What It Is and How It Works
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
Bates college chapel was filled for the Christian Science lecture, Sunday afternoon, at which Albert Field Gilmore, himself a Bates graduate and member of the board of overseers, made the introductory speech, presenting Paul Stark Seeley, C.S.B. of Oregon, an authorized lecturer of The Mother Church, in Boston.
Touching on his own student days on this campus, Mr. Gilmore said it was here he first heard Christian Science mentioned; and that after semi invalidism had befallen him later in life and he was sent to his home town, near here, he had sought help from a Christian Science practitioner in this local church and had received his healing and restoration to normal activities as well as that he termed his most valuable possession — a spiritual understanding of God and man and the universe.
He referred to thousands of testimonials that come to the Publishing Society in Boston, where he is now one of the editors of the weekly and monthly periodicals, as indubitable proof of the healing power of Christian Science; and gave medical and Christian Science statistics, following the influenza epidemic in New York state four years ago, when the medical losses totalled over 50 per cent. of those treated; and those under the care of Christian Science, but 1-3 of one per cent., with over a thousand cases of influenza and hundreds of cases of pneumonia handled by the latter.
In introducing the lecturer, he referred to the fact that Mr. Seeley is a graduate of Princeton and three years a student at Harvard University.
Mr. Seeley's Address
Christian Science brings a healing message. It condemns nothing but evil. It exalts nothing but good. It is not the dogma of a denomination.
It is the Word of Truth in which science and religion are seen as one, and in this one is found true medicine, even the healing power of God. It matters not where one may be on life's road, Christian Science brings to the listening ear a message of helpfulness and love.
To the sick it shows the certain way to health, to the one entangled in the meshes of sin it adds moral courage to right resolve, and points the road to freedom and deliverance. To those weighed down by burden and distress it opens the highway of peace and happiness thru a fuller understanding of the goodness and of the love of God. To all who seek for better things it is the dawn of a new light, that supplants mystery with reason, ignorance with intelligence, doubt with confidence and unkindliness with love.
For their brothers of differing religious beliefs Christian Scientists have nothing but good-will. They believe that thru the enlightened thought of Christian peoples the world will be led ever forward. They rejoice in good wherever manifest and join with their whole hearts in the common prayer of Christendom to our common Father God, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." In her Message to The Mother Church in Boston in 1902, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discover and Founder of Christian Science, expressed that loving regard for the church of her youth which is so frequently found in her writings. She said, "It was an inherent characteristic of my nature, a kind of birthmark, to love the Church; and the Church once loved me. Then why not remain friends, or at least agree to disagree, in love, — part fair foes. I never left the Church, either in heart or in doctrine; I but began where the Church left off."
Thoreau writes, "It is never too late to give up our prejudices. No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof." The teachings of Christian Science rest on reason, and they are supported by proof. So in a spirit of right reasoning and honest consideration let us approach the subject before us, with our thought open to all that is true and good.
Founded on the Bible
The teachings of Christian Science are inseparable from the Bible. They are founded upon the eternal truth of being which that book of the ages contains. "The Bible was my only textbook," writes Mrs. Eddy in Science and Health, page 110, where she outlines the footsteps which led up to her discovery of Christian Science. But Christian Scientists do not accept the Bible blindly, nor in the narrowness of its letter. Their acceptance is based on the fact, proved in their lives, that within its pages is to be found the highest inspiration that came to men concerning God's law of life and health during a period of some 4,000 years.
If you are a sceptic and have doubted the authenticity of the Bible you may prove for yourself, thru Christian Science, that the teachings of Christ Jesus were absolutely accurate and scientific statements of the laws of life and health, and that there was nothing in them that was supernatural. Rather were they the explanation of the natural supremacy of good over evil, of God over the devil, and gave specific directions as to how you and I may utilize the might of good to overthrow the conditions of evil, sin, disease and finally death.
How ignorant most of us have been, of this great storehouse of spiritual, health-giving Truth so near at hand! Stevenson has spoken of the treasures of the Bible as "those truths which we are all courteously supposed to know, and all modestly refrain from applying." There is more truth than there should be in his statement.
Mrs. Eddy's Twofold Work
From childhood Mrs. Eddy, under the guidance of her spiritually minded mother, had learned to turn to God for relief from sickness. Her Puritan parents saw to it that she received a thoro training in the Bible teachings and early in girlhood she became a member of the Congregational church. As a young girl she enjoyed the friendship and confidence of her pastor who commented on certain of her early literary efforts thus, "Mary, your poetry goes beyond my theology, why should I preach to you."
But there came a time, as perhaps there has come in your experience and mine, when the teachings of the church seemed to fall short, when the limitations of its creed and dogma seemed to obscure the wonderful Scriptural promises. In early womanhood Mrs. Eddy became convinced that Christ Jesus healed by some certain law and that the same law could be applied now as well as then. Her high hope was illustrated by this remark made by her when invalidism seemed almost too much for her to bear, "I know God can and will cure me, if only I could understand His way." To "understand His way" became the objective of her life. Abandoned by friends, forsaken by relatives, burdened by sorrow, sickness and poverty, this frail New England gentlewoman pressed forward for twenty years in untiring search for that law of healing which is as eternal as the love of God and as unchanging.
Shortly after Lincoln had accomplished his God-appointed task there came to the waiting thought of this pure woman, at a moment of extreme physical need, a clear perception of the law and method by which Christ Jesus and the early Christians had healed the sick, and she was instantly healed from the results of what had been pronounced a fatal injury. But it required nine years of further study and application of this law before the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, was completed and given to the world.
This book corroborates and explains the teachings of the Bible. It pierces with the rays of spiritual Truth every human problem and omits nothing that needs to be known in order to accomplish the full-deliverance of men from the bondage to evil and mortality. Written in Lynn, Massachusetts, in a lonely attic chamber, under a single sky-light window, the rays of its healing message have lightened the hearts of multitudes. And it work is only begun.
The discovery of Christian Science was, however, but one part of Mrs. Eddy's life work. After her discovery there remained the work of founding this new yet old idea of God's healing power in the thought of the world, sceptical, condemnatory, and unbelieving. She saw that this saving idea must be presented to men, protected from adulteration and misrepresentation; and that orderly methods and means must be found to carry out these purposes.
How well the work was done! A half century ago Christian Science was believed in only by the one who had discovered it, — a lone woman, lacking friends, influence or human means. Her only possessions were an idea and unbounded trust in God. Today this idea has found joyful acceptance in the thought of millions.
The same wisdom which guided all the footsteps of this God-inspired woman enabled her to establish under the Manual of The Mother Church in Boston a system of church government, wholly unique and different from any other and adequate in every detail to the demands of this and future generations. In this Manual is set forth "the way" in which the co-operative and collective activities of the Christian Science movement must be carried on, and the processes and forms of action thru which God's healing purpose of universal salvation is to be accomplished.
Ever Present Mind Is God
The consideration of religion and science properly begins with the cause of all things. Men may differ as to what this cause is but they are practically united in their belief that there is a cause. This common conviction was recently expressed by Thomas Edison thus, "I can no more doubt the existence of an intelligence that is running things than I do the existence of myself." But what is this cause, where is it, what is its relation to man? These are some of the questions we are here to consider.
I wonder if at some time you have not looked thru a certain kind of glass lens which has made objects that were very near seem as though they were remote. Remove the lens and the normal relationship is at once apparent. Our past religious teachings have often made us feel that God is far away. They have acted as the glass lens and have made what is very near, — "The Lord is at my right hand," says the Psalmist, — seem distant and remote. Let us begin by dropping any sense of God as one mile, two miles or any miles off, and let us look for the cause of all things right where its creation is, right here among us.
In the world today we observe many good ideas that are commanding increased consideration. These ideas pertain to the welfare and betterment of man, individually and collectively. We note the idea of industrial justice as between employers and employees being given fuller consideration than ever before. Industrial leaders are realizing that the time is near when the great masses of mankind must be freed from the overburden of physical toil and the consuming fear of poverty. Thru the clouds of confused opinions we see the ideas of international arbitration and co-operation among the nations of the earth becoming more fully established in thought. We see such events as the Associated Advertising Clubs of America taking for their organization's motto, 'Truth.' The Rotary Club, an international organization of business men, makes "Service above Self" the keynote of its activities.
Now, my friends, where do these right ideas come from? All that we know anything about is what is called matter and mind, so it is from one or the other that these ideas must come. Matter can be divided into some ninety chemical elements, about twenty of which make up the human body, though its chief constituents are water, salt, carbon, and oil.
The brain, often regarded as the source of thought, is said to be from 70 per cent. to 90 per cent. water, about the same percentage of water that is in a tomato or a very soggy potato, I presume. So we must decide whether these ideas of industrial justice, honesty, kindness, and so on originate in matter or in mind. Who would say that an idea of international arbitration came from a pint of water mixed with a tablespoonful of salt with some oil poured in, no matter how much that combination was extended and dressed up to make an imposing appearance.
These ideas, let us note, are not affected by time or space. They are the same in essence today as they were 2,000 years ago, and the same in South Africa as in the United States. They are always here, and everywhere, and no one has to do anything but think them in order to have them. Yet no human being is their source or cause.
It is evident that these ideas spring from a common source with which each one of us has fundamental mental relationship. Christian Science explains that this fountain source of all right ideas is Mind, intelligence, always here and everywhere, but never in matter. This always present Mind is God, and is the source of all good thoughts. Man is the agency through which this Mind expresses itself. Let us remember, then, that God is Mind, our intelligence, our life, and that in reality man is the individual expression of God. The only reason for man to exist is to express God, good.
Since the true individuality of man is the expression of God, God must be where man is, and man must be where God is. We cannot see God with the physical senses any more than we can see Mind, but we can know Him, even as we know good, which is His being. The physical senses only see what is temporary and destructible. God, Mind, is eternal and indestructible. A little child once expressed the fundamental relationship between God and man thus, "There is one Mind and we all use it." Christian Science says, "There is one Mind and we all express, or reflect it." This Mind is the Principle, Spirit, Life, and controlling animus of every living thing.
Let us consider something more of the nature of God. How old is God? Well, what could precede intelligence? Could intelligence evolve from non-intelligence? Reason says no. You can never reason back of intelligence. Then Mind must be self-existent, without any precedent cause, and must be eternal. For as there is nothing to make intelligence so there is nothing to unmake it. Surely ignorance cannot take to itself power and overwhelm wisdom and intelligence.
Let us be doubly sure we are not harboring any sense of God as apart from creation. He is one with His creation, as the sun and its rays are one. God is not the cause of life outside of life. God is Life. God is not only the source of truth, God is Truth. God has not merely a loving nature. God is Love. And these names, Life, Truth, Love, are, in their true sense, synonymous with Mind.
Evil from Carnal Mind
But, someone may say, there is much about man that is not the expression of real intelligence, or God. There is much selfishness, hate, sin and disease. Yes, that surely seems to be so. How then are we to account for the ungodly conditions with which we are confronted? This is the explanation. Good thoughts are the expression of God. Evil thoughts, fear, sin, disease, discord, and so on, are the expression of a so-called evil mind, the negative and opposite of God, immortal Mind. Paul thought about this same question that is before us, and stated that "The carnal mind is enmity with God," which of course means that the evil mind is hostile and opposed to all that is of God. And he said further, "To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."
There is the whole thing in a nutshell. The moral, the good, the righteous thoughts are the expression of God and bring true life and peace. Evil thoughts bring with them sin, sickness and death. There is such a thing, too, as being dead above ground, for so long as our minds are filled with carnal thoughts we are dead to spiritual life. But how are we to stop evil thought from possessing us, and keep our consciousness always filled with God's thoughts, that's the question we want answered, isn't it? Christian Science answers it fully, and as we go on you will see what that answer is.
It should be said sometime, and perhaps this is a good place, that thinking good thoughts is the only way by which we can attain a normal and truly happy state of existence. Sooner or later we all have to discover that genuine goodness is true being and nothing else is. The one who is more or less willingly deceived into believing that righteousness beyond a certain point is unmanly and that a kit-bag of sins is essential to his happiness is storing up for himself untold suffering.
Christian Scientists, let it be understood, do not claim to be better than their brothers, but they know that they themselves are better than they have been. They rejoice because they have found that the only legitimate state of being is thinking and living in accord with God. This they are learning to do in increasing measure. But do not judge Christian Science by the immature efforts of Christian Scientists, for they have only begun to demonstrate this absolute science of being.
And here may I say a word to the young people in particular. You will remember that in Ecclesiastes (12:1) the Preacher has counselled, "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not." Why do you suppose he gave this special counsel to the young? Because he saw just what we see today, that the devil paints with his most alluring colors pictures for the minds of the young. The world of matter he pictures as full of promise, happiness, success. In our teens and early twenties its hue is often rosy and golden, but, my young friends, substance, reality, and enduring happiness are not found there, as millions have found who have traveled the road before you.
"The evil days" to which the preacher referred are those times in later years which are bound to come as surely as night follows day, if those who have glimpsed the eternal things of God turn from them into the sidepaths of materiality which lead away from the path heavenward. Would that you who are standing on the threshhold of human experience might but see that the goal of all living, the purpose of all true existence is the discovery and demonstration of the spiritual selfhood of man.
Right living brings the only lasting pleasure, right endeavor alone satisfies true ambition. In a large measure mankind is depending on you of the rising generation to serve and to deliver it from the bondage of mortality. May your wisdom and your faithfulness be proportionate to your unparalleled opportunity. Far better it is to be small and shine than to be great and cast a shadow.
It is sometimes said that one must must give up so much to become a Christian Scientist, but this is not so. Christian Science separates us from nothing but evil. It but asks us to surrender the fool's gold of false material sense for the enduring riches of spiritual mindedness. It lessens our affections for no one, but exalts and purifies our love for every one. The Christian Scientist, recognizing that the more evil conditions of thought we abandon the more we gain of true manliness, says in the words of the great sculptor, Michael Angelo:
"The more the marble wastes
The more the image grows."
How to Destroy Evil
Now, let us begin the consideration of the method by which we apply Christian Science to work the destruction of evil. We cannot lift ourselves from the earth by our own bootstraps. To raise ourselves from the ground we need to get hold of something higher than we are. So to get free from evil and mortality we must lay hold of something higher, a higher sense of life and existence, and that sense is the spiritual or God-appointed sense of being.
First, remember always that every claim of evil must be reduced to a mental argument, a suggestion of the carnal, or mortal mind. "The basic error is mortal mind," writes Mrs. Eddy on page 405 of Science and Health. If we wish to be rid of a tree that is sending out poisonous odors we would not try to combat the odor. We would search out the root and strike there. If we wish to be rid of evil, we do not bother too much with its particular arguments, we go to the root of it all and strike there. If then we reduce the evil that confronts us to a mental argument with the carnal mind as its cause, what next? How do we get rid of this erroneous cause? How do we get rid of a shadow?
A shadow is but the absence of light. To get rid of it we let in the light. Then there is no shadow. Christian Science shows that evil is not the fact of existence, only a shadow thought, the opposite of the fact. So in place of a mistaken evil sense, we turn to God, who is light, or intelligence, and realize that He is the only Mind, the only Truth, the only Life, and the only Love; that there is no other Mind, and that the supposed evil mind is not Mind, substance, or reality and cannot influence, affect, or control God or His harmonious creation, including man.
Now, secondly, please note this. The only way we destroy a lie is by ceasing to believe in it. Likewise we destroy evil as we cease to believe in it. We only cease to believe it is as we realize the substantiality of good and the presence and the power of God. We only realize the presence and power of God as we strive, moment by moment, day by day, yes, thought by thought, to think the thoughts of God. Rays of light displace darkness, drops of water put out fire, thoughts of God, good, nullify evil. There is no other way.
Christian Science shows evil to be nothing but a negative state of thought. It is like ignorance. We can all see there is no such thing in reality as ignorance. Ignorance is but a negative state of thought, the absence of something; and it disappears when intelligence appears. So every phase of evil is but a phase of spiritual ignorance, an absence of the understanding of good, the affirmative, spiritual Truth of being, and it disappears before the light of spiritual intelligence as the darkness flees before the dawn.
In Porto Rico when the moon is full the shadows of the palm trees seem so black and substantial that a stranger will step over them, as he would over some real object. Yet they are never anything but substanceless shadows. What the stranger needs to do is to change his sense about them. He must learn that they are but shadows and wholly unable to hinder his progress. So it is with the shadows of evil belief. They are not substantial and cannot hinder our progress when we learn of their negative nature.
Application of Christian Science
Let us now consider some specific application of Christian Science. Suppose an upright business man is confronted with a temptation to profit through a dishonest transaction. He thinks to himself, "No, I will not do that dishonest act for it is not right. It is not according to my standard of manhood." What has he done here? He has mentally repudiated an evil suggestion that whispered to him, because his higher sense of life knows that it is wrong, is erroneous and unworthy of a place in his thought or life. He takes his stand mentally for what is right and true. Now this is just exactly what a Christian Scientist does only he goes further and mentally repudiates the suggestions of evil no matter what their nature may be. If the mental method is usable to get rid of the sinful suggestion to be dishonest it is equally usable to get rid of the evil suggestion to be sick, for the latter has no more legitimate place in the life and thought of man than the former. Both are the expression of the evil mind while man is made to express God, the divine Mind.
So when evil whispers, "I'm catching cold. My feet are wet and I'm afraid I will soon have a cold in my head," the Christian Scientist says in substance, "God, good, is my life, the source, and support of my being. Sickness is not of God and has no relationship to Him or to His expression man. Mortal mind and its evil manifestations have no real existence and cannot for an instant deprive man of his God-appointed condition or destiny. My true selfhood as determined by God, is harmonious, healthy and free. I therefore refuse to be dominated or controlled by any argument of cold or sickness which has no authority from God, in and by whom I live, and move, and have my being."
Or suppose the Christian Scientist awakens some morning with the thought that a pending business transaction is likely to fall thru and his supply be diminished or cut off. What will he do? He will at once recognize this thought as an evil suggestion of mortal mind and will turn his thought to God as the source of all life, the supplier of all good. He will recognize that there is no real power but the power of omnipotent Mind, moving in the thought of every creature and appointing all action, decision, and judgment according to the will of unerring wisdom which operates impartially for the good and happiness of all. He will know, right in the face of what error may claim, that what is the will of God must be and that what is not the will of God cannot be, that his well being depends not on any person, or persons, but on God who sustains all, and unfailingly supplies the needs of every creature in the ways of wisdom and love.
Or again, suppose there is an argument of discord in the home, or in the office, or among relatives or friends. How will the Christian Scientist think? In some such way as this: "All of God's children are animated by the one Mind which is God. They are all like-minded one toward another and no evil sense can encroach upon, undo, or change the absolute indivisible unity of true being. Each idea of God is lovingly related to every other idea and all are conscious of and rejoice in this true relationship. Harmony, loving kindness, and good will characterize the children of God and no other state of thought can be present or be manifest."
Moral Courage Requisite
You will see, I think, that this method of mental practice simply displaces in thought the negative ungodly testimony of mortal sense, no matter how time-honored, with the reasoned truth of affirmative and harmonious spiritual sense. It is, to be sure, a radical break with the old order of thinking and it requires courage, moral courage, and lots of it. But the best thing about the method is that it works, a fact to which the entire Christian Science movement is a living testimony. And what stand for the right does not require moral courage?
Think of the moral courage of Daniel when cast among the famished lions. He didn't stop to think of devouring beasts, the appalling picture which material sense presented. He thought only of the love and the power of God and man's unity with Him. Why do you suppose the lions did not devour Daniel? Simply because his thought was so fully at-one with the divine Mind that the bestial appetites felt the restraining power of God's presence and sensed nothing in him on which to feed. Think of the moral courage of Christ Jesus when he raised Lazarus who had been in the tomb four days, long enough for decomposition to set in. Suppose he had admitted for an instant the testimony of the material senses as to Lazarus. Lazarus would never have come forth. It was because he kept his thought firmly fixed on the unchanging harmony and spiritual integrity of God and His creation, knowing that man as the everlasting expression of God never dies; that God, Mind, not matter, is the author and preserver of man, and that no physical law can contravene the divine purpose or deprive of life for a single instant aught that God has made.
One cannot be a moral coward and get far in Christian Science, but if our desire is right and our effort persevering Christian Science will bring strength to the hands that seem weak and confirm the feeble knees. We must learn to face the devil and all the hosts of hell if need be, know their impotence, and rejoice in the allness of God.
The one power on earth before which evil cannot stand is that state of thought so filled with the understanding of God that it knows evil's nothingness. On page 410 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy has said, "Christian scientific practice begins with Christ's keynote of harmony, 'Be not afraid.'" Paul says, "God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." Fear is belief in evil and ignorance of God and disappears in proportion to our understanding of God as divine Love.
Animate Error Unreal
It is plain that the way of thinking in Christian Science runs counter to our past habits of thought, and at first it may seem as though Christian Science is asking us to deny testimony that is very real. This is because we have blindly believed that the testimony which the physical senses offer, which is the expression of mortal thought, is not open to question. But wait a minute. Let us see about this in the light of the true understanding of God and God's creation. This understanding shows a perfect God, absolute intelligence, as the one rational cause, a perfect and harmonious universe including man as the only logical effect. Now, is the testimony of discordant material sense a part of this perfect creation? Let us take the homely illustration of one man robbing another. Is that a part of God's plan? What does it stand for, what does it represent? Either it is appointed of God or it isn't. If it is of God it is eternally true and good, if not it is a mistaken sense of life negative and temporal. Mrs. Eddy has used a phrase on page 409 of Science and Health which aptly describes such evidence of the senses. The phrase is "animate error." It seems to be life but is not the God-appointed order of life. It is but the action and reaction of erring mortal thought.
A very large part of what goes on on the stage of earth is but animate error. True existence expresses God, good, and is no more to be found in the strife of mortals than it is in a dog fight. The play and counter play of selfishness, jealousy, hatred, contention, and sinful intrigue, acting through mortals, is like the play of many manikins operated and controlled by one common ventriloquist, and the ventriloquist manipulator of earth's actors is the devil or mortal mind. This is the world of negative sense, one belief preying upon another, and all it accomplishes is its own destruction. All such scenes are devoid of right, reason, or truth, and remember only that is real which is right.
There is not one whit more real life in animate error, so-called, than there is in the inanimate. It is all a temporary dream sense that will have to be displaced by spiritual reality. Our present limited understanding of Christian Science may not cause matter and animate error to disappear over night, but Christian Science begins by subjugating error. It makes the body harmonious instead of sickly. It makes people loving and honest instead of hateful and deceiving. As a first step it subordinates the physical to the will of God, good, and so starts a man on his way to eternal being.
The scenes of earth-sense are much like the movies. There you see movement, action, people, but they are not substantial nor real. It is but the play of lights and shadows. If in the play or movie the scene becomes too sad or gruesome we may find relief by saying to ourselves, "Well, it isn't true, no matter what it seems to be. It isn't real." We eliminate the sense of its realness and find relief. That is what the world must do with all evil and on the scientific basis that God is the only true Life, Mind and being.
Let us never forget, too, that this must be done right at the point of our individual thinking. The devil or the so-called evil mind is a very busy movie producer. His reels are run in the theater of personal consciousness and the performance, if we permit it, is almost continuous. The price of admission is the surrender of our true sense of God and man. The plots are from the past, the present, and the future of human belief. We get free from these vivid scenarios of evil only as we stop believing in evil. When we do this it is as though we cut off the current that runs the movie machine. We must at the same time turn on the strong light of spiritual mindedness which renders impossible any repetition of evil's shadow plays.
The devil's motto we might put into the words of Voltaire. "Lie! Lie! Lie! Some of it will stick." But a shadow cannot be stuck onto a sunbeam, and no more can evil cling to or posses the right-thinking man.
Self-Will An Enemy
Two things are needed in order that the individual progress in this understanding of Christian Science, first a correct understanding of the nature of God and man, and second a correct sense concerning the nature of evil, and how to combat and overthrow it. We have considered the basic truths about God and man, also something of the nature of evil and how to destroy it. Let us now see what are some of the most persistent forms of evil argument that must be eradicated from human thought. One of the most common is self-will. This leach-like mental encumbrance is defined by Mrs. Eddy on page 597 of Science and Health to be, "The motive power of error." The evil in the human will is that it is blind to aught but its own purpose and desire. It has no relation to the Father Mind, but sets in place of the will of wisdom and love the driving compulsion of the ignorant, selfish, and criminal mortal mind unruled by Principle.
This enemy of the individual and the common good appears early in human life, and is ever seeking to control us, blinding us to the government of God. It is often manifest in the early acts of the infant insisting upon its own desires. The youth is frequently obsessed by this unseen evil influence, and goes his erring way, his thought shut to any counsel but his own selfish, wilful purpose. The adult often mistakes this mental usurper for true manliness, believes he must gain success by it, dominate those about him with it, and in general be a little god bossing his own little kingdom and his subjects with this unholy power. The human will is the autocrat ruler, the tyrant, and the criminal of the mental realm.
A friend once owned a parrot which would say day after day, "I want what I want, I want what I want." This is ever the cry of the human will. Blind, selfish, unreasoning, it drives its victims headlong into the pitfalls of destruction and furnishes the impetus for the basest of human passions, malice, and lust. Christian Science binds with everlasting chains this conspirator against happiness, goodness, and brotherhood. It dethrones any belief in or submission to a mortal or evil mind and establishes in our thought the will of God to be the one determining power.
There is but one antidote for self-will. It is humility. Humility is no sign of weakness, no surrender of real initiative, individuality or power. It is the finding, in the fullest sense, of all these and more, for it brings man into a fuller sense of his true manhood than he has known before. We must all pass through the valley of humility, and leave there the heavy baggage of self-will, before we can reach the heights of holiness. Mrs. Eddy has said that "humility is the first step in Christian Science." (Misc. Writings 354:23). Humbleness of mind is based on the recognition that there is but one will, God's, but one determining Mind or intelligence to which all men are naturally obedient, each having his place and his part in the one infinite plan. What error terms "my will" or "your will" must be put down and kept down if our prayer, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done" is ever to avail. The Master's prayer must become ours, "Not my will but Thine be done." Solomon puts it thus, "In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths."
Ingratitude an Evil
Another stumbling block in the way heavenward is ingratitude. This is a frozen, frigid, mental state which is a phase of selfishness. It would cut us off from the presence and love of God. To the extent that we are grateful for the good we have we do recognize the presence of God, who is good. How can we hope to see more of good until we recognize what is already before us? All of us have so much to be grateful for, our country and its institutions, our homes, our churches, and schools, the beauties of nature, and our friends.
There is no end to the good near at hand. While we rejoice in the presence of good we deny most effectively the presence of evil. No shadow of evil can live in a consciousness filled with true joy and genuine gratitude. And our sense of gratitude should not be intermittent or spasmodic, but continuous. The man of God is perpetually grateful, always rejoicing in the presence of good. We enter heaven through the door of gratitude.
Jesus' life was a psalm of gratitude. We must make ours the same. "Father, I thank Thee" was his thought always. The wholesome Pollyanna reminds us that the Lord says some 800 times in the Bible that we should be glad, and that since He said it so many times, He must have meant it. Gladness and gratitude go hand in hand. Let us all get on the bright side of life and stay there. Let us be intelligent optimists. And it is well to remember that a normal sense of humor is a good shock-absorber for some of the rough spots on the road of human experience.
Apathy Is a Devil-Pit
Apathy or mental stagnation is another of the devil-pits we need to look out for. We cannot stand still. And to keep going forward we have to be ever awake, alert and on guard. To stop our efforts to progress because the grade seems a bit steep is to stall our mental engine, as it were, and before long we begin to deteriorate. Better far to go into second or low speed for a little space than to stop and stagnate. Too often it seems as tho we are lulled by the silent arguments of evil into a state of mental indifference or complacency.
Often evil suggests that we are too busy to study, too busy to pray, too busy to express our true manhood at all. Or sometimes our social interests crowd in and before we know it God is nearly the last place when He must be first if we wish to make any progress heavenward. Apathy to spiritual things quickly follows when we make too much of human things.
You will remember the parable Jesus told of the feast and the invited guests and their excuses for not coming. One had a business, another relatives, another some oxen, — today it is the flivver or automobile. You see evil hasn't changed one bit. Look out then for the arguments of human responsibility, human ease, worldly pleasure and position. These are just the alluring sideshows of evil arranged along the road heavenward and we do not belong in any of them. If there we soon stagnate and become dead to spiritual things.
Clams live their lives in quiet contentment along the ocean shore, moving only as some overwhelming current or wave moves them. Who wants to be a mental clam!
World's Need Is More Love
The world today, torn with dissension, strife and ill-will, is hungry in its heart of hearts for love, for the love that is genuine, good and pure, the love that destroys hate, unites men and expresses God. The idea of co-operation is being born. Among states, nations, churches, employers, employees, farmers and individuals we see this right idea of human brotherhood slowly but surely emerging, not without a conflict, but with a definiteness that is cause for encouragement.
Slowly men are coming to see that in the final analysis self-interest is to be found only in the common interest, and that we cannot have any enduring selfhood apart from our brother. So momentous is the step forward which mankind is now taking that the breaking up of old beliefs of pride, selfishness, jealousy, hate, and so on, seems at times to cause an ice-jam in the stream of progress, but under the moral force of love the stream moves on.
And so to everyone interested in human betterment let me say that the world needs your co-operation and mine. It needs brotherly consideration one for another, toleration and kindness. We need to be ever ready to recognize and to rejoice in the good in those about us and to minimize the evil. We need to guard against "going to the mat" over questions secondary in importance, thus retarding our own and others progress heavenward.
In [the] transition thru which we are passing we see too often good men condemn good men. Those striving for the same ideals politically and religiously are too often separated by the devil's wedge of controversy and dissension and their purposes thwarted by unavailing conflict. Dissension is the work of evil. Spiritual unity is the order of God. We need more toleration, not for error, but for our brother the whole world over who is working his way heavenward according to his best light.
My friends, we are brothers. God has made us so. Only as brothers can we find true life, only as brothers can we possess true happiness, only as brothers can we fulfill our Father's purpose and fill our places in love's harmonious plan. The efforts of the adversary are to divide Christians and Christendom, to bring among us controversy, dissension, strife and war. But we are brothers, brothers now, brothers forever and forever. Only in brotherhood is heaven, only in brotherhood is truth, and the one road to brotherhood is love, love that is deep, genuine, pure and Godlike. Said John, "He that loveth not this brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?"
Two thousand years ago there came among men one so lowly that he was born in a manger. No persecution that could be heaped on him was too severe. Reviled, he reviled not again. For malice he gave forgiveness, for injustice mercy, for hatred love. And finally when nailed to the cross for no cause save the world's hatred of his goodness, he still loved his unjust brothers and prayed, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
Why this life so burdened with the hatred of men, why the supreme sacrifice of that life, crucified in ignominy and disdain amid the scorn of his enemies? Why indeed? His one purpose was to give men a truer sense of Love, to prove by his life and resurrection Love's dominion over hate. He did his work for you and me. He showed us the way.
Are we faithful? Are we, to the best of our ability, thinking the thoughts he taught us to think, living the lives he taught us to live, and doing all we can to establish the Father's rule among men, the rule of universal and impartial Love? Let us hear the Master's own words, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
[Published in The Lewiston (Maine) Evening Journal, June 11, 1923.]