Christian Science and the Kingdom of Heaven
Paul Stark Seeley, C.S.B. of Portland, Oregon
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
In the eleventh chapter of the gospel of Matthew Christ Jesus gives to the human race an invitation of hope. The invitation includes a great promise. These are his words, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The Messiah's promise, of which Christian Science is reminding men, is to all who will come to that true knowledge of God, and the understanding of life taught by Christ Jesus. To all such, without partiality, here is an unqualified promise of relief and rest. Are you wondering where lies the path of truth? Christian Science will show you. Are you weighed down with sickness? Christian Science will lift the burden with God's healing law. Are you heavy-laden with a sense of grief or despair? Christian Science will bring to your heart a joy which earth can not steal. Understanding, health, gladness — these are the gifts of God which Christian Science is bringing to men.
Heaven Is at Hand.
The Roman Empire held under its control nearly all the civilized world when John the Baptist began, some twenty centuries ago, to preach to his countrymen, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." A simple statement heard but by few, and understood by still fewer. The brief ministry of John the Baptist was quickly followed by the public appearance of Christ Jesus, who began his epoch-making ministry with this same imperative command, "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Repent: Think Differently.
Please note that preceding Jesus's startling statement that the kingdom of heaven is here was the command, "Repent." The Greek word translated "repent" means "to think differently." So the command is, "Think differently, for the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of good, is here, and by thinking correctly you will be able to find it." That which Christ Jesus proclaimed in the first century of the Christian era Christian Science proclaims in the twentieth. "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Change your thinking, gain the true concept of God and of yourself, and you will find right here the harmonious order of existence for which God is responsible.
You and I are here this evening because a noble and devout woman, Mary Baker Eddy, was willing to obey Jesus's command and think differently from the common course of human thought. As the result of many years of prayerful study of the Scriptures, investigation, and experiment, she came to the place where she was able to discern the divine concept of creation and man, and then set forth what she perceived in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." Mrs. Eddy did not discover a new truth, but she did discover the full import, and the law of application of the mighty truths taught and used by Christ Jesus. She first discovered this Science, then through her writings and a wisely ordered church organization she founded it in the consciousness of men.
What Is God?
Since we are to reason concerning God and His heaven, or creation, let us begin by considering first of all the question, What is God? If we are to have a God who is to be available to all He must be everywhere, not somewhere. For what good would anything be to you or to me if it happened to be in South America when we needed it very much in the United States? God must also possess the intelligence which can master evil. For how would we be benefited if we were to call upon Him and find He did not possess sufficient intelligence to help us overcome some perplexing phase of human discord? The only conceivable concept of God that shows Him to be everywhere, and to possess all intelligence, is the concept of God as Mind. Intelligence resides only in Mind, and for Mind there are no boundaries. Therefore, Mind is everywhere.
In the everyday use of words much that is designated mind is wholly lacking in intelligence, and so is not really entitled to be regarded as mind. For example, there is no intelligence in hatred or fear, though these are often referred to as states of mind. The use of the word mind in this way is a misuse, though for lack of some other word we almost have to use mind in this contradictory sense, to designate that which claims to be mental activity, yet has no kinship with intelligence. This is the evil or negative sense of mind, named by Christian Science, mortal mind. Mortal mind is God's opposite. For as God is true Mind, the source of every wise and good thought so mortal mind is the origin of all evil and of every evil thought. God, divine Mind, is the foundational fact. Evil, or mortal mind, is the basic lie.
Man Represents God.
Now let us consider what the Scriptures have to say about you and me and what we really are, from God's standpoint. Right at the beginning of the Bible we read that man is the image of God. The word image means "representation." Then our true self is a representation of God, that is, a representation of true Mind. We live to represent that is, re-present, the intelligence or good that is God. Do you feel that the collection of flesh and blood, called body, is representative of God? Can eternal Mind be represented by that which is often diseased, crippled, and always temporary?
Christian Science places no reliance upon this fragile, troublesome piece of mechanism called the physical body. Paul wisely said that he did not confer with flesh and blood, for the reason, stated by him on another occasion, that flesh and blood can not enter into the kingdom, or creation, of God. Christian Science shows that many of our troubles come from holding too many conferences with the body and allowing it to manage us instead of our managing it. "Mortals," writes Mrs. Eddy on page 214 of Science and Health, "are inclined to fear and to obey what they consider a material body more than they do a spiritual God."
In the human order men are desirous of representing their governments as ambassadors, or their fellow-citizens in legislative assemblies. Business men wish to become representatives of reputable firms. A satisfactory representative intelligently presents the ideas, or the goods, of the one he represents. Have you ever considered that we exist for the express purpose of representing supreme intelligence in thought and deed? How well are we representing our Principle, God? Is the sick man, the sinner, the unhappy man, a good representative of the all-loving Mind? Surely not. When we are displaying such goods we have forsaken our true occupation and have become agents for Satan, or mortal mind, dealing in such worthless goods as fear, sickness, and poverty, just the opposite of the good things which God has commissioned us to exhibit.
Man Is United to God.
Man, in order to be the living witness of God, or Mind, must be in conscious accord with God. The sunbeam could not bear witness of the sun for an instant were it separated from the sun. So with man and God.
On page 202 of Science and Health is this important observation, "The scientific unity which exists between God and man must be wrought out in life-practice, and God's will must be universally done." Jeremiah once said, "The way of man is not in himself." Until we awaken to realize that we are eternally linked by active thought-forces to indestructible Mind and thus begin to let our relationship to God appear as a living fact, we can possess no enduring health and no lasting happiness. Indeed the effort to obtain happiness and health while out of agreement with our God is like trying to get the electric light to shine without turning on the current. The thought-forces which carry health and happiness flow from God alone.
Enter Heaven With Praise.
We find God and our agreement with Him as our hearts are filled with thankfulness for what He has done. The Psalmist writes: "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name." Every moment there is something for which to be thankful. If we seem at times to be in difficulty and darkness, let us remember the nightingale, which sings even in the night. Its joy transcends the shadows. So can ours.
On every hand are the gifts of God for which we should be constantly grateful. This building which gives us shelter, the homes of comfort from which we came, the means of transport which brought many of us and will take us home, our country, our schools, and churches; these are a very few of the blessings at our right hand. Then there are the men and women who help supply our needs, and whom we seldom see, the ones who work on distant farms, in factories, mills and on the railways. Some plant and harvest, some manufacture, some ship and bring to us the things we need. From all the earth good comes to us. Are we grateful to the One who gives to them and to us? Remember that neither they nor we are able of ourselves to do or think anything. The Life and Mind of each and all is God, the All-in-all.
Everything that is truly useful and good is the gift of God, Love. The useless thoughts and things we do not have to accept. It is related that Lincoln once said, "I like to stroll of an evening through the shopping district of Washington and look into the store windows, for I see there so many things that I can get along without." Christian Science shows us that there are many things we can get along without, things we once thought we must have, such as colds in winter, hay fever in summer, and almost anything in between. Through the discovery of our oneness with God, universal good, we realize our rights to those nobler, better things, such as health, happiness, success, which intelligent Love has provided for us.
The Nature of Evil.
Exemption from evil centers around the question of self. Which conception of self am I going to accept as real, the material and perishable, or the spiritual, harmonious, Godlike, and eternal? Am I going to be an unprotesting victim of evil, or am I going to think and to live as the witness of God? We can not do both. No one can walk in opposite directions at the same time. Nor can one think opposite thoughts at the same time. Most automobile accidents in our cities result from someone's failing to give right of way. All of our personal troubles are due to our failure to give right of way to the thoughts of God. God and good thoughts are the fact. The devil and evil thoughts are the fiction. There is no bridge between. As we perceive the spiritual fact we dispel the evil fiction. While we believe the fiction, or lie, we can not perceive the fact, though it be at our right hand.
The world says, The material sense of self expressing evil and disease is not good and it is not right, but it is very real. Christian Science says, The material sense of self expressing evil and disease is not good and it is not right, therefore it is not real, for only that can be real which is good and right. Can there be lawless reality? Yet that is what human thought contends for when it asserts that evil is real.
The Leaven of Truth.
In no period of human history has the human race progressed and developed as it has in the last sixty years. Is there not some reason? There is, and the reason is that a group of enlightened thinkers are utilizing the power of divine intelligence more constantly, more scientifically, and so more effectively, than men have used this spiritual power since the days of Christ Jesus. "The world," writes Mrs. Eddy, on page 224 of Science and Health, "feels the alterative effect of truth through every pore." The visible results show superstition and ignorance of God dissolving, lethargy toward spiritual things disappearing, fear giving way, matter becoming more and more subjugated to Mind, the false bondage of sickness and sin broken, and the day hastened when He whose right it is will reign in the lives and consciousness of all, and Jesus's words be proved true, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand."
[Delivered June 4, 1926, at the Court House and published in The Rome (New York) Sentinel, June 6, 1926.]