Christian Science:

The Revelation of Godís Infinite Goodness

 

John S. Sammons, C.S., of Chicago, Illinois

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

Mankind's greatest need is to perceive and to practice the universality and impartiality of God's infinite goodness, John S. Sammons, C.S., of Chicago, said in a Christian Science lecture in Boston this noon.

The key to the solution of business, health, and other problems is spiritual understanding of God, divine Love, Mr. Sammons said. He spoke in the Colonial Theatre under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. His lecture was entitled, "Christian Science: The Revelation of God's Infinite Goodness."

"Let this Love which is God govern your business and it will flourish, blossom, and be rich in its growth and fruitage," Mr. Sammons said.

Mr. Sammons was introduced by Mrs. Ruth Lund, C.S., Second Reader of The Mother Church.

 

Christian Science Is Practical

The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:

Christian Science is the practical solution for the problems of mankind. Every day in the lives of individuals in this land and in many other lands this fact is being demonstrated. Those who have experienced the ministrations of this Science find sickness giving way to health, longevity increasing, and the infinitude of the divine Mind, God, replacing the narrow outlook of material sense. To those who understand Christian Science, man's primitive and natural state of well-being is reappearing. The leaven of divine Science is at work in human consciousness. The spiritualizing and harmonizing force of Truth is irresistibly impelling toward the realization and demonstration that man and the universe are spiritual, are at one with the creator, and are moving uninterruptedly in perfect accord with Him. God is good; and all that has real existence or true being manifests God's goodness.

On page 286 of the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, we find the marginal heading, "Goodness a portion of God," and in the accompanying paragraph Mrs. Eddy tells us, "In the Saxon and twenty other tongues good is the term for God." One does not journey far in his study of Christian Science before learning that an understanding of God is foundational to all subsequent revelation and practice.

The concept of God as good is one that is simple and easily understood. The one God who is wholly good is good in all that He is and does. A God that is good is a God that loves and is lovable, His attributes those spiritual qualities referred to by Mrs. Eddy as "justice, mercy, wisdom, goodness, and so on" (ibid., p. 465). These are all qualities identified with Christian aspirations, and which followers of the Master strive to exemplify. To the extent that these qualities are exemplified, to that extent is God exemplified - brought into our experience; through this exemplification He becomes an integral, intimate part of our daily life. Mrs. Eddy says, "Mortals suppose that they can live without goodness, when God is good and the only real Life" (ibid., p. 328).


Mind Is Divinely Intelligent

God is more than the terms used to define Him, and it is well that students of Christian Science frequently and prayerfully examine and consider these terms, striving to go beyond the words and gain some perception of their spiritual value and significance. For example, when we use the term "Mind," let us endeavor to resolve it into its "nature" and "essence" and thus partake of Mind's infinite capacity for spiritual perception and divine guidance, a capacity which man reflects and embodies in his true selfhood. The divine Mind, or God, is divinely intelligent; and to express this Mind is to express this divine intelligence and to be completely free from confusion,' superstition, and all phases of ignorance.

That the physical senses are unreliable in their testimony is proved by the simple example of the mirage; that which seems to be, is not. Likewise, consider the aviator, whose sensations are frequently in conflict with his instruments. Now if the evidence of the senses is not to be accepted, it is but natural to inquire, What is the true sense, and on what can we rely? The answer may be found in the revelation of God as Soul, which Christian Science brings to its students, giving them a true spiritual perspective, the ability to get at the substance of situations and view them free from the obliquity of material sense. Deceptive appearances and material evidences disappear in the vision of this Soul-sense.

The term Principle as used in Christian Science is always in its singular form. There is but one over-all divine source of order or law; it is immutable and changeless Principle, or God, the primary and ultimate of being, invariable in that which it permits, as well as in that which it prevents, broad in the sense that it includes all good, narrow in the sense that it excludes all evil. It is an inflexible spiritual standard raised up before the people with which all things may be weighed, all things judged. The plummet was a tool common to the artisan of Bible times, used in building operations, to secure vertical straight lines.The term is also used in a figurative sense as a test or criterion. Thus the prophet Isaiah wrote, "Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet" (Isa. 28:17). Judgment is not condemnation; it is a recognition of spiritual values, a sifting, a separating process wherein and whereby the gold is refined, the dross consumed. The understanding of God as divine Principle will advance this sifting and refining process and enable us to judge righteous judgment.

 

Life Is God, Infinite Mind

No doubt you have on many occasions asked yourself, What is Life? Is it people moving about on a sphere whirling to an unknown destiny?Is it found in the magnitude of the material universe, or in the infinitesimal particle called the atom? Is it objects moving in space - sometimes in harmony, sometimes in conflict? Life is neither electrical, mechanical, nor chemical. It does not derive from nor exist as organic or structural matter. It is not to be found in atomic force nor nuclear energy. It does not exist as gas, liquid, or solid; and it is not dependent upon material elements for its continuity or being. Life is God, infinite Mind, divinely intelligent, the inexhaustible source of all action and volition, free from the wear of material processes, unrestricted in the spontaneity of its unlabored motion. In the consciousness of this Life, man - Life's eternal incorporeal expression or creation - knows neither birth nor death. Nourished by the substance of true being, man partakes of its supernal newness and freshness, finding in his spiritual sonship all that is necessary to complete and satisfy. In the words of the father expressed so beautifully in the parable of the prodigal, "Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine" (Luke 15:31).

It is written in the book of John that Christ Jesus was "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). What is this truth Jesus so perfectly exemplified? Could it be other than the spiritual dominion and power which characterized his every word and act?

This divine Truth, which Jesus taught, is the actuality and veritability of Life itself. It is obvious that to know that which is true is to be free from that which is erroneous. The presence of Truth, which is omnipresence, is marked by the absence of and freedom from all that is untrue. Deception, suspicion, distrust, subtlety - all the supposititious activities of the serpent, devil, or evil - are dissipated in the realization that God and the universe of His making is all that is true. We read in Science and Health (p. 129), "Truth is ever truthful, and can tolerate no error in premise or conclusion."

Truth is power, and it was the Christ, Truth, which enabled Jesus to do the mighty works which so vitalized his teaching. Mrs. Eddy writes: "Jesus was born of Mary. Christ is the true idea voicing good" (ibid., p. 332). John the Baptist saw something of the timeless nature of the Christ-idea when he said, "He that cometh after me is preferred before me; for he was before me" (John 1:15). Jesus perceived so clearly and expressed so perfectly and completely the Christ, the divine message from God to men, which dispels the illusions of the senses, that he was deservedly known as Christ Jesus, or Jesus the Christ.

 

Christian Science, Religion of Love

It is not unusual to hear Christian Science referred to as "a religion of love;" and this is but natural, because Christian Science gives special emphasis to the spiritual fact that "God is love," and teaches as John taught that "he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him" (I John 4:16). The revelation of God as Love is the starting point of Christian Science and the basis for the scientific certainty of its demonstration. The love that Christian Science presents, includes but transcends all that is good in human affections. It is represented in that quality of thought which prompted Abram to say to Lot on that historic occasion recorded in the book of Genesis (13:8): "Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, . . . for we be brethren." In the consciousness of this love our Master in the supreme moment of his testing time could speak these words (Luke 23:34), "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

It was the reflection of Love that made it possible for prophets, apostles, and others through Christian history to heal the sick and to bind up the brokenhearted, to follow in the footsteps of the Master. This same love impelled Mary Baker Eddy to her life of labor and sacrifice, that she might share the fruits of her discovery and demonstration with all mankind. Miss Clara Barton, celebrated philanthropist and past president of the American Red Cross Society, although not a Christian Scientist, said of Mrs. Eddy in an interview appearing in the New York American of January 6, 1908: "Love permeates all the teachings of this great woman, - so great, I believe, that at this perspective we can scarcely realize how great" (Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy, by Rev. Irving C. Tomlinson, p. 91).

Mrs. Eddy is widely known, and rightly so, as the Discoverer of Christian Science, the Founder of the Christian Science church, and the Leader of this world-wide movement. However - and not so widely known - she was also prophet, educator, Scientist, logician, a discerner of the true universe, an enlightener of mankind, precise and orderly in her thinking, logical in the presentation of her timeless discovery, vitalizing her logic with the irrefutable proof of spiritual healing. An incidental example of her prophecy - which is pertinent to the title chosen for this lecture - may be found on page 329 of the textbook, where she says, "As time moves on, the healing elements ofpure Christianity will be fairly dealt with: they will be sought and taught, and will glow in all the grandeur of universal goodness."

Tribute to Mrs. Eddy frequently comes to light in unexpected ways. A man of my acquaintance was taking a premedical course in a Midwestern university. His professor in logic told the class on one occasion to visit the library and look up certain citations in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" as interesting examples of good logic, the young man did so, and became so interested in Christian Science that when his studies were interrupted by the first World War he decided to abandon his medical career.†† Returning years later for a class reunion he recalled the incident to the former professor, who was at that time president of the university. The president's comment was significant. "I am not a Christian Scientist," he said, "but I consider Mrs. Eddy one of the outstanding logicians of all time." In his book "Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy" the author quotes Mr. John Wilson of the famous University Press, Cambridge,††† Massachusetts, who was for many years Mrs. Eddy's printer, as saying that "Mrs. Eddy was the writer most exact in diction, rhetoric, and punctuation of all writers he had ever met" (p. 103). Much more could be said about Mrs. Eddy's diverse talents, the broadness of her culture, her boundless capacity for spiritual reflection; however, time permits only the barest outline, and for complete information we must refer you to a study of her life and works.

 

Real Man Manifests Deity

In the definition of God, already quoted in part, Mrs. Eddy uses the words, "incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite." If such is God's nature, such must be the nature of that which images Him - His likeness, man. Man then is the incorporeal, spiritual, and infinite expression or manifestation of God. And these characteristics of inorganic, spiritual, and limitless being identify man - whether man is considered in a collective or individual sense. Man has no underived individuality, but manifests that infinite individuality which, Mrs. Eddy says, "supplies all form and comeliness" (Science and Health, p. 281).

The practical value of an understanding of man as the complete expression of God may be found in the application of this truth to the healing of those unreal and unlovely human traits called envy and jealousy. These false qualities persist in human relationships because a belief in a limited sense of good persists. When mortals see that man's relationship to God as reflection is without any restrictive influence or limiting factor they will see that all good is at hand to be appropriated and enjoyed by all. Man is, as Mrs. Eddy declares, "the full representation of Mind" (ibid., p. 591), that which fully and adequately presents Mind, or God, in the infinite range of His goodness.

And so it is that under the sovereign rule of the divine order there is no favoritism; that which belongs to one belongs to all. These spiritual ideas understood and demonstrated in human experience heal us of a desire to possess anyone or own anything, thereby freeing us from the claims of envy and jealousy, and enabling us in all sincerity to rejoice in the progress and growth of another - to come out from under the bondage of things. Anyone who perceives and practices the universality and impartiality of God's goodness can never be victimized by envy and jealousy, or be touched by unhappy comparisons,

 

Evil Proved to Be Unreal

St. Paul said, "I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil" (Rom. 16:19). Investigators of Christian Science and those with a beginning interest are sometimes mystified by its teaching that evil is unreal. Christian Science proves that as we read in the textbook (p. 186), "Evil is a negation, because it is the absence of truth. It is nothing, because it is the absence of something. It is unreal, because it presupposes the absence of God, the omnipotent and omnipresent." Christian Science exposes evil as purely conjectural and speculative, having neither substance nor law. Evil and its subtleties may seem to endure for a season, but when the truth is voiced with the authority of spiritual understanding, the illusion by whatever name must dispel.

A case in point was the healing of a lady who wrote me as follows: "After being a patient in a tuberculosis sanatorium for many months under the care of six physicians and one noted specialist, I was placed under the care of my own doctor who was a close friend and allowed to go home.

"I was confined to my bed most of the time, could take very little food because of the condition of the stomach as well as the lungs. After several months the doctor told the family that the condition was hopeless and that I could live but a short time.

"At this point I received a letter from my mother asking me to attend a Christian Science lecture given nearby. The effort seemed too great but I felt I must be obedient since she asked so little of me; and I managed to go, accompanied by a young cousin.

"I was suffering greatly when we were waiting for the lecture to begin but I soon forgot myself completely, and we discussed the lecture on the way home.

"I didn't seem to remember what I heard but it was a day or so later when my cousin said almost in alarm, 'Do you realize that you have been eating and sleeping normally?' She, too, had forgotten until that moment.

"The sense of disease and suffering had been so completely erased from consciousness that I was completely well.

"We then gathered up all medicines and threw them away, and I took a three-mile walk with no sense of exhaustion.

"Since this experience 20 years ago I have had a very busy and normal life."

In view of the wide acceptance that Christian Science finds with the general public today, it is difficult to believe that at one time Christian Scientists were seriously accused of being a prayerless people. Probably there is no group of people on earth who have more consistently followed or more clearly adhered to the admonition of St. Paul to all Christians to "pray without ceasing" (I Thess. 5:17).

 

Prayer Brings Communion With God

It is significant that the first chapter of the Christian Science textbook is devoted entirely to the subject of prayer - a chapter which concludes with the Lord's Prayer and its spiritual interpretation, the value of which has been demonstrated in the regeneration and healing of countless numbers. The study of this chapter has brought to its students an active communion with God - hitherto unknown - a reverent sense of God's omnipresence, an enlarged capacity to see good and to express it, a greater willingness to accept it, and the freedom to acknowledge it, Mrs. Eddy declares that "the habitual struggle to be always good is unceasing prayer" (Science and Health, p. 4).

Nothing could be more individual than prayer. Conventional, stereotyped forms have no place in the demonstration of Christian Science. This is illustrated in the experience of some friends of mine who, while visiting in the West, decided to do some mountain climbing. The going up proved no problem, but when it came to getting down, it was a different story. It was apparent to all of them that the situation was potentially dangerous, and each in his own way would have to pray his way down, step by step. After returning to safety they compared notes. Mother said, "Son, what were you thinking on the way down?" And the son said, "I realized that 'underneath' were 'the everlasting arms.' What were you thinking, Mother?" Mother said, "I dwelt on God's omnipresence, and His care and protection for all of His children." Then, with one accord they turned to Father. "Dad, what were you thinking?" Dad said: "I just said, 'God, if You let me slip now You are going to lose an awfully good Sunday School teacher.' "

Christian Science has a special message for business men and women. During the past ten to fifteen years business has witnessed what can best be described as "an extensive chemicalization." The diversities and complexities of our economic structure continue to multiply. Mrs. Eddy states it: "Unscientific methods are finding their dead level" (Science and Health, p. 369).

The problem may be called restriction, arbitrary control, reconversion, development, or personnel, but the answer is purely mental. It can be found only in spiritual ideas, and in the application of these ideas to the particular problem or problems at hand. When I say the answer is in ideas, I do not mean better mousetraps or other objects of invention. True ideas are spiritual, permanent, indestructible. Mrs. Eddy says, "To love one's neighbor as one's self, is a divine idea" (ibid., p. 88).

To reflect, express, or otherwise manifest spiritual ideas, we must turn to the infinite source of these ideas, namely, divine intelligence, or God. Christian Science reveals this infinite intelligence as unfettered, uncircumscribed, knowing no bounds. This intelligence eliminates obstructions, obviates delays, and is reflected in the natural aptitude of man for action that is both wise and right, for doing that which is right when it is right to be doing it. This is the co-ordination of God's creation which becomes effective in human affairs through spiritual understanding. This action is both timely and timeless in the good with which it blesses all, When business - which is in substance the activity of right ideas -manifests divine control it will not appear to be under personal control. When business expresses more of the brotherhood of man it will experience more of the amenities common to that relationship, the cooperation, the understanding, the unity - qualities which are always in evidence where the spirit of the Golden Rule prevails. When business is seen as an instrument for the advancement of mankind rather than as a convenient vehicle for personal profit alone, its share will be as the measure of wheat of Bible times, "pressed down, and shaken together, and running over" (Luke 6:38).

 

Let Love Govern Your Business

Businessmen must endeavor to express more of that Love which is God, the Love that brings freedom from human will and selfishness - not the false love of emotion or sentimentality, but the divine Love which offers the only permanent basis for a scientific relationship among men. This reflection of divine Love is the lubricant that will free the wheels of business from friction and wear, nourish ethics and guard morality. Let this Love which is God govern your business and it will flourish, blossom, and be rich in its growth and fruitage. It is impossible for the human mind to produce a problem the answer to which does not already exist in the divine Mind. Mrs. Eddy has written, "Remember, thou canst be brought into no condition, be it ever so severe, where Love has not been before thee and where its tender lesson is not awaiting thee" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 149).

In the thought of most people business is closely associated with what the world calls progress, expressed in a desire to advance oneself, to get ahead. The goal is generally represented in some material, hence limited, objective. Christian Science reveals progress as purely and wholly spiritual. Mrs. Eddy says, "Progress is the maturing conception of divine Love" (Miscellany, p. 181). Real progress then is not in the acquisition of land, or in the erection of larger barns wherewith to bestow our goods. Our ability to perceive and to appreciate the nature of Love, to express in a measure Love's tender compassion, its infinite provision, its incomparable grace, evidences our maturing or growing conception of Love, or God, and is the only true progress.

The practice of Christian Science is both preventive and curative. It is enlightening as well as healing. It goes beyond effects and appearances, striking boldly at what claims to underlie the difficulty as cause. Our true life has but one primary, one fundamental law, but one perfect spiritual cause, which is wholly good.

 

Mrs. Eddy Cites Need of Moral Courage

If one has a flushed face because he is embarrassed, or loses color because he is afraid, it would be foolish to make an application to the face, to inject a serum or swallow a pill in order to relieve the appearance. Such a person would have to be relieved of his embarrassment or fear, as the case might be, and thus regain his natural color. This is a simple example which may serve to illustrate the point. If such thinking produces physical effects of that nature, we do not have to travel far to reach the conclusion that thought is primary to all effect, and that whatever occurs in human experience for good or bad is the result of thought. Thought brought you here this afternoon and thought will enable you to return safely to the place of your abode. Thought will initiate and carry on the activities of tomorrow. Thought determines the harmony of our relationships, progress or lack of progress, our health or lack of health.

In our textbook Mrs. Eddy refers to the demonstration of Life through the understanding that there is no death, but she goes on to say, "We must begin, however, with the more simple demonstrations of control" (ibid., p. 429). A small fire is easily handled; ignore it or neglect it and it may consume a mighty forest. Unwilling to indulge the greater evil, we should be unwilling to indulge the lesser evil. A spiritually-minded person is always a moral person and will never be tricked into compromise on the grounds of either the necessity or advantage of indulging evil. In Science and Health we read (p. 213), "Every step towards goodness is a departure from materiality, and is a tendency towards God, Spirit." Hence the importance of availing ourselves of every opportunity through daily study to become better acquainted with God's universe of spiritual ideas and the spiritual understanding thus gained will serve to recover us from the beliefs of material sense and heal us of our difficulties, physical or otherwise.

The world seeks a remedy for its great unrest. It negotiates, temporizes, appeases, and still its troubles seem to multiply. The world is greatly in need of moral courage. Mrs. Eddy reminds us that "there is too much animal courage in society and not sufficient moral courage" (ibid.. p. 28). The world, lulled by the mesmerism of its own illusions, sits at the fleshpots of Egypt and decries the lack of leadership. Why does not God raise up a leader? they say. In common parlance, Why doesn't the President do something? Why doesn't Congress do something? Why doesn't Britain do something? Russia? This nation and that nation, this person or that person? Many years ago Mrs. Eddy was asked who her successor would be. Her reply given out to the Associated Press was as follows: ''What remains to lead on the centuries and reveal my successor, is man in the image and likeness of the Father-Mother God" (Miscellany, p. 347). In this statement we have the key to true leadership and the answer to the competitive social currents and moral confusion of the times. The answer is in the perception and, demonstration of the true reflection of God, which introduces into human affairs a decisive concept of God as Principle. It was this transcendent expression that gave Mary Baker Eddy the understanding and wisdom that so distinguished her leadership of the Christian Science movement. And it is the reflection of these spiritual qualities by the individual Christian Scientist that will carry this movement forward in the fulfillment of its saving mission. Her followers must consciously work with God to mold their characters to cherish and expand the ideas of a practical Christianity. Thus will the world find its leadership, and the individual his freedom from the attractions and deflections of materiality.

There is an illuminating passage in the book of Revelation where the angel wept much because no man was found worthy to open the book. But one of the elders said, "Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda . . . hath prevailed to open the book" (Rev. 5:5). The correlative to this striking Biblical passage is found on page 514 of the Christian Science textbook. There we read, "Moral courage is the 'lion of the tribe of Juda,' the king of the mental realm." Moral courage, then, is a prime requisite if we would unlock the open secrets of divine Science, rend the veil of material sense, and bring to all men the righteousness and peace of natural good, the good that is God.

"And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Gen. 1:31).

 

[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, March 25, 1955.]

 

 

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