Christian Science: The Revelation of Ever-Present Good
Robert Stanley Ross, C.S.B., of New York, N.Y.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
"Christian Science: The Revelation of Ever-Present Good" was the subject of the lecture given Monday night by Robert Stanley Ross, C.S.B., of New York City, under auspices of Fifth Church of Christ, Scientist, Broad Ripple. Mr. Ross is a member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass. He was introduced by Mrs. Lydia E. Perine and his lecture follows substantially as it was given:
Christian Science is practical religion. On this account it finds ready response amongst practically-minded persons. It teaches, on a scientific basis, exactly what Jesus taught.
Although the period allotted to a lecture on this subject is necessarily brief, I shall endeavor nevertheless, to tell you at least something about the Principle and rule of this Science, the revelation of ever-present good; something about its method or modus operandi.
For the full, complete, and original statement of Christian Science, I refer you, of course, to that unique volume, the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy.
In the book of Genesis is the following passage, dear to all students of the Bible, and, I might say, particularly so to Christian Scientists: "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. . . Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them," including man of course.
Here is the emphatic statement that God (Elohim) created everything, and that it was not only good, but very good. In this spiritual record of creation there is not the slightest hint that sin and sickness, failure and poverty, disaster and death, are good, nor that they were evil created for a good purpose, nor that they were any part whatsoever of God's wholly good universe.
Admittedly, in succeeding verses of the second chapter, we are told that the Lord God (Jehovah) created man out of the dust of the ground, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and thereby caused man to become a living soul, alias a sentient mortal. But, in considering this material record, let it be understood (1) that man had already been created spiritual and perfect, and (2) that the so-called dust-man does not appear in either premise or conclusion until a mist is supposed to have arisen (Gen. 2:6, 7).
From this, the deduction is natural that mortal existence with all its discord and suffering had its alleged beginning in mental mystification, in a beclouded point of view, in the belief in an existence apart from God, infinite good. In other words, mortal existence is a finite conception of reality; for God's man is not a discordant mortal, but the image and likeness of Spirit, hence spiritual, God-like, perfect.
Accordingly, it is not primarily a physical body that needs to be healed, nor circumstances that need to be changed, nor normal business conditions that need to be restored, but a mistaken, misled, material point of view from which human consciousness needs to be awakened spiritually to ever-present good. Then harmonious results will follow.
Christian Science declares that in this spiritual awakening to the truth of ever-present good, in this awakening to primeval harmony as the reality of being, lies the answer to every vital question and the solution of every human problem; for the Master's perpetual promise is that "ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
The Bible tells us that Jesus came to do the will of the Father and to destroy the works of the devil. By studying the Gospels, you will find that the Master spent most of his time liberating those who believed they were in bondage to sin, disease, and death. If these evils were real, that is, if they were of God, Jesus would have disobeyed God by destroying them. But the very fact that the Master could and did destroy them proved beyond question or room for reasonable doubt that God was not their author.
True, God made all that was made; but the Bible tells us that God made it all "very good." Are sin, disease, poverty and death good? Did you ever hear anyone say he was glad to do wrong, to be sick, or to lack necessary food, clothing, and shelter? If these and other phases of discord are good, we should be glad to have them with us always, even as we are glad to have any good and helpful friend with us always. But ask the slave of wrong-doing, and the bedridden invalid, and the person in desperate financial need whether they see any good in sin, sickness and want, supposedly sent from God for some helpful, benevolent purpose and in which, according to such reasoning, they should be glad to remain.
It is not self-evident that, if God were directly or indirectly responsible for evil, if He were in any way associated with human suffering, the cries of mankind for relief would be useless, and that Christian Science, medicine, surgery, philanthropy, or any other method of treatment to which one might appeal for help, would be illegitimate? Do you not see that none of us would even aspire to recover, to reform, or to rise above discouragement and failure, lest we should find ourselves fighting against God? But, thanks to Mrs. Eddy, we are learning that error, and not Truth, God, is responsible for all the discord and suffering on earth, and Christian Science is showing us how to resist and overcome error and its chief agent, fear.
Several months ago, for example, I heard a commotion on the street behind me. Looking backwards, I saw a cat running in my direction, pursued by a dog. Presently, another dog appeared on the scene, cutting off retreat. Faced by this dilemma, the cat started to cross the roadway at a point where two trolley cars, going in opposite direction, were about to pass each other. The predicament seemed to be a desperate one; but, instead of permitting itself to be rushed fearfully to almost certain destruction under the car wheels, the cat turned suddenly, faced its pursuers, and courageously stood its ground. Surprised by the unexpected change in events, the dogs came to an abrupt stop, barked loudly for a while, got into an argument over the prospective spoils, and finally slunk away, leaving the cat unharmed.
Like the dogs chasing the frightened cat, evil suggestion - whether it calls itself fear, worry, sickness, unhappiness, unemployment, lack, discouragement, failure, death - will doggedly pursue and threaten to destroy us just so long as we believe in, fear, and run away from it as if it were real. But evil is not good, hence not of God; consequently it must be unreal or untrue. It is therefore your divine right to turn upon and mentally and fearlessly resist your own and the world's belief in the supposed reality of evil - a belief which, although universally submitted to as law, is not and never will be law. It is your divine right to resist this belief and be free. Knowing that evil - whether as pleasure, pain or power - becomes impotent when, in the light of God's all-pervading, ever-present love, its unreality is recognized and denounced, the apostle wrote, "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
Accordingly, prayer as understood in Christian Science is not an appeal to the Giver of all good do more than He has already done, nor to grant the special request of a petitioner. Rather it is joyful recognition and humble, prayerful, child-like affirmation of the forever fact that God has already done all things well; that where evil seems to be there is no presence, activity, and power but God, good. True prayer enables us to look through and beyond this mystified human sense of things into the rarefied atmosphere of spiritual reality, where we see things as they are, and not as they seem to be. In the words of Isaiah: "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy." Who would not rejoice in the glad discovery, and continue to rejoice in the eternal fact, that good is infinite, all? "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."
This prayer of joy and gratitude, rebuking and rising above sense-testimony, demonstrates that men need not be out of health, happiness, home, friends, employment, money, nor anything else that is necessary and good, so long as they understand spiritually that man cannot be outside the realm of God, infinite good, nor be anything less than perfect. God has not made a poor man or a failure any more than He has made a sick man or a sinner. Therefore, if obeyed, the same divine Principle which Christian Scientists invoke daily in their own and others' behalf to silence pain, heal a broken heart, or restore wasted tissue of the body, may be depended upon also to replenish a depleted purse. The Psalmist sang, "No good thing will he [God] withhold from them that walk uprightly," and Jesus said, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you." These passages indicate that the fulfillment of God's promises is inseparable from loving obedience to divine law, the law of ever-present good.
Surely, there is no more concord between Christianity and poverty than there is between Christianity and any other phase of discord and limitation, sin, disease, and death included! Whatever seemed to be the human need of those who called upon him for help, Jesus demonstrated God's willingness and God's ability to meet that need and to meet it instantaneously. His at-one-ment with the law of Love made this possible. Accordingly, Mrs. Eddy writes on page 494 of Science and Health, "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need." Is not our greatest need to awaken to the truth that God's image and likeness has no lack because God has none? Argue the senses what they will, God is ever saying to His image and likeness (our real and only self), "Son, thou are ever with me, and all that I have is thine."
Although God is a respecter of spirituality, He is not a respecter of persons. The divine Mind has no human favorites. Principle regards one idea or reflection as highly as another. If some persons seem to be sharing more abundantly in good than others, that is not due to divine discrimination, but to the activity in human consciousness of divine law, a law which, Christian Science reveals, is ever present and as available to all as it is to one. But in order that divine law may become operative in our behalf we must be loving and meek. We must be joyfully expectant of good. We must lay claim humbly and importunately to all that is included in man's birthright now as the son of God, who gives us dominion, not over supposed persons, circumstances, and things, but over a mortally mental sense of the universe, including man; for Mrs. Eddy tells us on page 86 of Science and Health that "mortal mind sees what it believes as certainly as it believes what it sees. It feels, hears, and sees its own thoughts."
Some time ago, for example, while motoring with a friend through a public park in one of our large midwestern cities, I saw a polar bear going through a series of motions from which, I learned, he never deviates. Year in and year out, the bear takes three or four steps forward and, without turning, the same number backward, hundreds of times a day, with tedious regularity. When asked for an explanation, the keeper said that the animal grew up in a cage that permitted him to take only those few steps in either direction. Although he was then at liberty to roam where he would in a large, rugged outdoor enclosure, including a pool of water only a few feet away, the bear in bondage to his own sense of limitation, believed still that he had room enough for those few steps only.
Like the bear, are not most persons in bondage, more or less, to the belief of limitation? Are not many of us saying to ourselves that we are incapable of doing this, unworthy of aspiring to that, and too old to attempt the other? Christian Science, however, is showing mankind how to throw off the small-cage habit. Instead of telling us to bow submissively to suggestions of limited health, limited happiness, limited opportunity, limited ability, limited income, and so forth, this Science encourages us to face fearlessly the foe calling itself limitation, in the assurance that error is never real or true, nor can it plead for recognition as it will.
Though the sun seems to rise, it is the earth turning. Though the earth seems to be flat, we know it is round. Though, at the horizon, ships seem to disappear, they continue on their way. Our great need is to be awake spiritually to the unreality of all sense-testimony, with its lying limitations, and cheerfully, confidently, expectantly fix our gaze on spiritual reality, which is ever-present, unchangeable, unlimited good, and to which sin, disease, sorrow, poverty, failure, discouragement, disaster, and death are unknown. And whatever is true about God must be equally true about God's image and likeness, man.
Let it be understood clearly, however, that the religion of Christian Science cannot be used for the primary purpose of promoting one's material prosperity nor for any other narrow, selfish purpose. The religion of Christian Science can be used for one purpose only, namely, for acquainting one's self and others with God, infinite good. Knowing, however, that God rewards humanly those who make pursuit of heavenly riches their chief aim in life, Jesus said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things (human necessities) shall be added unto you." Accordingly, it is not organization, financing, or patronage that is fundamentally important to one's success in life, but loving, unselfish, spiritual recognition of man's unity with God and of God's impartial, unchanging love for man. In the light of this divine law, we see that every child, man, and woman, as an idea of divine Principle, Mind, stands before the Almighty with an equal right not only to health and happiness, but to opportunity and achievement. It is our sacred privilege to demonstrate this spiritual fact, and Christian Science shows us how.
The Scriptures exhort us to love our neighbor as ourselves. This means, of course, that we should rejoice over the good that comes to others as whole-heartedly as we rejoice over the good that comes to us. It means that we should find our own health, happiness, and success in the health, happiness, and success of others. Consequently, the surest way to invite our own failure is to look for and count upon the failure of others; and, contrariwise, the surest way to succeed ourselves is prayerfully to recognize our neighbor's divine right to succeed, to encourage him in his endeavors, and to rejoice with him when he does succeed. ďAll things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.Ē When mundane affairs are ordered in accordance with the Golden Rule, the law of Love, the discord and strife so commonly associated with human relationships will cease. Then we shall see that success in business and other legitimate pursuits depends not upon human competition but upon neighborly, brotherly, Christian co-operation.
In order to determine how clearly the pupils of a Christian Science Sunday School class understand the law of Love, I asked them one Sunday morning what would be their attitude toward a playmate who, for example, should appear among them with a pretty new dress, new hat, new shoes, and so on, even though they should seem at the time not to have anything nearly so new nor so pretty. Without a moment's hesitation, a tiny girl replied cheerfully, "I'd be glad she had them." Here was no competition, no rivalry, no envy! That dear child had learned early and well what the Master meant when he said, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." She had learned that in order to receive, the closed hand must first be opened to give. Would you question for a moment whether any needed thing could be withheld from such sweet, scientific unselfishness?
It may not always be humanly possible for us to give money and other material things, but we can always give an understanding smile, or an encouraging word, or a helping hand. The world needs kindness more than it needs material things, and every one of us has an abundance of it to give. By helping others we shall find that others will help us. This is inevitable, because it is in accord with divine law.
According to Christian Science, then, ever-present, unchangeable good is and always will be the basis, starting point, or Principle of true thought and demonstration. To human sense, however, this fact must be a revelation or discovery. The dawning upon human consciousness of the idea of ever-present good is the appearing of Christ, Truth, even that which Jesus came to reveal and exemplify. This divine appearing constitutes Christian Science practice, and brings about in human experience that which is known as healing. Fundamentally, however, this process is not the healing of sick persons or sinners, nor of persons who believe they are sick and sinning, but it is the dispelling of a false personal sense by spiritual recognition of the glorious fact that the real man, the Christ-man, which is true selfhood, never has been sick nor a sinner, discouraged nor a failure. The power which accomplishes this perfect idea, this recognition of reality, is irresistible. It opens wide the floodgates of omnipotence. It ushers into human consciousness the very presence of God.
Therefore, the method or modus operandi of Christian Science is the art of maintaining, through meekness and love, such a clear, unobstructed outlook upon spiritual reality that the mesmerism of customary, popular belief, scientifically termed mortal mind or animal magnetism, cannot becloud our thinking and thereby prevent us from recognizing ever-present good. In this way and in this way only can we see for ourselves and others the unreality of that which to human sense seems to be real and substantial. Instead of doing something to supposedly separate or correct outward persons, circumstances, and things, we have only to clarify our own thought spiritually; we have only to cast out the beam or false material concept from our own thinking and see the universe and man as the spiritual idea of God, hence perfect, in order to remove the mote or error that seems to be part of our neighbor. Mrs. Eddy makes this clear on pages 476 and 477 of Science and Health, where she writes: "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 Godís own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick. Thus Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy."
In view of what has been said, you can see that it is not only right for Christians to heal human discord and suffering in the way that Jesus healed them, but that it is inseparable from Christian discipleship. What, for example, would be thought about one who claimed to be a lawyer, but who was unable to prepare a brief, argue persuasively in court, or sum up before a jury? Or what would be thought about one who claimed to be an architect, but who, when called upon by an intending builder, was unable to draw up a set of plans and specifications? "Even so," writes James, "faith, if it hath not works is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say. Thou hast faith, and I have works; shew me thy faith [spiritual understanding] without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith [spiritual understanding] by my works."
The master Christian supplemented his words with works and required the same of his followers. Early in his ministry he called upon them not only to preach the Gospel, but by spiritual means to heal the sick, provide needed food, overcome wrongdoing, and raise the dead. Is it not equally incumbent upon the Christians of today to present proofs of their profession? Has the divine standard been lowered? May we now accept Christianity in theory, but reject it in practice? The only evidence of discipleship which Christian Science accepts is the only evidence which Jesus accepted, namely, the ability to meet progressively, on the basis of ever-present good, every human need.
This idea of ever-present good which, in her extremity, healed Mrs. Eddy and inspired her to write and publish the Christian Science textbook, prompted her also to establish The Mother Church and its system of branches as the necessary and best means for proclaiming her teachings and, through them, redeeming the race. Hence, the Christian Science church is a healing church. It offers regular services on Sundays and, on Wednesdays, testimonial meetings, where one may hear those who have been healed by Christian Science tell about it. It offers Christian Science Sunday Schools, where children who are accepted as pupils are taught how to utilize this glorious demonstrable understanding of God. It offers free Christian Science Reading Rooms, where the authorized literature may be read, purchased, or borrowed.† It offers in the Christian Science Journal a list of recognized practitioners who are prepared to help those who seem to be unable to help themselves.
Finally, let it be understood thoroughly that there is only one Christian Science and that is the Christian Science revealed by God to his loving, watchful, obedient servant, Mary Baker Eddy. God chose Mrs. Eddy to be His messenger and scribe to this and future ages because she was spiritually worthy and capable of carrying out the divine commission. It is as necessary for him who would succeed as a Christian Scientist to keep this fact clearly before him and gratefully acknowledge it, as it is for the mariner to refer constantly to charts and compasses and obey them in order to steer his ship safely past the rocks and shoals along the way. Owing to this saintly woman's discovery, the world is witnessing, in accordance with prophecy, the establishment, as a permanent, scientific, demonstrable system, of that healing method by which patriarchs, prophets, and apostles performed their mighty works, and which the Bible, studied in the light of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," now makes available to all mankind.