our Leader's consecrated life as a devoted follower of the Christ, we have Christian Science with which we can put to flight every one of error's false, sickly, painful claims. Mrs. Eddy knew that in human life Spirit and matter, good and evil, seem to grapple as error struggles against the uplifting power of divine authority. But she tells us we can rejoice in the impotence of evil and the omnipotence of good, the all-power of divine Love.
Spiritually enlightened thought does not treat evil or pity evil but destroys evil as the morning light destroys the darkness of the night. The dawn of the Christ and the glory of its healing power have been amply tested by our Way-shower, Christ Jesus, and the works of our beloved Leader show our Master's power is still present today as then. Today Christian Science is liberating mankind from the forces of evil that seem so prevalent in the world. It is bringing healing and the joy of the holy comforting power of divine Love to mankind.
Christian Science Treatment Is the Prayer of Authority
It has been said that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. Whether in business activities, world affairs, or the contemplative activities of advancing years, the consecrated moments we spend each day in lifting thought above worldly attraction into humble contemplation of God's allness increase our spiritual capacity and in the sublime strains of scientific prayer contribute realistically to the safety of the world. What is the healing prayer of Christian Science? It is the affirmation of the presence and power of God. It is a denial of any seeming power of evil to oppose the allness of the power of good. But, even more, it is the spiritual conviction of God's presence that manifests the divine authority of spiritual law.
Our Leader's words (Science and Health, p. 192), "Whatever holds human thought in line with unselfed love, receives directly the divine power," give us an understandable view of the practical operation of the healing, effective prayer used in the treatment of disease and sin in Christian Science. The alterative effect of Truth upon error and its redemptive power upon human consciousness is incalculable.
Most mortals are only feebly aware of the power of one's thought when in selfless humility it yields to Mind's divine authority. James writes (James 5:16), "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." And in Ecclesiastes (9:15-18) we are told of a "poor wise man" who "by his wisdom delivered the city" from a great aggressive force. Then summing up the power of thought enlightened by effectual prayer the Bible concludes: "The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of him that ruleth. . . . Wisdom is better than weapons of war." We can never remind ourselves too often that all true ideas come from God and being under His divine authority are effective in fulfilling their holy healing purpose.
Christian Science treatment is the same effectual fervent prayer which delivers mankind from sickness in the same manner as the words of the wise man delivered the city. Christian Science healing is the scientific proof of divine authority which our Master, Christ Jesus, said shall follow them that believe. And the mission of Christian Science is to bring to mankind the divine authority to obey and fulfill our Master's command to all true Christians (Matt. 10:8): "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils."
Prayer of Truth Destroys Pain
The suffering and anguish of pain multiplied by mortals' incomprehensible fear of what its hidden evil message may seem to mean has no power to defy divine Love's control of man, nor obstruct the onrush of the healing power of Truth. In Christian Science treatment the divine authority of prayer destroys pain.
Pain would, if it could, sentence men to prolonged suffering. But because the author of pain is what our Master termed the devil or evil, we know its voice is inarticulate. A Christian Science treatment expresses the conviction based on spiritual understanding that error never had and never will have a function, a power, a law, a true activity by which it can propagate itself. In holy reverence for God's unfailing love, we can silently declare that pain has no authority, no divine law to enforce it; that pain, like physical force, is dissipated by the supreme but gentle energies of Spirit. Science bestows divine authority to separate pain and its correlated suppositional message of fear from reality. Evil has not the power to build itself up nor magnify itself. Does not our Leader tell us (Science and Health, p. 124), "Adhesion, cohesion, and attraction are properties of Mind"? Pain and suffering are unknown to God, and they yield to the conviction of Love's eternal harmony. We can rejoice that pain vanishes in the light of spiritual understanding.
The Joy of Living Under Divine Authority
There is joy in living under the true authority of divine Love even though we do not as yet fully understand God's loving purpose for man. Each of us can surrender, as did our Master, to the Father's will. As a child obeys its father and mother, not fully understanding but recognizing and trusting their authority, so can we surrender to Love's will. A child obeys with inward peace and joy the authority of its parents, even though to outward sense it resists the edict of its parents' love. And years later the same child, now grown to a mature adult, acknowledges the security this authority gave him when a child. Christian Science brings to the home the joy and control of divine Love's authority.
Mrs. Eddy provided the Christian Science Sunday School so that the child can, step by step, grow in the stature of his Christ nature. Thereby he learns with true intelligence how to resist error and reject the enslaving traits of rebellious mortal selfhood. The child learns what constitutes the real true joyous activities of life. Because his security rests on an intelligent understanding of divine Love, he is assured of a satisfying relationship of true friendliness with his associates. Through the Christian Science Sunday School he learns the joy and dominion that come with living by divine authority.
Highways of Freedom
Many motorists find the pleasure of safe, unobstructed driving on today's turnpikes. They are under the control of what are called Turnpike Authorities. We all know why these modern highways are provided for our use. It is so we do not have to travel on the winding, obstructing, obsolete roads of yesterday. When using these modern highways, we are under the regulation of the Turnpike Authorities.
God has provided spiritual highways for our journey heavenward. The Bible says (Ps. 16: 11), "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."
Let us review briefly some of the paths of Christian Science we have considered. We have seen that to live by divine authority is to follow in the steps of our Master, Christ Jesus, who said (John 14:6), "I am the way, the truth, and the life." We have seen that Christian Science is the promised Comforter that brings security, health, and joy to those who truly seek to travel the spiritual highway of our God. We have seen that Christian Science is the way of life wherein the righteous are in true authority and the people can truly rejoice. We have seen that on this highway Christian Science gives us the divine authority to resist and destroy the false claims of sin, sickness, and all obstructing error. It is here that we are crowned with the everlasting joy of Spirit. It is the highway known to God but secret from the world. Hereon, in the spirit of love, apart from matter but ever with God, the real man lives in the joy of His divine authority. Christian Science says, in Biblical terms (Isa. 30:21), "This is the way, walk ye in it."