Awakening to Newness of Life

 

Florence C. Southwell, C.S.B., of Orlando, Florida

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts

 

Mankind will never discover the real essence of life except through spiritual awakening, said a Christian Science lecturer in Boston, Friday noon (Feb. 18).

Florence C. Southwell, C.S.B., of Orlando, Florida, told a public audience here that Christianity, rather than physiology, offers man the basic insights into the nature of life.

Drawing a sharp distinction between organic life and spiritual life, she said that man's developing spiritual perception will finally awaken to the "essential fact" of life in God.

The lecture was presented in the John Hancock Hall, under sponsorship of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. Noel D. Bryan-Jones, First Reader, introduced Mrs. Southwell, who is currently on tour as a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship.

All through the ages, said Mrs. Southwell, the world's thinkers have "queried the origin or source of life and have speculated concerning its essence - what it is that gives living, breathing qualities to human existence."

There have been "many new discoveries about physical or organic life," she noted, but these have not provided "the answer to what Life really is."

Life based on matter has no real meaning, she said. "All of the phenomena of Life, all of its combinations, its interrelationships, are divine; they are based on the allness of God."

The description of God as Life, or the creative Principle accounting for all that really lives, was a recurring theme throughout Mrs. Southwell's lecture. The title was "Awakening to Newness of Life."

A partial text follows:

 

Age of awesome discoveries

This is a fast-moving age we're living in. It's a time of many new discoveries and many new advances. Some of these discoveries are awesome in their destructiveness; others are awe-inspiring in their promise of good for the human race. Progress in the physical sciences is moving rapidly ahead. The best thinkers of our age are pondering the nature of the physical universe, as well as the complexities of daily life on earth.

Yet all through the ages, thinkers have done what the thinkers of today are doing. They have pondered the complexities of life. They have queried the origin or source of life and have speculated concerning its essence - what it is that gives living, breathing qualities to human existence. But they haven't yet found an answer to the most perplexing problem of human existence. The answer to the problem of what life is continues to elude them.

Before we continue our discussion of what Life really is, let's first look at a particular phase of living that has perplexed thinkers. It's the state of mortality. This aspect of so-called life isn't a very new one, nor has it changed very much through thousands of years. It is certainly moving at a much faster pace, but its nature remains very much what it has been since the dawn of human history.

Let me illustrate this point. Recently I spent a short vacation on an island off the coast of Florida. One day in the lobby of my hotel, I picked up a history of the island. It began with a description of what scholars believe prehistoric man, who occupied the island some one hundred and fifty centuries ago, was doing. It told of his customs, what he ate and what he did.

And what do you think he was doing? He was eating seafood and vegetables, as we do today. He was drinking a concoction that intoxicated him, and he was smoking some kind of a noxious weed. He worshiped the sun and moon and his religion consisted of the worship of idols fashioned after the likeness of men!

What does this remind you of? Is it very different really from mortality today? Not very much. As I said, the pace of modern living may be speeded up, but the essentials of mortality haven't changed. And they won't change so long as anyone accepts the beliefs about life which constitute mortality.

What is mortality? It's a state of being that is certainly not as ideal as it may seem. The state of happy mortality, if we may use the phrase, is a myth. It is a myth because it is based on the incorrect belief that life is created by matter and from matter - that it is sustained by matter, fragile, fleeting, destructible. Whereas, the essential fact of life is that it is spiritual and good, created not by matter but by God.

 

True logic based on revelation

Jesus taught the truth of Life, that it is God, that He is the only source or origin of life and the only substance or essence of life. To spiritually enlightened reason this fact is logical and rational, but it comes only through divine revelation, through the revelation of divine Science.

Christian Science is bringing this revolutionary truth to our age. It is in fact leading the ages in scientific research from the false reasoning of materialism to the spiritual facts of being which alone explain man and the universe.

In one of her books, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, has made an interesting statement about the false logic based on human reasoning compared with true logic based on divine revelation. She says: "The talent and genius of the centuries have wrongly reckoned. They have not based upon revelation their arguments and conclusions as to the source and resources of being, - its combinations, phenomena, and outcome, - but have built instead upon the sand of human reason" (Unity of Good, p. 9). Then she explains why they have reasoned wrongly, why they have missed the most important fact concerning Life. She says: "They have not accepted the simple teaching and life of Jesus as the only true solution of the perplexing problem of human existence."

Reasoning based on the silt of materialism has not brought out the essential fact of Life. Nor has it brought to any one of us the awakening to the truth that God is the only Life. This awakening comes only through divine revelation and it brings newness of life to our human experience now. The simple key to what Life is has been taught and proven by the one true expert on Life - Christ Jesus. He taught that life comes from God and that it is wholly good.

The right place always to begin anything is at the beginning and this is certainly true where Life is concerned. If we are going to find out what newness of Life is and how to awaken to it, we must find out what life is. And if we're going to find out what life is, your life or mine, we must find out what its source or origin is. And there's no better place for us to find out the truth of life than the Bible. The Bible is often referred to as the Book of Life. It is recognized by many earnest thinkers as the true record of God and His creation, man and the universe. The great expert on life, Christ Jesus, knew the older Scriptures thoroughly.

 Christian Scientists accept the Bible as the authority on life, but this doesn't mean they read the Bible blindly. As I have said, it is the Book of Life, the truth of what God is and what He has created: it is a spiritual and divine record. A literal reading or explanation of the Bible from a material viewpoint doesn't bring out its inspired meaning - the truth of all being. Deeply spiritual thinkers through the ages have seen its meaning, a meaning which more materially-minded men have missed entirely.

 

Spiritual source of perfection

The very first sentence of the Bible has the full and complete answer to the beginning or source of life. It says, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen. 1:1). God then is the beginning, the source or origin of life. But more than this, He is Life itself; He is the creative Principle that gives the living, moving quality to all that really exists.

This is essentially where human reasoning has failed. It hasn't begun with God, the creator, to find out about life. It has instead based its reasoning entirely on the false premise that life is in and of matter, or dust.

Now Christian Science takes the position that the nature of God is good only; He has no evil side, no evil nature. God is Life that is always good, Life that has no self-destructive element, no element that can cause decay or deterioration. He is Life essentially and eternally good, without a taint of evil. Mrs. Eddy writes, "Seek the Anglo-Saxon term for God, and you will find it to be good; then define good as God, and you will find that good is omnipotence, has all power; it fills all space, being omnipresent; hence, there is neither place nor power left for evil" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 13).

Now it follows logically that, since the divine power and presence are good, their outcome must be good also. Again the Bible is our authority and it supports this logic. It tells us in one short sentence what the nature or essence of God's creation is: "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (Gen. 1:31).

Man then is spiritual or wholly good; he has no evil nature, because he is made in the very image and likeness of God, good. His state of being has never been mortal or material. This is true of the universe too, of the entire family of God's ideas. None of God's ideas has ever existed materially. All of the phenomena of Life, all of its combinations, its interrelationships, are divine; they are based on the allness of God, good. The nature of man and the entire universe is good, or Godlike.

Here in two short sentences then, from the opening chapter of the Bible, we have the full truth of all life - of God, man, and the universe. Here God is shown as Life, the creative force or divine Principle that accounts for all that lives. Here is the answer to the question, "What are life's essentials?" The essentials of life are divine; they are Godlike, or simply stated, they are divinely good.

This truth of Life, that it is divine and good, brought newness of life in the healings by Christ Jesus and brings newness of life today in Christian Science healings.

A young friend of mine experienced the healing power of this truth of Life a number of years ago, a few weeks before she was to enter college. She had been on a long automobile trip and, when she returned, she immediately went to work getting her mother's home cleaned and freshened. She was suddenly stricken with a very high fever and severe pain. Her mother called a Christian Science practitioner in the very early morning hours and asked that the practitioner come at once. The practitioner went immediately to the house and found her young friend in extreme pain. She sat by the bedside praying for several hours and, when she left, both the mother and daughter were reassured and the daughter was much more comfortable.

But, during the day, a relative who was opposed to what she thought Christian Science was, stopped by. This relative insisted that a doctor be called for diagnosis. The mother agreed, but when the doctor examined the patient, he insisted that she be taken to the hospital for diagnosis, since he felt she had poliomyelitis. However, my young friend didn't wish medical treatment and refused to take the many pills and medication offered her. When the mother saw that her daughter wasn't having medical treatment, she took steps to have her daughter released from the hospital and returned home, so that she could continue to be treated in Christian Science.

The practitioner prayed from the standpoint of Life as divine and good only. There seemed to be a great deal of pain and difficulty in using the muscles of the legs and back. This statement by Mrs. Eddy gave the practitioner the essential truths she needed: "We learn in the Scriptures, as in divine Science, that God made all; that He is the universal Father and Mother of man; that God is divine Love: therefore divine Love is the divine Principle of the divine idea named man; in other words, the spiritual Principle of spiritual man." Mrs. Eddy goes on to emphasize what this means: "Now let us not lose this Science of man, but gain it clearly; then we shall see that man cannot be separated from his perfect Principle, God, inasmuch as an idea cannot be torn apart from its fundamental basis" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 186).

 

Disease unknown to God

These scientific truths of man's being enabled the practitioner to see clearly that, because God is the divine Principle or Life of man and is good, He didn't make man subject to the evil of disease or pain. She saw that, for this reason, disease is unknown to God; it is no part of man's existence as the child of God. The practitioner saw, too, that because the underlying Principle or fundamental basis of man's being is divine Love, man is spiritual, he is forever whole, complete and perfect.

Within a few days this girl was up and out of the house, finishing her shopping for college. She had to have a physical examination to complete her college entrance papers and so she went to the same doctor who had diagnosed her case earlier - he was the only one she knew! The nurse in his office quickly filled out the papers and took them to the doctor for signature. When he saw the name, he said, "I must see this one." He came out of his office and had my friend walk around and stand on her tiptoes to be sure that she was free. Then he wrote on her certificate: "This patient is a Christian Scientist and has had a recent attack of poliomyelitis with apparent favorable recovery."

The truth that God is the only Life, spiritually understood and specifically applied, restores the body to normal physical action and condition. There's nothing imaginary about such healing. In the healing we have just discussed, this girl was able to resume her normal activities quickly. Upon arriving at college, she found her room was on the third floor of her dormitory. This meant many trips up and down three flights of stairs each day. She was soon riding horseback and when she went dancing, she wore her high-heeled slippers!

Bondage to disease is one of the crudest aspects of mortality. Christian Science is bringing freedom from this bondage. This scientific healing effect is one of its greatest blessings. Like our young friend, countless men and women around the globe have been healed through the understanding and application of its pure truths bringing newness of life.

Healing in Christian Science is based on the allness of God, good, and the absolute nothingness of matter or evil. This is what restored normal action of muscles and joints to the girl we have spoken of.

On this basis the Christian Scientist understands and proves the unreality of disease. Mrs. Eddy confirms this. She says: "To regard sin, disease, and death with less deference, and only as the woeful unrealities of being, is the only way to destroy them; Christian Science is proving this by healing cases of disease and sin after all other means have failed. The Nazarene Prophet could make the unreality of both apparent in a moment" (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 60).

 

Jesus cast out evil beliefs

We said earlier that the true expert on Life was Christ Jesus. He taught of the things of Life with authority. Wherever he taught of Life, whether on the mountaintop, at the seaside, or in the synagogue, there newness of life appeared through healing. Evil belief was cast out and the dead were raised, the blind saw, the lame walked. His proofs were scientific proofs that God is Life and evil has no real existence. He reckoned God as Life, the source and origin of all life, and he reckoned man only from the standpoint that man expresses this divine Life, wholly good.

Jesus' own origin was divine. According to the Bible, his only Father was God; he had no earthly father. His human beginning resulted from Mary's awareness of God as Life. And Jesus understood even in his childhood the divine nature of his being. At the age of twelve he was asking and answering questions in the temple at Jerusalem. When Mary and Joseph chided him because they had not known where he was, his answer indicated self-knowledge of his being as well as knowledge of his divine ministry. He said simply, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49).

Jesus is known as Christ Jesus because he understood and lived the Christ better than anyone else has done. The Christ is the true idea of God and of all that really exists. The Christ is the true idea of man's perfect sonship with God who is divine Life, without a single element of evil. The awakening that the Christ brings reveals to each one of us that man and the universe are wholly good, never material or evil.

But if life is wholly and divinely good, where do its difficulties and complexities come from?

The false reasoning of the centuries that life is material or physical has brought the many complexities of daily living. This false reasoning has led mankind into the ills and evils from which it seems to suffer. The frustrations and complexities of modern living, resulting in tension and fear, are the result of the belief that life is material or evil.

In our press today and in our news broadcasts, we hear of the dangers of tranquillizers and "pep pills." We hear that the use of these is alarming, especially among our youth. These facts certainly point up that there is no happy mortality - that the good life we're seeking isn't to be found in the beliefs of matter. The belief of life in matter is an evil belief. It's the source of suffering and death, of hatred, jealousy, pride, and all enslavement to sinful habits of the flesh. Even its apparent joys are short-lived. The life which is divine and harmonious doesn't result from the beliefs of matter and evil; or from the belief that life must have some evil in it, that it must have an evil side, to be real, or normal, or natural.

The theory that life is material or evil, if not resisted and overcome, results in progressive depravity, for mortality totally lacks a good side. The labyrinth of false reasoning leads farther and farther from life and happiness. But the Christ comes to awaken us to the truth that God is the only Life. With this awakening comes the necessity of repenting of and forsaking the belief of life as material.

 

Christ’s healing touch felt

This awakening to the truth of what Life really is is not a dreary prospect. It is through such awakening and through repentance and regeneration that newness of life comes to us. The wonder of awakening to newness of life, to life which admits no element of evil, is supremely exemplified in the experience of Mrs. Eddy.

Her human experience before she discovered Christian Science must have seemed a tragic one to the casual observer. She was an invalid for many years and her life was darkened through the early loss of those most dear to her - her husband, a favorite brother, and her mother. She was even deprived of the comfort of her son's companionship. There certainly was no happy mortality for her and she learned through actual experience the cruelties of mortality. Of these days and hours she writes: "The trend of human life was too eventful to leave me undisturbed in the illusion that this so-called life could be a real and abiding rest." Then she indicates that out of this dark hour of mortality came the bright dawn of newness of life. She says: "Thus it was when the moment arrived of the heart's bridal to more spiritual existence." She continues: "Being was beautiful, its substance, cause, and currents were God and His idea. I had touched the hem of Christian Science" (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 23).

Because she touched the hem of Christ's garment, Mrs. Eddy awakened to newness of life and saw through the pretensions of evil. She was healed of invalidism herself and was later enabled to heal others quickly and permanently of all manner of disease. She taught others to heal. She also wrote the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," which has brought healing to countless men and women. She established the Christian Science Church and its many activities to carry on the healing mission of Christian Science.

And so Mrs. Eddy has opened a whole new era for humanity. The Science of the Christ which she discovered and brought to the world is leavening the whole lump of human thought. Just a century of the activity of the Christ, in its scientific meaning, is bringing astonishing changes in human thinking. We are seeing a breakthrough to more spiritually, scientific truths.

For one hundred years now, Christian Science has been at work proving the truth of its declaration that God, good, is the only Life and that evil has no place in Life or its expression, man. 

It was just one century ago that Mrs. Eddy made her remarkable discovery. And in 1875 she copyrighted the first edition of Science and Health. In this book she set forth the simple but scientific truths regarding divine Life. Mrs. Eddy herself describes the Christlike nature of this Science. She says: "We know Principle only through Science. The Principle of Christ is divine Love, resistless Life and Truth. Then the Science of the Principle must be Christlike, or Christian Science" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 149).

Christian Science, in addition to being Christian or Christlike, is wholly scientific. It is intensely practical. It meets the human need at every point of that need.

 

Manifestation of divine being

This is the new birth of which Christ Jesus spoke to Nicodemus. He said that the way to inherit all good is to be born again. Let me read from the Scriptural account: "There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:1-3,6).

It's important to each one of us that we be born again, that we aim to live life daily from the standpoint that Life is good, not evil, spiritual, not material. This Christlike understanding of man's present perfection as the spiritual fact results in purer humanity, a manifestation of divine being in our daily living. There is a great difference between this state of purer humanity and the state of mortality which is a totally evil state. The purer state of human consciousness is really the coincidence of the divine and human.

This purer consciousness and its manifestation of good is really the knowledge of eternal life. Eternal life is now and always, it is present experiencing of spiritual good.

And what does life based on divine Principle hold for our young people? Is it a way that is too severe for them, that sets a standard they cannot reach?

No, the young people who realize what Life is, who realize that in reality life is good, because it is God, are building their human lives on a firm basis. They are finding the way to the good life. Remember our young friend who was healed of polio. During her college days, she wasn't tempted into the byways of evil. She didn't feel she was missing a full and happy life if she didn't indulge in what is held out today as "living." She based her daily life upon divine good and when she graduated, she graduated as an honor student in a very difficult field.

She had the privilege of choosing a position from four or five fine ones. She chose one that carried an excellent salary, with the added benefit of paying her way through another year of college. Today she is a happy wife and mother and certainly not one of the women suffering from boredom and frustration.

And what about the businessman? Can he, too, benefit from being born again? Yes, he most assuredly can. Let me illustrate this. A businessman I know established a new business and a new life for himself by being born again. Within the space of a few years, he lost his entire family and a large inheritance which was to come to him. In addition, he was burdened with a heavy debt incurred during the illnesses of the members of his family. As a result of all of this, he found himself suffering from a severe physical problem from which it seemed that he too might not survive.

 

Complete and permanent recovery

His family hadn't been Christian Scientists, but he was an earnest student and so he turned unreservedly to the truth of Life. He learned anew that God is the only Life and that was in truth the only origin he had. These words from Science and Health had fresh meaning for him: "In Science man is the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure constitute his ancestry. His origin is not, like that of mortals, in brute instinct, nor does he pass through material conditions prior to reaching intelligence. Spirit is his primitive and ultimate source of being; God is his Father, and Life is the law of his being" (p. 63).

He was completely and permanently healed. Following this healing, a new business opportunity opened to him in an area entirely new to him. Here, basing his activity upon lovingly meeting the need of those who came to him, he soon established a prosperous, happy business and a host of new friends. And the most fruitful part of the whole experience was that many opportunities came to him to serve the Cause of Christian Science. He truly experienced newness of life through healing and regeneration. And he experienced success and prosperity in his daily living that would gratify any businessman.

It is evident that, as we awaken to the truth that God, good, is the only Life, newness of life comes to us, wherever we may be. And it comes at every level of our experience. This awakening is the new birth, the being born again, which Christ Jesus said was the only way to inherit all good. This new birth enables us to experience eternal Life now. And it brings infinite blessings to our daily living.

The way then through which the true nature of Life can be learned and immortality experienced is divine. The thinking that leads to it is based not upon the "sand of human reason," but upon divine revelation. It begins with the spiritual fact that God, good, is the only Life. It finds its inspiration and guidance in the simple teaching and example of Christ Jesus.

 

Kingdom of heaven on earth

One hundred years of the scientific truth of Life at work in universal human consciousness is bringing to humanity newness of life and the kingdom of heaven on earth. The ultimate for human experience is not the extinction of all the good that has come to earth through the centuries. Nor does the appearing of the new heaven and the new earth which the Bible promises in any way imply that man and the universe will be destroyed.

The total extinction of the belief of matter and evil, of the belief that man is a material mortal living in a material mortal state of being is inevitable, but this alone is being destroyed. The passing away of the former things, the old beliefs of matter and evil, foretells eternity, the forever newness of life for man and the universe.

Mrs. Eddy could see the result of one century of the activity of Christ on earth in this age. In her poem, "The New Century," she says it plainly (Poems, p. 22):

 

"Thou God-crowned, patient century,

Thine hour hath come! Eternity

Draws nigh - and, beckoning from above,

One hundred years, aflame with Love,

Again shall bid old earth good-by –

And, lo, the light! far heaven is nigh!"

 

We may enjoy this coming of light - we may enjoy its happiness and goodness this day and every day. The way is a simple one. It is the simple way of accepting and demonstrating in our daily lives the spiritual truth that God is indeed the only Life!

 

[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 19, 1966.]

 

 

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