Christian Science: The Gospel of the Kingdom (2)
Judge Clifford P. Smith, C.S.B.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Judge Clifford P. Smith delivered an address on Christian Science to a large audience in Scenic Temple, on the evening of Sunday, October 27. The lecture was given under the auspices of First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Cambridge, and Judge Smith was introduced by Rev. George S. Bennett, who is the first reader of that church.
Mr. Bennett said: — Friends: About five years ago a desire for help above and beyond human aid led me to a careful study of this subject of Christian Science which soon revealed itself to be pure Christianity such as was taught and practiced by Jesus and by his followers for at least three hundred years after his ascension; it also showed itself to be truly redemptive, for it helps the unfortunate, frees the sinner, heals the sick, destroys the fear of and belief in death and it, furthermore, appears, no less than that of Jesus, to be a Gospel of love.
Previous education and training enable most of us to know that the redemptive work of Jesus was the salvation of mortals from these particular ills and the proof that his mission was divine, a proof invariably given by himself to friends and opponents, was his works of healing. In one of his farewell discourses he said, "Believe me for the works' sake."
Is it not fair to assume that Christian Science, which furnishes overwhelming proofs of that the same demonstrable power over misfortune, sin, sickness and death, is actuated by the same divine Love, fathered by the same Spirit, God, Eternal Good, and has the ever present Christ for its foundation?
The leader of this movement, spiritually quickened, becoming an avenue for Eternal Good, through whom the understanding of the Christ idea has reappeared to bless this age, desirous of and laboring for the peace and happiness, health and holiness of all, its leader, Mrs. Eddy, in love, and in addition to her other splendid achievements, established a Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, in order that the unfortunate, the indifferent, the casual, the fearful and possibly the opposed might be better informed and consequently helped by men speaking with recognized authority on the subject of Christian Science, what it really is as well as what it is doing.
Tonight, it is my great honor and pleasure to introduce to you a member of that Board of Lectureship, Judge Clifford P. Smith, C.S.B.
Judge Smith's Lecture
Judge Smith spoke as follows:
The history of the human race shows that its search and hope have always been for a larger dominion over adverse conditions and a greater continuity of life. Eternal and abundant life is the prayer of humanity; it is the goal of righteous effort. For this reason Christian Science responds to the purest desires and the highest aspirations of mankind.
The uses of religion are "to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke." In other words the object of true religion is to expel evil from the experience of men. No one denies this; but the majority of believers do not expect much salvation without dying. They depict heaven as a situation on the other side of death. In the mean time they look for more discord than harmony, for more subjection than dominion; even though bondage to evil is often not recognized as such.
The founder of the Christian religion referred to his message as "the gospel of the kingdom"; and of this kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God he said three things in particular: He said it is "at hand" (that is to say, it is present and within reach); he said it is "within you" (which is to say, it is a state of consciousness); and he said it comes upon you as devils or evils are cast out. (Matthew xxiv, 14; iv, 17, 23; Luke xvii, 20, 21; x, 1-12; xi, 14-20.)
Heaven, therefore, is not the sequence of death; it is an active state of goodness. We are in heaven to the extent that we are like God — like him of whom the psalmist said, "Thou art good, and doest good." Heaven is gained by overcoming; by right living, not by dying; and we have as much of it now as we earn.
The notion that a satisfying life is in any wise dependent on death is one of the most palpable errors of human thought. It is like saying that contraries are the same. It is equivalent to supposing that you move toward an object by going in the opposite direction. The only connection which death can have with heaven is that it is one of the evils which must sooner or later be overcome in order to attain complete heaven or harmony. The possibilities of life are now, and they belong to you.
How should you like to know that infinite good is the Principle — the cause and substance? — of all that really is and that this divine Principle is always available to you for the overcoming of any evil condition?
How should you like to be sure that in the reality of your being you image and reflect divine Life and Truth and Love, while the only devil, evil, or hell is the illusion in human consciousness?
How should you like to be certain that heaven and hell, health and disease, happiness and misery, are simply opposite mental states, resulting from contrary modes of thought, and that one of these states is real and true and enduring, while the other is a bad dream?
How should you like to learn that there is a way by which you can enter into the kingdom of heaven on earth?
For the proof of the propositions involved in these questions Christian Science relies on four distinct grounds of assurance: First, the verbal instruction of inspired teachers as found in the Bible: second, the object-lessons or so-called miracles furnished by Christ Jesus and his followers in the first three centuries of the Christian era: third, the evident spirit of Truth which pervades the works on Christian Science written by Mrs. Eddy; fourth, the results of Christian Science in the experience of the multitudes who have sought its benefits according to its own rules. With this data Christian Science is able to satisfy the highest sense of reason, but, not content with the verdict of any human faculty, it makes its ultimate appeal to the understanding that is spiritual and divine.
Among the better human qualities are hope and faith. In them the message of Christian Science finds a glad response. To read without hostility the Christian Science text-book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," is to hope that its teaching may be true and to have some degree of faith that it is true; and if hope and faith induce the study and practise of its precepts, understanding will sooner or later furnish the demonstration of its truth in your own experience; and this is the highest order of proof. Seeking "first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness," in the way illuminated by this commentary on the Bible, the earnest and persistent seeker will find that the appropriate benefits, both temporal and eternal, will be added unto him.
Science and the Senses
I do not mean to say that Christian Science coincides with the testimony of the physical senses. it does not. Neither does any science. Every system of science admits that sense impressions are always imperfect and often misleading. Indeed that knowledge is superior to the evidence of the senses is the proposition with which science begins.
The science of astronomy began when knowledge corrected the belief of the senses respecting sunrise and sunset. The science of aviation began when knowledge overcame the belief of the senses that a heavier-than-air machine could not be made to fly. Perhaps nothing is more real to the senses than pain, but to one who has lost a limb pain in the severed limb is just as real as pain in one that is connected with the brain. Natural science, even though it is confined to matter and is itself material, is not so credulous as to give full credence to the material senses. But Christian Science advances beyond material theories and declares that actual knowledge is not in the least material; it is purely spiritual.
Fortunately for each and all of us, this purely spiritual sense is ever present in human consciousness. It is the actual manifestation of Life. Through the presence in human consciousness of this divine element God is with us and we "have our being" in Him. It is by reason of the presence and power of spiritual sense or spiritual understanding that we have a dependable assurance of heaven, for it is that with which we can discern and demonstrate the divine nature.
What is the divine nature? What are the character and the attributes of God? What is man? These questions are the most important that can engage our attention, and when truly answered they dispose of the mystery, What is evil?
The New Testament shows that Christ Jesus defined God by the use of the words "good," "Truth," "Life," and "Spirit." His names for the Deity were "God" and "Father"; and in his use of the latter we find, not only "my Father," but "the Father," "our Father," and "your Father."
There were probably three reasons why he so often used this name for God. He employed it because he aimed to lift thought above human generation and point to God as the only author of man. Also, because this name as used by him denotes God's divinely parental power, government, and care with respect to man. Also, because the love of a parent is the highest type of human love, and it would serve as the semblance of the true idea of the Love which is divine. "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good gifts to them that ask him?" Taking the highest human concept of love, the Master used it to teach the infinite superiority of the divine Love — the divine Principle — which tenderly and omnipotently provides for the welfare of man.
But Christ Jesus, the divine Teacher, did not limit his method of enlightening the world to verbal instruction; he made much use of the object-lesson. The healing which he wrought by "the finger of God" (that is to say, by the power of God) was a vivid and cogent method of teaching. The Gospels give more space to these significant signs than is given to precepts or parables.
What do these healing works teach? Of what do they furnish evidence? To what do they bear witness? Preceding the answer to these questions there are certain prefatory facts which ought to be mentioned. The Greek words that are usually but not always translated "miracle" in the King James version of the New Testament do not mean a supernatural event. Their meaning varies from an act of power, a mighty work, to a sign or proof, but they do not denote that which is supernatural. This is plainly set forth in the Oxford English dictionary and in other standard works of reference.
In the revised version of 1901, the American Revised Version, which is universally conceded to be a remarkably accurate translation, the word "miracle" is seldom or never employed without a marginal note to qualify its meaning; and in most cases the word "miracle" is not used; it is displaced by the word "sign," although the words "mighty work" sometimes occur. In short, the Greek word in the Gospels that is oftenest used to refer to the works of healing done by Christ Jesus denotes a sign and includes the idea of evidence or proof. This is shown, for instance, by what Jesus said at the end of the Gospel according to Mark: "These signs shall follow them that believe." The Greek word that is here rendered "signs" is the same word that is elsewhere rendered "miracle."
Another pertinent fact is that the early Christians cited the healing of the sick by divine power as verifying the teaching in which they believed and attesting their understanding of it. With the loss in the third century of this power they lost the most cogent and persuasive evidence of Christianity. Moreover, the lack of this power made the later Christianity differ from that which was practiced and taught by Christ Jesus. The lack of the healing power made the later practise differ from the original in scope and in effect. An explanation, therefore, became necessary, and the supernatural explanation which still persists is the outgrowth of this predicament.
The Old Theory
The explanation which thus came to be formulated is that God normally acts through natural law, but that His personality is such that He may act supernaturally, and that he has done so at certain critical moments in the history of the human race.
There are a number of vital objections to this theory. The first is that it disregards another explanation which is both logical and spiritual. The orthodox or scholastic explanation takes the fact that during a certain period Christ Jesus and the early Christians healed the sick, and the fact that the later Christians were unable to do this, and from these facts concludes that some change occurred on the part of God. The natural conclusion is that the change occurred with men: a change from understanding to the lack of it; a change from the understanding of the Principle and method of Christian healing to the ignorance thereof.
Again, the theory in question is inconsistent with the utterances of Christ Jesus. He never attributed the possibility of Christian healing to anything abnormal with God. On the contrary, he declared the works which he did to be the test of discipleship. I have just quoted one of his sayings to this effect. Another one is this: "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also."
Another objection to the hypothesis in question is that it ascribes a human character to the Deity. It likens Him to a human father who says, Since my ordinary and regular plan of government is not working well, I will modify it or try another. This is not the character of Him "with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." The plans of infinite wisdom do not need to be changed.
The final refutation of the supernatural explanation of Christian healing is supplied by the fact that such healing has been resumed since the discovery of its science. The healing of the sick by the power of God in the first, second and third centuries and again in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries abundantly confirms the truth of Mrs. Eddy's saying, "that the so-called miracles of Jesus did not specially belong to a dispensation now ended, but that they illustrated an ever-operative divine Principle" (Science and Health, p. 123).
When Christ Jesus cured the man whose right hand was withered, declaring that it was lawful to do so, he proved two facts; he established two propositions: First, that there is a Principle and modus by which such healing is possible; second, that he possessed the understanding thereof. One of these facts was personal to himself, but the other was not peculiar to him at all. The Principle of Christian healing is universal; the method is available to all who understand it. The only personal factor is the understanding; and in the last analysis this is personal only in the sense of being individual, not in the sense of being human. Its source and power are divine.
Whenever Christ Jesus overcame sin, disease or death by knowing the truth of being (in accordance with his scientific statement, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free") he proved these evils to be destructible and unreal; and he showed that they should be known as such by every one.
When he loosed the woman who "was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself," he proved that her "spirit of infirmity," even though it had lasted "eighteen years," was merely a belief of infirmity, an illusion of material sense.
When he enabled the man to "receive" his sight, who was in medical theory incurably blind, he demonstrated the unreliability of material knowledge and the superiority of spiritual power over material resistance.
Near the close of his earthly career Christ Jesus said to his disciples, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." Why should they or we be "of good cheer" because of his overcoming? Because his acts of power were done in accordance with law — in accordance with the immutable law of good. Because his mighty works attested the presence, action, and power of divine Principle; and Principle does not change. Because the signs that he wrought proved the actual qualities of man, and proved them to be free from evil. In short, we have the utmost reason to be "of good cheer" on account of what Christ Jesus accomplished, because he exemplified universal possibilities.
Such is the significance, the evidential and educational value, of the so-called miracles of healing; and, though to material sense they seem unnatural, to spiritual sense — to the understanding of good — they are supremely natural, for they evince the true nature of God and man.
God as Mind
With respect to names and synonyms for the Deity there are not many differences between Scientists and others who search the same Scriptures. Such disagreement as exists today is more practical than theoretical. The divergence is more substantial than formal.
For example, we concur that God is Mind, and that "we live, and move, and have our being" in Him. Yet many persons practically desert these premises by claiming to have another mind, and to live, think and be separate from God.
The relation of man to God, and the function of man in the action of Mind, was set forth by Christ Jesus in these words: "The son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise."
The son of God is man. The offspring of Mind is idea. The likeness of Mind is consciousness. The image of Mind is the reflection of it. These names for the representation of Mind mean the same, and they define the real man. Thus the unity that exists between God and man unites true thought to the infinite good, than whom is none else, and in whom is all.
Christian Scientists and other Christians also agree that God is Truth, and that He is the author of our being. From these premises it is logical and spiritual to conclude that man has no occasion to err, nor to consider the question of erring. Yet many persons believe that man ought to have such a capacity. It is said that an ability to choose between good and evil is essential to a well-rounded manhood. Such an argument is parallel to that which attempts to justify the use of intoxicating liquor on the ground that a man should be able to drink it or to let it alone.
In the last analysis, it is impossible that God should produce either wrong doing or the capacity to do wrong, for, as the Master declared, "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit."
God as Love
Again, we are agreed that God is Love, and that His mercy endureth forever. Yet it is often believed that He employs or sends evil. To say this is simply to call evil good. It is an attempt to get rid of evil by combining it with good. God could not employ or send evil without its being a part of His character and attributes; He could not send evil without having it to send.
It is said, however, that evil is in some way a necessity; that we need it. Such an argument betrays a singular confusion of thought. What we need is good, and unless evil is the same as good we have no need of it. Suppose there were no evil; would any be needed? Certainly not. Therefore evil can be necessary only for itself and to itself; man has no use for it.
Let us analyze the question further. It is universally admitted that fear is a bad thing; it is a phase of evil. It beclouds the judgment, halts action, weakens endeavor, induces man's inhumanity to man, and is a larger factor in disease and death than is commonly understood. But the chief procurator of fear is this very belief, that God employs or sends evil. Mortals fear because they doubt His provision for their care. Fear springs from the supposition that God may have ordained the evil event or condition that is dreaded.
Is it possible, then, that the consequences of this belief and fear can be traced to divine Love? If the belief were true, God would be responsible for the fear and torment that follow as its consequences. But the belief is false, for "Love casteth out fear" and all that causeth fear. Neither fear, nor its effects, nor the errors back of it, can withstand the true idea of divine Love.
Christ Jesus refuted the notion that God sends or employs evil by saying that "he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." "Fear not, little flock: for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
God as Life
We are also agreed that God is Life, and that He giveth life to all. We unite in declaring that God is Spirit, that His will is law, and that power belongeth unto Him. Yet the conduct of the average man concerning his health repudiates this theology almost without compunction.
In the endeavor to preserve or regain their health most people would rather follow a medical book than the New Testament; they continually worship and frequently sacrifice at the shrine of material belief, while spiritual understanding is hardly allowed to enter into the question. The majority of Christendom appear to regard matter, instead of Spirit, as the source and environment of life; and in regard to law and power they concede less to God than to germs and bacteria.
I presume you know that the present medical theory of health and disease is chiefly concerned with germs and microbes. Certain breeds of microorganisms are said to be destructive of health and life, while others are said to be beneficial, because they are supposed to be willing and able to consume the other sort. Man, therefore, is regarded as a battle ground for germs, and the victory of health is made to depend on finding and using the species that is supposed to be more helpful than harmful in the particular case.
Such theories, however, have no relation to Spirit, or God, for they are wholly material. They utterly disregard the spiritual status and welfare of man. They regard life as a condition of animated matter.
Let us therefore pause for a moment and ask, What is matter? I will answer in the language of a modern encyclopedia that "all theories as to the ultimate constitution of matter cannot be other than purely speculative." Matter is admitted by natural science to be indefinable. It was formerly resolved into atoms. Latterly these have been resolved into gaseous particles called electrons or ions. The nature of these supposed units is unknown, but it is explained by some physicists that they are possibly a centre of strain or vortex in an all-pervading ether of unknown nature. Therefore, as a recent writer said, matter has disappeared in a supposed swirl in a hypothetical ether. The gist of matter, therefore, is material supposition.
The fact is that Spirit is the only substance: matter has no actual entity. Matter consists of material belief, and germs are beliefs of germs. I say this in spite of material sense and microscopes, for, as Mrs. Eddy has scientifically observed, "Mortal mind sees what it believes as certainly as it believes what it sees" (Science and Health, p. 86).
The Physical Body
At this point some one may wish to ask, How about the physical body, with which man seems to be identified?
We shall have a material body until we outgrow the belief of material selfhood. But we shall not always have the same body. Natural science declares that the physical body is in a state of constant decay and reconstruction. It is supposed to be completely changed every few years.
Is man involved in this shifting of the particles of matter? Not at all. No difference how often the body is changed the man is the same; the individuality continues and is not touched. The identity of man is wholly mental; it inheres entirely in consciousness. The physicality without the life would not be called man by any one. Consciousness, individuality, identity, are more enduring than anything which the physical senses can perceive.
This illustrates the illusive nature of material sense. The testimony of the physical senses is limited to matter and its phenomena. They furnish no information concerning Spirit. They take no cognizance of that which is spiritual. Hence, as Christ Jesus pointed out to Nicodemus, they can tell nothing of the real man.
What man is depends upon what God is. It is an axiom that every product or effect must be like its cause or principle. To find the product, man, we must start from his Principle, God; and we can know Him and His offspring not materially, but spiritually. Since God must be worshipped in Spirit and in Truth, in Love and in Life, the consciousness, individuality and identity of the real man must also be found therein. When thus understood man is found to be harmonious and eternal.
At the beginning of this lecture I asserted that health and disease are opposite mental conditions, resulting from contrary modes of thought. This statement is both scientific and Christian.
The worst aspect of disease is death. Death is the culmination of disease in its most extreme forms. Hence, the cause of death includes the cause of disease, and what St. Paul wrote to the Romans about life and death is equally true of health and disease. "To be spiritually minded is life." "To be carnally minded is death." In these words he explicitly declares that life and death are conditions of mind or thought; causation is analyzed as wholly metaphysical.
It is to be observed, moreover, that St. Paul's words point to the source and Principle of true thought. The mentality which sickens and dies is carnal; that is to say, material; while the thought which lives and enjoys the perfect attributes of Life is spiritual. The word spiritual means "of or proceeding from Spirit; controlled and inspired by the divine Spirit; pure, holy, divine." Therefore St. Paul's analysis of life and death not only exhibits the relation between thought and health; it shows that God is the true Life and Mind. Indeed, in the same epistle he speaks of God as "the mind of the Spirit" and "the mind of the Lord." Of course there can be no other mind, for matter is not a creator and hence is not a source of thought.
This whole subject is illuminated by one of the sayings of Christ Jesus on account of which many of his disciples went back and walked no more with him. "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing." In the language of modern translations, "It is the spirit that giveth life; the flesh profiteth nothing." It is plain from this utterance and others that he referred to God as Spirit. Hence it can be declared upon the authority of the Teacher, Christ Jesus, and his disciple, St. Paul, that it is Spirit, God, the divine Mind, which gives life and health to man, and that this is given through mentality or thought. It is therefore both scientific and Christian to say that health is a mental and spiritual quality, and is to be gained and preserved as such; that is, through the thoughts which emanate from the mind which is Spirit or God. This being the case, it is evident that Christian Science healing has an ethical and saving effect which makes it inseparable from Christianity.
Christian Science is a system of thought based on God as the only Mind and cause. Its office is to minister to human needs, and to do this in the way shown by Jesus the Christ. Although the cure of physical disorder is not its chief purpose, such healing is a part of the world's great need; and in the ministry of Jesus it was not neglected. It is therefore not to be supposed that his followers have ever wilfully passed by on the other side from such a patent and crying need. They have tried to aid the sick and suffering, but their comfort has not been cure simply because they have not known the Principle and method of Christian healing. This knowledge was lost to Christians because a personal and supernatural view of the Saviour removed their concept of Jesus' life-work from the realm of naturalness and law to that of mystery and miracle.
With the loss of this knowledge was lost an essential element of Christ's Christianity, for it is indivisible. That from which a saviour is needed is the evil one or one evil, and that which will overcome it cannot be understood as limited to a part of the error. The saving Truth cannot be divided: neither in Principle nor in effect. St. Peter correctly used the word "healing" when he said that Jesus "went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil: for God was with him."
In the nineteenth century, however, a limited form of Christianity had long been orthodox. Faith in Spirit, God, had yielded and was giving way to faith in material theories and methods. As for the science of God and His universe, the possibility of this was doubted and denied. Science and religion were thought of as foreign to each other — as incongruous. This was the case with Christians, even though the utterance of Christ Jesus made the knowledge of God the basic requirement of Christianity, and science is simply knowledge reduced to order and referred to law.
Here and there, nevertheless, were families or individuals with whom faith in good was vital, and spiritual causation was a present and paramount fact. Such a person was the mother of Mary Baker Eddy, and it was in such an atmosphere as this that Mrs. Eddy was reared and her development begun.
Mary Baker Eddy
The facts of Mrs. Eddy's personal history are simply told in a biography by Sibyl Wilbur, which can be found in most of the public libraries. As an authentic account of an illustrious woman this book is well worth a thoughtful reading. I shall not try to sum it up here, but will be content with quoting what was said of Mrs. Eddy by one of those who observed her in her youth. From the time when she was a girl of fifteen until she married at the age of twenty-two, Mrs. Eddy resided with her parents at Tilton, New Hampshire, where the Rev. Enoch Corser was pastor of the Congregational Church. He received her into this church when she was seventeen, and five years later officiated at her wedding. Meanwhile he was her pastor and to some extent her tutor. Himself a man of mature years and liberal culture, he once said of her to his son, with such earnestness and emphasis that the words were never forgotten: "Bright, good, pure, aye, brilliant! I never before had a pupil with such depth and independence of thought. She has some great future, mark that. She is an intellectual and spiritual genius."
Showing this promise in her youth, Mrs. Eddy was at the age of 45 when she discovered Christian Science and began her wonderful career of service to mankind. Spiritual growth and scientific attainment had, meanwhile, prepared her to receive and impart this comprehensive view of divine reality.
As a scientific discoverer and religious leader, Mrs. Eddy has given to the world not only a truer concept of God and man, but a mental self-knowledge that discriminates between genuine thoughts, which emanate from the divine Mind, and the illusions of material sense, which appear in the guise of thoughts; and she has taught a mental practice, including this true self-knowledge, which enables the learner, in a large and ever-increasing degree, to recognize and obey the thoughts of God and to resist and destroy aught else.
Deliverance from evil depends on this attainment, for it is only by means of a scientific mental practice that sin, disease, and death can be overcome and the true idea of reality be demonstrated and brought into our experience. The kingdom of heaven is at hand because self-knowledge and self-control through the law and power of God is a present possibility. As Mrs. Eddy has said, "We have nothing to fear when Love is at the helm of thought, but everything to enjoy on earth and in heaven" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 113).
In the religion and philosophy which preceded the discovery of Christian Science, misfortune, calamity and disaster were dreaded as belonging to the natural order of the universe, while undeserved suffering was accepted as inevitable. In consequence of this discovery, a great change has permeated the whole of human thought. Christian Science is acting in human consciousness like leaven, "which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened." Its concrete results appear as health, longevity, reformation, spirituality, and the like in the experience of multitudes who bear witness to its healing power; and every case of healing wrought by the divine Principle on which Christian Science is based forecasts the complete fulfilment of the Master's scientific prophecy, "Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up."
Mrs. Eddy was fully awake to the importance of Christian Science. No one foresaw its redemptive value so well as she. It was therefore but natural that she should cherish the right to be known as its discoverer. But the only token which she desired for her labor in behalf of humanity was a truthful record of her life; and the only demand which she made on her followers was that they should make good use of her discovery; that they should preserve and promote the understanding of genuine, operative Christian Science, so that the so-called human mind may increase in goodness until the claim of a mind separate from God disappears.
This being the case, there is not the slightest reason for investing the discovery of Christian Science with any mystery, nor for regarding the discoverer with either emotional ecstasy or personal worship; but there is abundant reason why mankind in general, and Christian Scientists in particular, should feel and express for her the utmost gratitude, love, and reverence.
Much of the misunderstanding of Christian Science results from the failure to grasp the distinction which it makes between what is real and what to the physical senses seems to be real. In view of the similar distinction made by natural science on a material plane, the spiritual distinction made by Christian Science ought to be seen as perfectly reasonable. It would but for the failure to understand the absolute nature of that which is real and good. The lack of this understanding gives rise to the opinion that Christian Science is too radical or goes too far. But the logic of Truth cannot be less than thoroughgoing; it is necessarily radical; and the results of Christian Science prove that it is radically right.
From an absolutely spiritual point of view nothing is truly real or good but God and His spiritual creation. Materialism is evil, and there is no middle ground. Relatively speaking, some aspects of material belief are better than others, but in an absolute view material sense or material-mindedness constitutes sin and evil, while spiritual sense or spiritual-mindedness expresses good and constitutes goodness.
Therefore salvation or redemption from evil consists in forsaking material belief and gaining spiritual understanding or divine consciousness. Human conditions and conduct will become better only as the illusion or error in human consciousness is displaced by true thought. Each individual must, by progressive self-correction, assimilate himself to God; and to do this requires an absolute ideal as the end and aim of endeavor.
According to the ethics of Christian Science no thought can be considered right or true which does not abide in God — which does not express divine Principle. Anything short of this is at best a choice of evils. "All unrighteousness is sin," said St. John; and by this criterion much that the human conscience excuses or even approves should be classified as evil.
Furthermore, any thought, word, or deed that does not image the nature of God, divine good, does not belong to man, for God is the author of man; He is the only creator. Evil is the foreign element or illusion that appears to be associated with the activity of man's thought. It is that which seems to impose on man qualities and faculties that he does not derive from his Maker. If the so-called human nature (a mingling of good and evil) were really man, we could never become essentially different from what we now seem to be. Hope of salvation is justified only by the fact that good is real and eternal while evil is unreal and temporal.
The seeming existence of evil is supported only by the false testimony of the material senses; only by the supposed self-consciousness of matter. Evil is overcome by the spiritual sense of good; by divine ideas, whose activity in human consciousness purifies it and dispels the illusions of material sense.
To illustrate: The beginning of sin is always a false sense of pleasure in the sin. No one would become angry or commit murder if he were not prompted by a mistake as to what will afford satisfaction. Therefore the only positive cure for sin is the truth relative to the illusion back of it. In this way Christian Science goes to the inception of the evil and eradicates it, leaving an affection for good instead of evil.
Not only is a moral disorder essentially a mental disorder, but whatever touches the welfare of men does so primarily as a mental effect. There is no exception to this rule. Therefore the remedy for evil, whether in the form of sin, sickness, or death, must be found in Mind; it must depend on man's unity with God. The universal and perfect remedy is the action through thought of the divine Mind, whereby man "speaketh the truth in his heart" and is enabled to perceive and prove the reality and supremacy of good and the consequent unreality and nothingness of evil. This is how God "healeth all thy diseases." and creates the kingdom of heaven within you. Acting through spiritual ideas, the divine Principle or Mind lifts thought above that mental state which by accepting sin, suffering, and death, is therefore subject to these evils. Spiritual sense, by which man is united to Mind, discriminates between evil and good in such a manner as to induce and enable men to forsake that which is evil and hold fast that which is good.
St. John said, "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world." In other words, true thoughts from the divine Mind, thoughts which bear the presence, action and power of God, overcome evil in all its forms; and these spiritual ideas are the only redemptive agents. They possess the power of the omnipotent One; they are "the finger of God." Through them He is "able to do exceeding abundantly, above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us."
Speaking relatively, the unity and reality of good, the unreality and nothingness of evil, is a fact to be proved in spite of material sense. But in science, the passing of thought from God to man is the normal and incessant action of Mind, while the receiving of such thought is the natural and necessary function of man. Hence the oneness and allness of Mind — the unity of God and man — excludes and precludes the possibility of evil. God is Mind, and "He is one, and there is none other but he" (Mark xii. 29, 32, 34, American Revised Version). This is the absolute truth of being.
St. Paul said, "Be of one mind, live in peace: and the God of love and peace shall be with you." Christian Science says, Being of the one infinite Mind, the God of love and peace is with you.
[Delivered Oct. 27, 1912, at Scenic Temple in Cambridge, Massachusetts, under the auspices of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Cambridge, and published in The Cambridge Tribune, Nov. 2, 1912. The lecture title was supplied from the copy already on this site.]