Christian Science: How Man Can Work the Works of God
Elisabeth Carroll Scott, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Elisabeth Carroll Scott, C.S.B., of Memphis, Tenn., lectured on ''How Man Can Work the Works of God" Thursday evening in the Murat Theatre under auspices of Second Church of Christ, Scientist. William L. Phillips introduced the speaker.
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
Working the Works of God
According to the Gospel of John, those who followed Jesus, seeing the divine power exemplified in his healing, once asked him (John 6:28), "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?"
This question expresses the conscious or unconscious yearning of thousands today - individuals who wish to express the power of good, who yearn to know a God upon whom they can rely and whose power they can prove as they go about the everyday affairs of life. It is typical of the thoughtful human being, who is dismayed when he seems to find life slipping away from him without any worthy accomplishment. He is asking if there is not something that will lift him from the monotonous and trivial routine of which his life apparently consists, something that will awaken his thought and help him to realize his own latent capacities for being and doing good. He is searching for a power that will enable him to accomplish great and noble things, because he feels that he is capable of accomplishing such things.
Christian Science, given to the world by its Discoverer, Founder, and Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, has a satisfying answer for this man. Through its teachings he can find in God the spiritual power which will free him from limitation and frustration; which will ennoble his life and lift it above the sordid and trivial. Through the teachings of Christian Science, the power of God is again made available as it was centuries ago when Jesus gave sight to the blind and feet to the lame, because Christian Science reveals a God who supplies all good.
In Christian Science all our thinking begins with God. In our textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," its author, Mary Baker Eddy, states (p. 275), "The starting-point of divine Science is that God, Spirit, is All-in-all, and that there is no other might nor Mind, - that God is Love, and therefore He is divine Principle." From this statement it can readily be seen that God is the foundation or basis of Christian Science work, the Principle from which all healing power comes. Christian Science starts from the Biblical promise, "I am the Lord, and there is none else" (Isa. 45:5).
An exact science must rest upon an exact truth or principle, and this truth must be the foundation of the science, the basis upon which it rests. In order to demonstrate any science the principle must be understood. Christian Science is no exception to this rule. It is as important, indeed it is as necessary, for the student of Christian Science to understand its divine Principle, God, as it is for the mathematician to understand the principle of mathematics.
In response to the question, "What is the Principle of Christian Science?" in her book "Rudimental Divine Science," Mrs. Eddy says (p. 1): "It is God, the Supreme Being, infinite and immortal Mind, the Soul of man and the universe. It is our Father which is in heaven. It is substance, Spirit, Life, Truth, and Love, - these are the deific Principle."
This divine Principle, God, is absolute, fundamental, basic to all being. It is primal cause. This Principle is divine intelligence, the Mind which includes all good and knows no evil, it is Life, the animating, sustaining power of all existence, the source of all activity and continuity, the only substance of being. This divine Principle is immaculate, omnipotent, undeviating in its perfection, and therefore it can best be defined as eternal and changeless Love.
Because God, Principle, is Spirit, Christian Science maintains that man and the universe are spiritual. Our textbook says (p. 275), "To grasp the reality and order of being in its Science you must begin by reckoning God as the divine Principle of all that really is."
God Reckoned as Man's Principle
When we reckon God as the Principle of all, we see that He is the Principle of man and that man is the reflection or expression of this omnipotent Principle. According to Science and Health (p. 471), "Man is, and forever has been, God's reflection."
Christian Science differentiates clearly between sinning mortal man and the real or God-created man. The God-created man is the expression of God. He is individual and spiritual, inseparable from God, his divine Principle. Mortal man is just a misconception masquerading as man. To get rid of the misconception, we must gain the true concept of man and so disassociate ourselves and others from this false belief of an incomplete or mortal man.
The man created by God is necessarily like God. It is a truism that like produces like. What does this mean? It means that the nature of God determines the nature of man, and therefore that man, who exists in God, divine Mind, as the direct expression of this Mind, has as his only consciousness the eternal Mind which is Spirit, unlimited, infinitely intelligent. It means that divine Love, which is always and universally beneficent, characterizes his true nature. It means that man is spiritually mental, because he is like Spirit, Mind; that he has forever existed because God, divine Life, his life, has no beginning or end, that he is ageless and timeless, coexistent with the God he reflects. Christian Science teaches that God is the absolute Life of man, and this teaching has proved of immense practical value in healing supposedly incurable disease. I should like to tell of an instance in which it restored one, who thought himself dying, to years of useful activity.
One who had been told upon excellent medical authority that he had only a short time to live came for Christian Science help. The practitioner assured him that God is the Life of man and that nothing can interfere with this Life, that no supposed material condition could register the truth about the man he really was. He was advised to read the Christian Science textbook and to apply the truths he found therein to himself. This he did faithfully, and after some months was completely healed, and has since been instrumental in healing others.
Several years later, this man applied for life insurance, and was sent for a physical examination to the clinic where his case had been diagnosed. The head physician then sent for the record of the man's case, and listened as one of his assistants read it to him. The physician said to the assistant: "You see what was the matter with this man. I gave him up to die. I shall never give up another man, for this man is healed, though I did not heal him. I could not; but in some way he got right with God, and God healed him." The former patient said, "Yes, God healed me through Christian Science, for Christian Science gave me the understanding of God as my Life and this understanding healed me."
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God" (I John 3:2), the beloved disciple tells us. And Christian Science also assures us that we do not have to accept our sonship in terms of futurity. On the contrary, it promises us that as we become rooted and grounded in God, our divine Principle, we can learn to understand the real man and begin to demonstrate man's likeness to God and to manifest His power - in other words, to do the works of God.
We are proving even now man's likeness to Him in the measure that we express the divine qualities, proportionally as justice, mercy, tenderness, and love characterize our thought and impel our action, and he who manifests the qualities of God cannot fail to manifest God's power.
Students of Christian Science love and cherish the Bible; their religion is founded upon its teachings. Mrs. Eddy says (Science and Health, p. 1:26): "The Bible has been my only authority. I have had no other guide in 'the straight and narrow way' of Truth." And the first religious tenet of our Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, to which all members subscribe says (I quote from our textbook), "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life" (Science and Health, p. 497).
The Christian Scientist finds Biblical authority for accepting the fact that man has been given dominion, endowed with unlimited power, for the Bible is filled with accounts of seers and prophets who used this divine power to deliver themselves and others from discordant or even destructive conditions.
An outstanding example of the
utilization of man's God-bestowed dominion is that of Moses. When faced with
the Red Sea on the one hand and the might of Pharaoh on the other, Moses was so
assured of man's God-given dominion that he could say to the children of
Israel, "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the
salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day" (Ex. ).
As you all know, the
Christian Science Teaches Salvation a Present Possibility
In carrying on the healing work demanded in the Gospels - in working the works of God - human beings find that they are actually working out their own salvation as Jesus commanded.
The teaching of Christian Science in regard to salvation is very simple. Mrs. Eddy defines "salvation" in the Glossary of Science and Health (p. 593) as "Life, Truth, and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all; sin, sickness, and death destroyed."
Strange beliefs have been entertained in regard to salvation. None stranger, perhaps, than that of a young boy in my class when I taught in an orthodox Sunday School. He told me that when he was baptized his sponsors, to insure his salvation, had renounced, as he said, the pomps of the world for him. I asked him it he knew what pomps were, and he replied, "Oh, yes, they are large fish which follow boats in the ocean." I said, "Billy, you have renounced these fish?" And he answered, "I certainly have." "And you feel it will insure your salvation?" "I suppose so," he replied. That is perhaps the most extraordinary belief about salvation ever voiced.
Men have always been deeply concerned about salvation and have gone to extraordinary lengths in the hope of attaining it in some distant future. In Christian Science we are taught to find it now.
Christian Science teaches that salvation is within the reach of everyone here and now, everyone who will heed Jesus' command to work out his salvation by demonstrating man's unity with God. Jesus statement, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30), is the greatest statement of salvation ever made, for when we understand Life, Truth, and Love as the motive power of man and begin to demonstrate the facts of being in our own lives, we shall be progressively at one with God - we shall be in the process of attaining full and complete salvation.
Prayer Is Power
We learn to work the works of God by praying as Jesus prayed. He told us, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7). And our textbook assures us that his prayers, and I quote, "were deep and conscientious protests of Truth" (Science and Health, p. 12), of the truth of God's allness in the face of anything that would deny it.
This does not mean that one can declare God's allness and at the same time admit the reality of evil. The sincere declaration of God's allness requires thinking from the basis of His oneness and wholeness. Merely casual protestations of the perfection of God and of man, His image and likeness, without proof in practice, are of little effect if thought does not really abide in God.
Every right-minded human being, certainly every Christian, understands the need of prayer and has received comfort and peace from lifting his thought to God. Any student of Christian Science will tell you that Christian Science has shown him how to pray with a confidence and assurance never before known to him. He will tell you that he finds in Christian Science a practical method of demonstrating true Christianity, namely, the love of God brought to earth - the power of God made available to mankind.
Christian Science is teaching men today to prove the truth of Jesus' saying, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, . . . nothing shall be impossible unto you" (Matt. ). Christian Scientists take these words of Jesus literally. They believe that if they pray with trust and absolute confidence in God's omnipotence, no belief or discord or disease can withstand such prayer.
Christian Scientists are praying people, and Christian Science teaches them how to pray effectually.
Prayer in Christian Science shows us how to speak the word which heals. There are times when the spoken word is as prompt in bringing about the healing as it was in Jesus' time.
I know of such a case. It was that of a young child whose arm hung useless. The parents of this child were not students of Christian Science, but after much unavailing treatment by material means, they decided to turn to Christian Science for help and the child was taken by the mother to a Christian Science practitioner.
The practitioner assured the mother of God's love and power, and told her that this divine Love was as present and available to heal now as it was in the time when Jesus restored the withered hand. She turned to the child and said, indicating the Christian Science textbook, "Hand me that book, dear." The child did so, and the practitioner opened the book and began to read; then she realized that the mother was weeping. "What is it?" she asked; and the mother replied, "She handed you the book with the hand she could not use." The child was instantaneously healed.
Right where sickness, disorder, tyranny, and lack appear to be, the practitioner of Christian Science, the scientific right thinker, can establish health, order, freedom, and abundance, for these are humanly established where God's presence is utilized, His power acknowledged, and His law declared operative. In Christian Science practice we stress three things: the allness of God, divine Principle; the availability of this divine Principle to meet the human need; and the receptivity of every individual to the influence of divine good.
As an illustration of the
availability of divine Principle there is the experience of a young aviator, a
student of Christian Science, who was navigator of a large plane. On one
occasion when the plane was crossing the
The student of Christian Science, who had been working silently, began to declare audibly that the plane was under the unerring direction of Mind, divine Principle. He repeated understandingly the words of one of the hymns in the Christian Science Hymnal (No. 53):
"Everlasting arms of Love
Are beneath, around, above;
God it is who bears us on,
His the arm we lean upon."
This released him from a sense of being personally responsible for saving the plane or navigating its course. Then there followed the recognition that God, divine Principle, was present and His power available to save them.
Within a very short time the heavy mist which had obscured their vision and obstructed their course lifted sufficiently for them to see the faint white outline of surf below, which indicated that land was at hand. Just before their supply of gasoline was exhausted, they were able to land safely.
It is sometimes easier to realize that God is ready to help those who trust in Him than it is to recognize that every individual, no matter how degraded he may seem, is receptive to and can have God's help. An event in the experience of a Christian Science practitioner may prove helpful in showing how the facts relative to the God-created man lifted one human being from degradation.
This practitioner received a letter from a woman asking for help. Her husband, she said was a professional gambler, a slave to drink, and frequently threatened her life and that of their child. As requested, the practitioner maintained for this woman the correct concept of man, and declared the truth of man's being. She saw that man in his true identity is created and sustained by God, in a state of freedom and satisfaction, is created to bless his fellowmen and to express love to them.
This correct concept of man so effectually denied the sense presentation of a cruel mortal in bondage to false appetite that after some weeks of this regenerating prayer the woman's husband came to himself. Just as in Jesus' parable the prodigal son came to himself amid the husks and the swine, so this man was aroused to the sense of his true individuality. His first words were: "What am I doing to myself? Unless I change I shall destroy myself." From that moment he did change, and change completely. The false appetites dropped away from him; he obtained honest work and became a loving father and a useful citizen.
Our textbook says (p. 6): "Divine Love corrects and governs man. Men may pardon, but this divine Principle alone reforms the sinner." God, divine Principle, reached this sinful man and reformed him, released him from the degradation in which it had found him and restored to him, in the measure he was then ready to receive it, his birthright as the son of God.
Evil Overcome, Not Ignored
The teaching of Christian Science in regard to the unreality of evil has not been generally understood. In her book "No and Yes" Mrs. Eddy says (p. 24), "There was never a moment in which evil was real." Christian Science, starting with the premise that God is All-in-all, follows this premise to its logical conclusion, namely, that evil has no actual existence. Contrary to the belief of some, Christian Science never ignores evil. Through the all-might of God, of divine Principle, this Science overcomes evil. It overcomes, it does not overlook it. It heeds the Scriptural admonition, "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rom. ).
Because Christian Science teaches that evil is nothing, it is proving that it can do nothing, and because Christian Science recognizes that evil is neither God-created nor God-sent, it can and does redeem men from the claims of evil and nullify the evil effects that go with these claims.
In Christian Science we cling to spiritual reality in the face of all sense testimony to the contrary. Regardless of what the sense testimony may present, the Christian Scientist has the courage to stand with this spiritual reality. He clings to the fact that because there is one God there can be no other power; therefore ( . . . text missing . . .) The Psalmist says "I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies" (Psalms 18:3) - from anything that would deny the power and activity of good in individual experience.
Jesus Demonstrated the Power of Christ
Jesus' earthly career was a triumphant demonstration of divine power. Mrs. Eddy says in the Christian Science textbook (p. 18), "Jesus of Nazareth taught and demonstrated man's oneness with the Father, and for this we owe him endless homage." Because he recognized God, divine Mind, as the only power, presence, or activity in the universe and knew himself to be at one with God, Jesus could and did exercise the power of God without measure. The varied presentations of evil were only opportunities for him to prove the availability of divine power in over coming them.
In bringing about the healings in obedience to Jesus' command and which Christian Science again makes possible, it is important that we understand that we are actually doing the will of God.
When the leper said to Jesus, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean," Jesus replied, "I will; be thou clean" (Matt. 8:2,3). It was the will of God that Jesus was manifesting in the healing. At another time, he said, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me" (John 4:34), and he showed in providing for the multitude, forgiving the sinner, and healing the sick, that the will of God was the will of Love to all men; thus he confuted the false belief that God sends evil to punish or afflict.
His earliest recorded words were, "I must be about my Father's business" (Luke ), and throughout his earthly experience he was engaged solely in the business of the Father. He worked the works of God.
Jesus illustrated and expressed the Christ, the divine manifestation of God. He claimed no identity separate from God. He identified himself so completely with God - "I and my Father are one" - he expressed God to such a degree that he could say, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father (John ; 14:9). Because he identified himself with God, he spoke with the authority of God and exercised the power of God and could prove the truth of his words, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matt. 28:18).
Not only did Jesus exercise God's power, he revealed God in His innermost nature. He interpreted divinity to humanity, not only for his own time, but for all time. He showed to the men of his day, who believed in a God of wrath and vengeance, the example of a tender shepherd who searched for one which had gone astray, a shepherd who knew that no matter how far the sheep wandered, its ownership remained unchanged because the
sheep still belonged to the shepherd, no matter how far it had roamed.
To those who believed in retribution, "an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth" (Matt. 5:38) he related the parable of a father who ran to meet the son who had left his house and wasted his substance in riotous living; a father who restored this son immediately to the full prerogatives of sonship when once he turned his face to the father's house (Luke 15).
Jesus revealed the Christ to humanity. While Jesus individually proclaimed and demonstrated the Christ, the Christ Truth was not and is not exclusive to Jesus, for the Christ is never apart from man, for it is the manifestation of the divine Principle, God, which man reflects and so it is ever with man. Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health (p. 332), "Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness . . . dispelling the illusions of the senses; the Way, the Truth, and the Life, healing the sick and casting out evils, destroying sin, disease, and death."
It is the Christ which enabled Jesus and enables us to do the works of God. To express the nature of Christ is your work and my work. The power of the Christ is ours to understand, and to manifest dominion over every phase of evil.
Mrs. Eddy Impelled by Love for God and Man
Jesus expected his work to continue; he told his disciples, "Behold, I give unto you power . . . over all the power of the enemy" (Luke 10:19), and he expected this power to be exercised in ever-increasing degree. He said that even greater works than those he had done should be performed by all who followed after him. He said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do" (John ).
For more than two hundred years this expectation of Jesus was fulfilled; his followers healed the sick and even raised the dead. Irenaeus, one of the early Christian writers, speaks of raising the dead as a not uncommon event and he mentions that there were then in the church, many who had been brought back to life through the prayers of their fellow Christians. However, this spiritual power disappeared through growing materialism, until it was temporarily lost to the world.
It was not fully restored until our own times. Then, through the pure spirituality of one who lived among us, the healing power of Truth was again brought to earth. Mary Baker Eddy loved God with single-hearted devotion, and felt for her fellowmen the same Christlike compassion which had been expressed by Jesus centuries before. These qualities fitted her to receive the revelation of Truth. Her closeness to God brought God close to her.
From her earliest youth, Mrs. Eddy's first desire was to know and serve God. She says in her textbook (p. 1), "Desire is prayer," and her desire to know God was a prayer so pure, so absolute, so single-hearted that it received an answer beyond human imagining and perhaps beyond her own hope or expectation, for to her was given the full and final revelation of Truth - she discovered Christian Science. To use her own words, "In the year 1866, I discovered the Christ Science or divine laws of Life, Truth, and Love, and named my discovery Christian Science" (Science and Health, p. 107). Mrs. Eddy's discovery of these divine laws brought them again into operation in human experience. It restored the power of Christ to humanity, for it brought to the world the practical, scientific knowledge of Truth - the real Comforter - which Christ Jesus promised the Father would send in his name.
The Science of Truth set forth in the Christian Science textbook and Mrs. Eddy's other writings is destined to redeem humanity, for it brings dominion over every phase of evil. It can readily be seen that an understanding of its redemptive message naturally brings with it an understanding of the love and unselfishness which characterized the messenger.
Nothing is more characteristic of Mrs. Eddy than an experience she had at the age of twelve. When considering church membership, it came to her that she herself was unwilling to be saved while her brothers and sisters, not yet church members, were to be banished forever from the presence of God.
This tender love for her fellowmen characterized all the work of the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science throughout her human experience.
Jesus always pointed to the works he did as a sufficient proof that the Messiah had appeared (Matt. 11:4, 5). According to John, he said, "The works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me" (John 5:36).
Many Christians have been troubled that the proofs of Christian healing were lacking in modern times; and this is why so many of them, once they understand it, accept readily Christian Science, for today, throughout the world, Christian Science is repeating the works of Jesus' time and is daily affording proof that this Science is the Comforter promised by Jesus.
Is it then surprising that the gratitude, honor, and reverence of Christian Scientists go out to the one who brought the Science of Christianity to them? For we cannot forget that this healing Truth was restored to humanity through the spirituality, self-sacrifice, and devotion of Mary Baker Eddy. We accord her God-appointed place as the revelator of Truth, the one who brought the final revelation. God Himself revealed the truth to her, and the truth revealed shall, as Christ Jesus promised, abide with men forever.
No one was more humble than Mrs. Eddy. She tells us in one of her Messages to The Mother Church (Message for 1901, p. 34), "Finally, brethren, wait patiently on God; return blessing for cursing; be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good; be steadfast, abide and abound in faith, understanding, and good works; study the Bible and the textbook of our denomination; obey strictly the laws that be, and follow your Leader only so far as she follows Christ." But no one could follow her who does not follow the Christ, for she herself followed Christ or Truth wholeheartedly and unreservedly. Loving God supremely, she founded her church upon the basic truth that God is All-in-all and that His power can be demonstrated here on earth by mankind.
It you wish to know more of Christian Science read its textbook; one can be borrowed from the Reading Room of this church or from any other Christian Science Reading Room in this city. Study the book. Perhaps there may be much in it which you do not immediately understand. This was the experience of most of us when we began our study. But as one continues to ponder Science and Health, and to assimilate its ideas, Christian Science becomes increasingly clear to him.
Human beings need to be healed of the belief that they are weak and helpless in a none too kindly world. All fear stems from this belief, and fear is the foe of both righteous activity and righteous self-expression - it prevents men from trying their wings. Jesus said, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke ).
Fear keeps men in bondage to unscientific routine and prevents them from advancing into new areas of usefulness; it holds them to the village they know, the job with which they are familiar. They fear to venture forth, lest they find themselves unprepared to meet new and higher demands made upon them. Yet we know that as they learn to trust God, and refuse to be governed by fears which would inhibit, they find that God, divine intelligence, is always with them, and they find His power is adequate to take care of any situation and to meet every need.
Because Christian Science is a religion of power, a practical religion, it is also a religion of joy. The Bible says, "The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh. ). And Christian Scientists learn to rely upon this strength. Their religion is one of happiness; it introduces and maintains harmony in human relations. The application of its teachings makes useful citizens, intelligent businessmen, and happy homes.
The student of Christian Science does not retire, in the usual sense of the word, from the world; he is taught to bring into the world - into the everyday affairs of life - the order, harmony, and good will which Christian Science inculcates.
One must understand the oneness and allness of God in order to exercise God's power. All power, might, and dominion belong to God. Our textbook says (p. 228), "There is no power apart from God." Human beings express the divine power in the measure that they express the divine nature. It can be said with truth that men express God's power in the proportion that they express His tender, changeless love.
Science and Health says (p. 454), "Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way." The way of power is always: the way of Love, not the human sense of love which is here today and gone tomorrow, but the impartial and unvarying Love, based upon eternal Principle, which is ever itself - too sure of the infinitude of the God who is Love to admit an unlikeness to Him anywhere.
The world has need of Godlike men, those who know God and use their knowledge of Him; for only those who know God, only those who are themselves Godlike, can exercise dominion over the world's ills, and lead mankind out of its confusion, its perplexities, and its fears.
Christian Science shows us that we, each one of us, can help meet humanity's need, for it shows us that as children of God we have God-bestowed ability to do the works of God - to cast sickness, limitation, and sin out of our own consciousness and experience and help others to overcome these false beliefs.
In complete and joyous reliance on the infinitude of God, good, Christian Science disposes of evil and shows everyone who will heed its teachings how to exercise the power of God and so bring harmony to the world.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science points the way for humanity to exercise this power. She says (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 160), "To live so as to keep human consciousness in constant relation with the divine, the spiritual, and the eternal, is to individualize infinite power; and this is Christian Science."
Centuries ago Isaiah prophesied (Isaiah 62) of him who lives so as to keep human consciousness in constant relation with God: "Thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory to the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God."
[The Marion County Mail of Indianapolis, Indiana, Nov. 7, 1947.]