Christian Science: Salvation for Humanity (1)
William Wallace Porter, C.S.B., of New York, New York
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
William W. Porter, C.S.B., New York City, a member of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship, delivered a lecture on Christian Science, entitled "Christian Science:
Salvation for Humanity," last evening under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass., in the church edifice, Falmouth, Norway and St. Paul streets. The lecturer was introduced by Bliss Knapp, C.S.B., First Reader in The Mother Church, who said:
Whatever inspires one to any righteous act or achievement must itself have been inspired. Christian Science has inspired its adherents with a more intimate sense of God's nearness and loving presence. It has inspired them with the knowledge that God is indeed a very present help in trouble. It has inspired them with a deep insight into the realm of the real, an inspiration which moves them to Christian works. Christian Science has inspired its adherents to bring the consent of all their faculties to work for the solution of that greatest of all problems - the problem of salvation. Since that which inspires must itself be inspired, men and women have sought eagerly to know more about Christian Science. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, has declared that it is a "deific law that supply invariably meets demand" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 45:16) and she has supplied the need of more information about Christian Science by establishing a Board of Lectureship to speak on this infinite subject.
We have with us this evening a member of the Board of Lectureship of this Church, and it gives me great pleasure to present to you, Mr. William W. Porter, C.S.B., of New York City, who will now address you.
The lecturer spoke as follows:
The message which Christian Science brings to the world today is the same old message which came to the world away back on Mount Sinai, the same message which came to the watchful and waiting shepherds as they guarded their thoughts when the star of Bethlehem swung in the blue dome above Judea - the message of love and reconciliation.
What the world needs more than anything else to solve its many difficult and perplexing problems is to understand better the meaning of love; not to understand better or to be reconciled to a little, limited and selfish sense which is miscalled love and which tries to cover error in order to prevent the correction of wrong thinking and wrong acting, not to understand better or to be reconciled to a mere emotional sentiment which cries peace, peace, when there is no basis in the consciousness of men whereon an enduring peace may be built.
Christian Science brings and declares to the world that great underlying Father-Mother Love which we call God, and which is seen shining brightly all down through the ages upholding, strengthening, encouraging thought in the achievement of good. We see this great light burning brightly in the Ten Commandments, again in the Sermon on the Mount, and still again in the spiritual understanding, or spiritual interpretation, of the Lord's Prayer, which heals the sick.
Christian Science is a theme which is infinite in its nature; and being infinite in its nature, I shall not attempt to tell you all about Christian Science during the brief period of a lecture. Instead I shall try to tell you something about one of the phases of this Science, which may be called Salvation for Humanity. When referring to salvation in this connection, let it be understood that we are not referring to salvation in the abstract, or to a salvation which is to be experienced in an hereafter state; the salvation which Christian Science declares is a direct, a specific, an individual, an immediate salvation which comes to you and to me and which begins to operate in our behalf with respect to our particular needs just where Christian Science finds us, no matter where that need may be. I would not pause long or travel far to consider or discuss salvation as a mere dogma of belief, because that sort of salvation means nothing at all. I would, however, gladly travel many miles of difficult journeying if by so doing I might be able to show, through the impulsion of some grace of understanding, that salvation or deliverance from evil conditions is the direct and specific effect of Christian Science in the experience of the individual.
A Christian Science lecture is not designed to be either sensational, emotional or controversial. The world has heard altogether too much about religious controversies. Christian Science does not bring a controversy. Christian Science presents that which is fundamental in its nature; that which, because it is fundamental, is self-evident, or convincing, by and of itself. There is nothing more sensational about Christian Science than there is about the multiplication table, - and while that is quite a marvelous thing in its way, no one will say that it is alarmingly sensational.
Now, one would not think of arraying his beliefs, whatever those beliefs may be, - ecclesiastical, political, medical or otherwise, - against the understanding which he has gained of the science of numbers through the use of the multiplication table. Likewise, one ought not to array his beliefs, whatever those beliefs may be, against the understanding and operation of the Science of being which is revealed through Christian Science.
The understanding of the science of numbers which has been gained through the use of the multiplication table is a very convenient understanding to have available when one is confronted with a mathematical problem. In like manner the understanding of the Science of being revealed by Christian Science is a very convenient understanding, - a most comfortable and comforting understanding to have available when one is confronted with any of the various phases of mortal discord manifested as sin, sickness, failure, grief or death. The difficulty with not a few people, when it comes to the subject of religion, is that they want some one to do their thinking for them.
William Perm has written: "It is a sad fact that many men have no religion at all, and that most men have no religion of their own, for that which is the religion of a man's education and not of his judgment, is the religion of another and not his own."
The presentation of Christian Science today, as throughout its history, is strengthened by the fact that no person is expected to accept any part of this Science of salvation otherwise than as it appeals to thought through the unimpeachable logic of reason and revelation; and let it here be recognized that revelation itself is that orderly process of understanding in which thought is led out of the dim chambers of a mystical, uncertain existence into the mount of transfiguration, - into that realm of clear mental atmosphere where the nature of true being appears.
Salvation, as defined by the dictionary, is deliverance; escape from bondage to evil conditions. Human experience shows that every person in the world is seeking salvation, or deliverance, from some form of discord, - sin, sickness, idleness, evil habits, failure, discouragement, death. It is an incontestable fact, witnessed by the testimonies of an unnumbered host of children, women and men throughout the world who have been healed and regenerated through the ministrations of Christian Science, that this Science is actually bringing into daily life salvation, or deliverance, from these evil conditions as rapidly as human thought can be educated to see and understand that these evil conditions are without either Principle or Truth to support them; and being without either Principle or Truth to support them there is neither Principle nor Truth in them. This is the simple premise and conclusion of Christian Science, and its Christian logic is incontestable.
Mary Baker Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science and the author of its textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." The healing of Mrs. Eddy in the year 1866; from what physicians had told her was an incurable illness, the result of an injury, marks the discovery of Christian Science. Mrs. Eddy's healing took place in a marvelous manner. On a memorable Sunday morning, in the year 1866, Mrs. Eddy was confined to a bed of suffering. A number of her friends had gathered in her home, there awaiting in fear the news of her passing, so precarious was her condition deemed to be. For a long time Mrs. Eddy had been studying the Scriptures, diligently searching them with particular reference to the many instances of healing recorded throughout the pages of this wonderful book. She marveled that the spiritual power, so clearly manifested in these instances of healing, should have passed out of the experience of men.
On this particular occasion she was pondering this great theme. As her thought dwelt upon the subject, she arose from her bed, garbed herself and appeared in the adjoining room before the friends there assembled, - a healed and well woman. With this experience there came a deep and strong desire to know the Science which had wrought her healing in order that she might bring this understanding to those who suffered. Then followed a period of consecrated study, and the writing down in an orderly manner of the logical conclusions which sprang from these unusual experiences. These conclusions, together with the premises of Christian Science and rules for its practice, can be found in all of the pages of Mrs. Eddy's writings, but more especially in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. "
The world is beginning to see, - and those who have believed themselves to be the enemies of Christian Science are beginning to see, - that Mrs. Eddy did not build the structure of Christian Science with "untempered mortar"; that is, on the basis of a human personality. Indeed, one of the most far-reaching effects of her teaching is to turn the thought of her followers away from her personality toward the contemplation and understanding of God and His idea. When human thought shall have been removed from her immediate day, and when the history of Christian Science shall have been written down by the unerring and unprejudiced finger of eternal truth, it will be seen that Mrs. Eddy did not become the Leader of the Christian Science movement because she was personally ambitious to become a leader - Mrs. Eddy became the Leader of this great movement because she was able to demonstrate love and obedience; because she was able to demonstrate a clear understanding of the great Father-Mother Love which we call God; and because she was able to demonstrate thought which was always steadfast, ready and waiting to be obedient to this great Love.
Sometimes it is said that Christian Scientists worship Mrs. Eddy. This is entirely without foundation. Christian Scientists do not worship Mrs. Eddy. Christian Scientists are trying to worship God in spirit and in truth as the Scriptures declare that God must be worshiped: and the degree in which Christian Scientists are succeeding in worshiping God in truth will be seen in the effect of this worship upon their own lives and upon the lives of those about them. No, Christian Scientists do not worship Mrs. Eddy; but it may be added here with all earnest emphasis of thought that Christian Scientists are profoundly grateful to Mrs. Eddy. They are grateful for the larger idea of life and health, of success, of joy and peace, which has come into their lives as a result of the teachings of this remarkable woman.
Mrs. Eddy gave to her discovery a name, - fortunately, - the name Christian Science, and this name will forever distinguish and always identity the discovery and the Discoverer.
In this connection all may agree in the statement that had the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth been identified by a distinguishing name, and had this identity been maintained in its integrity and vitality down through the ages instead of being scattered through several thousand different sects and beliefs, the world we live in would know much less than it does today about sin, sickness and death. History, however, records no identifying or distinguishing name given either by Jesus or by his followers to those teachings. It is true that human thought evolved from Jewish theology and pagan mythology a form of religion which took the name of Christ; but this religion, thus formed, could not demonstrate the spiritual understanding necessary to heal the sick. In consequence of this the healing work began to disappear from the early church.
Let there be no mistake about this: It was the healing work which distinguished Jesus' teachings from all other religious systems of his day. Indeed, one has but to read the Scriptures briefly to see quickly that the major portion of Jesus' ministry was actually devoted to the healing of the sick. When, therefore, the healing work began to disappear from the early church in about the third century after Jesus, we are compelled to admit, whether we like to or not, that that which distinguished the teachings of Jesus from all other systems of this day, - the essence and vitality of those teachings, - began to disappear at the same time. It was then that dogmatic religion, or dogma and belief, began to take the place of demonstration. And when dogma or belief begin to take the place of understanding and demonstration, it is only a question of time until unbelief, skepticism, atheism and agnosticism begin to ask: Where is thy God?
One of the first effects of Christian Science is to remove completely any and every vestige of atheism and agnosticism. The agnostic frankly says: I do not know; therefore, I do not believe. Christian Science reveals what the nature and character of Deity, or God, is in an acceptable and wholly satisfying light. When that idea is present in individual consciousness which reveals the nature and character of God in an acceptable and wholly satisfying light, then ignorance, which is the basis of atheism and agnosticism, is removed, and when ignorance is removed agnosticism and atheism naturally disappear.
Truly if men are to believe in God, God must be revealed to men to be something other than a mystery. God must be revealed to the understanding. The Scriptures declare that "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." (John 1:18.) God can be revealed only by and through the spiritual idea. And when we refer to this term, spiritual, it is not with the sense of something supernatural or unknowable; when we use the term, spiritual, we mean, the true. Therefore God can be revealed only by and through the spiritual or true idea which unfolds in individual thought the understanding of the nature and character of Deity, or God. And God can be revealed in no other manner, - save to the understanding. God, to be what we mean when we think or say God, must, we can all agree, be infinite intelligence, or infinite Mind. Christian Science affirms and proves that the solution of every human problem is found in the divine Mind, or God. This is entirely reasonable. God is infinitely intelligent, therefore the solution for every human problem is to be found in the divine Mind, or God. Because the solution for every problem is found in the divine Mind, or God, we must recognize the nature of this Mind to be identical with the nature of infinite Love; because nothing but infinite Love could so contrive that one may straightway begin to understand where the solution for his problem is to be found. And it is well to recognize that one who knows where the solution for his problem is to be found is already well on his way toward the attainment of that solution.
The spiritual, or true idea of being, entering the consciousness of men through the gateway of Christian Science, forms and reforms human thought until, through this evangelization of thought or clearing of the mental atmosphere, thought begins truly to reflect the nature of the divine Mind. This is salvation for humanity: that thought shall begin truly to reflect the nature of divinity. And surely no one may be criticized because of the desire that his thought shall become Godlike, or like God.
Having come thus far upon our journey, we may now together take one of those final steps which Christian Science is continually urging upon thought: we may see, understand and agree that as the spiritual or the true idea of being enters into the individual consciousness it moves upon and influences the thought of all mankind alike, - very much as when the idea or understanding of two times three enters the consciousness of men it influences the thought of all mankind alike in the demonstrating of six. Thus, as the true idea of being enters the consciousness of men, it influences the thought of all mankind alike, - always in the direction of good.
One may say that this sounds all very nice, but that it relates to the absolute or perfect state of man which cannot be revealed or known until some future time and in some future unknown hereafter. Herein is a grievous error. Would an intelligent parent send his child to be taught mathematics by a teacher who, while he taught the child that two times three make the absolute and perfect six, cautioned him that the demonstration of this exact and perfect six could only be attained at some future time and in some future unknown hereafter? One would hardly wish to have his child taught mathematics upon any such erroneous basis of thought.
After a moment's careful consideration of the subject, one ought not to permit his own thought further to be influenced erroneously by a similar argument concerning the Science of being. Certainly there is nothing more important that can enter consciousness than some idea which unfolds the nature of the absolute or perfect man. All mankind have learned enough, - and too much, - concerning the imperfect man. Is it not time that mankind began to learn something about the real man, - or God's man, - the man who by nature has dominion over every misleading belief? Christian Science makes clear that we shall gain the understanding of the real man through the process of right thinking, - thought impelled by the divine Mind, or God.
Mankind possesses a distinguishing characteristic in the ability to think, and to think rightly. The ability to think at all involves the ability to think rightly. And just here begins the process of salvation; for right thinking and salvation amount to the same thing, - deliverance from evil conditions.
In our thinking about the so-called material man, however, it is not particularly necessary to consider whether or not the so-called material man sprang from protoplasm or from monkeys. That, after all, matters very little except that it confuses thought, as was the case with the man who fell asleep and dreamed that he was protoplasm - like many others have done before him. When he awoke from his dream he became puzzled about it all and wondered if in reality he might not be protoplasm and only dreaming that he was man, - like many have done before him. The Christian Scientist wastes very little time in considering the material things of the universe or the material theory of man. The trouble with the material theory is that it never seems to bring one anywhere in a definite, conclusive way. The really important thing for us to know is not whence sprang the so-called material man, - for whatever his source or origin some folks insist that he did not spring very far, - but to know something about the perfect man, the image or idea of infinite Mind, who reflects the nature of divinity.
Whence comes the distinguishing ability to think and to think rightly? Obviously it is Mind that is responsible for the ability to think, because, thought is a property or quality of Mind. Should one feel, however, that it is what is called the human mind which is responsible for the ability to think, try to bestow this capacity to think rightly upon some piece of your handiwork. Where will it be placed? And when it is decided where to place this ability to think, how will one go about it to make it think? Of old it was Job who pondered: "Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?" (Job 38:36.) That which is responsible for the ability to think and to think rightly so far transcends the little, limited human mind that we are compelled to recognize its nature to be the nature of the infinite Mind and divine Love, and nothing else, - the same Father-Mother Love which shines all through the ages and which is called God.
We look out into the universe and there behold the worlds in space performing their astounding, amazing revolutions. Going out for hundreds of years and returning to the starting point with scarcely the variation of a single second, they demonstrate a regularity, precision and goodly activity altogether incomprehensible to the human mind. Then, grazing each other in a kindly, companionable sort of way, they are out again through their stupendous orbits, never coming into headlong collision, never experiencing epidemics of disease, never finding it necessary to be thoroughly fumigated or medicated in order to continue their orderly progression.
This regularity, precision and goodly activity may be looked upon as an object lesson indicating just a glimpse, at least, of the existence of a governing intelligence and love which transcends the limitations of the human mind. Men, generally, are agreed in attributing this remarkable demonstration of order and harmonious continuity to an intelligence, or Mind, which they call God. It should be recognized just here that while these worlds in space perform their functions with such orderly precision, goodly activity and harmonious continuity, they are no less material than is the human body or are human business affairs; or, to state it in a different way, they are no more spiritual than is the human body or are human business affairs. A very pertinent question propounds itself here to the thinker: If it be true, as it is, that these worlds in space are no less material than is my human body, no less material than are my human business affairs, and yet they manifest such order, precision and harmonious continuity, then why is it that my human body and my human business affairs do not manifest more of this goodly activity and harmonious continuity exhibited by the worlds in space? This is a highly important question, and the answer, in the light of Christian Science, is simple and clear: No one has ever thought of relating laws of sickness, failure, bankruptcy, death or disintegration with the worlds in space. With respect to the human body and human business affairs, however, mortal mind, that which Jesus said is a "murderer from the beginning," - that state of consciousness into which mankind are born and which, except for the teachings of Christian Science, influences the thought and action of the human race, - has never ceased from the cradle to the grave to influence mankind adversely to their highest good by its so-called laws of sickness, failure, disintegration and death. Thus it would seem that mankind are held, unwittingly on their part, at the mercy of this false consciousness. Perhaps, one may have come to the point where he begins to see that all of the discord, sickness and sin which attend human experience are due to the influence or suggestion of this mortal mind. And this, in effect, is what seems to be true. The outlook would indeed be one of unending grief and distress were there no definite way leading out of such a hopeless wilderness of belief. Just here one may begin to glimpse the tremendous import of Christian Science to the race, when it is understood that it is the daily mission of Christian Science actually to lift the thought of children, women and men out of its entangled alliance with this "murderer from the beginning," or mortal mind, and to hold it in right and constant relation to the divine Mind, or God. As the result of this right relating of thought to the source of all true being, the individual straightway begins to manifest the government of God, good, in better health, longer life, and in more successful business undertakings.
But what can all of this mean to me in the very real problems which confront me? asks the inquirer. Simply this: When you succeed, as you may succeed through the understanding and demonstration of Christian Science, in, removing the adverse influence of this mortal consciousness from your human body and human business affairs, - to the same degree that the adverse influence of this "murderer from the beginning" is seen to be disassociated and separated from the worlds in space, - your human body and your human business affairs will manifest no more sickness, failure, bankruptcy and disintegration than is exhibited by those worlds in space. To state it differently: when you remove, as you may remove through Christian Science, the adverse influence of this mortal mind from your human body or business affairs, your human body and business affairs will manifest the goodly activity and harmonious continuity manifested by those worlds in space. Writing in an early pamphlet entitled, "Metaphysical Healing, Historical Facts," which appears in her later published work, "Retrospection and Introspection" (p. 61:8-12), Mrs. Eddy uses this significant language: "If you fall asleep, actually conscious of the truth of Christian Science, - namely, that man's harmony is no more to be invaded than the rhythm of the universe, - you cannot awake in fear or suffering of any sort." Here, my friends, is a very simple experiment which anyone can try at any time.
How am I to go about it to relate my thought to the truth of being? How can I think with respect to the truth of Science and so bring into my daily life the experience of that orderly activity and continuous harmony which we see demonstrated by the worlds in space? There are many ways in which one can relate his thought rightly to the truth of Science and thus pave the way for a larger enjoyment of health and life and more adequate success in business. In the Christian Science textbook will be found hundreds, yes, thousands, of ways, rules and statements by the use of which one may rightly relate his thought to the truth of Science. Reference may here be made to one such statement. On page 468 of the textbook can be found one of the most stupendous statements ever expressed in human language. This is the scientific statement of being, - it is not a statement of belief: "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual." And thus you have already related your thought to the truth of Science.
The most beautiful word in any language is the word, reconciliation. There is so much of tenderness, compassion, gentleness and goodness associated with the word reconciliation. As stated at the outset, Christian Science does not permit one to abide passively under any erroneous conditions. The effect of Christian Science is to lift thought out of erroneous beliefs and to establish it in right relation to the divine Mind, or God. The demand of Christian Science is Scriptural: "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." (Eph. 5:14.)
In Christian Science we learn that it is not necessary to reconcile God to man, but that it is necessary to reconcile the thought of men to the true idea of God. It is because the true idea of God has been absent from the consciousness of men that we have seen world wars and world carnage unspeakable. By revealing the mother nature of God, - that tender, sheltering nature without the expression of which God is unexpressed, that nature toward which humanity under stress of painful circumstances always turns its tired and weary feet, by thus revealing the nature of Deity, or God, in an acceptable, satisfying and welcome light, - Christian Science has already reconciled the thought of men to the true idea of God. Men have learned that under the government of this eternal Father-Mother Love which we call God, no incentive exists to array men against men or nations against nations. Antagonisms among men will cease, and conflicts among nations will end when it is recognized, as taught in Christian Science, that a supreme or divine Principle, or Love, exists which is all-pervasive, all-inclusive, and that the nature of this divine Principle may be known and felt; and that as the idea which unfolds the nature of this divine Principle, Love, is unfolded in individual consciousness. It moves upon, influences and directs the thought of all mankind alike in the direction of good. It can never cause war!
One may say, if this be true, then Christian Science has solved the age old problem of conflict between labor and capital, and between capital and labor. This is exactly true. Christian Science is revealing the new heaven and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, or right consciousness. Under the influence of this right consciousness, inspired by Christian Science, we find the thought of him who calls himself Labor, and the thought of him who calls himself Capital, moving alike in the direction of good. Under the influence of this right consciousness we find in the thought of each more and more of equity and justice, more and more of helpful cooperation, more and more of kindly consideration for the interests of others. Out of this there is continually growing more of unity and agreement in thought and action among men, and consequently among nations.
The Revelator, John, foresaw the day when the spiritual - the true - idea would govern the thought of men. He pictures this day in the twelfth chapter of Revelation where the man child, or Christian Science, is born of the Motherhood and Fatherhood of God. The revelator saw this complete - the true idea of being reflecting the power and presence of the Father-Mother Love which we call God overcoming sickness, sin and death.
Let us not forget the promises: "and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain." (Rev. 21:4.) Mankind has wondered when the fulfillment of these promises would appear. Many persons have found the fulfillment of these promises in the advent of Christian Science; many others have pictured a world wherein sin and sickness, failure, grief and death would be unknown, and their thought has yearned to see the dawning of that day. This light has always been here, but undiscovered to human thought. Today, through the discovery and demonstration of Christian Science, there is coming into the daily lives of men, women and children the joyous experience of health and life where pain and death have been, success where failure has stood, joy and peace where sorrow and war have seemed most real. In this fruitage of Christian Science one may see the fulfillment of the promises.
"As I have loved you, that ye also love one another." (John 13:34) Every Christian Science church is an evidence of the gratitude of hundreds and thousands of children, women and men whose lives have been reconstructed, healed and regenerated through the ministrations of Christian Science. Standing in the presence of this simple but stupendous fact of demonstration, the world may here indeed see the realization of the words of the gentle Nazarene Healer, "as I have loved you," a love which, in the face of all opposition, steadfastly sees the perfect man, - God's man, the man of health, of life, of joy and goodness, - so clearly that the sense of sin, sickness and death disappears.
A gifted writer from the long-gone past, and to me unknown, thus beautifully foreshadowed the dawn of this joyous day which all mankind are now privileged to see and know:
"A mightier church shall come whose covenant word
Shall be deeds of love. Not credo then -
Amo" (I love) "shall be the passport through its gates.
Man shall not ask his brother any more
Believest thou? but, lovest thou? and all
Shall answer at God's altar, Lord, I love."