The Science Which Discloses the Standard of Perfection
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Ralph B. Scholfield, C.S., of London, England, a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship, delivered a lecture entitled "Christian Science: The Science Which Discloses the Standard of Perfection," this noon, under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, in the Colonial Theater, Boston.
The lecturer was introduced by Miss Lucia. C. Coulson, C.S.B., Second Reader in The Mother Church, who said:
It is a pleasure to welcome you on behalf of The Mother Church to this lecture on Christian Science entitled "Christian Science: The Science Which Discloses the Standard of Perfection."
In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy writes that "Christian Science meets a yearning of the human race for spirituality" (p. 111:24). The reason for this is not far to seek. Materiality has been found wanting. It has not fulfilled its promises and has, to say the least, brought the world today into a most uncomfortable situation. It is natural, then, that men and nations should begin to turn their gaze in the opposite direction.
Christian Science teaches, even as did Jesus the Christ, that as we seek and find the things of Spirit, human conditions are thereby improved and ameliorated, that the Love which is God, knowing that we have need of all these things, meets the human need, while gently leading us up to the discovery of our divine selfhood, our actual unity with the divine Mind. Thereby we find that all things are ours. As a poet has written:
"All which thy child's mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
Rise, clasp My hand, and come."
The lecturer today is well qualified through his practice of Christian Science, to explain to you this demonstrable truth; and it now gives me great pleasure to introduce to you Mr. Ralph E. Scholfield of London, England, a member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts.
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 470) Mrs. Eddy writes: "The standard of perfection was originally God and man. Has God taken down His own standard, and has man fallen?"
Christian Science defines God as "infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love" (Science and Health, p. 465). Are any of these synonymous terms for God changeable? Can infinite Life or Mind change its nature or its standard and die? Can Love or Truth produce anything unlovely or false? No! These great infinite qualities may appear to be excluded from our experience, but they themselves can never change or produce their opposites. "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit." And so Christian Science maintains that God has not taken down His own standard of perfection, because He cannot do so, and because with Him is "no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
Christian Science also maintains that perfect man never can fall from perfection, for the omnipotence of God and the law of Life, or God, sustain him.
Mortals have become so accustomed to seeing man as sinning, sick and dying, that, they have accepted human ills as real and as a part of man's life. The teachings of scholastic theology, physiology, and materia medica often bind mortals down to the belief that life is physical, and therefore that life and health ultimately are dependent on matter. The teachings of Christian Science bring hope and encouragement to humanity, for they insist, with Paul, that "to be spiritually minded is life and peace."
In the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, Jesus gave a parable relating that a man sowed good seed in his field, and that he was surprised to find that when the blade sprang up there appeared also tares. When asked by his servants how it happened, the owner did not say that the good seed or that the good soil had become bad, but that "an enemy hath done this." This was not a case of the perfect becoming imperfect, but rather of some foreign power (called an enemy) attempting to grow its own crop and thereby destroy the good crop.
Jesus left his disciples in no doubt as to the nature of this enemy, for he said, in explaining the parable, that the enemy was the devil. Jesus himself spoke of the devil as a liar and said, "There is no truth in him."
In his reference to wheat and tares Jesus evidently intended to differentiate between the opposite qualities of good and evil, perfection and imperfection, which never unite, even though they may appear to grow side by side. He saw that imperfection was coming into human experience in the form of sin, sickness and death. He showed by word and deed that sin, sickness and death are the work of the devil, or of the enemy, as he termed it, and that, these evil experiences did not imply the fall of the good seed, or man as made by God. And so in the treatment of sin and disease Jesus was not dealing with a fallen man at all, but with an enemy - a lie, that was saying, Here is a miserable, sick and sinning man. Sometimes that lie claims to be able to speak to us, and we are tempted to echo its false sentiments. Some years ago a man came to me with these very words in his mouth, namely, that he was miserable and sick. For years this lie had told him that he was dyspeptic and could eat nothing without suffering. Christian Science showed him that instead of listening to the lie which says, Here is a miserable, sick man, he should listen to the truth that says, Here is a child of God who is under God's law. He began to do this; he resisted the lie, and in a few days was completely healed.
To liken disease to the tares in the parable is of great importance; for if you do not classify it as tares, or lies, you will take it along with you as something too true, too powerful, or too real to be destroyed.
In the parable the chief actors in the harvest time are the reapers, and Jesus himself defined the reapers as angels. They separate the tares from the wheat, destroy the former and store the latter. In her textbook Mrs. Eddy defines angels as "God's thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness, purity and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality and mortality" (Science and Health, p. 581).
Here, then, Christian Science makes our work plain. It is to let the angels separate the tares from the wheat; or, to bring it down to our everyday experience, to let the thoughts of God separate in our consciousness the perfect from the imperfect, good from evil, Life from death and disease.
Let us see how Christian Science explains this process when applied to the treatment, firstly of sin, secondly of sickness, and thirdly of death - all of which Christian Science classifies as tares, or the opposite of the perfect.
In the treatment of sin it may help us to remember that sin implies not only erroneous action but also erroneous belief. The doctrine of the fall of man into sin is an erroneous belief, and arises largely from the allegory in the second and third chapters of Genesis. It is wise to remind ourselves that this story is an allegory and not history, and that there is a previous account of creation in the first chapter. If you will compare these two accounts side by side, you will see that behind the first account is the idea of perfection and completeness, and that behind the second account is the belief of mutability and evil, even the mixture of good and evil. There is never any hint that the man of God's creating in the first chapter has fallen. He is perfect and complete, in the image and likeness of God, and logically he must remain so forever.
Accompanying the belief that man has fallen into sin is the belief that man is made up of matter and that he is a mixture of brain, blood, bones, etc. Christian Science is challenging this belief and is maintaining that man as God made him is eternally spiritual, pure and intelligent, and never subject to material limitation and decay. The Psalmist said: "Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels . . . Thou hast put all things under his feet."
Even in our daily contact with other people, we do not wish to be judged as so much matter. When we ask, What sort of man is So-and-so, we are not thinking of how much he weighs or how tall he is, but of his mental qualities, or character. Judging either ourselves or others on the standard of matter is wholly wrong, and is the work of the carnal mind, or the enemy.
The efforts of physical scientists all over the world are directed towards discovering the nature of matter. They are finding it to be wholly unsubstantial and may be said to be explaining it, away. A well-known English professor has said, "Not only the law of nature, but space and time and the material universe itself are constructions of the human mind." In that statement the professor has indeed indicated the nature of the enemy that sows the tares of mortality. Belief in the verdicts of this carnal mind brings into our experience these tares which are sin, disease, and death. Paul made this clear when he said that "the carnal mind is enmity against God. . . . So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God."
I know a man who had been educated to believe one of the verdicts of this carnal mind, which is that intelligence and memory are dependent on the brain. Christian Science showed him that since brain, or flesh, cannot please God, or Mind, he did not need a remarkable brain in order to be intelligent, nor did he need the carnal, or mortal mind, for that is enmity against infinite intelligence, or God. But when he saw that divine Mind, or God, alone is intelligence, he began to separate the wrong sense of intelligence and memory from the right and to see that perfect man is based on perfect Mind and therefore cannot fall or suffer lack of knowledge. This undoubtedly improved his intelligence and memory. John says, "Now are we the sons of God." Is it not a sin to accept other verdicts which assert that manhood is based on matter?
The belief that creation, including man, is material is the great enemy, the great lie, the subtle and harmful basis of all sin. It claims to make man's great God-given qualities of intelligence, reason, wisdom, love, good, and hope subject to decay and matter. For instance, it says that sight and hearing are dependent upon physical structure and organs. And yet, since matter is being shown by physical scientists themselves to be wholly unsubstantial, it cannot be the decay or destruction of matter that causes failure of hearing and sight. This belief in failure is latent in the carnal mind, which never was perfect, and so has not fallen from perfection. This carnal mind is the enemy that sows the tares. Man as God made him has never fallen into this dreadful condition. When Jesus healed the man born blind, he did not blame either the man or his parents for the man's blindness; but he indicated that here was an opportunity for the works of God to be manifested; in other words, here was an occasion on which he could show that man as God made him is not blind. By healing blindness, deafness, palsy, and dumbness Jesus showed that the true senses of man are not in the nerves or in matter, but that they are spiritual. Hence spiritual understanding and spiritual perception constitute man's true senses. Being based on God, or Mind, they cannot be lost or destroyed. God's thoughts passing to man eternally enable man to see and to hear. To see as God sees, and to hear as God hears, means to know as God knows, and this spiritual understanding heals blindness and deafness.
Christian Science, with its standard of perfection, uncovers the human beliefs of imperfection and of matter. It exposes this carnal mind, and shows that its conclusions about man are lies and therefore are wholly untrue and unreal.
The process of regeneration is not a process of making a fallen man into an unfallen man, but rather of eliminating the tares, or lies, and revealing, or bringing to light, man as God made him. Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health, p. 171, "Through discernment of the spiritual opposite of materiality, even the way through Christ, Truth, man will reopen with the key of divine Science the gates of Paradise which human beliefs have closed, and will find himself unfallen, upright, pure, and free, not needing to consult almanacs for the probabilities either of his life or of the weather, not needing to study brainology to learn how much of a man he is."
Now comes the question as to how we are to separate the tares from the wheat when applied to the treatment of disease. Accompanying the doctrine of the fall of man into sin is the doctrine that man has also fallen from perfection into a state of mortality and disease. Here Christian Science emphasizes the point that man as God made him is upheld by Life, and must remain spiritual and perfect, immune from decay and disease. Therefore when we encounter disease in our experience Christian Science says, in the words of the parable, "An enemy hath done this." This classifies disease at the very outset as based on that which is a liar and a lie. And Christian Science maintains that the true diagnosis of disease is not based on what mortal man thinks about disease but upon what God knows about Life and man.
If you have an engine which fails to work properly, you do not, or should not, base your diagnosis on guesswork. The only satisfactory and true diagnosis is that which is based on a knowledge of the standard engine. Similarly with disease, there is only one standard from which to diagnose it, and that is the standard of what man truly is; namely, man's true nature as the image and likeness of his Maker. Now no disease can touch man as God made him. Therefore all disease can be diagnosed only under one heading, namely, falsity - a state of the carnal mind and not a state of matter, for matter, as we have seen, is wholly unsubstantial. When Paul was bitten by a poisonous viper, the natives diagnosed the case as fatal poisoning. But Paul, having the "mind . . . which was also in Christ Jesus" had no fear and acknowledged only the power of Truth, or God.
The medical diagnosis of disease presupposes man to be liable to disease, but Christian Science will not associate disease with man as God made him. Christian Science maintains that man's perfection is based on God, is real and unimpeachable; and that a knowledge of God's omnipotence and omnipresence is both the preventive and the curative remedy.
Some people think that Christian Scientists merely say that disease does not exist and that they expect to heal in that way. But that is not so. Mrs. Eddy says that "all disease is the result of education" (Science and Health, p. 176). You cannot get rid of mistakes in education merely by saying that they do not exist. You correct these mistakes by substituting right education, or the truth, and then you will see that these mistakes were no more than false education and ignorance.
The preventive and the curative method of Christian Science is contained in a knowledge of perfection. Mrs. Eddy explains this in Science and Health (p. 259): "The Christlike understanding of scientific being and divine healing includes a perfect Principle and idea, - perfect God and perfect man, - as the basis of thought and demonstration.'' Was not this the standpoint that Jesus took? To him disease cannot have been a divinely constituted power. His authority over it was so definite, and his rebuke of it so strong, that this authority can have been no less than the eternal dominion of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance. As far as we can tell, he never reasoned with others about the reality or power of disease, but he did indicate that true prayer would heal it. When he healed the ten lepers, was the basis of his thought leprosy, or was it the cleansing presence of Mind, Spirit, God? It must have been the latter. He said in explaining his healing works that "the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." If, instead of the word "Father," you will substitute the synonyms of God, you will see that what did the works was infinite intelligence, or Mind, infinite compassion or Love dwelling in him, that is in his thoughts, or, in other words, "God's thoughts passing to man." This is the basis of true education.
With "perfect God and perfect man" as our "basis of thought and demonstration" (Science and Health, p. 259), we can begin to practice the healing of disease. This is called treatment in Christian Science, and Christian Science treatment is prayer. This prayer, however, is not necessarily the kind of prayer to which some of us here may have been accustomed. We all have met people who pray to God and then begin to wonder whether or not, it is right that their prayer should be answered. They are sometimes taught to supplement their prayer with the statement "if it be Thy will." While this form of prayer may often contain a great desire for genuine good, it carries with it but little confidence and strength. Christian Science says that true prayer is based on certainty, and not on doubt.
Suppose you are suffering from disease, and you wish to pray for health. Instead of asking God to bring to you a state of perfect health, try to remember what we have been considering, namely, that God made man perfect, hence man must remain so. Understand that disease is utterly Godless, hence utterly lifeless. Whatever is utterly lifeless is utterly powerless, and since disease has no life, power or God to support it, it must be, in the final analysis, unreal. Whence then is this disease? In the words of the parable, "An enemy hath done this." And so at the outset you see you are not dealing with a sick man, but with an enemy that is saying to you, You are a sick man. We have already seen that this enemy is a complete liar. Are you going to listen to that liar? Are you going to implore God, to come and destroy a lie for you, when He has already given you ability to destroy it, through the spiritual understanding of His presence and power? So instead of your prayer being a form of beseeching God to come and do something, let it be a case of protesting the omnipotence of God, the only creator, and the perfection of man, the child of God, and denying the false sense evidence called disease. This may necessitate asserting the presence of perfection in the face of its apparent opposite. But, in the words of James, "Resist the devil [the lie], and he will flee from you." Believe no lies and the liar disappears. This, then, will be the harvest in which the angels (God's thoughts passing to you) separate the tares from the wheat, destroy the former, and acknowledge only perfect God and perfect man as true and real.
And so true prayer binds all disease into one bundle or diagnosis and labels it tares, or lies. True prayer eliminates these lies from the realm of thought. True prayer gathers the wheat, the good seed into the barn of character, enabling man to do the will of the Father-Mother God, who feeds, heals, sustains and gives to man the "bread of life." "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
To learn something of the life of the Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, we must look around at what she built. As the architect of a great cathedral builds his church of stone, but uses great and grand qualities of character and intelligence to do so,
so Mrs. Eddy built her church with deep spiritual understanding, purpose, and intent. And in doing this she most certainly gave to the world clear evidence of the greatness and grandeur of her character. Her life was devoted to the building of a church, not merely as a material edifice, but as a structure of reality, of spiritual understanding, whereby the unreal is separated from the real; evil from good; the false from the true. Here is Mrs. Eddy's definition of the word Church (Science and Health, p. 583): "The structure of Truth and Love: whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle.
"The Church is that institution, which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick.''
In instituting the services in the Christian Science churches, Mrs. Eddy's insight, enabled her to avoid the dangers of ritual, of personality and of personal preaching. She therefore ordained the Bible and Science and Health as Pastor of the Christian Science churches, and it is the privilege of Christian Scientists themselves to help to make those services live by their prayers and by their faithful attendance.
By her insistence on spiritual perfection as the basis of thought and demonstration, Mrs. Eddy boldly challenged the universal belief that man is a material being subject to decay and death. The world-wide healing and regenerative works of our Leader stand as a great and everlasting monument to her.
How does Christian Science explain the process of separating the tares from the wheat when applied to our views about death? First of all, it is not everyone who is willing to classify death as the tares. The reason for this is that mankind has been educated to believe either that death is the direct will of God, or that it is natural, or perhaps both. So long as people are satisfied with this teaching there is no incentive to resist death or to understand the practical import of Jesus' words when he said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." We can get a helpful illustration from the parable we have been considering. Suppose you were to sow a field and that tares began to grow with the wheat. You might destroy the tares at the first harvest, but what you would wish to do would be to prevent the reappearing of the tares. If you do this, you will not need to waste your time separating and destroying tares. No tares will be born to die. Destruction and death will not enter your field.
Does not this indicate to you that the destruction of death lies in dealing with the process of birth? And when there is born into our consciousness only spiritual-mindedness, as opposed to materiality, nothing that can die will be born and we shall experience life and peace. In his remarkable, conversation with the Pharisee, Nicodemus, Jesus made this very clear when he said, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again."
This new sense of life, as based on God and not on matter, is the beginning of a new birth. For instance, instead of limiting life to threescore years and ten, and surrounding it with endless fears and limitation, you may, here and now, begin to construct your life on the firm foundation of the acknowledgment of only one power, namely, God, and not matter. This is the basis of perfection. God never made age and decay. The limitations of time in which appear material birth, growth, maturity, decay, and death, are not the work of God, but in the words of the parable, "An enemy hath done this."
Referring once more to the parable, we read that the enemy came "while men slept."
Now Christian Science says with Paul, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." That does not imply that we must wait for death in order to awake from it. It is a most sensible piece of advice to start waking up from it now.
When Paul said. "Christ shall give thee light," Christian Science shows that this is not a mysterious reference to Jesus' personality. Mrs. Eddy defines Christ as "the divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" (Science and Health, p. 583). Now If you will substitute this definition for the word "Christ" in the context quoted, it will read, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and the divine manifestation of God will give thee light." Our Master proved this beyond all doubt, for death could not win when faced by his spiritual thinking. Hence he could truly say that "whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."
At the conclusion of Jesus' explanation of the parable there is a remarkable statement. After his description of how the angels, the thoughts of God, separate the tares from the wheat and destroy the former, he says, "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father."
You will observe that this great consummation is not attained by death. The exposure of all evil and disease as a lie and the consequent destruction of this lie, is like the evaporation of mist before the strength and glory of the sunshine, So in Christian Science, man shines forth in his perfection, unchanged and eternal, as the mists of false belief disperse.
What is it then that we see when the mists of the enemy, or human belief, are dispersed, and when the tares are separated from the wheat and destroyed? We see the light, and the good seed - the children of God, or man as God made him. And now let us summarize what this man is like. To do so I propose to take the seven synonyms for God, which I mentioned earlier in the lecture, and draw our conclusions as to man's nature from these terms, remembering always that a good tree brings forth only good fruit, and that man is and must be the image and likeness of his creator.
God is infinite Mind; therefore, man must be wholly intelligent. He must have at his disposal all knowledge. He cannot be ignorant, and there can be no limitation to his perception and understanding.
God is Spirit, therefore, man must be eternally spiritual, and not physical or animal in nature. He cannot be bounded by the limitations or-conditions of matter, time, and space. He must express eternal vitality and never stagnation.
God is Soul; therefore, man's spiritual sense is infinite and is not bound by matter. Man cannot lose his Soul, and therefore his true, his spiritual senses are eternally unimpaired and permanent. He is animated by infinite activity.
God is Principle; therefore, man is the outcome of God, and not of matter, for Principle implies origin, cause, and fundamental essence. Man can therefore act, live, and think only under the divine influence of the one great cause, God.
God is Life; therefore, man lives. Death cannot have any influence or power over man, since Life is All-in-all.
God is Truth; therefore, man can manifest only what is true and eternal. Truth being eternal and indestructible, man is eternal and indestructible. Disease, being temporal, is untrue; and having no basis in Truth, it is unreal. It never has been or will be part of man.
God is Love; therefore, man is held eternally in the law wherein there is no cruelty, destruction, decay, disease, or death. Man can therefore express nothing unlovely, but only, to use a phrase from the Christian Science textbook (Science and Health, p. 253), "the beauty of holiness, the perfection of being, imperishable glory."
Here, then, is our foundation on which to build. Here is the standard of perfection. And the very fact that we can think about it and discuss it, proves that we can begin now to understand and to practice it in healing and helping ourselves and others. This was the basis of Jesus' great healing mission, and of his simple yet profound instruction, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."