Christian Science: Its Answer to Human Problems
Peter V. Ross, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Second Church of Christ, Scientist, in
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Is there any ill known to mankind that cannot be remedied by spiritual enlightenment? Not if we accept the statement of Christ Jesus, "The truth shall make you free." Our difficulties then must rest in misapprehension or ignorance of reality. Their cure must come in that understanding for which Solomon prayed, and which, when acquired, awakened him somewhat to the fact that then and there was he in possession of all things needful - wisdom, knowledge, riches, honor.
Spiritual understanding, it will be conceded, is the universal necessity. Without it one has an inadequate if not a wretched state of existence. With it one begins to see the real universe and the real man; begins to appreciate the perfection in which God has established His creation. For the universe, viewed as it actually is, assuredly must be an orderly, a kindly realm wherein are peace and plenty for every individual.
And man, as genuinely constituted, must be a perpetual manifestation of divine intelligence and invincible Life. He has the strength and the ability to accomplish all that may be legitimately demanded of him. Governed by the divine purpose, he knows no dangers or limitations to interfere with his progress or frustrate his success.
Spiritual understanding is advanced by recognizing that God is the only Mind, and that this all-knowing Mind finds expression through man and constantly imparts unerring intelligence to individual consciousness. One who gratefully realizes and utilizes this simple yet dynamic truth has the satisfaction of seeing his limitations gradually lessen. He finds his capacity for achievement enlarging and his sense of rightful dominion expanding. He is better enabled to solve his problems, whether social or business or whatnot. A larger degree of success and usefulness is the inevitable result.
What right have we to say that God is Mind? Because we are convinced that God knows all things and is everywhere present. Mind measures up to these requirements. More than once do New Testament writers refer to Deity, either expressly or by implication, as Mind. Thus does Mind, as a name for Deity, satisfy both reason and revelation. In Science God is also defined as Soul, which reminds us that Mind, in its fullest sense, is much richer than mere intellect. It embraces the finer qualities of sympathy, love, beauty, animation. In other words Mind, in order to be an adequate name for Deity, must be in accord with divine Principle.
The proximate or immediate cause of many of the problems and distresses in human experience is fear; but fear, for the most part, is traceable to either ignorance or conscious wrongdoing. The unknown is peopled with fancied dangers. The unfailing panacea is more light, clearer vision, fuller understanding, unswerving character.
Equipped with spiritual vision and enlightened righteousness, with which God endows man, one feels secure and unafraid; one sees the futility of evil, the illusory nature of disease, and the groundlessness of poverty, regardless of appearances. For it is inconceivable that a beneficent God has projected man unprotected into an unfriendly universe. "Thou openest thine hand," says the Psalmist, "and satisfiest the desire of every living thing."
Promotion of Health
Health is promoted by the intelligent and reverent insistence that really man is in the present and permanent enjoyment of it, rather than by entreaty or importunate appeal for divine help. For Life is God; and therefore Life experiences no disease, no age, no beginning, no end. And this resistless, invulnerable, resplendent Life is the life of man.
It is through man that everlasting Life is made manifest. Man is the indisputable witness to the presence of Life. He cannot do otherwise than feel its constant exuberance. He cannot know suffering because Life can brook no opposition. The functions of Life cannot be silenced or slowed down. They are in perpetual and unlabored operation even to the uttermost recesses of real being. One who meditates on these truths, reasons them out, and assimilates them, will gradually prove the Christian Science proposition that disease is belief, mesmerism, appearance, ignorance as distinguished from actuality.
Intelligent prayer consists, therefore, not in apprising God of our needs and beseeching Him to supply them according to our views, but rather in thankfully recognizing that in providing for man He has left nothing undone. Jesus assures us, "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him." Mrs. Eddy, reinforcing this assurance, declares in her inimitable way (Science and Health, page 7); "The 'divine ear' is not an auditory nerve. It is the all-hearing and all-knowing Mind, to whom each need of man is always known and by whom it will be supplied." Is it not time we began wholeheartedly to admit this glorious fact, instead of, through doubt and fear, virtually denying or questioning it?
How touchingly is this illustrated
in the experience of Hagar! Driven from Abraham's home because of Sarah's
jealousy, she wandered with her son Ishmael in the wilderness of
What authority have we for the assertion that Life is God? The Bible! "In Him was life and the life was the light of men," said John. The disciple was simply restating what Jesus himself had declared when, speaking with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well, he said, "God is a Spirit." Spirit and Life are essentially the same. The words are different. The ideas identical.
Life is the one universal, undeniable fact. The most confirmed skeptic never questions the presence of Life; never doubts that he lives. What is man, after all, if he is not a manifestation of everlasting Life?
This is why man, truly, can never know weakness or sickness. Never can lack warmth and joyousness. Disease and mortality cannot be ascribed to Life, if Life is God. Nor can failure or despair. Nothing can intervene between man and Life. He is at-one with Life, as the light is at-one with electricity. Jesus summed up this superlative truth when he declared, "I and my Father are one."
For an individual to realize his oneness with the energy, the stateliness, the grandeur of everlasting Life, to realize that this Life, as Paul says, is in him and through him, is to declare the truth which inevitably arouses him not only to increased strength, endurance, and resolution, but to the finer qualities of kindliness, graciousness, charity, and the richness of true being.
Admittedly we do not, through physical sense, cognize Life in its perfection either in man, the tree, or in the world at large. We see there only a hint, a promise, of the splendor which will appear when physical sense yields to spiritual sense. For it must be borne in mind that there are not two worlds, two creations, two men. Really there is only one universe, and that spiritual; only one man, and that spiritual, in the image and likeness of God. All suggestions and indications to the contrary are of the ignorance and mesmerism which would cloud our vision and make us believe in those two imposters, materiality and mortality.
"Praise ye the Lord" is a frequent injunction of Scripture. We all admit that we should respect and praise God. But how can it be done when He is invisible? You praise God by trying to see how wonderful is His spiritual universe, and how glorious is man in His likeness.
You can begin immediately to get acquainted with this man, in other words, to know your genuine self, by a study of the Bible and of Mary Baker Eddy's great book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." For on page after page in these books you will find man defined as spiritual and perfect. This very man is your true selfhood. So that as you peruse these volumes, you read about yourself, you read your own biography. This is why you can hardly put these books down once you have started to read them intelligently. Every person likes to hear a good word about himself.
Mortals and Immortals
Mrs. Eddy makes perfect God and perfect man the cornerstone of Christian Science practice. But this perfection of man does not at present appear, confessedly. Each person seems to be a composite - somewhat good, somewhat bad; at times sick and at times well. Out of this appearance of opposites has a supposition of duality crept into human philosophy. It has come to be assumed that each individual is, to all intents and purposes, not one but two - the first mortal, the second immortal; the one perfect, the other imperfect. But the undeniable fact is that there is only one man; and that man, as defined in Science, is spiritual and perfect. The supposedly material, evil, suffering man is therefore not a man. He is illusion, a misrepresentation of man. Oneness, not twoness, is the unchanging fact of the universe.
If all the evil and matter and mortality in the world were gathered together, not a single man could be fashioned from them. Man cannot be made from such ingredients. He is made of the stuff eternity is made of. What is that? Intelligence and life. Examine yourself searchingly and you will find nothing else on your premises or in your make-up. This is why we say man is spiritual not material. This is why we say man, truly, cannot be put in jeopardy, cannot suffer accidents, cannot be touched by disease, cannot be weighed down by despair, cannot be victimized by evil, cannot fall short of the kingdom of heaven.
Really there is no such thing, no such man, as a mortal. What we call a mortal is the lie or ignorance about man. This misrepresentation of man Paul admonishes us to put off. How? By the clear recognition of genuine selfhood as an expression of that everlasting Life to which materiality and mortality are unknown.
Importation of Manliness
"Jesus," Mrs. Eddy reminds us, "beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals" (Science and Health, page 476). It was an everyday occurrence with him to accost some hopeless sufferer and restore him to health. When the cripple was lowered through the roof before Jesus, Jesus was not deceived by the appearance of helplessness. He saw through the supposed infirmity. He knew that it was no more than a mesmeric condition. He was clear that, in Science, vigor and strength were present, although weakness and decrepitude appeared to material sense.
So full was Jesus' realization of the buoyancy and boundlessness of Life, so searching and glowing was his vision of reality, that the erstwhile cripple himself took on, in a measure, that same sense of Life, that same accuracy of vision. Then did he feel the surge of vitality in his sinews. He stood upon his feet and strode out before the astonished onlookers.
Life took on a new meaning to people with whom Jesus mingled. The disciples who met him on the road to Emmaus felt their "heart burn" within them. The sick woman who came behind him in the throng realized her expectation, "If I may but touch his garment I shall be whole." So do we all feel strength and courage and kindliness renewed in the presence and example of the true disciple of Christ.
Indigestion, high blood pressure, glandular disorders often have their beginnings in destructive emotions - irritability, bitterness, jealousy. Search the Scriptures, read Science and Health, become immersed in the truths they announce. These devastating emotions then give place to the healing concepts of faith, hope, charity. Health and peace are then found to be ever-present. The kingdom of heaven appears close at hand. It rests after all in a normal mood.
It might seem from the apparent prevalence of materiality and mortality that there is little else in human experience. This is a great mistake. The life we are now living, rightly viewed, is that eternal Life for which we have supposed we must depart this world. The disease and despair which appear to abound do not make up a thousandth part of human existence. Daily life is largely sound and wholesome. A tremendous purpose runs through it all. This very moment your thought may be so exalted that you all but tread the lofty plains of immortality.
Despair, distress, and physical ills, generally, rest in belief, in mesmerism, in ignorance. No one in these days likes the word ignorance. Yet the word should not stir our pride but rather raise our hope, when it is seen to be the cause or home of sickness and mortality, because ignorance can be extinguished and distress thereby routed by the simple truth that Life is God and everlastingly manifest by man. Mrs. Eddy puts the proposition better, just as she invariably states scientific facts better than others have been able to do, when she writes, "Man is the expression of God's being" (Science and Health, page 470).
Challenge to Disease
Yet on all sides is heard the argument that man is a mortal. Is it not deplorable what a person will say about himself, instead of insisting upon the fact that man is the noblest work of God? The argument for mortality has been carried on all down the ages. Ever since the human race has had a language, people have pictured disease, with the result that there has been built up a universal belief or illusion or mesmerism of mortality.
Today this mesmerism, like the rain, falls down upon the just and the unjust. One need commit no specific wrong or harbor any particular fear or fault in order to become vulnerable to disease. It is enough that he believe in disease or expect it. And this liability will continue until men and women come more definitely into the recognition of perfect God and perfect man. As they advance in this understanding, they will be able to challenge more successfully than before the inroads of mortality.
They will be like David going out to meet Goliath. Goliath had expected a man armed with a sword or a spear. He knew not how to defend himself against David's sling. Today Christian Science has put a weapon in your hand which disease and evil know nothing about. They cannot long resist it. That weapon is the truth - the truth which you will find on every page of Science and Health and in chapter after chapter of the Bible - the truth which reveals health and goodness as the real and denounces disease and evil as lying impositions.
Isolation of Sickness
Christian Science declines to confuse evil and disease with true being, it refuses to identify them with the individual. Speaking to this point Mrs. Eddy declares: "The temporal and unreal never touch the eternal and real. The mutable and imperfect never touch the immutable and perfect. The inharmonious and self-destructive never touch the harmonious and self-existent. These opposite qualities are the tares and wheat, which never really mingle, though (to mortal sight) they grow side by side until the harvest." (Science and Health, page 300)
However intimately or disastrously disease may have appeared to fasten itself upon a person, actually it has failed utterly to reach his true selfhood. A corporeal mortal, to whom sickness may claim to attach itself, is a mistaken concept of man; for man is spiritual, without a suggestion of materiality or mortality. No other conclusion can be reached when it is remembered that God is Spirit. For an individual to recognize himself as spiritual is to gain the shadow of the Almighty, whence he can denounce disease as illusory and powerless to draw nigh.
A person who with divine help isolates any malady takes a decisive step toward undermining and extinguishing it. He will not ask how the ailment has come about or why it has taken hold of him. Rather will he challenge its claim to presence or existence. He will face mortal mind, which would foist the deception upon him, and deny its insinuations with the truth. And the truth is that there is only one Mind, God, and one real consciousness, a consciousness which is aware of no evil or distress. Therefore mortal mind, with its arguments of suffering and sickness, is powerless in its pretensions - indeed is non-existent, having no part in the universe of eternal Life in which we have our being.
It is not difficult for the person to see and declare that the malady which tries to disturb him is belief, ignorance, or dream, because Life is God, and hence is continuously glorious and immune from disease. But he is prone to nullify in some measure his heroic and heartening declaration by claiming the belief or dream as his own, when in fact it is not. The dream and the dreamer are one, the disease and the diseased are one, but that one is not man. It is the dream's dream, the illusion's illusion. It is, as Jesus said, according to Moffatt's translation, a "liar and the father of lies."
More than once has it occurred that a person supposedly in the grip of suffering has viewed the ailment as quite apart from himself and felt insensible to its ravages, while friends were looking on with deep concern. This phenomenon illustrates that not only is disease mesmeric but that the mesmerism is not the individual's. Christian Science treatment, therefore, is directed to the annihilation of the mesmeric belief.
Cure for Lawlessness
Every public-spirited person in these days is fired with the ambition to improve world conditions. The world will be better, indeed it will be well on the way to the ideal realm, as soon as each individual begins to extract from his mentality anxiety, intensity, covetousness, suspicion, and envy, and replaces them with forbearance, kindliness, goodwill toward all, and faith in the ultimate triumph of good. The place to begin to overcome greed, violence, and tyranny is in one's self.
The lawlessness too much in evidence in all directions can be quieted by our realizing how impotent are the ambitions and intrigues of men and women. Designing men have fancied that they could rule the world. Nebuchadnezzar succeeded for a time. But as he walked in his palace one night and meditated upon his greatness, there fell a voice from heaven, "The kingdom is departed from thee." The same hour he was driven from men till at the end of the days he learned, "The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men." Then his reason returned.
The impatient and turbulent utterances of the day scarcely reach the level of intelligence. They are more on the plane of lunacy. No cause then to be alarmed by their clamor. But there is cause for taking account of their pretensions and reducing them to their native nothingness. Since they lack intelligence and reason, they are destitute of the ability to plan or organize to carry on.
We are not helpless in the confusion and turmoil of the times. We have the capacity to extinguish, noiselessly and finally, the fanatical influences bent on upsetting industry and government and society itself. And our weapon is of the sort that these inimical influences cannot see or cope with. Our weapon is the truth that Principle governs in all times and in all places, making unprincipled forces of none effect. "The Lord shall have them in derision."
The leaders in labor, in business, in government must learn that God directs the affairs of men. He rules there today, just as He has always done, regardless of the apparent rule of selfishness, strife, and oppression. "He disappointeth the devices of the crafty." There is no other government than His. Ultimately this government will be seen to prevail. For any man to recognize these facts and to intelligently insist upon their dynamic quality is for him to have part in bringing about a better order of things.
When Moses was engaged in the
giant enterprise of leading his people from
So Moses, faced by rebellion and starvation in the wilderness, lent himself to that presence, that ever-watchful intelligence which always accompanies man, for Science makes plain, that in Mind do we live, move, and have our being. He drew upon that presence for the discernment, the courage, the resourcefulness which the occasion demanded. Thereby did he become one of the great leaders in history.
Every man who accomplishes anything worth mentioning in engineering, in business, in government, in scholarship, in religion, learns to lean on the ever-present Mind. He looks to Mind and receives the understanding requisite for solving the problem confronting him. He receives from Mind the liberating thoughts which enable him to conduct his business successfully, to build the bridge or tunnel assigned to him, or to direct the ship of state through troubled waters.
Likewise the man in despair can recognize and actually feel the presence of God as Love, and know that he cannot stray beyond God's care. He recognizes that somehow and in some way all his difficulties are provided against in that divine solicitude which clothes the lilies and is mindful of the sparrow's fall.
So the sick, in enlightened expectation, feel the presence of Life as readily as they feel the warmth of the sunshine. They imbibe its glow. They experience its thrill. They appreciate its sublimity and permanence. There is no occasion for struggle, no need to climb the heavenly steeps, for Life is here and theirs in all its glory and exuberance -
A life indwelling, deep and broad
That meets the heart's great needs.
The Fact of Immortality
It is surprising how late were the Hebrews in arriving at the conviction that individual man has everlasting life. Little can be found to the point in the Old Testament. But the New Testament abounds with the doctrine. For early in his ministry, indeed throughout his career, did Jesus emphasize it. In conversing with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well he observed, as she handed him a cup of water, "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again. But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
So startling were Jesus' utterances, so remarkable were his doings, that the people wondered who he was and whence he had come. One day he answered: "I came forth from the Father and am come into the world; again, I leave the world and go to the Father." Here in brief simplicity he announces the continuity of individual life. Pre-existence, present existence, future existence are declared in one short sentence - of which more will presently be said.
Then time after time he definitely and openly proved in a doubtful world the truth of his statements. For scarcely a day went by that he did not heal some supposedly hopeless malady, thus demonstrating that individual life is above disease. He went so far, on some occasions, as to bring back to this world those who had taken their departure. The case of Lazarus was the most outstanding, for he had been gone four days when Jesus resuscitated him. Afterward, at a dinner given by Simon in honor of Jesus, Lazarus sat as one of the guests, his sister Martha waited on table, while their sister Mary, as the meal drew near the end, anointed Jesus.
Finally Jesus made the supreme test of immortality in his own experience. For he permitted his enemies to try to destroy him. Apparently they did so. Three days later he came from the sepulcher. He appeared to his friends and talked with them, not once but several times, during a period of forty days. At last he ascended, that is, became invisible to the physical senses. He had demonstrated that individual life is indestructible and continuous.
Life, then, is endless. It does not begin at birth; it does not end at death. Writes Mrs. Eddy on page 429 of Science and Health; "If man did not exist before the material organization began, he could not exist after the body is disintegrated. If we live after death and are immortal, we must have lived before birth, for if Life ever had any beginning it must also have an ending, even according to the calculations of natural science." The clear implication is that pre-existence, indeed all true existence, is spiritual.
Have you the courage to assert this of your true self? A moment ago you were brave enough to say, "Genuinely I am an expression of inextinguishable Life, a Life to which disease and danger and dissolution are strangers." Now you should be able to insist, "Why, really I have never left heaven for this mire of mortality. Therefore I am not called upon to explain its suffering and misfortune.
"I will no longer wonder why I am a failure. I will stop digging up the follies of the past and tormenting myself with them. I will insist that at most they were incidents of a dreamlike excursion in which no true man indulges. I will repudiate, disown, and rise above them, being careful to gain spiritual understanding, so as not to be drawn in that direction in the future.
"A failure? How can I fail when God has provided a world of abundance and opportunity? How can I fail when God has a purpose for me which cannot be frustrated - a purpose which abounds in activity and usefulness, and wherein idleness and uselessness cannot enter; how can I fail permanently when, regardless of apparent defeat or dismay today, life is still before me with all its possibilities?"
When you think and talk in this vein, and you can begin to do so tonight if you have not done so already, keeping in thought that it is of your spiritual selfhood you are claiming these prerogatives, you will begin to dissolve the mesmerism of mortal existence, with its failure and limitation and disease rather rapidly. You will glimpse the fundamental truth we started out with, namely, perfect God and perfect man.
The perfect man is here and now, and that man is your true self. He may seem to be obscured today; may seem to be temporarily, forgotten. But he is here awaiting recognition. And for you to voice the foregoing truths is for you to bring to remembrance, little by little, the perfect man, apparently so long overlooked, you always were and always will be.
Enter Christian Science
It would be a skeptical man, indeed, who could doubt the continuity of individual life, in view of Mrs. Eddy's definition of man as "an individual consciousness" or as "the conscious identity of being" (Science and Health, pages 76, 475). Because genuine or spiritual consciousness is beyond all power of disintegration or destruction. It cannot, from its very nature, become unconscious but must endure eternally, whatever fate may seem to overtake the material mind and body, since it is not identical with them.
Is it not clear that with spiritual sense we should see a different world, a different self? With earthly senses all we see of an individual's life is the brief journey between the cradle and the grave. What occurred before birth, and what will occur after death, we are unable to appreciate. Our better judgment persuades us that we should be concerned with the present and make the most of it. Yet we are convinced that individual life does not begin with birth or end with death. We are coming to see that birth and death are events in human experience.
Christian Science presents life in a new dimension, that dimension which Christ Jesus portrayed when he walked the wave, entered the room without opening the door, passed through the crowd unseen, desired to be at his destination and was there, demonstrated his own assertion, "He that keepth my saying shall never see death." To spiritual man, and really there is no other, the ordinary three-dimensional world with all its restrictions is obsolete. He is in the enjoyment of that Life that does not come or go, does not age, sicken, despair, or depart.
It might be thought that the significance of Jesus' stupendous achievements could never be forgotten, but within two or three centuries they were, in large measure, until seventy years ago. Then it was that Mary Baker Eddy discerned that Jesus, in healing the sick and raising the dead, was not working miracles but was practicing a Science which he understood. In the course of years of study and concentration she discovered that Science. In order that the world at large might profit by her discovery, she set forth the fundamentals of the Science, and the rules for applying it, in her famous book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures."
Afterward she established the Christian Science Church, which has since encircled the globe; she founded periodicals, among them The Christian Science Monitor, an international newspaper; and, in what she named The Manual of The Mother Church, she set forth rules for the conduct and government of the Church in all its activities. She placed their control in the hands of a board of five directors. With fine insight and fidelity they have so directed the various departments of the organization that Christian Science has long since been operating successfully in the six continents of the earth.
To those who would acquaint themselves with the inspiring events in the career of Mary Baker Eddy, the following books, accessible in most public libraries and in all Christian Science Reading Rooms, are recommended:
The Life of Mary Baker Eddy, by Sibyl Wilbur; Mary Baker Eddy: A Life-size Portrait, by Dr. Lyman P. Powell; Christian Science and Its Discoverer, by Mary Ramsay; Historical and Biographical Papers, by Judge Clifford P. Smith; and her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection.
One hardly knows which to admire the more, Mrs. Eddy's discernment in bringing the Science of Christianity to light, or her genius in establishing it on a workable and enduring foundation. Viewed in either aspect she has played a commanding part in her generation. No one of her day, indeed no one since Christ Jesus, has exerted more influence in the world - an influence which gathers momentum as the years roll by. And no wonder, for
To point that living way, to speak
The truth that makes men free,
To bring that quickening life from heaven,
Is highest ministry.
[From a newspaper clipping, location unknown.]