Christian Science Means Contentment

 

Virgil O. Strickler, C.S. of Boston, Massachusetts

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

The Christian Science movement means that we have gotten back once more into the zone of primitive Christianity, and we again are witnessing, to some extent at least, the same results from the teachings of Jesus that were produced by the primitive church, said Virgil O. Strickler, of Boston, in a lecture at Macauley's Theater last evening. Mr. Strickler is a member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. In his address, which was under the auspices of the local church, he replied to objections that have been presented to healing by prayer and declared that healing the sick was a part of the regular church ministry for 300 years after the crucifixion, and that the dead were raised during the First and Second centuries. The healing power was lost, he said, during the reign of the Emperor Constantine, when the church became a semi-political institution and spirituality departed from it.

He defined Christian Science and outlined its teachings. He denied that it is a new thing devised by Mrs. Eddy, and said it was understood and applied, in part at least, by Moses and the prophets and is the principle by means of which Jesus performed his works.

 

Mr. Strickler's Address

Mr. Strickler was presented by George R. Caspari, who said that hundreds of thousands have found peace, health and happiness through the teachings of Christian Science. The Master has given us the rule by which to judge any religious movement – “By their fruits ye shall know them,” said he. Christian Science asks only that it be judged by this rule. The address of Mr. Strickler in full follows:

 

However much people may differ in their attitude toward Christian Science every one will admit that it has done many good things. Entirely apart from the question of physical healing, it is generally conceded that it produces a happy and contented mentality, that it destroys fear and makes people loving and kind.

When we add to this the fact that it has healed many sick people who had previously been unable to find relief under other systems, that it has cured many of the drug habit, and of the liquor habit, has restored harmony in many homes that were discordant, and has given hope and courage to people who were discouraged, it is easy to understand why Christian Science has spread from one end of the earth to the other with such wonderful rapidity.

 

Each Has His Problem

It has been truly said that every person has a problem, either physical or mental, a domestic or a business problem, toward the solution of which he needs God's help, and if Christian Science is able to help people to be happy, to be less fault finding, to be healthy, to have less fear, and to have more love, then it is something that every one desires.

Before becoming interested in Christian Science, I was a member of an orthodox church. I had been taught to read the Bible and to respect and venerate its teachings, and I did so. There was one thing, however, that I was never able to understand, and that was why everybody who lived at the time of Jesus and witnessed his wonderful works did not believe in him. It seemed to me that if I had lived at that time, and had been able to see him heal leprosy, blindness, insanity, and raise the dead, it would have been very easy to believe in him. People who witnessed those works, however, were not always impressed in his favor because of them. Sometimes when he performed one of his most wonderful cures it stirred some of the people to rage. For instance, when he raised Lazarus from the dead, one of the eye witnesses hastened to report it to the authorities in Jerusalem, and the Jewish Sanhedrin forthwith declared that he must be killed, because they said, if they did not kill him all the people would follow him.

 

Thought Messiah Would Come.

Since becoming a Christian Scientist I can understand why the people of his time were not convinced by the works of Jesus that he was the true representative of God. They believed that a Messiah would come, but they expected him to come in a certain way, and because he did not come in that way they refused to believe in him.

It is the same quality of thought that prevents people at the present time from being convinced that Christian Science is the truth by the works that it does. All of the churches pray for the recovery of the sick. They do so because they expect that God will heal according to His promises in the Bible, but when the healing comes through the Christian Science Church and as the result of Christian Science prayer, some are ready to condemn it. Because the healing Christ does not come in the way they have expected, they are just as ready today as two thousand years ago to declare that he did his works through Beelzebub.

Let us not rob ourselves of any good thing because of prejudice or sectarianism. Christian Science is knocking at the door of this age with a message of hope for everyone. It declares that the truth taught and practiced by Jesus is operating today and that it is as available for us as it was for those who lived in Apostolic times.

 

Christian Science Healing

The thing that has caused the most criticism of Christian Science is that it claims to heal the sick without drugs, by spiritual means only, through the medium of prayer, and as this is the phase of Christian Science in which the public seems to be most interested I shall take the liberty of discussing the subject with some particularity, and shall endeavor to answer the objections that have been presented to healing by prayer.

There are two classes of critics who attack Christian Science healing. First, those who say that it is impossible, and therefore preposterous, for Christian Science to claim that the sick may be healed without drugs, through the medium of prayer, and, second, those who claim that it is unscriptural to attempt to do so. All criticism of Christian Science healing falls under these two heads.

With respect to the first class, those who say that it is impossible, it can only be answered that through Christian Science all kinds of diseases have been healed. This cannot be denied. The entire Christian Science movement is made up of people who have been healed. Most of them turned to Christian Science as a last resort, after having failed to get relief through other channels. Christian Science churches are built with money contributed as a thank offering to God by those who have been healed through Christian Science. The person in this day who denies that Christian Science heals the sick is merely closing his eyes to what he does not wish to see. It is a fact that Christian Science does heal all manner of diseases and suffering, and it is a fact for which every one should be grateful.

 

What the Bible Teaches

With respect to the second class, those who think that it is unscriptural for Christian Science to teach that the sick may be healed without drugs, by spiritual means only, through the medium of prayer, I will say that it is difficult to understand how any person who has studied the Bible or believes in God, can be troubled by such a question. It seems obvious that people who pray to God for everything they desire might also be expected to pray to Him for deliverance from sickness as well as from sin.

Christian Science declares without any equivocation that the truth taught by Jesus, when rightly understood and rightly applied, is sufficient without the aid of anything else whatsoever both to heal the sick and to regenerate the sinner. This, then, gives us a starting-point from which to begin to measure Christian Science with the Scriptures.

It must be admitted that Jesus healed the sick by metaphysical and not by physical means. He did not administer drugs nor recommend their use, and yet he healed the sick in some manner and by some process that was infallible. Organic diseases yielded to his treatment as readily as those that were purely functional. People who were born blind and with crooked and misshapen bodies found themselves restored to normal conditions under his pathological treatment, as readily as those who were suffering from fevers or insanity.

 

How Did He Do It

The question is: How did he do it and is it possible for human beings now walking the earth, to learn his method so as to be able to produce cures in the same way?

Many believe that Jesus was able to do his wonderful works because he was divine, and therefore that it is impossible to do the works he did and even blasphemous for any person to claim to do them. This, however, will not explain the exercise of the same power by his disciples, and by the early Christians. Jesus himself never said anything to justify such a belief.  On the contrary, he apparently took every precaution to prevent such a theory from becoming prevalent.

In a conversation with his disciples concerning this very matter, recorded in the Fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, he said in the Tenth verse; “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself; but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works.” This was equivalent to saying that God is Mind and that he dwelt in Mind and Mind in him so that he of himself did not do anything, but it was God operating through him that did the works.

Giving all honor and power to his Father he said: “The Son can do nothing of himself.”

 

Denied His Own Power

On all occasions Jesus denied that he had any power in or of himself, and declared always that it was God operating through him that enabled him to do the works. He likewise declared that the divine power, operating through him, was available to everyone and could be possessed and exercised by everyone who accepted his teachings and fulfilled their requirements.

In this connection it is significant that Jesus never at any time sent out his disciples to preach without telling them also to heal the sick. There is no Scriptural authority for preaching that does not have coupled with it the command to heal. “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel and heal the sick” were his commands. Lest there should be any doubt about it he said: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father." Almost the last words that he uttered before the Ascension were: “These signs shall follow them that believe,” and among other things he enumerated that they should heal the sick.

Not once in all the record did he ever say to use drugs. Is it reasonable to suppose that he would have commanded his followers to heal the sick by spiritual means and without drugs unless he had known that it was possible to do so? Christian Scientists are striving to obey Jesus in his twofold command to “preach the Gospel” and “heal the sick,” and in doing so they have met with such success that Christian Science is now recognized as an efficient curative system.

 

Primitive Christian Healing

It was a surprise to me, as it doubtless will be to some of you, to learn that the primitive church healed the sick and raised the dead.  This fact was one of the things that first opened my thought to Christian Science and caused me to see that in healing the sick the Christian Science Church was not only obeying the commands of Jesus to go into all the world and preach the Gospel and heal the sick, but was in fact reestablishing the healing work of the primitive church.

History records that the healing of the sick was a part of the regular church ministry for 300 years after the Crucifixion, and that the dead were raised during the First and Second centuries. Afterward the healing power was lost and history shows why. You will recall that the Emperor Constantine became a convert to Christianity in the Third century. Tradition records that he was healed of an incurable disease by some member of the Christian Church, and that out of gratitude for his healing he became an ardent Christian. he made the Christian religion the official religion of his empire with the result that the church became very popular. Multitudes of people united with it, not because of their spiritual growth or because they understood its teachings, but merely because it was the proper thing to do. The officials and courtiers made haste to unite with the church and in time it became a semi-political institution and the spirituality departed from it.

 

Continued To Go Down

From that period the church went down until it seemingly reached the bottom at the time of Martin Luther. It had then fallen into such disorder that an upheaval occurred within its ranks, and from then till now the trend of human thought has been upward toward a better understanding of God. The Christian Science movement means that we have gotten back once more into the zone of primitive Christianity, and we are again witnessing, to some extent at least, the same results from the teachings of Jesus that were produced by the primitive church.

What further things shall be brought to light in the future will depend upon the spiritualization of thought and individual growth in the true understanding of God, but it can be safely predicted that the healing power of Christ, Truth, will never again be lost to mankind.

Why should anyone not wish to believe that God heals the sick? Is it not a thing to be desired? and is it not something for which humanity has been praying through the centuries? Now that it is here, why should anyone not wish to accept it? Let each one ask himself that question.

 

Healing Is the Sign

Although the public regards the healing as the most important part of Christian Science work, such is not the fact. The vital thing about Christian Science is that it teaches the truth about God and man, and about man's relationship to God. By realizing and understanding this truth healing comes naturally, and is merely the sign that the truth is understood.  When the knowledge of the truth comes to the human consciousness it destroys and corrects the false beliefs that have been entertained and the effects of the false beliefs disappear, just as the erasing of a wrong figure in the problem at the blackboard and the substitution of the right figure brings the correct result.

Christian Scientists, therefore, do not regard the healing of the sick by spiritual means as either mysterious or miraculous.  A miracle is assumed to be something supernatural, done in opposition to law, whereas Christian Science shows that healing is the result of the operation of spiritual law, and that it is the natural and necessary result of the operation of spiritual law in the human consciousness.

 

Had Mysterious Power

The general opinion concerning the works of Jesus is that he had some mysterious power which enabled him to suspend the operation of law, and that what he did was in defiance of law, hence was miraculous, and therefore beyond the range of human understanding.

Christian Science denies this, and insists that everything he did was in accordance with the laws of God, and that the same results must necessarily follow whenever and wherever man comes under the operation of those laws, since God's laws are unchanging. If God established laws for the government of His universe it is inconceivable that Jesus should trample upon these laws or suspend them or set them aside. The Bible says that Jesus was the Wayshower.  Will it be claimed that he came to show man how to break God's laws, or to teach that man must find health and harmony by violating instead of obeying them?

Many people believe that God either sends sickness or at least permits some other power to send it, so that in some way it is an agency for good to work out our spiritual growth. Now if that is true why did Jesus come to make war on it? If God created sickness and either sends it or permits it to be sent for any purpose, and Jesus destroyed it and taught his followers to destroy it, was he not working against God? And if sickness is a good thing why did Jesus wish to destroy it?

 

Illness Begins In Mind

Christian Science shows that sickness and sin originate in mortal mind, and result from the operation of this so-called mind. God did not create them, nor do they result from the operation of spiritual law. In destroying them Jesus did not work contrary to God's laws. Christian Science insists that Jesus was consistent. He did not do the will of the Father at one time, and at another seek to overturn His laws. It follows, then, that if Jesus performed his works in accordance with, and by means of God's laws, the same results must follow in every age whenever those laws are understood and applied.  Moses and the prophets, and Jesus and his disciples and followers, healed the sick, raised the dead and performed many wonderful works by means of this power; and in every age the result of the operation of spiritual law in human consciousness has been to destroy discord and to establish peace.

It is highly important, therefore, that everyone should become familiar with the law of Mind, the law of Spirit, and learn its operation. We have all of us known a good deal about the so-called laws of matter, but we have the Bible statement that the law of Spirit shall overcome “the law of sin and death.” Christian Science is the only thing I know of that defines the law of Spirit, and explains its processes and its operation, so that people everywhere may understand it, and apply it, and prove it for themselves.

 

What Is Christian Science?

Christian Science is a religion. It is the Science of Christianity - the science of God and man. It reveals spiritual law, and explains the operation of that law in its relation to man and the universe. It defines mortal mind and immortal Mind, and so makes plain the difference between mortal men and man made by God in His image and likeness.

Christian Science pleads for a rational understanding of God in place of mere belief about Him, and it is urging mankind to look for the real causation in Mind and not in matter. It declares that God is not the author of sin, sickness, or death, hence these conditions are illegitimate, and can be destroyed by a knowledge of the truth. It denies that there is any divine authority for man to sin, suffer, or die, and recalls the solemn declaration of the Scripture that God gave man as his birthright dominion over all the earth and over all that it contained. Jesus said. “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Christian Science says to the tired and suffering man who is wandering about without any dominion at all, that the knowledge of the truth will set him free from his bondage to sin, suffering, sorrow and failure, and will give to him that dominion which God said in the beginning belonged to man.

 

Understanding Is Necessary

A correct understanding of God, therefore, is necessary as the foundation of religion. Any system of religious teaching that is founded upon an imperfect or an erroneous conception of God must necessarily fail to bring to the believer the comfort and help that he seeks. When we look around and see the devotion and fidelity of people to their religious beliefs, and then see how often they fail to realize the benefits for which they seek, it is a fair deduction that there is something wrong about their understanding of God.

I shall give no offense when I say that the average person has a very uncertain and indefinite conception of God. If you were to ask ten people to tell you who and what God is, you would get ten different answers. Some think that God is a person. For instance, in his great painting, called “the Holy Family,” which hangs in the Metropolitan Art Gallery in New York City, Reubens painted what he conceived to be a good portrait of God. He depicted Him as a man with a long beard, and patriarchal expression. In fact, there are two or three portraits of God in the Metropolitan Art Gallery. They were painted by artists who expressed their concept of Him as a man with a finite form.

How many people there are who, when they kneel down and with closed eyes reverently pray to God, have in mind a person, or form, or image, to which they pray? How many others there are who think of God as a being of anger and wrath, who sends disease and disaster to those who displease Him? And are there not some who believe that God lives in a far-away country called heaven where He maintains a court after oriental fashion, and that it is necessary for people to die and go there in order to see Him? And still others whose beliefs about God are so utterly nebulous and indefinite that they would be entirely unable to make any statement about Him that would be satisfactory even to themselves? In view of all this confusion of belief about God is it strange that humanity is sick and discordant? Is it strange that there are so many different forms of religion, each pointing a different way to God?

Christian Science teaches that God is Principle, and not person. The Bible reveals that God is infinite, and that He is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, and that He created the universe and everything it contains.  Christian Science, therefore, explains that God is Mind, that He is the only source and origin, the creative, governing Principle of the universe.

 

Teaches God Is Good

Christian Science also teaches that God is good and that He is Love, as the Bible declares Him to be, and since He is infinite, He is infinite good and infinite love. Can we grasp the meaning of the word infinite either as it relates to time or to space or to qualities? Infinite means without beginning or end. It means unlimited. We think that we gain some idea of infinity when we contemplate the solar system. The farthest planet is so far away that it takes 166 years for it to make a single revolution around the sun. Halley's comet, traveling at the rate of forty miles per second, takes thirty-eight years to reach the end of its orbit and thirty-eight years to return. We get lost when we try to contemplate the magnitude of the space required for the movements of the bodies in our solar system, and yet that is only a beginning. Astronomers tell us that they have counted on photographic plates of the Milky Way 140,000,000 of suns each probably having its own solar system. Infinity is truly beyond our grasp, but the Mind that stretched the Milky Way across the sky is infinite good and infinite love. Infinite good cannot be the author of evil and infinite love does not send suffering or distress. The Bible says that everything God made was good, and Christian Science stands on that declaration, and with that as a starting-point, Christian Scientists proceed to prove that good is ever-present, and has power to destroy evil, and that when man is governed by good as Principle he is healthy and happy.

 

How Healing Is Accomplished.

The thing that most people consider difficult to understand is how healing is accomplished through Christian Science. Conceding that God is Mind or Principle, they ask, How is that Principle to be brought into relationship with the human mind, so as to destroy sickness and sin? In other words, how can man proceed to establish the unity between himself and spiritual law so that this law may operate through him, and free him from sickness and from the desire to sin?

Christian Science explains the matter, and makes it plain. In fact, Jesus explained it and made it so plain that there never should have been any misunderstanding about it.

If you were to connect your lamp to an electric wire with a wooden rod you would have no light, but if you made the connection with a metal rod you would come into instantaneous communication with the power-house at the other end of the line, and your light would glow. God is spirit, and when people try to establish the connection between themselves and Spirit with the wooden rods of human will, ignorance, selfishness, pride, or any other form of wrong thinking, they will be disappointed; but when they use rods of the true metal of love, humility, meekness, kindness and the Golden Rule of doing unto others as you would have others do unto you, the nexus will be established and the divine power will flow from Spirit into the human consciousness, imparting to it qualities and capabilities that it had not possessed before, and bringing into it a sense of peace that it had not before known.

 

Enemies In Own Home

The prophet Micah said a man's enemies are they of his own household, and Jesus repeated the statement. I used to understand this meaning to be that they meant that a man's enemies were his own kin, but I now realize that a man's enemies are they of his own mental household. The mental guests or thoughts that we entertain in our mental homes are either our friends or our foes. Hatred, fear, self-love and all evil qualities of thought are enemies that bind man to sickness and death, and man will never gain his freedom until he drives out these enemies and makes his consciousness the temple of God.

We are told in Christian Science that fear is an ingredient of every disease, and if fear were entirely destroyed a large number of diseases would go with it. If we could imagine this world with all hatred, fear, superstition, self-will and self-love destroyed out of it, it is conceivable that longevity would be increased and that happiness and health would be more secure.

If Christian Science had never healed a case of sickness it would still be entitled to lasting praise for compelling this age to recognize the power and influence of thought. Solomon declared three thousand years ago that as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  In other words, the quality of the man is determined by the quality of his thought. It is therefore of supreme importance that man should know the truth, to the end that he may know how to think correctly.

 

The Prodigal Son

In the parable of the prodigal son Jesus illustrated the power of thought. You will remember that the young man took the property with which his father had endowed him and went into a far country where he made bad use of it. After a while he began to be in want and finally secured employment in a very menial position. The position, however, did not yield enough to keep him from starving, and he was obliged to eat husks. About that time a voice said to him, “Why do you not go home? In your father's house is enough and to spare, and why do you stay here?” Immediately self-love became active, and said, “Do not go home. The neighbors will ridicule you, and the servants will laugh at you, and, anyway, there is no certainty that your father will let you return.” Thus the argument of self-love was sufficient to keep him on the husk plane of consciousness for some time longer. After a while, however, he said that even though the neighbors should ridicule him and the servants laugh at him, he would go home and tell his father the whole miserable story, and would say that he was no more worthy to be called his son, but if the father would only let him come home he would be as one of his hired servants.

We can there see that meekness and humility had taken the place of self-love and had silenced pride, and instantly the line of communication was opened between himself and the father. The father saw him a great way off, and ran to meet him, and put a robe on him, and a ring on his finger, and the son found that he had been a son all the time. Nothing but his own false sense had made him suffer, and when he got rid of the false, mortal beliefs of a prodigal and revealed the qualities of a son the scales fell from his eyes and he found himself in his right mind.

 

Teaching of Beatitudes

At the very beginning of the Sermon on the Mount in what has come to be called the Beatitudes, Jesus enumerated the qualities in man which connect him with God. “Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God.” “Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth.” “Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy.” “Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.” When these qualities of purity, meekness, mercy and love take possession of the human mind they connect the human with the divine, and when the connection is thus established there flows into the human consciousness the divine love that heals and regenerates.

From this it is plain that Christian Science mind-healing is not hypnotism. It is, in fact, the very opposite. Hypnotism is the domination of one human mind by the will power of another on the basis of the stronger controlling the weaker, while in Christian Science it is the operation of truth in the human mind that neutralizes and destroys the error, and produces the healing.

 

Given Spiritual Uplift

There is not a case of physical healing in Christian Science where the person healed is not benefited morally and given a spiritual uplift, whereas the effect of hypnotism is harmful. A professor of psychology in one of our leading universities has stated that hypnotism is capable of causing every crime except murder, and that he was not sure but that it would cause murder. A short time ago one of the leading physicians of Philadelphia published an article in one of the medical journals in which he warned the medical profession and the public against hypnotism, saying that it is an evil and a dangerous thing.

While most people now admit that hypnotism is a bad thing there are some who claim that mental suggestion is a good thing. I know of some clergymen who claim that Jesus healed by mental suggestion. The fact is that mental suggestion and hypnotism are on the same plane of operation and differ only in degree. The same college professor says that it is impossible to tell where hypnotism shades off into mental suggestion. Hence mental suggestion is merely hypnotism that stops before complete hypnosis is produced.

All who claim that Jesus healed by mental suggestion are virtually accusing him of having been a hypnotist, and Christian Scientists deny that he healed through any such method. Any one has the right to believe in hypnotism and mental suggestion if he wishes to do so, but it should be made plain that those things have no connection with Christian Science.

 

Not Creator of Evil

Another subject about which the teaching of Christian Science is much misunderstood is the unreality of evil. As a matter of fact the Christian Science position on this subject is very plain. The Bible says that God made everything that was made, and that everything He made was good. God therefore did not create evil.  Wherever it came from it must be accounted for in some other way than as being a part of God's creation.

Since God did not create evil Christian Science says it is not real because it is not eternal. Everything that God made is eternal and indestructible, and if He had made evil it would possess those qualities. It is a fact that evil, whether in the form of sickness or sin, can be destroyed. Jesus made war upon it and destroyed it, and the entire human race is at this very moment engaged in a warfare against it.

Christian Science is aiding in this warfare against evil, and has shed much light upon the subject by showing that evil exists nowhere except in human belief, and that it can be destroyed by Truth operating in human consciousness.

Christian Science points out that evil has no inherent power, and that it cannot manifest itself either as sin or as disease without the cooperation of human belief, and has no divine causation. Christian Science has performed an immeasurable service to humanity.  It robs evil of its supposed authority; it sets man free from fear of evil, and gives him a working hypothesis by which he may destroy it.

 

The Law of Creation

The subject of creation is also one about which there is much misunderstanding. I have found that many people do not know that there are two accounts of the creation in the Bible. The first account is to be found in the first chapter of Genesis down to and including the third verse of the second chapter.  Beginning with the fourth verse of the second chapter there follows a second account that is wholly different from the first. In the first chapter we are told that God created everything, and that He made it good, and lastly that He made man in His own image, and after His own likeness, and that He gave man dominion over all the earth and over all that it contained.

The second account contains the allegory about God coming down to earth and mixing up dust and calling it man. In the second account we have the story of Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden. Then we are told that a mist went up from the earth and after that sin appeared, and brother killed brother, and from that time to the present the man made of dust has been a sinner and has been at enmity with God.

The great difference between Christian Science and all other systems of religious teaching is that Christian Science accepts the first account of the creation as true, while all others accept the second account as the basis and foundation upon which they build. All through the centuries the trouble has been that people have regarded the Adam man as being the real man, created by God in His image and likeness, and have tried to make the goodness and omnipotence of God fit the creation of a sinner.

 

Made In God's Image

Christian Science maintains that man was made in the image and likeness of God, and that he is spiritual and not material.  To believe that God made man of dust is to make God responsible for all the sin and misery that have filled the world from the beginning of time. Such a belief is monstrous, and is neither supported by the Scriptures nor by reason. It dishonors God and degrades mortals, and the best proof that it is erroneous is the fact that it has never delivered men from either sickness or sin.

As time goes on humanity exhibits an ever decreasing interest in theories about God that are not helpful and practical. This tendency has been deplored by the churches as indicating a loss of interest in religion, but it is not so. It indicates a tremendous desire for a religion that is practical.

 

Age of Practical Things

The chief difference between the civilization of the present time and the civilizations that have existed in the past, is to be found in the desire for practical things. The Greeks, for instance, attained a high degree of culture. They excelled in architecture, painting, sculpture, oratory, poetry, in the drama, and in all forms of prose composition, but with all of their culture, they never invented a single labor-saving machine. They knew nothing of electricity or of the application of steam, never had a cooking-stove, a sewing-machine, or any of the simplest conveniences that are enjoyed today by everyone.

In our own time the demand is for practical things. A thing is valuable in proportion as it is useful. No one has any time for theories, and if a man has a theory he must try it out for himself, and prove its utility before anyone will listen to him:

The demand for practical things also demands a religion that is practical. People are no longer satisfied with theories about what is to happen in another world. What is desired is a demonstrable religion that saves from present troubles - from sickness, and sin, and failure, and unhappiness, and the countless ills of every-day human experience - and if there is a religion that will do that, it can be safely trusted for the future.

 

Is a Practical Religion

Christian Science is essentially a practical religion. It has been called applied Christianity. There is the same difference between Christian Science, and other systems that there is between mathematics and engineering. Mathematics does much good in many ways, but it is not until the rules of mathematics are applied to human affairs that we see brought out great bridges, railroads, subways, lofty buildings, and other things that are of public utility, and which contribute to the well-being of mankind. So it is only when the teachings of Jesus are understood and applied to human affairs that we see the sick healed, sinners liberated from bondage to evil habits, and other practical things done for the betterment of humanity.

Nor is the desire for practical things limited to religion, but manifests itself in a desire to find a practical solution of the problems of life. Man desires to know who he is, where he came from, and where he is going. He wants to know what is true as regards sickness and sin and death. He wants to find out if it is necessary for him to go on forever suffering from those conditions.  In short, the same desire fur practical things that is responsible for the steam engine, telephone, telegraph and multitudes of other useful things is driving men forward to try to find the truth about themselves.

 

Human Existence An Enigma

Human existence is an enigma. As far back as mortal man has left any history of himself we find that he has been engaged in an effort to solve this problem. To aid him in his efforts he has founded religions - many of them. He has devised many systems for healing the sick. He has built schools and endowed societies for research, and has invoked the aid of physical science. He has been industrious and painstaking, and has faithfully adhered to whatever thing seemed for the time being to offer a solution. It must be admitted, however, that none of these things have solved the problem.

When we look at the question from the physical standpoint we find that humanity enjoys some sunshine, and goes through much shadows; that it suffers and dies, and that these conditions have continued from the beginning of human history. We read about progress in medicine and surgery and begin to hope for better things, but these hopes have never been realized. After four thousand years under the drugging system we are forced to admit that not one disease has been permanently eradicated.  In fact, there are more diseases today than there were five hundred years ago, and every year adds to their number.

When we look at the question from a theological standpoint we see that there are more than one hundred and fifty different religious denominations. They all use the same Bible and worship the same God, and yet they differ as to what the Bible teaches. They differ as to doctrines, ordinances, and modes of worship.   In some cases the differences are of such a character that if some be right others must be wrong.  By thus multiplying creeds man has not arrived at absolute truth, nor has he been delivered from evil.

 

Tears Today Are Many

Jesus said, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” but in spite of the consecrated, loving and faithful efforts of religious workers there are as many tears to-day as there were 2,000 years ago. The sum of human woe has not diminished. Sadly and sorrowfully humanity looks back at the efforts of magnificent and earnest men and women and is forced to admit that material medicine and scholastic theology have failed to solve the human problem, though diligently tried, through many centuries.

Nothing could induce me to say a harsh or an unkind word against the clergy or against the members of the medical profession. A large majority of them have labored faithfully and conscientiously to bring peace and health to mankind, and none have grieved more than they when their efforts were not attended by success. In face of these things, however, it seems apparent that if the human problem is ever to be solved, if humanity is ever to be emancipated from sin, suffering, sickness and death, deliverance must come through a better understanding of God and man than material medicine and scholastic theology have thus far been able to give.

 

The Bee's Persistence

When we contemplate the heroic persistence of humanity to find deliverance through these channels, I cannot help thinking of what Maeterlinck says of the honey-bee.  He says that if a bee is placed in a glass bottle with one end open and the closed end turned toward the sun, the bee will wear its life out in an effort to escape through the closed end. The bee is a little creature that manifests wonderful intelligence with respect to many things, but because it sees the sun through the glass it believes that it can escape at no other place. So strong is this belief that no failure is sufficient to cause it to turn around and look for deliverance in any other direction even though a way of escape is at hand.

How many people are beating their wings against the closed end of the bottle? When will they turn in the direction where there is the light and liberty which they crave?

Many people seem to think that Christian Science is some new thing devised by Mrs. Eddy, but such is not the case. It is defined by its founder as “The law of God, the law of good, interpreting and demonstrating the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony” (Rudimental Divine Science, p. 1).  It was understood and applied, in part at least, by Moses and the prophets. It is the same principle that was understood and practiced by Jesus, by means of which he performed his works. It is the same principle that he taught to his disciples, and which they in turn taught to their disciples. Whenever it has been understood and applied it has been found to operate as a law of annihilation to sin, disease and death, and to supersede so-called mortal laws.

 

Discovered By Experience

Mrs. Eddy discovered this law in the year 1866 as the result of her own healing from an injury that those around her believed would prove fatal. She turned to God for help and through spiritual means, as the result of prayer, she was immediately restored to health. She knew that it had been the power of God that had healed her, but she wanted to know how it had been done. She wanted to know whether it had been a miraculous exhibition of divine power or had been brought about by the operation of a law that might be understood. She has told us that she was fully convinced that her healing had occurred through the operation of some law, and that if she could discover the law it would be possible for others to be healed by means of it. She worked for three years, devoting most of her time to the study of the Scriptures, and at the end of that time she announced that she had discovered the spiritual law by means of which Jesus healed the sick.

At first people were skeptical, and refused to believe, but she met their skepticism by actually healing such cases as were brought to her. She reduced her discovery to writing, but before having it published, she tells us that she subjected it to the broadest practical tests. She healed many chronic and supposedly incurable cases of sickness which have been authenticated by the written and signed statements of those who were healed. She taught her discovery to a large number of students, and they were able to heal through the application of the Principle as taught to them by her. In this way Christian Science grew very rapidly and everywhere its growth was the result of the healing of the sick. Wherever the spiritual law discovered by Mrs. Eddy was applied, it operated in the same manner and destroyed both sin and disease.

 

Science and Health

In 1875 she first published “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” in which she stated the spiritual law that she had discovered and defined its operation. The book dealt with subjects that were so unfamiliar, and apparently so uninteresting that no publisher could be found who would take the risk of publishing it, and Mrs. Eddy was obliged to publish it herself. According to all ordinary standards for judging there was apparently no class of people to whom it would appeal.

Notwithstanding these facts, however, there was an immediate demand for the book, and it ran rapidly through one edition after another. Instead of appealing to no class of people, it was found that it appealed to every class.

Only thirty-six years have elapsed since the book was first published, but in that comparatively short time it has circulated in every land, and is perhaps today the most widely read book published in the English language next to the Bible.  A great religious organization has formed around its teachings, and Christian Science is now engaging the attention of thinking men and women in every part of the world. It has been truly said that the remarkable spread of Christian Science over the earth is comparable to nothing in history except to the spread of Christianity in the early centuries of the present era.

 

A Great Character

When viewed from any point, Mrs. Eddy stands as one of the great characters of this age. She has made a discovery in the realm of metaphysics that exerts and must continue to exert a more far-reaching influence upon humanity than any discovery ever made in the physical realm. She has founded a religion that has restored to mankind the spiritual healing as practiced by the primitive church. Within the brief space of one generation her teachings have so impressed themselves upon the public that it would be difficult to find a place where there is not a Christian Science church or society, or at least where there are not some Christian Scientists.

I shall never forget my impressions when I first heard the operation of a Marconi instrument. It filled me with a sense of awe when I realized that there was going on through the atmosphere about me a conversation of which my senses could take no cognizance. And yet the law governing the transmission of wireless messages has always existed. We have lived and moved in it, but it was not until someone discovered it that it became available to mankind. So it is with the spiritual law of life discovered by Mrs. Eddy. It has always existed. We have lived and moved and had our being in it, as Paul says, but it was not available until it was apprehended.

Mrs. Eddy has been assailed by critics, but that is not surprising. There has never been a pioneer of new and better things, a leader of thought, who has escaped from criticism or whose ideals have been at once accepted by all. Out of all the criticism and misunderstanding of Christian Science and its leader and founder, however, there stands the fact that it has healed a multitude of people. Sooner or later every person will adopt that system of religious teaching which brings the largest measure of help and hope and consolation, and so long as any remain who are suffering from unhappiness or sickness or sin, Christian Science will offer to them a sure means of finding divine help.

 

[Published in The Courier Journal of Louisville, Kentucky, March 18, 1912, under the headline “Early Church As Its Guide”.]

 

 

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