Lecture on Christian Science, Title Unknown (3)
Paul Stark Seeley, C.S.B.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
When John G. Paton went as a missionary to the New Hebrides group of islands some years ago he found the natives to be savages. He made his home on the island of Aniwa. Here he found no spring or well, the natives relying on the rainfall for their water supply. As the rain was very limited during more than half the year drinking water became very scarce and often unobtainable for long periods, with consequent suffering. Doctor Paton determined to dig a well. When the natives learned his purpose they ridiculed him, saying that water did not come from the earth but from the sky. They even believed that he had gone insane and refused him any aid. For days and weeks he labored with no assistance, but received only ridicule. Finally the ground at the bottom of the hole become moist. He summoned the native chiefs, dug a little deeper, and was rewarded with a strong flow of clear, fresh water which he offered to the unbelieving populace. Now, no one need ever be athirst on the isle of Aniwa.
Near the middle of the last century a high-minded gentlewoman of New England, Mary Baker Eddy, found herself mentally alone on a desert isle, as it were, where there appeared to be no water to quench her thirst for health and happiness. She was the child of Puritan parents, and had grown to womanhood among the hills and vales of New Hampshire, — the Granite State, — possessing a rare personal charm, culture and affection for the best things of life. She had ever shown an unusual love for the Bible teachings and early on she accepted implicitly its wonderful promises of health. With the years of womanhood came sorrow, separation from dear ones, and prolonged illness. From every trial she turned the more resolutely in search of that certain law of healing which she believed a correct understanding of God would bring. In this search the theories of allopathy, or regular medicine, were explored in vain, then homeopathy, a step away from mere drugs toward a more mental form of healing, and afterwards hydropathy.
Mrs. Eddy recognized after years of investigation and experiment that this certain law of healing was not to be found in any of the accepted systems, and she then turned away from the material and human to the spiritual and divine. She dug deeper and deeper beneath the crust of materiality, through and beyond the strata of material ignorance, false education and prejudice and in a direction from which those about her said no good results could come. They, like the natives of Aniwa, believed that no relief was to be found apart from the generally accepted, though wholly inadequate, methods.
Not for days and weeks but for years this God-loving woman pursued her quest tirelessly and alone. As she has written of Christ Jesus so it may be repeated of her, for she "plunged beneath the material surface of things and found the spiritual cause" (Science and Health, page 313), making available the stream of spiritual knowledge for all mankind. It was in 1866 that Mrs. Eddy overcame a serious injury through reliance on spiritual, as wholly apart from material, law and became convinced of the present availability of this law for suffering humanity. For three years thereafter she studied the Scriptures most diligently and from them derived a fuller understanding of this spiritual law of life and its applicability to every need of men. The results of these and the preceding years of consecrated study and research were given to the world in 1875 through the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," which has become, next to the Bible on which it is founded, the most widely read book in the Christian world. As Doctor Paton made the material waters available to the unbelieving natives of Aniwa, waters which had ever been within their reach though in the opposite direction from which they had been looking, so Mrs. Eddy has made available the water of life lying beneath the material surface of things, the water which alone satisfies the thirst of men for the truth of being.
Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, wrote of Mrs. Eddy with profound admiration. "Love,'' she says, "permeates all the teachings of this great woman — so great, I believe, that at this perspective we can scarcely realize how great — and looking into her life history we see nothing but self-sacrifice and selflessness. Mrs. Eddy should have the respect, admiration and love of the whole nation, for she is its greatest woman."
Cause and Effect
What, let us ask, was this water of life, this spiritual truth or law which has proved so potent to overthrow and set at naught heretofore generally accepted material law, heal the sick, and bring to multitudes lasting happiness and good cheer? In her writings Mrs. Eddy has made it plain that Christian Science is founded upon a correct understanding of the one universal cause and of the effects proceeding from and expressing that cause. This cause men have most frequently called God, while the universe and men have been thought of as effect. Here we see that if a correct concept of these fundamentals can be gained the true or scientific idea of life will be obtained. This is the treasure which Christian Science gives.
A great moral current is running through the minds of men and nations, and whence is it running? Every thoughtful observer must see that it is toward a oneness of mind, a common sense of right, a common sense of life and how to live, among all the people of the earth. Men are finding little by little their natural unity, their oneness of being, and they are finding it in the one common universal sense of life and law which knows no geographical barriers, no racial nor national distinctions in its final development.
A great statesman has recently said that the work of uniting the nations in the bonds of brotherhood is an effort to enthrone the conscience of the world. What is this conscience of the world that we are so desirous of enthroning as our lawgiver? Is it not the collective or common consciousness of right, of justice, law, and love? It is this universal conscience, the common consciousness of right and good, discerned as yet but dimly, yet discerned and obeyed in an ever increasing measure, which in its full unfoldment is "God with us," the Mind of absolute good. It is the house of the Lord and, in the thought of the prophet, all the nations of the earth are mentally flowing into it. Job discerned this incorporeal and unlimited sense of God and spoke of God as being in one Mind. Christ Jesus spoke of this parent intelligence as Father and Spirit. John regarding the kindness, mercy, and protection of the Father Mind spoke of Him as Love. "God is Love; and he that dwelleth in [thinks in ideas of] love dwelleth in God, and God in him" (I John 4:16).
How near, how reasonable, and as Christian Science is proving, how practical is such a sense of God, for we see that all right-mindedness is nothing more nor less than God manifest, the fullness of true being including your being and mine.
Man the Expression of Mind
But we only know Mind as we know the ideas which express it and the highest of these is man. The world is coming to honor and to recognize the mental man, that state of consciousness which most clearly expresses the ideas of the true Mind or God. Mrs. Eddy has given an illuminating definition of man in Science and Health (p, 475), where she says "He is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas."
Perhaps to define man as idea may seem to you rather vague. Men have thought of man in terms of matter for so long that the inclination is to think of him as a combination of material elements conjoined, in a way yet unknown, with mind. But if you will let go for the moment of the material sense of man and try to regard him only from the standpoint of an expression of true intelligence you will see that the term idea most fittingly expresses his status and relationship to the parent Mind.
Mortal Man Repudiated
Perhaps some of you were taught as children that man was first made from the dust of the ground, others may believe in the theory of material evolution, man evolved from molecule and monkey up to his present estate. If you have accepted either of these theories, have you stopped to consider where wisdom, intelligence, kindness, charity, and love come from? Though you may be satisfied with the theory of evolution as an explanation of this mass of matter termed a body, that explanation gives no satisfaction as to the origin of the things which even to-day the world honors the most, namely the mental and spiritual qualities of man.
The issue raised in the first two chapters of Genesis, the first stating the fact of the spiritual and perfect creation, the second presenting the nature of the false material sense of creation, is whether we will accept as our origin dust or Deity. We must choose between matter and animality or God and spirituality. It is devil versus God, matter versus Mind. On which side are we? Disraeli, the great English statesman, once put the issue thus, "What," he asked, "is the question now put before society? The question is this — Is man an Ape or Angel? My Lord," he replied, "I am on the side of the Angels." "The side of the Angels" I take to mean the spiritual side or sense of being, at least that is what Christian Science means by it, for angels it does not conceive of as human creatures with feathery wings but as the good thoughts sent of God, which the psalmist said were given charge over man to keep him in all his ways.
Mortal Concept of Man Refuted by Bible
Isaiah sought to turn the thought of his people away from this erroneous mortal concept of man with the admonition, "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?" (Isaiah 2:22). In other words, stop thinking of the mortal, material sense of man as the true man, for there is absolutely no way to account for him as a creature of God. In Romans 9:8 Paul makes the perfectly explicit statement, "They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God," and elsewhere he speaks of the imperative necessity to "put off . . . the old man, which is corrupt . . . and . . . put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness" (Ephesians 4:22-24). The Bible depicts the material creation and material self-hood only to show its falsity and the way to its overthrow through the understanding of true spiritual being.
The fact is as the Bible makes very plain that the one true and enduring man, God's man, is as stated in the first chapter of Genesis made in the likeness of God, that is he has the character and nature of God, and why should this not be so? Does not a cause produce an effect like itself? Jesus made it plain that this is the fact when he said, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30), one, that is, in quality and nature. Often he referred to the Father which dwelt in him. In other words the Mind of good or God which was his consciousness, and to Phillip he said, "I am in the Father and the Father in me" (John 14:10). Man is predestined to be the living witness or evidence of God, His expression and consciousness, even as the sunbeam is ever the witness and evidence of the presence of the sun. God's one agency of expression is the spiritual universe and spiritual man.
Christian Science not only presents the true concept of man but shows that it is attainable in some considerable measure right here and right now. It shows that in each and every one of us, and there is no exception, no, not one, there is a natural ability and competency to mentally work our way out of the wilderness of material beliefs, out of the net of material selfhood into our natural unity and agreement with ever present good, Mind, the consciousness which is God, our real life and being. The process is wholly mental, as Paul indicated when he said. "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2).
Applying Christian Science
Well, then, how does one begin to apply the teachings of Christian Science? First of all he begins mentally to resist evil. He follows the Scriptural advice to resist the devil, which his study of Christian Science has taught him is but the counterfeit evil mind which tries to operate through evil thoughts projected into his consciousness, or through the physical senses. He learns to become a sentry at the door of thought and to reject every thought or suggestion which is not good, is not an expression of God, the one real Life, for he has taken his mental stand for what God has made him to be and he is determined to assert and prove his mental and living unity with the Mind and Life which is God, knowing that it is natural and right for him to do so and that God has endowed him with the ability to do it.
We must learn to fight mentally for peace of body and mind as persistently as our soldiers have fought physically for peace among human governments. The real and final battle ground of human progress is the consciousness of individual man.
The mental attitude which it is necessary for one to adopt in the practice of Christian Science is indicated in some measure by the mental attitude which an actor must assume in order to be successful in his part. He must be willing to put off without reservation his everyday sense of selfhood and think and act only as the character he is to represent. If he tries to be half his ordinary self and half the character he is depicting he will only be a failure. There must be a complete surrender in thought of the one selfhood and a complete acceptance of the other. He must think, move, act, and be only the character he is representing.
So it is when we use Christian Science we must abandon the old concept of selfhood and put our whole heart into thinking and living as God's man. In place of selfishness we must be unselfish and kind, for hate we must substitute love, for self-will we must express humility, for impurity we must think purity. A good thought must take the place of every evil thought. Unlike the actor's part this change is not for a moment but for eternity. We are putting off the old man of matter, earth and mortality, and are putting on the new man, the real man of God's making, our true selfhood. The point we need to remember is that we can't play two parts, as the devil is ever trying to get us to do. "As many as are led by the spirit of God," says Paul, "they are the sons of God" (Romans 8:14). We will have to choose between the spirit of God and the spirit of evil.
Now of course we do not get out of the meshes of false material education in a day. But we must begin if we are ever to attain. "Emerge gently from matter into Spirit" (Science and Health, page 485), is Mrs. Eddy's counsel. The difficulty is that some lay so much emphasis on the gently that they fail to emerge.
Reality and Unreality
Enough has perhaps been said to show that Christian Science sets up a different standard than that accepted by the world as to what is real and unreal. It does not accept everything as real just because a claim is made that a thing is real any more than we accept everything as true which is told us. Only that is regarded as real in Christian Science which can be attributed to God, for since He is the only real cause there can be no real effect from any other cause. Judged from this standard one can see why it is that all evil, discord, sin, and disease are regarded by Christian Science to be unreal. They have no relation with God or His perfect creation. The effort of all mankind to be rid of evil shows that we instinctively repudiate it in our thought as being unnatural and so in the last analysis unreal. Christian Science does not say that sin, sickness, and discord are not very real to the material sense, but it does say that judged in the light of the spiritual sense of being which overrules and transcends material sense they are seen as false claims about true life and existence. Nor does Christian Science ignore such conditions. Rather does it show men how to destroy them, for being negative and false they are to be overcome by replacing them in thought with the concept of what is divinely true. He who believes that evil is real and that God sent it has no business at all trying to get rid of it.
Evil is a False Belief
If, then, evil is not real, what is it, you may ask? It is false belief. As for every fact you may suppose its opposite, the lie about it, so the sum of evil is the lie about God, universal good. It is a bastard lie and ceases to have any recognition or place when the truth is realized. Jesus made this plain when he spoke of evil as a liar in which there is no truth and pointed the way to man's liberation from it in the well-known statement, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." This brief statement summarizes the whole process of Christian Science practice and is the law that defines the line of march for all human progress.
False Concepts Abandoned
If you will take a mental birds-eye view of the world for the past century you will see that many false beliefs have been abandoned, beliefs which at one time were generally accepted as unchangeable facts. Such for instance was the system of human slavery, the liquor traffic, the opium trade in China, the "divine" right of kings. These have been recognized as negative states of thought or false beliefs. It was but a few years ago that the liquor traffic was thought by many as a necessary evil. But thought has changed. People have come to see, most of them, in our great country at least, that it isn't necessary. Let me say here that there are no necessary evils. I wish that you might all remember that. When man sees what real Life is he sees that evil is not only not necessary but is impossible. Where is the liquor traffic now? When it was recognized for what it was it was mentally repudiated and is now disappearing into oblivion.
Consider if you will the concept of autocracy as old as the human species. There is not much question about that having been cast on the mental scrap heap, at least so far as its aggressive political phases are concerned. So sure are you and I that it is not a true or legitimate concept of law or right, in other words, that it does not belong to the right and true order of things, — is not of God, — that we have completely repudiated it mentally. We would not fight for it, vote for it, nor think in favor of it as a thing real or legitimate. We have awakened to its unreality. So every one of us must mentally awaken to the unreality of every evil concept, all sin and disease, and cast it out of our consciousness, and all for the very best of reasons. Not one of these concepts is of God. Do you suppose that God is any more on the side of a cancer or influenza or a sinful appetite than He is on the side of the liquor traffic or the rule of autocracy? Men have discerned in some measure their right and ability to resist and overthrow the false claims of evil to rule them politically. They are beginning to see and to use their greater right and ability to resist and overthrow the attempts of evil to rule them bodily and mentally.
There are still many of us, however, who would be quite content to find a shady nook in hell and stay there. We have yet to discover that there is no shade nor peace in materiality. Our property rights in hell must be abandoned, and the man who is keeping his religion in his wife's name will have to change his position.
Separating Evil from Man
Evil in some of its forms, such as evil habits, appetites, sickness, bad business practices, and so on has become so persistent in many an individual experience that it has seemed to be welded into our very nature and to be a part of us. How to be rid of it is a question that many have not been able to answer.
An object held close to the eye, even though it be no larger than a feather, may seem as big as a mountain. The thing to do in order to judge it rightly is to get it separated from you so that you may see what its real nature is. Men have been mentally holding evil in various phases so close to themselves, so close to their sense of selfhood, that they have failed to discern its real nature. It has often seemed as big as a mountain, though really it is no more than a feather. Christian Science inserts a mental wedge between man and his concept of evil, and little by little separates it from him until his perspective is changed so that he can see it for what it is — a false claim about his true being — and handle it on that basis. As with every enemy, something must be known of the methods and modes of evil before it can be combated successfully. The last great offensive of our enemies in the recent war was checked, the initiative wrested from them never to be lost by us, on the day when we knew exactly their plans of attack and so were prepared to meet them. It is this valuable information that Christian Science is giving to mankind with regard to the common enemy — the evil mind.
Let us suppose that we have here a phonograph. On it is a record. We start the machine and this is what we hear. "This is the record of a mortal's thoughts on an autumn morning in 1918. (The record begins.) The health officer says that the epidemic is coming this way and will strike to-day. I wonder who told him. The paper says it is getting pretty bad in the state next to us. If it comes here I wonder if I will get sick. These germs are funny creatures, a million on the end of a needle they say. Not much on size but big on appetite it seems. I don't feel so very well this morning. My head and throat don't seem just right. What would happen to the family and the business if I should get it? The newspaper gave four symptoms. I seem to have three. I believe I am getting feverish, that's the fourth. I half believe I'm getting it. Yes, I feel sure I'm getting it. I know I have it. Johnnie, run for the doctor."
Now my friends remember this is but a phonograph record. Here is a mechanical instrument giving out certain sounds. They do not frighten us because we see very plainly that there is nothing in what this material mechanism does that we need fear. It is but matter talking. Move the sound-making instrument right up to the ear and the same reasons make us absolutely fearless of what it says. It simply isn't us and we know it. Suppose it was possible to make it so small it would go into the ear and yet keep on talking the same or similar words. Still you would not accept it as your thinking, would you? It would still remain separate and apart — a lifeless voice. The question now comes, did those thoughts really belong to and constitute a part of the selfhood of that man who voiced them as his own? Christian Science says, No. It was evil suggestion parading itself as the selfhood of man and he accepted it, that is, was deceived by it. It was a phase of the spirit of evil seeking to substitute itself for the spirit or consciousness of good which is man's normal state of mind.
What should he do, do you ask? Just this, — he should separate the lying evil argument from his sense of selfhood as the expression of God. He should know that the evil voice talking on the inside is no more a part of his real being than the matter voice on the phonograph outside. They are made of the self-same stuff, the stuff that dreams are made of. When such arguments suggest themselves he mentally asserts the affirmative facts of spiritual manhood in some such way as this, "I repudiate and deny these lying suggestions of evil, for man is not susceptible to discord or disease. God the infinite good, Mind, is the source and fountain of my life. I do not live in or by material sense or material law, for my true being is spiritual. In God's creation good is supreme and the attempts of evil to operate through these arguments of false material selfhood, contagion, and infection cannot thwart or change the supremacy of the law and the life that is God, expressed by man. The Bible says that God is man's salvation and that no plague shall come nigh his dwelling. I recognize and accept these statements as statements of the protective power of spiritual law, applicable to me here and now, and I deny the claim of any material law to supersede or displace God's law. Knowing God to be infinite good, unlimited Love, I have no fear of evil. Divine Love forever enfolds and protects me. His power is ever working to support and to sustain me. With John I declare that now I am the son of God."
For every evil suggestion there is an angel, a God-sent thought, to reverse and overthrow it.
The real meaning of the word heal is to make whole, to restore to original integrity. Christian Science alone among the healing agencies of the present day accepts this word at its full meaning. Christian Science not only heals the mental or physical disorder but sets in motion those processes of thought which result inevitably in the restoration of man to his original integrity as the individual expression of God.
I am frequently surprised to observe how ignorant many people still are of the fact that Christian Science really heals the sick. Despite the fact that for forty years this church has successfully healed all manner of disease so as to be specifically recognized as a healing agency by the laws of more than thirty of our states, by the executive and administrative branches of our Federal government, and by many honest physicians, there are still many who say, "But does Christian Science really heal, and heal all kinds of disease?" It does just that. Were it not for the healing work that Christian Science has been able to do there would not be a Christian Science church or a Christian Scientist in the world to-day, for practically all those who have come to it came, at least in the early part of its growth, for physical healing. They stayed because they received that which they sought and more.
Material Medicine Opposed to Christianity
Christian Science has no quarrel with honest physicians. It respects them and rejoices in all the good they may be able to do. It frankly differs with their healing methods and resists every attempt to have them made compulsory by law. It believes that every healing system should stand or fall on its own merits and that men will find the system which can best secure their health. An autocracy in medical practice it believes to be as intolerable as compulsory religion. The tyrannical medical treatment forced upon our boys in the army stands as a warning of what state medicine would bring into civil life.
Why should a system which has its root in the pagan worship of Apollo, later changing to the worship of inanimate herbs, a system which has not one jot of Biblical or Christian authority for its teachings, a system which during four thousand years has failed to reduce the number of diseases among men, whose theories have shifted from one generation to another as the sands of the sea shift with every storm, which relies on poisonous drugs and narcotics to do the work that Christ Jesus did and taught his followers to do, have any right to impose on us its tyrannical decrees? This is the system that, in the words of a noted English physician, has "been vivisecting animals now for upwards of two thousand years without the slightest benefit to the human race." For such a system to seek state sanction by which it could with impunity close our churches, put matter first and God last, force on you and on me and on defenseless children inoculations with poison pus from diseased animals and sickly men, is this not indeed a mockery on a people who regard Christianity and its teachings as the bulwark of their civilization and Christ Jesus as the greatest physician the world has ever known? Those who mistakenly seek power to enforce the teachings of a system still true to its pagan root do not need more power but do need more knowledge.
Serums and vaccines come from sick animals and men, and are injected into healthy persons on the theory that the one so inoculated is given a mild form of the disease and so prevented from having a worse form later on. In other words the vaccination of a man means just this, "Inject him with a little devil before a big devil gets him." Observe, please, that it is all in the devil family. What is really needed is something that casts out big and little devils, gets at the root of all disease. The only power that does that is God. Either Jesus knew what he was talking about when he attributed disease to a mental cause and healed it on that basis or he did not. Either the New Testament presents the true way to heal disease or it does not. Christian Science is proving to all who have eyes to see that the very same law which raised Lazarus, healed the lepers, opened the eyes of the blind, is still operative and that it is wholly above and apart from medical diagnosis, narcotics, vaccines, and the butchery of the lower creatures.
The Brotherhood of Man
The greatest war in human history has but just been concluded. The purpose of this great conflict as it finally came to be most universally acknowledged was in the words of our President, "to make the world safe for democracy," to make possible the further advance of men on the road of progress toward that true freedom and liberty which is to be found in the brotherhood of man. In these days when evil forces bold and subtle would deprive mankind of the fruits for which they have striven and suffered it behooves us to consider well the underlying verities of being, to discern clearly as we may the goal of all human progress and so be guided aright on the momentous questions facing us as citizens, not only of America but of the world: for we can only serve the mission of America, my friends, as we serve the cause of righteousness and justice everywhere. America was not born for isolation and national self-interest, but to light and hold aloft the torch of spiritual light that shows the way to liberty, justice, and brotherhood for all mankind.
Let us ever keep before us the fact that there is but one God and so but one creation, that the steps of progress are taken as we come nearer and ever nearer to the realization in our individual, national, and international life to this great fact of the common interest, the oneness of being which unites and binds all men in one great brotherhood. Let us remember that the adversary is ever seeking to divide, cause suspicion, distrust, and hate between individuals, classes, and peoples, and so let us not be deceived with these suggestions that deny the unity of good and scoff at the brotherhood of man. Paul has told us that the Father of all hath made of one blood all nations, and that though being many we are one body in Christ; that is, we have all one body of being in Truth. Christ Jesus, sounding the note for the judgment of true greatness, whether it be for the individual or the nation, said, "He that is greatest among you shall be your servant" (Matt. 23:11). Solomon answered the cynic, the scoffer, and the self-seeker centuries before when he said, "Where there is no vision, the people perish" (Prov. 29:18).
On page 467 of Science and Health Mrs. Eddy writes: "It should be thoroughly understood that all men have one Mind, one God and Father, one Life, Truth, and Love. Mankind will become perfect in proportion as this fact becomes apparent, war will cease and the true brotherhood of man will be established." And on page 518 we read: "The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same Principle, or Father; and blessed is that man who seeth his brother's need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another's good."
[Delivered May 18, 1920, under the auspices of First Church of Christ, Scientist, in the Y.W.C.A. Building, Howard Hall, in Niagra Falls, New York, and published in The Niagra Falls Gazette, May 19, 1920.]