Christian Science: Religion of Comfort and Joy

 

Naomi Price, C.S., of London, England

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

In the Bible Isaiah records God's promise (66:13): "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem." This divine promise was most wonderfully made manifest in the appearing of Christ Jesus. The comfort he extended to the people of his time was tender and practical. He healed the sick, saved the sinner and raised the dead, and he preached tidings of great joy, opening the eyes of his disciples to the loving care which God bestows upon all His children.

Christian Science, likewise, is a religion of comfort and joy. Its teachings are in accord with those of the Bible and bring to us today fulfillment of the glorious promises of the Bible. They restore primitive Christian healing as practiced by Christ Jesus nearly two thousand years ago. This Science takes men into the promised land of abundance and peace by revealing the nature of God as Love, and man's relationship with Him as His expression. It explains the divine law with which God governs the universe and shows how we may avail ourselves of the order and protection which this law provides.

Christian Science is not a speculative theory or a merely human explanation of existence based upon material reasoning. It is a spiritual discovery, a divine revelation of Truth, as its many healings indicate. Throughout the Scriptures we find evidence of the works that have accompanied revealed Truth works of healing and redemption. Christ Jesus performed many such works and he promised that a Comforter would come who would abide forever, "even the Spirit of truth" (John 14:l6,17). Those of us who have experienced the blessings of Christian Science have found that this divine Science is the promised Comforter.

This wondrous Truth dawned upon the thought of Mary Baker Eddy with such healing power that it immediately raised her from a bed of sickness, the result of a serious accident. But this was not all. It transformed her whole life from an experience of invalidism, poverty and frustration to health, abundance and activity. It conferred upon her the power to heal the sick herself, and to teach others to heal also. This was no personal gift. It was the revelation of the same divine law of perfection which Christ Jesus had utilized centuries before, but which the prevailing thought of his day was insufficiently spiritualized and illumined to understand. Now, once again God's law is seen to be present with us and is bringing forth abundant fruits of healing.

How did it come about that Mrs. Eddy, a woman born of New England parents, was the one through whom God gave His message to the world? Let us consider her achievements following the discovery of Christian Science in 1866.

 

Discoverer, Founder, Leader

After testing the efficacy of the discovery by healing many cases of disease Mrs. Eddy wrote several books, preached sermons and taught regular classes. Meanwhile, a world-wide Church organization was founded with an entirely original system of government. She established The Christian Science Publishing Society together with its quarterly, monthly and weekly publications. And finally, The Christian Science Monitor, a daily newspaper of international reputation, was successfully launched in her 87th year. Surely, Mrs. Eddy was a truly remarkable woman expressing as she did the varied spiritual qualities required to make her not only the Discoverer of the Christ mode of exterminating sin, disease and death, but also the Founder and Leader of a new religious movement which rapidly encircled the globe.

From earliest childhood Mrs. Eddy, then known as Mary Baker, had shown herself to be exceptionally spiritually minded. Always of a gentle, affectionate nature she loved to help others, but she also displayed remarkable courage and determination in defending the interests of the weak and oppressed. Strong in faith fostered by the religious devotion in her home she was confident of God's power and willingness to heal and save. The delicate state of her health in early years caused her to investigate the claims of many methods of healing, but after repeated disappointment there remained no hope for her except in the realm of Spirit. Thus, when the moment of revelation arrived, she was waiting and watching, longing to receive the divine message.

 

The Book That Heals

The book which Mrs. Eddy subsequently wrote, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," contains the full statement of the revelation of Christian Science. As you know if you have studied it, it is not a commentary on the Bible but it is an elucidation of the spiritual law of God which underlies the Biblical narrative. On nearly every page of the textbook there appear direct and indirect references to Scriptural texts, bringing out their spiritual meaning and showing how they may be made practical in our present-day experience. Science and Health does not take the place of the Bible, but it takes its place with it as the complete revelation to this age of God's nature and of His spiritual universe and the law governing it.

Many are healed simply by reading this book. Perhaps you may think it is strange that one could be healed of physical disease simply by reading a book, but it frequently happens so let us consider how this occurs.

You will agree that the human body expresses the physical symptoms of many conditions of thought. The blood rushes to the face with embarrassment. Tears well up in the eyes with grief. Fear grips the muscles making the heart beat faster, while joy brings spontaneity and freedom of action. Peace and contentment are expressed in bodily well-being, and love diffuses a radiance which lights the countenance with beauty.

Christian Science shows that not only some but every condition of the body is governed by the mind. The body is, in fact, the subjective state of human thought. How important, therefore, to guard our thinking and allow only thoughts derived from divine Mind, or God, to abide there; thoughts of goodness, health, happiness, harmony. These in turn produce good, healthy, happy, harmonious conditions in the body.

Science and Health sets forth the scientific facts concerning God and His infallible spiritual law of good which governs the universe and man in perfect harmony. A student of this book gains a vision of the eternal Christ, Truth, the reality of being which is altogether lovely because it is the expression of divine Love, filling all space and manifesting infinite power. Consequently, as he reads, his thought changes from doubt to confidence, from fear to serenity, and because his body is the subjective state of his thinking, it reflects the change of thought in healthier, happier bodily conditions.

At the end of Science and Health there are 100 pages devoted to well-authenticated testimonies in which nearly double that number of physical healings are specifically mentioned. These are just a few of the thousands of healings which have taken place solely through reading this book and they include such ailments as rheumatism, tumors, cataracts, complaints of the stomach, heart, lungs, spine and kidneys. But I will tell you today of my own experience.

 

How Study Brought Healing

Some years ago a love of humanity and the desire to alleviate suffering led me to take up social welfare work. My special care was for men disabled during the First World War and their families who frequently suffered terrible deprivations through no fault of their own. I was privileged to work with fine men and women whose devotion to philanthropy I greatly admired. But after a while I became dissatisfied. It seemed that the help we gave frequently had only temporary effect and that in fact our efforts were not doing enough to ameliorate the vast problems confronting humanity.

Believing life to be material and subject to evil influences I felt the outlook was dark and hopeless, and finally this depressed mental condition manifested itself in a severe physical breakdown which no material remedy seemed able to alleviate. Suffering from the discomfort of nervous indigestion I was unable to sleep or eat and became thin and miserable.

Several members of my family were students of Christian Science but, misunderstanding its teachings, I was not myself interested. However, as various other religious systems afforded no reasonable explanation for the apparently chaotic state of the universe, I finally purchased a copy of Science and Health and, in my extremity, began to study it carefully.

As I read, the logic of the scientific relationship of God and man as divine Mind and perfect, spiritual idea began to dawn upon me. The comforting message of the Christ, Truth, exposed the falsity of many fears and preconceived notions concerning man and the universe. Thus released, I was ready to accept the glorious truth of God's allness and man's present perfection as His beloved child.

With joy I saw that because God, divine Love is All-in-all, the only power, the only presence and the only activity of the universe, there is in reality no truth in the evil, discord, and disease which seemed to be causing so much concern. These are to be denied and destroyed on the basis of their nothingness, while the individual needs only to be awakened to the good already at hand.

In the light of that comforting and joyous revelation I found myself suddenly well. The pressing symptoms of the nervous complaint vanished and once again I was able to eat and sleep normally.

It is interesting to know that the light of spiritual understanding which finally dispersed the shadows of ignorance and discord in my thinking came while reading a passage from the Bible. This passage in the 19th chapter of the Book of Revelation is one with which I had long been familiar, but it had never before conveyed the healing message which came to me that day after I had been studying the Christian Science textbook. This passage reads as follows (Rev. 19:6,7): "I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him." I saw with new light the omnipotence, or all-power, of God a theme which can be traced right through the Bible.

 

God's Perfect Nature and Allness

The Ten Commandments which Moses gave to the children of Israel in the wilderness clearly demand that all men should acknowledge but one God and honor Him alone. But what is this one God that we should acknowledge as the only power? What is His nature? Men and nations have various conceptions of Deity, but there is, in fact, only one true understanding of God, and that is God's own understanding of Himself. This divine nature has appeared to mankind gradually through the centuries, and Mrs. Eddy has indicated the fullness of God's nature in the following definition which is to be found on page 465 of Science and Health. It reads: "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love."

These terms are synonymous and refer to the one and only, all-powerful God whom we are to honor supremely with the whole heart and mind. All of these names for God are either to be found, or are clearly implied in the Bible.

With this definition of God from Science and Health before us we may begin to glimpse the immense practical importance of devoting ourselves to obedience to the First Commandment: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." In essence this means that we shall never admit the existence of anything but incorporeal, divine Spirit.

We cannot believe in more than one infinite Mind and one supreme Soul, manifested infinitely in the spiritual universe and spiritual man. When we really see what this means, we abandon the belief in finite minds and a multiplicity of souls.

The First Commandment calls on us to acknowledge but one divine Principle, or primal cause, God, or good, and His divine law. Reasoning from this basis, can we believe there is an effect from any other cause, or any power in material law?

When we understand that the one infinite God is Life, Truth and Love, eternal, and omnipotent, then we shall never again believe in the reality of death, or evil, or hatred.

Is not this a wonderful, comforting, joyous way of thinking? Those who obey the injunction to honor God in this manner find immediate release from fear and worry. They begin to gain entrance here and now to the kingdom of heaven the state of consciousness where health and happiness and infinite harmony reign, and there is no fear.

 

Fearless Being Now

The Bible tells us that God is Love. John writes in his epistle quite simply (I John 4:16): "God is love." If God is Love then the law of God must be the action of Love. This law governs the entire universe of God's creating lovingly and beautifully, and maintains perfect harmony in all the affairs of the real man. It ensures an endless unfolding of good in our experience. We can expect good always, and when we learn to expect good always we shall never fear again.

Can you picture existence without fear? Never again to fear for yourselves or a loved one? Never again to fear for the future, fear lack, or accident, or disease? This is the mental state which divine Mind offers to us all. It is yours today it you will accept it. It is God's will for us that we should live fearlessly, in confidence and peace. The Bible tells us many times not to be afraid. For instance, in Isaiah God is represented as saying (Isa. 41:10): "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."

What is it that underlies this fearless state of consciousness? It is the understanding that the all-power and all-presence of God, divine Love, exclude the possibility of there being another power, an evil one, which could damage or destroy. There cannot be more than all. God, good, is All-in-all and there really is nothing else.

In Science man is the expression of the all-God, and he lives and moves and has his being in the atmosphere of divine Love. Nothing unlike God can enter his being. He can never be exposed to dangerous conditions of any kind, because there are none in God's allness. In God's spiritual universe there are no hazards in the form of earthquake, storm, or fire, nor even of draughts, dampness, or cold. Neither can there be any fear of contagion. Disease germs nave no place in a universe filled with God. As we express God's nature we bring peace and joy and a sense of love and dominion wherever we go. There is nothing more infectious than joy!

Is this a new viewpoint to you? Have you had before a different concept of man and his destiny, believing him to be mortal and material, subject to destructive attacks of evil? If so, you have been accepting a false belief illustrated in the Scriptural allegory of Adam, in which a mist went up from the earth and in its obscuring sense, man was made of dust. This creation is nothing more than an illusion, and so it must be understood. It is not the truth of creation, but a misconception of it.

 

Man's Nature in God's Image

The Bible tells us that man is made in God's image and likeness; that he is God's perfect child, the object of His loving care. And when we say that man is God's image and likeness, we are saying in effect that we are God's image and likeness. That is the truth of ourselves now, at this moment.

Mrs. Eddy tells us in the textbook (250:12): "Man is not God, but like a ray of light which comes from the sun, man, the outcome of God, reflects God." Man is the expression, the reflection of Spirit. His entire substance is spiritual. He is not material. Because matter is temporal, changeable, and destructible, it has no real substance. It is a false belief, the subjective state of the carnal or mortal mind, with no more permanence than a dream when the sleeper awakes. Mrs. Eddy says in her book "Unity of Good" (35:26): "The material atom is an outlined falsity of consciousness, which can gather additional evidence of consciousness and life only as it adds lie to lie." Does it not follow, therefore, that whatever is composed of atoms a speck of dust, the material body, the world must also be "an outlined falsity of consciousness"?

When we realize that we are dealing with "an outlined falsity of consciousness" and not with a solid body composed of substantial matter, we see that the only true remedy for human ills must be mental; it must be the application of spiritual Truth, the Christ. When we exchange the false belief for the spiritual understanding of health and harmony, we prove this scientific remedy to be effective, for the discord disappears. This method of healing in Christian Science has proved effective in thousands of cases of so-called incurable diseases, and is available to us all today,

To heal we must know that man exists only as God's reflection. Reflecting God he manifests the qualities of divine Mind in perfect consciousness, wisdom, intelligence, depth of understanding, and soundness of discernment. He expresses the vitality, energy, activity and all-inclusiveness of infinite Spirit. He represents the attributes of Soul in radiance, joy, inspiration, grace and beauty. The integrity of Principle, its justice, order and government belong to him. Because God is his Life, he has an immortal, eternal, changeless, perfect life. He displays the reality, the affluence, the steadfastness, and stability of immutable Truth. Being the expression of divine Love, he illumines the universe with impartial, constant, inexhaustible compassion, kindliness, tenderness, warmth, sweetness, and harmony.

This is the true nature of man revealed to us through the Christ and demonstrated in the life of our Wayshower, Christ Jesus.

 

Christ Jesus' Mission

Jesus was born in fulfillment of prophecy. The spiritually minded throughout the centuries had glimpsed the Christ and had discerned the need for a clear understanding, and demonstration of man's true being as God's child which would dispel the mists of material illusion. When the babe was born in Bethlehem the event was attended by such glorious signs and wonders as to leave no doubt in the receptive heart that here indeed was the promised Messiah.

How was this child different from other children? To human view he was flesh and blood, but from the beginning he was spiritually apart from all others. Born of a human mother he partook of her earthly form, but his Father was God, Spirit, and from God, the Father, this blessed child inherited the divine consciousness and perfect nature which is the Christ. He illustrated the ideal man in God's image and likeness.

This divine consciousness and perfect nature of Jesus transformed the earthly experience of those around him and became the pattern of true manhood for all time to come. His mission on earth was to teach by precept and example, to instruct mankind in the true facts of God's being, as divine Love, the tender Father of us all, who provides every good gift for our use, but who will never afflict. Jesus' purpose was to live the life which is in God, thus to bear witness to the ideal selfhood which we all must finally prove to be our own.

Christian Scientists love and venerate Christ Jesus. They acknowledge him as the Wayshower, and they strive daily to follow his example by expressing more of the Christly nature which he demonstrated. They pray with earnest longings after the manner of the Master's own prayer known throughout Christendom as "The Lord's Prayer."

The mission of Christ Jesus is explained in the tenets of Christian Science which Mrs. Eddy lays down in Science and Health. The fourth tenet reads as follows (497:13): "We acknowledge Jesus' atonement as the evidence of divine, efficacious Love, unfolding man's unity with God through Christ Jesus the Way-shower; and we acknowledge that man is saved through Christ, through Truth, Life, and Love as demonstrated by the Galilean Prophet in healing the sick and overcoming sin and death."

Jesus unfolded man's unity with God. In Science we are all of us one with God right now as His reflection. As Jesus expressed the divine nature the Christ so can we. All the goodness, the love, wisdom, and healing compassion which he derived from the Father, are likewise our inheritance. Through Science we can express the power to act as he acted, in defiance of mortal belief and the so-called laws of matter, but in obedience to the law of Spirit. Jesus unfolded man's unity with God and for this we owe him boundless gratitude.

Take with you this thought today; that in your true selfhood as the manifestation, or reflection, of God, you are one with God, enjoying the benefits of His loving care. Then acknowledge this unity in daily life as Jesus did, by expressing in thought and deed the Christlike qualities which are derived from the Father and which constitute the real man in God's image and likeness. If you will do this you will find both comfort and joy permeating your daily life. Relationships with your fellow men will be sweetened and deepened. The limitations and diseases of mortal selfhood will drop away and you will gain a sense of fulfillment and abundant living never before experienced. You will also find yourself growing in the ability to heal the sick, for it is the Christ which enabled the Master to heal and he told his disciples (John 14:12), "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also."

 

The Healing Light of the Christ

Explaining the wondrous power displayed by Christ Jesus to help and heal others, Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (pp. 476, 477): "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick."

Christian Science operates for the betterment of mankind in the same way that Christ Jesus brought about his healing works. Its treatment is wholly spiritual. Cooperation with any medical, material or materially mental means is impossible. We cannot serve two masters for the ''flesh lusteth against the spirit." Christian Science starts from the basis of perfect God and perfect man, whereas other methods' start from the opposite premise that man is mortal, imperfect, sick, and sinful. Christian Science reveals and demonstrates the existing truth of man's perfection as God's child and this truth heals the patient. The Christian Scientist lets the Christ light shine in his consciousness and thus he beholds the truth regarding the individual who requires the help. The Scientist is not misled by the appearance of disease or sin, but he reasons correctly from perfect cause to perfect effect. Then he holds his thought steadfastly to the true, spiritual, and harmonious idea which he knows must really be present instead of a discordant mortal. This focusing of the light of truth on the problem destroys the darkness of material inharmony and reveals the presence here and now of the perfection of man. The discord vanishes as a dream and the healing is complete.

 

Discord Destroyed

Let me illustrate. During a summer vacation in the Swiss Alps I planned with some friends to take the funicular up a mountain early one morning before day-break, so that we might see the beauty of the rising sun. On our arrival at the little station at the foot of the mountain the weather was unpromising, and thick mist blanketed the scene. But the guide was cheerful. "It will be all clear up there," he said, and we found it hard to believe him because we could see nothing but vague, weird shadows looming through the fog. But he was right. As we rose higher and higher in the mountain train, suddenly we emerged from the mist into the dawning light, and as we stood at the summit we could see the rose-tinted peaks of the neighboring mountains. They looked like little white mounds standing in the sea and the thick mist like rolling gray waves. We could see no sign of the valley below with its villages and homes and people. We knew they must still be there, but to us they were invisible.

Then, gradually, very gradually, the sun rose higher in the sky and the mists began to melt away. We then could see vague forms appearing below, and every moment, as the sun became warmer, these forms became clearer and more visible, until the whole life of the valley was apparent to our eyes.

"How like the coming of the Christ to human consciousness," I thought. At first we see nothing but material mist with its strange, often frightening forms. We feel hopeless. Then we take courage from our guide, our Wayshower, and from our Leader, and go up higher in consciousness, become more spiritual in our thinking, and finally come into the realization of God's love and the beauty of His universe. Then the mist of human illusion melts away and all is light. We see the perfect spiritual universe of God's creating and man in His image, instead of the illusions of the material mist.

 

Joy a Healing Quality

In the early days of her study of Christian Science a friend of mine became very deaf. It was believed that the condition was hereditary, so her relatives were not hopeful of any improvement. My friend had already experienced abundant proof of the healing power of Christian Science for, a few years earlier through the study of Science and Health, she had been healed and enabled to walk after suffering from a diseased condition of the knee for three years. So, for several months she studied the Bible and Science and Health endeavoring to prove for herself once again the law of God which she knew must be operating on her behalf, namely; the law that every child of God expresses all the faculties of Mind and therefore cannot be deprived of sight, hearing, or any other faculty.

However, the months went by and she became very depressed because the condition was no better. It was then that she sought the aid of a Christian Science practitioner. The practitioner talked to her of God and man's relationship with Him. She told her many truths concerning her perfect, spiritual, selfhood, and read to her passages from the Christian Science textbook. But my friend became increasingly depressed because she couldn't hear a word.

Finally, the practitioner took a piece of paper and wrote a message on it taken from the book of Zechariah, in the Old Testament. It read (Zech. 8:5): "And the streets of the city shall be full of boy and girls playing in the streets thereof."

Somewhat mystified by it my friend took the message home with her and pondered it deeply. In the evening she went to see her young nieces and nephews playing, a thing she had not done for months as she could not hear what they said. Suddenly it dawned on her that she was being shown the need to express joy as these children were expressing it. She must rejoice in the truth which had been revealed to her through Christian Science and thus make it her own. This she did until she fell asleep.

The following morning she awakened to an unaccustomed roar and realized that she could hear a tram passing in the street below. Imagine her gratitude when she found that her hearing was perfectly restored and that she could hear not only the tram but the ticking of the clock and the birds singing in the trees. She was healed.

My friends, we must be joyous in our study and practice of Christian Science. The Bible tells us (Isa. 12:3): "With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation."

Perhaps some may say, "How can I rejoice when I am in so much trouble, in pain, or a beloved friend has passed from my sight?"

Joy is a quality of God and it is forever manifested in man. We do not depend on any person or any circumstance for our joy. We depend on God for it, and joy can never depart from us whatever seems to occur in human experience.

 

World-wide Effect of Prayer

The Bible tells us that Christ Jesus sometimes "went up into a mountain to pray." Jesus himself told his disciples (Matt. 6:8) "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret." Prayer is mental and the Master's instruction was intended to be interpreted spiritually.

Christian Science shows us that the closet into which we are to shut ourselves is "the quiet sanctuary of earnest longings." Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (p. 15): "In the quiet sanctuary of earnest longings, we must deny sin and plead God's allness." We can do this wherever we are. At home or on the street. In the valley or on the mountain top. But wherever we are, we must want to pray. In order to enter into prayer we must be willing to leave the clamor, and sometimes glamour, of human belief. We must desire

spiritual truth. We must "hunger and thirst after righteousness" and be willing and humble enough to "shut the door" to the suggestions of the material senses in order to acknowledge the presence of the Christ, Truth.

Christian Scientists pray silently, fervently and importunately desiring to reach the consciousness and demonstration of spiritual being. The period of silent prayer in their church services is eloquent. In this prayer the "still, small voice" of Truth is heard. This inaudible voice speaks tenderly to the human heart, awakening in it a universal love which reaches out with healing power to embrace the whole world. Thus united in selfless adoration of the infinite, the congregation affirms the eternal truths of God's universe in the audible repetition of the Lord's Prayer, the prayer which destroys the mists of human belief and lifts consciousness into the light of reality.

My friends, we can all take part in healing the world's distress. Our prayers are not for ourselves alone. Each acknowledgement of God's power and presence, each affirmation of divine Love's government, expressed by the love in our own hearts and the awakening of love in others brings comfort and joy to all mankind. Indeed, there is no poverty too great, no sickness too severe, no sorrow too deep, to be healed through the power of prayer.

 

[April 10, 1961.]

 

 

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