Christian Science: The Way to Happiness Here and Hereafter (3)
William R. Rathvon, C.S.B.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The business man who could have for his partner one whose capital was unlimited and whose resources were inexhaustible; whose judgment was infallible and whose knowledge all inclusive; whose scientific proficiency was adequate to heal quickly either a sick body or a sick business; one who so thoroughly understood men and affairs that he was always at the right place at the right time doing the right thing in the right way; who succeeded in every undertaking and who never failed; who made friends out of enemies, inspired confidence, brought the best out of men that was in them, and with it all was so strong and gentle and genial and unselfish and loveable that his very presence brought joy with it, — the business man, I say, who could get such an individual for his partner might well believe that his business troubles were about over for good and all.
But did you or any one know a human being who had all these qualities of perfection? No, for such a one would have to possess all power; that is, he would have to be omnipotent. He would have to be everywhere present at all times; that is, he would have to be omnipresent. He would have to possess all knowledge about everything, past, present and future; that is, he would have to be omniscient. And the only being possessing the qualities of omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience is God, infinite good, the cause and creator of all that eternally exists.
Yet it is possible and not so very difficult for you and any man in business or out of it to bring into your daily affairs so much of what proceeds from God and partakes of His nature, that you may have a silent partner ever with you whose influence will not only improve your business but transform your whole life for the better. This is the influence that has entered the lives of so many of your fellow men who have turned to Christian Science to get relief from worry, harmful habit, fear, anxiety, want, sickness, pain, sorrow, and despair.
When a man discovers that the losses, worries, misfortunes, hardships, and ill health he has suffered are due to his ignorance about some essential thing, he is usually quite ready to get the right idea about that essential thing. Then when he has applied it and sees his troubles going, he is indeed a happy man.
If any one were to ask me what one thing in my own early experience in Christian Science stood out by itself, what one thing has brought with it the most practical benefits in the way of health and happiness and mental peace and material well-being, I would say it was the right idea about God which Christian Science brought to me, the right idea about God's nature, His laws and man's relation to Him. Having been a business man nearly all my life, I cared very little about any god but the god of success, and I could not see how man's knowledge of Deity could have anything to do with his health, his success, or his disposition. Christian Science soon disclosed to me that our wrong beliefs about God have led to most of our troubles, and that these troubles disappear as we gain a right understanding of God and apply it in our daily thinking and living.
Some of you may say, "I have gotten along very well so far without knowing much about God. I use common sense. I know that excess of every kind is injurious so I am temperate; I know that worry is harmful, so I do not worry; I know that fear prevents success, so I have stopped being afraid. I have a sound body and a sound mind. When these fail me it will be time enough to think about calling on God. Until then I will wait." But, my friends, you are too wise to apply this waiting policy to your general affairs. You do not wait until your car is stalled before you fill the tank. You do not wait until your house has burned down before you insure. You do not wait until your fingers are frozen before you put on your gloves. Should you not then use the same good judgment with things eternal as you do with things temporal?
The greatest business in the universe, the one in which we are all engaged, is the business of living — the one business that is never closed out, for life is without end, eternal, everlasting. The change called death brings with it a change of environment, but the ever present and urgent problems of right living are not changed, and if not solved here must be solved by us hereafter. In the commercial world a man may have to move his business from New York to San Francisco, but the fundamentals of good business are not changed by his moving. They are the same in the one place as in the other, and what he has learned of them in the East is necessary and useful to him in the West. And so with a right knowledge of God. What you may learn and apply of it here on earth not only brings you a present reward but adds to your equipment hereafter. Why, then, should you wait?
Because Christian Science is not a religion of waiting but of immediate action and prompt results; because it is the religion of the present as well as the future; because it puts joy into life and helps us to overcome death, and because in all its ministrations it pushes aside the transitory forces of the human will and the human mind and grasps instead the ever-available and unlimited powers of the divine Mind, God Himself, for these reasons its universal appeal is being gladly heard by every class and type of humankind. Naturally it may be asked, How is the investigator to acquire a practical knowledge of this Science for which so much is claimed?
The Textbook and Its Author
Every science should be rightly learned from its textbook and Christian Science is no exception to this rule. Besides the Bible there is but one text book of Christian Science, the book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, the book that has won its way into the hearts and lives of unnumbered men and women and children, who have found in it a quiet friend whose silent influence is a mighty power for good.
It is an unfailing guide to the man of action who would avoid mistakes and traps and fruitless undertakings.
It is a well-filled medicine chest, which contains neither bottles nor powders, pills nor plasters, yet whose remedies have healed after all else has failed. It is a constant companion for the wise: a counselor for the simple, never silent when appealed to, yet never speaking till spoken to; never thinking for you, but ever starting you to think. It is the book that is often set aside with impatience only to be taken up in humility; the book that has dispelled the blackness of despair with the brightness of hope; that has rebuilt character, restored reputations, and reunited the separated, the book that with the Bible has become the spiritual mentor and monitor for multitudes of earnest men and women in every part of the Christianized world.
It is perhaps unnecessary to inform this audience that the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science and the author of its textbook was a woman — a gentle woman, Mary Baker Eddy. You may know, too, that for years she stood alone, — one lone woman against the whole world, — opposed and assailed by the world of theology, of medicine, of established usage, of tradition, of conservatism; opposed by the world of intellect and of ignorance, of common sense and uncommon sense, of bigotry and cruelty, of ridicule and falsity; and ever pursued by the human and inhuman hatred of truth. All these forces were for years arrayed against this one woman and the message God had placed in her hands to deliver to humanity. But she was never daunted or dismayed by anything the world, the flesh, or evil might try to do to her, for she never let go of the hand of God.
Never in modern times has a spiritually-minded woman been so relentlessly abused without a cause, and her message so maligned and misrepresented from pulpit, press and platform. Yet, in all the years of persecution which Mrs. Eddy suffered, not one word of retaliation or resentment dropped from her tongue or pen. She never returned evil for evil. And I assert this not as a matter of hearsay or opinion, but from personal knowledge gained from several years of daily association with Mrs. Eddy, while I was a member of her own household.
Those who do not understand sometimes declare that Christian Scientists unduly exalt and even deify Mrs. Eddy's memory. It is a mistake, my friends; we do not. But there are multitudes of people who are profoundly grateful to her, and do you wonder why? Let me tell you. Suppose that at one time in your life at the close of a dismal winter's day you were going along a crowded street in a strange city, a stranger in a foreign land, and without your knowing it, you dropped your pocketbook containing every dollar you had in the world. On the other side of the street a sweet-faced elderly woman saw you drop your purse and without a thought for her comfort or safety, she crossed amid the mud and slush and rushing traffic and picked up your purse and followed you. Then just as you had discovered your loss and were shaken with dread and apprehension for the future, she handed it to you with a smile that changed your gloom into joy. Would you not be grateful to that woman?
But suppose that instead of merely money that you had lost, instead of merely losing your last dollar in a strange land, suppose that in the course of your life you had lost those things which money cannot buy. Suppose you had lost your health, your happiness, your peace of mind, your self-respect, your usefulness, your ability, your friends, your faith in your fellow man; aye, suppose that you had even lost your faith in God, and this same gentle woman had been the means of restoring them all to you, would you not be grateful to her and thankful to God who sent her to you?
Need it be wondered then that there are multitudes of people who are today profoundly grateful to her who has been the means of restoring to them the things that make life worth the living? And as one among that multitude I am glad here and always to declare my gratitude for what Christian Science has brought into my life through the right understanding of God which it imparts.
A Religion of Works
When the man who is healed in Christian Science recognizes that he has restored to him the blessings of health and happiness, usefulness and ability, those valued things that were so sorely threatened, he is almost overwhelmed by a surge of emotions. Amazement, curiosity, and a desire to understand are uppermost. "What has done this wonderful thing, and how can I get hold of it?" are the insistent questions he propounds; "I want this marvelous power to help others; I know so many people that need it, and I want to talk it to them by the hour," he earnestly declares.
This zeal is natural and commendable, but unless it is tempered with wisdom it may be harmful rather than helpful, for Christian Science is not a religion of words but of works. To talk Christian Science enthusiastically and indiscriminately without having lived it persistently, is to invite opposition where we had hoped for acceptance. It often produces prejudice instead of support, incredulity instead of belief. More good can be done by ten minutes of right thinking than by hours of talking to those who do not care to hear.
One who by virtue of his wide learning and keen intellect was qualified to speak upon the subject, once said, referring to the natural sciences, art and literature, "In science you must not talk until you know; in art, you must not talk until you do; in literature, you must not talk until you think." In Christian Science, it may well be said that we are wise if we do not talk until we know, and do, and think; know the Principle of Christian Science, do what it teaches, and think what we are about to say, to whom, and how, and when, and where. If we follow this simple rule we shall not talk too little; if we ignore it we may talk too much.
The Right Idea About God
May I ask you, then, during the time we are together today, to consider with an open mind some of the teachings of Christian Science about God, that you may try them out in your own experience for the overcoming of those things which make up the sum of human misery. We will ask you while here not to think of God as one who is afar off, and who has nothing more in common with you than you have with the worm that crosses your path of a summer's morning. We will ask you not to think of Him as a God who resembles a glorified man; as a God who afflicts, as a God of wrath and vengeance and fire and flood and tempest.
We will, instead, ask you to consider God as Christian Science shows Him to be, not afar off, but at hand always and everywhere; not indifferent to you and your welfare, but sympathetically interested, as you are interested in your own children; the God whose power is infinite through out the universe, yet who never uses it to force you to do anything; whose infinite goodness is ever available to you, whose infinite intelligence, like an open book, is always ready for you to use. I will ask you to think of Him as the one "who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases," yet who never forces forgiveness upon you or compels you to turn to Him to be healed, if in your ignorance or waywardness you would rather rely upon man-made cures or methods.
All people who would be regarded as Christian believe in God, yet few understand Him. The textbook of Christian Science (p. 203) declares truly that "if God were understood instead of being merely believed, this understanding would establish health." Does this seem like an extravagant statement? Compare it then with the words of Jesus on the same subject where in John xvii.3 we are told that to know God "is life eternal." Can you conceive of a vital fact put in stronger words?
When the despondent invalid recognizes that God never made a man sick or a sick man; that on the contrary He has given to man unbroken health; that sickness is an imposition of mortal mind and is illegitimate, abnormal, unrighteous, without divine law, recognition, or sanction, he is then ready to turn to divine Mind, God Himself, "who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases."
Jesus by precept and example was continually lifting men's thoughts above their inherited and impedimentive beliefs about God as a manlike being with form and body, subject to wrath, favoritism, changeableness, and other human characteristics. Instead, he revealed God to be infinite good, the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in no way resembling erring, finite man.
Right Understanding of God
Jesus the Christ, by virtue of his divine sonship, taught that God is not only loving, but that He is Love; that He is Spirit, in whom "we live, and move, and have our being." Can you conceive of infinite Spirit or infinite Love having a form or body, or being subject to the personal limitations of time and place and circumstance?
Christian Science, ever following the teachings of Jesus, shows that God is Love; that God is Spirit; that He is Mind; that He is Truth; that He is Life; that God is the infinite Principle of being, operating through unchanging laws, laws that are always comprehensible and always beneficent; that He is omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence. Do these definitions of God quickly appeal to the individual who has always thought of God as a finite personage, a magnified man? Perhaps not. But let us propose as an aid toward a fuller comprehension, that he choose from among these definitions the one which most nearly approaches his highest conception of good, and let his thought dwell upon that. A man's highest ideas of God can be no higher than his highest conceptions of good, but they should always be that high, for God is infinite, unchanging good.
It might appear presumptuous in me here to attempt an adequate exposition of the full teachings of Christian Science about God as scripturally defined. I would, instead, refer you to our textbook, where you will find them all fully set forth and lucidly expounded. But I feel that I may with propriety briefly refer to that concept of God which so universally meets man's direst need in his darkest hours of trial and tribulation, the concept of God as infinite Love, which the Scriptures impart and which Christian Science emphasizes.
If the thought of God as Love, ever blessing, never condemning; ever healing, never afflicting; ever protecting, and never neglecting; including all mankind in His fatherly care and infinite affection; if this thought of God comes to you with tender appeal, hold fast to it and cherish it. It will unfold and enlarge and develop, and gradually lead you to a yet broader, fuller knowledge of Him as Love divine. And can you conceive of anything that is so sorely needed today, in our churches and out of them, than more of that same Love? Anything that will so quickly check "man's inhumanity to man," that today is making "countless thousands mourn?"
God as Principle
It has been aptly said that life is like an arithmetic, made up of problems which a very few find easy to solve, and which the others never learn to work out. Now we all know that the student's failures to solve the problems of arithmetic are due to his incomplete or defective knowledge and application of the principles of mathematics. But did you ever consider that so many of us fail to solve the problems of every-day life because of our incomplete or defective knowledge of the infinite Principle of existence, God?
Christian Science is giving to man an understanding of God as the infinite Principle of all that really exists, the Principle which, in the words of our textbook, is "underlying, overlying, and encompassing all true being" (Science and Health, p. 496); the Principle which operates through unchanging laws, laws which are always beneficent and always comprehensible and demonstrable.
"How is it, then," you may ask, "if God is the underlying Principle of all that really exists and this Principle bestows on man only that which is good, how is it that we see so much of sickness and sorrow and sin in the world? The two conditions do not seem to fit. What is wrong?" The reason is simple enough. Men have not applied this Principle in their endeavors to work out life's problems. They have not learned enough about it or cared enough for it or believed enough in it to make it the basis of their daily thinking and daily living.
A right understanding of the principles of mathematics, as you know, never fails to bring the right answer if rightly applied. So it is with the infinite Principle of being, God Himself. Just in the proportion that we bring a right understanding of God into the problems that involve our health, our happiness, our material prosperity, and our spiritual welfare, just in that proportion will they be rightly solved.
Many of us have been taught in our earlier days that it is not essential to understand God, if we will but believe in Him. Now think of trying to solve an intricate problem in mathematics by merely believing in its principles, without understanding them. And are not the problems of life vastly more important and momentous than anything that mathematics can present? Problems which when wrongly worked leave us heavy laden with sickness, fear, want, misery and sin? Christian Science, following the teachings of Jesus the Christ, shows us that a right understanding of God is as essential to every student in the school of life as an understanding of numbers is to the student of mathematics.
As with belief, so it is with faith. Faith is as essential to man in the working out of his salvation as the dial is to the clock. But the dial of the clock is but a mockery without the works which move its hands. Faith raises our hopes, but unless aided by understanding, like the still hands of the empty clock it neither guides nor enlightens us. Does not the Bible tell us that "faith without works is dead?"
But do not infer from this that Christian Science depreciates or belittles the value of faith. Far from it, but it is an essence that to be of highest use must be combined with understanding. Perhaps it may help my meaning if you will think of faith as the dry cement out of which so many of our beautiful and enduring structures are now being fashioned. Cement itself is but a dry powder, which like the dust of the road may be blown to the four quarters of the earth by a summer's breeze, but when mixed with water may be molded into a thousand useful and symmetrical forms; or solid as a granite rock, may form the enduring foundation of many a noble structure. So with faith, — unenlightened it may be scattered and blown away by the winds of ignorance and adversity, but when united with the understanding of God which flows from Christian Science, it becomes transformed and finds expression in the highest types of spiritual construction.
Every right concept of God as infinite good must include His omnipotence, His omnipresence, His omniscience. Finite man cannot comprehend these divine qualities in their fullness, but it is a noteworthy fact that in the proportion that you do realize them, in that proportion do you find good coming into your life and evil leaving it. You do not need to know all of God that is to be known, before you can get any of the good that comes from using even a little of such knowledge.
For example, in the proportion you realize that God is omnipotent, or in other words that good is all powerful on earth as in heaven; that the only real power which exists or has ever existed, is the power of good, — in that proportion are you freed from your beliefs in the power of evil and your fear of it. You begin to see evil as not to be feared but to be shunned; not to be tolerated but to be destroyed.
As you thus learn to know God aright, you will discover that any evil thing which may come upon you has not the power to harm you that you once believed it had. You will no longer dread what men may say or do to you. You will no longer fear things present or things to come. You will learn to succeed in spite of failure, to be strong in spite of weakness, to be steadfast in spite of the storm. Sickness, sin, want, failure, and the like lose their hold upon you, and even if they should come upon you, they cannot disable, disturb, or depress you, or master you, or deprive you of your God-given rights, nor can they separate you from the love of God, omnipotent good.
If this should seem like an extreme statement to any of you who have not tried to prove its truth through Christian Science, let me remind you that no less ardent follower of Jesus the Christ than Paul of Tarsus has declared its truth even more sweepingly and forcefully. Open your Bibles, if you will, and turn to the eighth chapter of Romans, and what do you find there?
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Omnipresence and Omniscience
As you realize the omnipresence of God, the all-presence and ever-presence of good, you find it possible to prove that God is at hand wherever you may be and under whatever circumstances you may be placed. Though you may be hedged in by sickness or sorrow or want; though you may be surrounded by repulsive infamy or enticing sin, God is there to protect you, to support you, to shelter, heal, and deliver you. Do you recall those thrilling words of the Psalmist when he referred to the omnipresence of God: "If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou are there. . . . Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me."
In the proportion you realize that God is omniscience, that He knows the eternal truth about all that really exists, even to knowing you far better than you know yourself, knowing you and seeing you as He made you in His own image and likeness, reflecting every quality of good, — when you discover this about yourself, and see that evil is not a part of you, does not belong to you, and cannot control you unless you submit to it, then you bestir yourself to get rid of it by reducing it to its native nothingness. As you learn to know more about God, your thought dwells less upon yourself and your own affairs, and you lose much of that injurious habit of self-thinking that shows itself in such things as sensitiveness, self-pity, self-righteousness, self-justification, and self-condemnation, which is quite as bad. For, my friends, man does not need to be condemned, not even by himself; he needs to be saved.
Then, too, there comes to you a sense of humility, that true humility which is not weakness, but strength; the humility which brings with it that true independence which comes from depending upon God and not upon man. As your thought about God changes, so do you find your thought about men and things changing for the better. You become less harshly critical, more tolerant, patient, and considerate. You forget how to hate and you learn how to love. When you realize, as you do through Christian Science, that every quality of good is yours to reflect daily, hourly, constantly, by virtue of your divine heritage, then you begin to comprehend what Jesus means when he tells us that to know God "is life eternal."
Dominion and Opportunity
In the old way of thinking we used to hear much about man being the creature of circumstance. Christian Science is reversing this belief of limitation and is proving that man, if he will, may be the master of circumstance, not its victim. There is a short sentence in our text book bearing on this subject containing only seven words, but so carefully chosen and so skillfully grouped as to form a standard for thought and action which inspired with courage, imparts endurance, and leads to victory. You will find it on page 419 of Science and Health, and it reads,
"Meet every adverse circumstance as its master."
Not only are we here told to do this, but we are also shown how it is to be done. Throughout the whole book we are reminded that man's divine birthright is dominion, not subjection. You remember that in the first chapter of Genesis, where the spiritual creation of man and the universe is described, we are told not that man is made from a rib, a bone, but that he is created in God's image and likeness and is given dominion over all.
That divine birthright can never be taken from man. It is ours today and ever will be. Is it not pitiful, then, that through fear or indifference or infidelity or lethargy, mankind has allowed this deific bestowal to lapse into desuetude? We need to be awakened and aroused, and to exercise our God-given authority. "How are we to do this?" you may ask. Again our text book answers your question on page 393. Hear these ringing words that should be emblazoned in letters of light upon the banner of every militant Christian who daily goes forth to victory over the forces of sickness, want, and woe: "Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man"!
But let us ever remember, my friends, that we are to rise not through the exercise of the human will, not through hypnotism, occultism or the like, but in the strength of Spirit. Our God-given dominion does not operate through the channels that the human mind provides but only through the ever-present and ever-available forces of Spirit.
Hand in hand with dominion walks ever her twin sister obedience. To know the will of God is wisdom; to obey it is joy. But mankind is not always wise, and the questions often arise: "How am I to know what is God's will in this matter? How am I to know that I am in the place I should be and doing what I should do? I am often uncertain which step to take next. How can I get the guidance I need?" God never fails to keep His part of a proposal and here is one that answers your question. It promises you the very guidance and direction you seek, and it asks of you in return nothing but what you can certainly perform: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
Do you find it difficult to trust in God? Perhaps it is because you have not tried hard enough, or long enough, or often enough. It should be easy for the business man to learn to trust God, for the whole fabric of business is built on credit and credit rests upon trust, the trust of one man in another's integrity and ability and intentions. And when you accord to God the same degree of trust you do to your fellow man and keep your covenants with Him with the same degree of faithfulness, you will in all your ways be divinely guided, protected, and rewarded.
But while trusting to God wholeheartedly, it is never the part of wisdom to shape or outline in your own thought what God should do, or what you would like Him to do, for until you can read the whole of the future, you cannot determine infallibly what is best for you, nor do you need to know; God knows, and that is enough. When you recognize this and remember that God is ever-present good, you will want above all else to do His will, whether it requires of you to do great things or small; whether it places you where you may do much good to many or merely do your own common duties day by day, duties which may at times seem tiresome and dull, but which may always be elevated, not to say glorified, by the consciousness that you are doing God's service right where you are today. You will forget the meaning of disappointment when you get the habit of doing your best and leaving the outcome in God's hands without depicting or outlining to yourself how it ought to result. When human opinions and human desires are substituted for God's will and God's methods, disappointment grows into discouragement, the discouragement that too often leads to despair.
In Christian Science God's will is the law of the universe. It is the law which never operates through chance, luck, or hazard. Its results are sure and its opportunities are infinite. As we gain a better understanding of the operation of God's law, we see that chance or luck has no place in it. We find ourselves released from the old-time beliefs in "hard luck" and the like. Nor do the siren voices of good fortune and good luck, beguile, delay, or mislead the man who has within his reach unlimited opportunities for achievement. To the man who is trusting God, an ounce of present opportunity is worth more than a ton of capricious luck.
It is an old saying that "opportunity knocks but once at every man's door." But what matters that to the man who has learned where opportunity dwells and knows that when she has once knocked at his door, she is ever thereafter waiting for him to knock at her's that she may welcome him in.
Christian Science imparts the understanding of being which shows that opportunity is ever present and ever available to the man who relies upon God more than upon himself or any other man or thing or circumstance or belief. Mrs. Eddy says (Christian Healing, p. 19), "Tireless Being, patient of man's procrastination, affords him fresh opportunities every hour."
There is a sentence in the textbook of Christian Science, which tells us "that all causation is Mind." (Science and Health, p. 417). This being true it follows that a thought of some kind is the foundation, the starting point, of every action, and that right habits of thinking lead to right habits of living.
Much of the trouble that weighs men down, that makes them old before their time, that invites disease, is due to their carrying along in their recollection some regrettable thing, some deplorable circumstances, long after the thing itself has passed and should be buried in forgetfulness. Christian Science teaches the art of forgetting the things that are evil and remembering the things that are good. And it is an art to forget evil, for you know how it reaches out and clutches at your thought and forces itself upon you at every opportunity. Yet, nothing but evil can come from thinking of evil and there is no surer way of expelling evil from our lives than to follow the words of the Founder of Christian Science, "Keep your minds so filled with Truth and Love, that sin, disease, and death cannot enter them." (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, P. 210). God's promise, "I will take sickness away from the midst of thee," was not made merely for the past or for the future, but for the present. If one would know in what direction his thinking may be most profitable, he need but recall the words of that exponent of right thinking, Paul of Tarsus: "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Christian Science through the right thinking that leads to right doing, affords to each one the means of bringing into his day just the brightness, progress and abundance of good that he needs and longs for.
To rule the day wisely, justly, beneficently, we must begin it rightly. Christian Science is showing men and women in every walk of life that there is no better way of beginning each day than to start it with a prayer.
In Christian Science there are no formal prayers for special occasions. It has no prayer book. The Lord's Prayer is repeated in unison at all Christian Science services, and it is invariably preceded by a few moments of silent prayer by the congregation. Besides this, there is one short prayer recommended for daily use. So simple is it, yet so reverent in its phraseology; so direct, yet so universal in its inclusions, so free from every suggestion of sect or doctrine is it, that it can be used unreservedly by any sincere man or woman of any church or of no church. Here it is as Mrs. Eddy has given it to us: "'Thy kingdom come;' let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin; and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!" (Manual Art. VIII Sec 4)
The day that is begun with this prayer or any other equally unselfish and uplifting, is sure to be a better, happier, healthier, and holier day because of it.
Healing in Christian Science is always by means of prayer. The word generally used is "treatment," but it is always to be understood that a Christian Science treatment is a prayer, and just in the proportion that it is a righteous prayer, does it heal the sick and reform the sinner. It is not the prayer of supplication, but of realization; it is not merely asking God to do something for us, but knowing that He has already done the good thing desired. It is the prayer in which gratitude is supplanting entreaty, confidence is expelling doubt, and perfect love is casting out fear. It is laying at the feet of God the "heart's sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed," and then patiently listening for His "Go in peace." It is the prayer of rejoicing, of conquest, of humility, of unselfish love.
Gratitude versus Discouragement
There is one other prayer that should ever be in the heart of man, the prayer of thankfulness, the prayer of gratitude. The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing and in everything to give thanks. Christian Science is showing that true gratitude, the gratitude that is expressed in deed as well as in thought and word, is more than a mere Christian grace; it is a Christian necessity. Not that God needs our gratitude, but we need to give it to Him. Gratitude takes our thought from getting to giving, and he who gives good gets good.
Perhaps you may find it difficult to be grateful to God; many people do. Let me tell you how to make it easy. Whatever of good comes to you, be it little or great, think of it as coming to you direct from God. For everything that brings to you quiet joy, or peace, or true delight, be it merely the smile on the face of a child, or the fragrance of a flower, or the daily opening of the welcoming door of your home, or the nightly closing of your eyes in sleep; be it some worthy action well done, or the timely lift of a friendly hand; be it song or sermon; beauty, art or science, for every good that comes to you, let some thought of gratitude to God ring through the innermost chambers of your heart of hearts. Do this faithfully and soon you will find yourself so frequently in the sweet company of happiness that life would seem to be beginning anew. And it will be the beginning of new things, for gratitude is one of the gateways through which God's blessings enter men's lives. If we keep it shut, need we wonder why more of good does not come to us?
The man who is ill, the man who is unfortunate, the man who is afflicted, the man who has not that which he needs, if he wonders why, will do well to ask himself often, "Am I grateful enough for what I already have?" And the man who is discouraged! Ah, my friends, the discouraged man has but to invite gratitude into his consciousness to see discouragement vanish like darkness before the undimmed sun. And here let it be said that there is not one man on this green earth today, but can find something for which to be grateful to God, if he will but hunt for it honestly and earnestly.
Christian Science is tearing the mask from the gloomy face of discouragement and is exposing it in its true colors. It may be truly said that nine people out of ten submit to discouragement without resistance because they do not know any better. They do not know that it is a mental intruder, a moral nuisance that should never be tolerated but always shunned as one would shun infectious disease. It is bad because it is full of deceit. It tricks a man into believing that he is a failure, when success may be waiting for him just around the corner. It deludes him until he sees things crooked and believes things about himself and others that he knows are not true. It robs him of his courage, strips him of his ability and mumbles into his ears the awful lie that God has forgotten him. Discouragement is dangerous because it invites and develops those evil thoughts that later may be manifested in evil things, the most common of which is disease in its varied forms.
So, my friends, whenever you see the dark and heavy leaves of discouragement growing in your mental garden, just remember that underneath them, out of your sight and unsuspected by you, may be reaching out the roots of those evil thoughts that grip and dwarf and sap a man's very character. Pull them up! Uproot them! Or, better yet, let your heart be so filled with gratitude to God that discouragement can find no foothold. Do you remember what an inspiring example was set for us in that direction by Jesus, when he began his prayer with the words, "Father, I thank thee." And if ever the sower of evil seeds tempts you to believe that you have little to be thankful for, consider the many things you have this very day that you would not want to do without and then note how few of them were possessed by him who in speaking of himself said, 'The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." And yet he prayed, "Father, I thank thee."
The Bible tells us that "the prayer of faith shall save the sick." What may we not expect then of the prayer in which there is not only the abundance of faith but also of understanding, of that essential knowledge of God, of wisdom, of gratitude, of unselfish love? And every Christian Science treatment that is made up of these elements of righteousness, as every Christian Science treatment should be made up, heals the sick and the sinning and comforts the sorrowing, and with it comes a consciousness of God's protecting care and infinite affection, a consciousness that leads to higher aspirations and purer desires, that makes men and women want to be better and want to know how to be better, that they may share in God's infinite mercy and justice and love.
[1916. The title of the lecture, which was not provided, is surmised based upon its similarity to another lecture of the same title from the same time period.]