Lecture on Christian Science, Title Unknown (1)
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, speaking under the auspices of the "Christian Science Society of Harvard," delivered an interesting address on Christian Science in Phillips Brooks House on Friday evening, February 28. Judge Smith was introduced by A. Herberich, president of the Harvard Society and a member of the class of 1914 in the Law School. Mr. Herberich said:
Introduced by A. Herberich
Friends and fellow-students: No doubt, it is fair to assume that the subject of Christian Science is new to very few, if to any, of you who are gathered here tonight.
To those who have studied its teachings, the term Christian Science means all that the name clearly implies — a Scientific Christianity; for they have found in Christian Science a religion in which the teachings of our Master, Jesus Christ, are successfully applied to all the problems — large or small — in every-day life. They are daily proving the truth of our Master's statement: "He that believeth in me, the works that I do shall he do also."
In other words, the message of Christian Science is one of present salvation; a message of freedom now from all ills, from all sin, and from fear.
Through her wisdom and because of her love for mankind, Mary Baker Eddy, the founder and discoverer of Christian Science, established a Board of Lectureship, that the world might through this avenue — as well as through many other avenues — learn more of this great healing and saving Truth.
We are fortunate in having with us tonight a member of that board, and a man who, because of his wide experience, is well qualified to speak to us on the subject of Christian Science.
I take great pleasure, therefore, in introducing to you Judge Clifford P. Smith, C.S.B., a member of the Board of Lectureship of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Boston.
Judge Smith's Remarks
Judge Smith spoke as follows: In order to follow a lecture on Christian Science or to read intelligently its literature, one needs either to be told or else to observe the distinction that it makes between ultimate or absolute reality and mere appearance, semblance or illusion; and one needs especially to notice this distinction in reference to man. As applied to man, it is the distinction between the real, ideal man and the human concept of man.
Natural science makes a similar distinction, though on a material plane, between the ultimate nature of reality and the view of it obtained through the physical senses. Christian Science also declares that the physical senses do not cognize things as they really are; and it goes farther by resting its definition of reality upon a purely spiritual basis. According to Christian Science, nothing is truly real or good but God and His spiritual creation. Materialism is unreal and evil. There can be no addition to spiritual reality.
A Vital Distinction
In the application of this distinction to what is or is not man, Christian Science finds the ultimate point for drawing the line in the so-called human mind; and it there makes the final separation between reality and unreality by declaring that the spiritual element of human consciousness is real and good, while the unspiritual element is unreal and evil.
That which is created by God, and is therefore really man, is like God, is His image or reflection; and for the sake of clear distinction it is referred to in Christian Science literature as divine idea, true thought, spiritual consciousness and the like. On the other hand, the supposititious opposite of this real and spiritual consciousness is referred to as error, illusion, false belief, material sense and the like. The Principle of reality, therefore, is God; and, as Mrs. Eddy has said, "To grasp the reality and order of being in its Science, you must begin by reckoning God as the divine Principle of all that really is" (Science and Health, p. 275).
She then referred, of course, to the absolute, spiritual fact; but Christian Science does not ignore the conditions which result from the "house divided against itself" that is called the human mind. It is that which seems to impose on man qualities and faculties that he does not derive from his Maker, such as sin, disease and death, from which salvation is needed. Recognizing this, Christian Science not only declares the absolute truth of being, but from this point of vantage offers to improve all human conditions until they finally disappear by giving way to the divine reality.
In Christian Science literature, therefore, and in this lecture there will occur absolute statements, expressing the absolute, spiritual fact, as well as relative statements referring to human conditions and stating what is scientifically true of them upon their plane.
This explanation may be unnecessary, because the meaning of words is defined by their usage, but I trust that it may be helpful. Much of the misunderstanding of Christian Science results from the failure to notice, or to grasp, the distinction to which I have referred; and this can also be said in regard to the conflicting interpretations of the Bible, for the same distinction is expressed and implied in the New Testament.
If one could read the New Testament as if it contained a new subject, he might observe that Christianity was originally based on the truth or reality of being. Its basic requirement was the knowledge of the truth concerning God and man; and we are informed by standard authors that the Greek word in the gospel according to John that is translated "the truth" denotes absolute reality as opposed to what is merely apparent, seeming, or false. Notice these sayings: "For this cause come I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth." "I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly." "This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." These sayings of the Master, one of which is quoted from the revised version, imply that the human or mortal sense of life is false, and they imply that abundant and eternal life is to be gained by finding and realizing the truth of being.
The failure to perceive or to retain this fact has perpetuated the belief of former ages that the fulfilment of human hope and faith depends on dying. Even now the majority of Christians appear to regard the kingdom of God or kingdom of heaven as a situation to be gained, partly or wholly, by dying. They expect to be ushered into the fulness of life by means of death. Considered as an original proposition, such a belief is like saying that one moves toward an object by going in the opposite direction. The only connection that death can have with heavenly life is that it is a negation of being, a phase of evil, which must be overcome in order to attain complete heaven or harmony. According to the teaching of Christ Jesus, all the possibilities of being exist here and now.
The New Testament shows that he referred to his message or teaching as "the gospel of the kingdom"; and of this kingdom of God or kingdom of heaven he said much in parables, but several things explicitly. 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); he said that it comes upon you as devils or evils are cast out; and he prayed for his followers, not that they should be taken out of the world, but that they should be kept from the evil.
According to these sayings, heaven is not the sequence of death; it is an active and living state of goodness. It is to be gained not by dying but by right living. It must be attained by expelling evil from human consciousness, so that the individual may reflect the Life that is God. Immortality is the manifestation by man of the divine Life. It is the reflection by man of the divine Mind. Paul stated the necessity of the case when he said, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."
Way to Heaven
From these premises the conclusion follows that the way to heaven is not through death, but through spiritual development and mental unfoldment. Salvation is progressive and its day is now. To be born again is to awaken from the dream of life in matter. It is to forsake material belief and gain spiritual understanding. It is to gain that freedom of thought and action which constitutes full and perfect manhood. Regeneration consists in rejecting the errors of material sense with the truth of spiritual sense. It occurs and goes on as the darkness of evil is dispelled by the light of truth and love until the mortal element of the so-called human mind is completely displaced by the divine consciousness.
Our present situation was stated by John in these words: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be." He did not mean that we shall ever be different from what we really are. He meant that we are the sons of God, though the reality of being doth not yet appear. He did not foresee a loss of identity; he discerned the realization of true identity. With entire consistency Mrs. Eddy has said: "The real, ideal man appears in proportion as the false and material disappears." "Mortals will disappear, and immortals, or the children of God, will appear as the only and eternal verities of man" (Science and Health, pp. 89, 476).
In short, the human concept of man is essentially erroneous; and it is demonstrable science that all human conditions are bettered in proportion as the evil or material element in the human mind is displaced by true thought. Take for illustration the subject of health. It has always been considered of vital importance, and now the world is undergoing a great awakening with respect to it.
Disease and Health
People are no longer content to accept ill health as something natural to man, nor as a curse that cannot be removed. They are demanding of both science and religion a life that is less subject to disease and death. With this demand Christian Science is in full sympathy. Indeed, it is in no small measure the result of Christian Science which broke the fixedness of mortal belief and aroused the hope that has grown into a demand.
It is greatly to be desired, however, that the effort to get dominion over disease be not thwarted by continuing to admit and even to rely on that which is the cause and condition of disease rather than its preventive or cure. I refer to material sense and its subjective state, called matter, and especially to the belief that material sense or any of its phases can remedy its own disorder.
What are disease and health? In the last analysis not only disease and health, but mortality and immortality are opposite mental states, resulting from contrary modes of thought. On one hand is material sense, which has no principle — no cause or substance — and is simply an illusion, a dream of pain and pleasure in matter that includes sin, disease and death. On the other hand is spiritual sense, which is created and sustained by God, the divine Principle of all true being.
What Paul wrote to the Romans on this subject was both Christian and scientific: "To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." In these words he explicitly declares that life is a condition of mind or thought; and causation is analyzed as wholly metaphysical. 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; that is to say, emanating from Spirit or God. In other words, It is Spirit, God, the divine that gives life and health to man, and it is given through mentality or thought.
Condition of Thought
Health, therefore, is primarily a mental and spiritual quality, and it is to be gained and preserved as such that is, through the understanding of and obedience to the spiritual law which emanates from the divine Mind. Disease, on the other hand, even the most physical disorder, is the palpable evidence of false belief. It is a condition incident to the supposition that man is a material selfhood and governed by a law of suffering, disability and death — governed by laws which divine Life, Truth and Love could never make. Every lack of health, from beginning to end, is only a subjective condition of mortal thought; it is a product of the mortal element in human consciousness; it is a particular result of the general supposition that life inhabits matter and is mortal.
Scientific treatment of disease depends on the distinction between absolute or real being and the human or mortal concept of man. Freedom from ill health follows the absolute knowing of the truth concerning God and man. To cope successfully with disease it must be resolved into false belief and dealt with on a mental plane, in accordance with the divine law by which Truth destroys error. Healing comes to pass when the supposed law of disease and death is broken by the actual law of Life, and the unity of being is such that one individual can help another to obtain this victory.
In so far as hygiene and sanitation denote cleanliness and purity, Christian Science is in full accord; and it commends not only a clean body and clean surroundings, but a clean mentality, not only pure food, but pure thoughts. Jesus intimated to the Pharisees that for outward cleanness to be more than superficial it must be the result of inward cleanliness.
Dominion Over Evil
There is another subject, closely connected with life and health, in which all people are presently interested; that is dominion — dominion over adverse conditions, dominion over evil. Involved therein is the difference between misery and happiness throughout human affairs. According to the Bible the law of our creation and being includes the decree, "Let them have dominion" — dominion "over all the earth." This is one of the natural rights of man, and it is one that exists in all its fulness as an idea to be apprehended and realized, even though the average man manifests more subjection than dominion.
This ideal was instanced by him to whom St. Paul referred as "the man Christ Jesus"; and it was he who said, "My peace I give unto you." His peace was the result of dominion; it was the result of power over whatever would disturb the harmony of man. An observation on this point by Mrs. Eddy was illuminating to me, and it may be to you. Said she: "With our Master, life was not merely a sense of existence, but an accompanying sense of power that subdued matter and brought to light immortality." (Retrospection and Introspection, page 58). For us to have his peace we must gain that true sense of power which he possessed and exercised.
Now, what was the secret of his dominion? By virtue of what did he possess such unlimited power? He disclosed the basis of it by saying, "I can of mine own self do nothing." That is to say, he possessed power of dominion only by virtue of man's relation to God — only by reason of man's unity with the infinite and omnipotent Mind. It was this unity, this at-onement, which he exemplified throughout his earthly career; and the main reason for the common lack of dominion is the common error that man is a material selfhood separated from God.
There is another aspect of dominion that is equally important. That is, dominion is not the power to interfere with the rightful and lawful order of the universe, nor is it the power of one person to impose his human will on another. It is the power to overcome disorder, to subdue discord and to maintain the law of God. It is the power to demonstrate the truth of being. It is the power to overcome evil with good, whereby God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven.
Ministry of Jesus
Peter described the ministry of Jesus by saying that he "went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him." His ministry consisted less of verbal instruction than it did of object lessons whereby he illustrated man's rightful and natural dominion over evil. Indeed his entire earthly career, in which he overcame, one after another, the errors incident to the human or mortal sense of life, until he rose completely above it — this was the supreme instance and example of man's God-given dominion and being. That he acted lawfully and in accordance with the will of God he himself declared, and the claim that his power to do as he did was supernatural, abnormal or peculiar to himself he anticipated and refuted when he said: "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also"; "These signs shall follow them that believe."
During the first three centuries of the Christian era the disciples of Christ exercised in varying degrees the dominion which the Master exemplified. Then a personal and supernatural sense of the Saviour removed their concept of Jesus' lifework from the realm of naturalness and law to that of mystery and miracle. It should be remembered, however, that the Greek words which are usually but not always translated "miracle" in the King James version of the Bible, have no supernatural meaning. Their meaning varies from an act of power, a mighty work, to a sign or proof, and they do not denote that which is supernatural. Jesus himself defined by usage the meaning of the Greek word most frequently used in referring to his healing works when he said: "These signs shall follow them that believe." The Greek word here rendered "signs" is the same word elsewhere translated "miracle."
Jesus Shows Way
Near the close of his earthly career Jesus said to his disciples, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." If what he accomplished was inexplicable or supernatural, what reason had they to "be of good cheer" because of his overcoming? Is it not fairly evident that he thus spoke because he had shown the way for them and for us? Did not his overcoming of evil "bear witness unto the truth"?
His acts of power were done in accordance with law — in accordance with the immutable law of good. His mighty works attested the presence, action and power of divine Principle. The signs which he furnished proved the true qualities of real being — of your being and mine — and proved it to be free from evil. So far from being supernatural his healing works were supremely natural, for they evinced the true nature of God and man. They separated what is real and enduring from what is destructible and unreal. By words and deeds he taught and proved the true idea of God and man, thus declaring their entire separation from evil. This was his mission; this was the method by which he was and is "the light of the world."
Such being the case, it was inevitable that the science of these works should be sooner or later discovered, and that they should be resumed on a scientific and permanent basis. This has now come to pass, in accordance with the Master's prophecy and promise of that which he said "will guide you into all truth." Christian Science has come to discover and repeat what he knew and taught; to revive his original teaching; to restore the scope and complete the mission of primitive Christianity; to be that "Spirit of truth" which he foretold and promised.
Mary Baker Eddy
Some persons are not disposed to consider Christian Science seriously because it was discovered by a woman and by a person who was not previously known as a theologian. It must be admitted, however, that spiritual discernment is not determined by sex; and he is a poor student of history who expects this faculty to be developed only by human institutions. So far as favorable environment is concerned, Mrs. Eddy was well supplied by the teaching and influence of a mother whose faith in God was of the purest and most practical character.
From childhood Mrs. Eddy was a profound student of the Scriptures, and her unusual grasp of spiritual ideas was often observed by those who knew her best. For instance, her tutor and pastor, the Rev. Enoch Corser, of Tilton, N. H., once said this of her to his son: "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." These words were spoken of Mrs. Eddy as she was between the ages of 15 and 22. Her discovery of Christian Science came to pass at the age of 46, when she entered upon her larger career of service to humanity.
The attitude of existing churches toward her message made it necessary for Mrs. Eddy to found a new church; but the Church of Christ, Scientist, has gained members only as those who have come to Christian Science have gained a better life. Surely there is no cause for offense in this. It is the object of all churches, and none of them need feel a loss when a man finds in Christian Science what he could not, or even did not, find elsewhere.
Mrs. Eddy never sought a personal following. Throughout her work as the leader of a great religious movement she consistently turned the attention of Christian Scientists away from herself to the message from God to men which was spoken through her. Her aim and hope, as she often said, were to "quicken and increase the beneficial effects of Christianity" (Science and Health, page 367; Miscellaneous Writings, page 207). The spiritual vitality of her message is proved by what it has already accomplished; but this is only a foretaste of the benefits that will accrue to humanity as this science is more widely understood and practised.
Christian Science is not something manufactured by Mrs. Eddy; it was unfolded to Mrs. Eddy and expressed by her in the manner described by the Master in his prophecy of the Comforter: "He shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak." In this way Mrs. Eddy has been the means of giving to the world the science of God and His universe, including man, and especially this science as applied to humanity. It declares the one divine Principle of the universe, separates the error from the truth in human thought, and furnishes the scientific method by which divine law is available in the case of every human need and evil can be overcome and abolished.
To the wise of this time Christian Science healing is the sign of man's complete dominion over evil. It signifies that no ill or evil — no harmful event or condition — is either lawful or natural; none is inevitable; none but what can be overcome with the law and power of God.
Christ Jesus once said, "Every plant which my heavenly father hath not planted shall be rooted up." In other words, that only is real and enduring of which God is the author. All evil, whether called mental, physical or moral, is illusive and unreal because it is contrary to the nature of the only cause and creator. This is the basis on which true healing is accomplished; and every case of Christian Science healing therefore advances the time when the last vestige of evil will be expelled from human experience and the Master's declaration will be fulfilled.
God and Man
As to the means by which our rightful dominion over evil can be developed, there are certain essential points that I will attempt to amplify. One of them is touched upon in what Nicodemus said to Jesus, "No man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him." Peter expressed the same idea in his summary of Jesus' ministry, which I have heretofore quoted.
An act of dominion signifies that God is with man. It therefore, requires an understanding of the God who can be with man, and of the man with whom God can be. Dominion does not follow the worship of a personal God, as this term is commonly used; it requires some glimpse of Him who is "not far from every one of us; for in him we live, and move, and have our being." Dominion does not signify the presence of one person with another; it signifies the ever-presence of divine Love with its own manifestation. It signifies the power and presence of infinite Mind with its own idea. Therefore the first requisite to the gaining of dominion over evil is a truer sense of God and man.
In the New Testament God is defined by the use of the words, "Spirit," "mind," "good," "life," "truth," and "love." These names or synonyms, in their deific meaning, are designed to lift thought above any human or finite concept. As for man, neither the Master nor the writers of the New Testament define him otherwise than in relation to God. Indeed, man cannot otherwise be known, for he has not a state of self-existence. The real man does not exist separate from God, for as Moses said, "He is thy life." Much of what Christ Jesus said at different times concerning the nature of man can be paraphrased by this statement: man is that of which God is the Father. What man is depends upon what God is. To find the real man we must start from his Principle, God, as defined by the terms which express Him. The true mode of thought on this subject was declared by the Master when he said, "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
Logic of Truth
John endeavored to sum up in a single sentence the entire teaching or message of Christ Jesus. He said, "This, then, is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." In the New Testament light is used as a symbol of good, while darkness is used to represent evil. Hence, according to John, the Christ idea is that the creator and governor of the universe, the author of man, is good, divine good.
When this idea is admitted, and permitted to have its appropriate effect, it begins at once to correct the mortal concept of God and man. It would be a fine exercise in Christianity if every one would at frequent intervals and in the quiet of meditation begin with divine good as the creative and deific Mind, and think accordingly upon the problems presented by the human sense of life. Starting from this basic premise, the logical and spiritual conclusion would be that man is neither mortal, material nor evil. On the contrary, man is the knowledge, reflection, or consciousness of good. The real man is united by spiritual law to the infinite Mind, than whom is none else and in whom is all. Here is an opportunity to answer the question: "Do Christian Scientists believe in a personal God?" We do not, when that term is used to mean that God is like a human person. We do not believe that God is personal in a human or finite sense. We do understand, however, that He is personal in an infinite sense; He is the infinite Person. Since He is infinite Spirit or Mind, His reflection or manifestation includes all that constitutes man; it includes all true identity or individuality.
Christian Scientists also regard God as personal in the sense employed by Jesus when he sent word to his disciples saying: "I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God." To the Scientist, the Father of all is personal in that most intimate sense of being "my God and your God."
The Nature of Evil
Another requisite to the gaining of dominion over evil is a scientific view of that which is to be overcome. Throughout the ages the effort to cope with evil has been vitiated by admitting it to be real. Jesus spoke of evil as a lie and the father of itself. These are not his exact words, but they shorten a longer saying and are substantially accurate. St. John referred to evil as that "which deceiveth the whole world." In short, evil has neither actual origin nor real existence, and it enters into human experience only as false belief.
Sometimes the question is asked, How did this illusion originate? In so far as this question can be answered, it was answered by the Master's saying that I have just paraphrased. We need to observe, however, that the question, How did evil originate? is a trick question. It is deceptive and confusing because it attributes to evil a status which it does not really possess. Hence we should never assent to this question, but should maintain the scientific and spiritual position that the divine Mind and idea is the whole of reality; evil is a lie and the father of itself. Thus doing, we overcome it; and the mystery of evil is best explained when some phase of it is destroyed by the understanding of its unreality.
A more profitable question is: "Why or how does a bad thought enter the consciousness of one who prefers to be good?" St. Paul hinted at the answer to this question when he said: "We are members one of another." Evil consists of all the unspiritual thoughts in the so-called human mind. The aggregate of unrighteous thoughts constitutes the evil one or one evil and acts as our temptation. In order to gain dominion, therefore, our human need is to increase in the knowledge and love of good and to watch and pray that we do not accept evil as our own thought. Our endeavor should be, as expressed by Mrs. Eddy, "to forsake error of every kind and to possess no other consciousness but good." (Science and Health, page 323.) Deliverance from evil depends on this attainment, for the situation is mental. Unless evil can affect your mentality or consciousness, it cannot touch your welfare. "Evil thoughts . . . defile the man," said Jesus: and his explanation, as reported by Matthew and Mark, shows that a man cannot be harmed unless it be through the heart or consciousness. The Hebrew proverb is scientific. "Keep thy heart with all diligence: for out of it are the issues of life."
The difference between goodness and evil, health and disease, life and death, man and not man is wholly mental: and it must be established at the point of thought. Evil appears and disappears only in the so-called human consciousness. It must be met and overcome at that point: and it can be rejected with the power of Mind. The kingdom of heaven is at hand because self-knowledge and self-government, 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 page 113).
[Given Feb. 28, 1913, at Phillips Brooks House under the auspices of The Christian Science Society of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and published in The Cambridge Tribune, March 8, 1913.]