Christian Science: Its Divine Origin and Operation
Elizabeth McArthur Thomson, C.S.B., of St. Louis, Missouri
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Elizabeth McArthur Thomson, C.S.B., of St. Louis, Mo., a member of the Board of Lectureship of the Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, delivered a free lecture on Christian Science in Fair Park Auditorium on Thursday night, Feb. 6, under the auspices of Third Church of Christ, Scientist, Dallas. The lecture, entitled "Christian Science: Its Divine Origin and Operation," was delivered substantially as follows:
Tonight, you are invited to journey in thought to a "city foursquare," whose gates open wide to all who seek a spiritual and divinely practical understanding of God and His work for man. You are called to give consideration to His Word and meditate upon His law. Truth, to be valuable, must be useful and helpful. The attainment of good admittedly should be the aim of every sincere thinker. Surely no one desires a continuance of fear, hate, or destruction. We can be grateful for every evidence of mankind's effort to find God, to express His love, power, government and control.
The most important thing in the world is to know God. A practical Christianity, as demonstrated by Christ Jesus, appeals unceasingly to those who are willing to give up evil thoughts and deeds. Eventually all must find "the secret place of the most High," where God is revealed and where His Love, law and government hold unending sway. Christian Science has come to this age to show the path which leads mankind out of false beliefs, sickness, and sin. Christian Science reveals the city foursquare as infinite divine consciousness, the complete understanding of God and His work. To that city, the new Jerusalem, mankind can go to find refuge from all ills of the flesh. The way of understanding is straight and narrow. Why? Because it leads directly to Truth, and excludes all but the good. Unknown only to those who reject the Christ, this straight and narrow pathway is available to all who are longing for an understanding of Truth.
Were one to ask the question, "What are you seeking?" he would probably receive the reply, "A larger measure of good." A commendable ambition! While such an one might not be able to define his sense of goodness in terms other than physical well-being, financial success, or greater material possessions, yet as one examines or analyzes humanity's true desires, he soon discovers an honest longing for peace of mind, freedom of action, and refuge from want and limitation. Could we ever go back far enough into the history of mankind to find a time or place in which material reasoning was sufficient unto itself, or able to provide for its own needs? Yet, mortals still go on searching in matter, seemingly unwilling to take the course of a better way. Surely it must be true that humankind needs to discover and learn to love the path of true Science, the pure Christianity which leads unerringly to God and His perfect unfoldment of good.
Studying the writings of the Old and New Testaments, one gains most helpful thoughts regarding God's city. The Psalmist sang of it as he metaphorically illustrated some of the ideas of Truth in his words; "There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early." Let us spiritually view the river or stream which continues to offer refreshing, cleansing, and healing thought. Let us know that we, too, can bathe in the waters of pure Christianity, the perfect Science of Life, Truth, and Love. Following the right path which ever winds upward, we shall express more and more clearly the truths of being; we shall reflect the divine Mind at all times. To human sense the manifestation of the one God may appear as character building, and the resurrection of mortals from ignorance, fear, sickness, and sin. As we keep on praying, working, and watching, we shall eventually so rise in spiritual understanding as to see ourselves as we really are - children of the one Father, upheld, protected, and saved by His law. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer, Founder, and Leader of Christian Science, by the divine way of revelation, reason, and demonstration, discerned the truth of being in the teachings of Christ Jesus. In her textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mrs. Eddy gave to the world the perfect Science. Christian Science interprets the law of God, which is teaching us the eternal verities we need to know. In her textbook, Mrs. Eddy writes (p. 174): "Truth is revealed. It needs only to be practiced." Jesus went about doing good. Mary Baker Eddy followed in his footsteps. In the spirit of gratitude for Christ and Christian Science, we recommend to you their teachings and practice, which reveal the perfect ideas of Truth and Love.
There Is Work for Us to Do.
Human thought, from infancy to manhood, never gives up its search for health and happiness. Mankind, even in its earliest or formative years, centers its interest around the construction of a model of its own invention or one prepared by another. It may be only a building of blocks, or a house of cards. Yet, out of sincere effort, however immature, presently may grow a home for the family, or even a place of worship. In fact, the infantile effort which begins so simply, may it not indicate humanity's longing to express itself in form or being? After what pattern, and with what success? Humanly speaking, the questions are answered in the seeming unrest, dissatisfaction, discouragement, and illness of many who are looking for help in matter, or unspiritual methods and means. The plans of mortal mind cannot be the pattern of God, of His work, or His city, for if they were, the results would certainly be different and much more satisfying. Only spiritual Science can explain the meaning of the city foursquare, and the work that must be done by all mortals as they progress and succeed.
Are we doing our part in seeking the kingdom? Are we striving to serve in the city which God has made? Has our search brought us to the heavenly structure, to a consciousness of good that is perfect, enduring, real, and true? Are we building up thought that expresses divinity; do we definitely follow a course that is wise and right? What is our goal, the spiritual or carnal? Answers to the questions are not so easy as one might think, for whereas each may desire goodness, purity, and justice, the seemingly incessant demands of mortal thought, its clever way of counterfeiting all that is holy and true, make the choice of our thought, our work, and our service a very proof of Christianly scientific understanding. We must demonstrate our ability to know the truth about God, His power and government. In Christian Science we have a religion of good works. Could it be otherwise, considering its source? Those who, through prayerful effort, have known and proved in a degree what Truth is and what it does, repeat after Paul: "Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." Christian Scientists do thank God for His gift, a pure Science which came to bless all mankind.
In a general way mortals may differ as to the best method of developing a fine character, a good business, harmonious home relationships. But there could not be any disagreement as to the desirability of training youth and adult in a practical and demonstrable Science which heals and saves. Christian people - and are there any better? - those who have learned to love the Bible, must finally acknowledge that material thought or mere physical action, however highly developed, can never really provide for humanity's needs, nor invent a permanent curative or preventive agency of healing. The material search has been long, painful, and generally discouraging, has it not? As evidence one has but to view and thoughtfully consider the woe, illness, discontent, and unrest of the times. On all sides one hears the question, "Is there no permanency of home, habitation, or business; no sure way out of sickness, woe, and sin?" God's two best witnesses, Christ Jesus and Christian Science, reply: "Yes, there is a way. And you can find it in Christian Science." And the followers of Mrs. Eddy have learned to keep on rising in thought above the mists of erroneous thinking until the true idea of God and His perfect creation is clearly discerned and understood. It is then they find their place in the great city, as they gain the true consciousness of Life and Love. Going about doing good, as he must if he is to be a real follower of Truth, the Scientist, in humble gratitude, thanks God for the revelation and demonstration of his Leader, Mrs. Eddy, and for the privilege of service to all mankind.
Always there is the opportunity to reflect divine, infinite consciousness. Scientific work well done must include the realization that no thing of human invention, no theory of ignorant mortal mind, no traditional, hereditary belief or so-called influence of evil can keep us from possessing, expressing, and enjoying "the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." Can these "things" be less than health and true substance? Can they bring to men anything but peace, harmony, and joy? Would the works of God be good if they did not meet the human need? Divine Mind, through the perfect Science as revealed to this age by Mrs. Eddy, is repeating the glorious message of Christ, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
In Mrs. Eddy's discovery, the Scientists have found rest in the revelation of Truth, which never fails. The individual may err, but the Science never, for its Principle is God, its rule perfect and divine. Tonight, we invite you to view this Science. We urge you to accept the new-old order of Life and Love. Let us journey together in full faith and hopeful expectation, for much is to be gained by an increasing understanding of Truth. The city of God, which Christian Science reveals in its true nature, the nature of the infinite, divine consciousness, is offering, at all times, refuge, loving welcome and abundant provision. What must we do to receive?
Adore His Word, Accept His Law.
A wholesome regard for constituted authority, for the law of God and the good laws of men, is an excellent beginning for the understanding and demonstration of divine government. Respect for what is good in the human leads one to clearer discernment of the demands of Truth. If we adore His Word and honor His law we are preparing to overcome the claims of lack, discord and disease. Law observance is law protection. Our own obedience to the rule of Principle is our protection from evil.
Cities of olden times were built with the idea of safety or refuge from the enemy. May we not view symbolically our city foursquare and see in it a new reign of good? What can the manifestation of infinite, divine consciousness be but the kingdom of heaven within us, the reflection of one Mind on the earth where men dwell? Mrs. Eddy in her textbook clearly defines our beautiful city in her words (Science and Health, p. 577): "This spiritual, holy habitation has no boundary nor limit, but its four cardinal points are: first, the Word of Life, Truth and Love; second, the Christ, the spiritual idea, of God; third, Christianity, which is the outcome of the divine Principle of the Christ-idea in Christian history; fourth, Christian Science, which today and forever interprets this great example and the great Exemplar." This divine Word made flesh, as John declared, appears in the glorious teachings of Christ Jesus and Christian Science. True Fatherhood, sonship, brotherhood and manhood are made plain through the spiritual unfoldment of the Bible teaching. The city foursquare, whose sides Mrs. Eddy so beautifully defines (Science and Health, p. 575) as "the Word, Christ, Christianity and divine Science," is providing for all men the good works of God, as they appear in divine revelation, inspiration, illumination and interpretation. Practice and demonstration of the truths of being afford proof of God's sustaining care.
Has humanity any greater need than to know the absolute fact about God and His creation? Can we hope to prove our right to the good things of God if we refuse to heed and obey His law? To realize the truth of being and put into practice what Christian Science teaches - is there any better foundation for the building of character, establishment of a good home or business, harmonious relationships, and the developing of a healthy body and mind? Did not our Master rely wholly upon Truth as he healed the sick, cleansed the sinner, and raised the dead? He adored God's Word, revered and followed His law. Mrs. Eddy urges her students to accept Jesus, the Christ, as the perfect Exemplar. And Christian Scientists pray that they may work, as she did, in accord with the pattern of Truth which only God could design.
Our Leader reveals in Christian Science the unnumbered blessings awaiting those who strive to gain spiritual understanding. Spiritual understanding is the way out of the pain and discord of material sense into the secret place of Spirit or Soul. In the secret place, the holy habitation, men may gain release from sickness and sin. To become conscious of God's goodness and love, isn't that worth every sacrifice? There is no fault or failure in the pattern of Love, and divine Love never fails us when we leave all for Christ.
With profit we can study every illustration in parable and story our Master gave us. How he worked, what he said, we must know and do. Precious indeed are the Master's teachings. And the message of our beloved Leader, Mrs. Eddy, brings comforting assurance of final deliverance from evil in her words (Science and Health, p. 531): "The human mind will sometime rise above all material and physical sense, exchanging it for spiritual perception, and exchanging human concepts for the divine consciousness. Then man will recognize his God-given dominion and being." What a duty and privilege! The way of health and holiness is made plain in Christian Science. We can accept it and through it prove our dominion over evil. The Master's words and works made clear man's eternal unity with God, the Father. And the teachings of Mrs. Eddy show how all mankind can demonstrate that unity scientifically in human affairs.
To sing of God's greatness, majesty, and power is not difficult. But to follow in the way of Christ and practice his Science it is necessary to work and pray for wisdom, understanding, and love. The sick are healed, the hungry fed, not by mere words, but through the comprehension and application of truth in a service of love for God and man. The spiritual education we all need is attained only through a pure Science. By its practice we learn that no form of evil can possibly obstruct, impede, or curtail the unfoldment of good. We can solve human problems by manifesting in daily living the divine qualities of intelligence, purity, unselfishness, honesty, faithfulness, courage, and love. These characteristics are guideposts directing the way to the city of our God.
Christian Scientists endeavor to follow the rule of Principle and to meet the human need. Consider the definition of the word "meet" which appeared recently in a copy of The Christian Science Monitor. In a column entitled "A Word a Day," the verb was defined as follows: "Meet. No one is met by standing still, much less by moving backward. The verb 'meet' suggests reciprocal action on the part or both agencies that come together. If our needs are to be met by Love, we must not by thought or action move in an unlovely direction." We must prove our worth in practice; not only preach, but live the truth we love.
Through God's two witnesses Christ Jesus and Christian Science all mankind has been given a wonderful legacy of Love. Through "the Word, Christ, Christianity, and divine Science" we may view the "city's" buildings as divine revelation, inspiration, illumination, and interpretation, culminating in demonstration or proof, the works of God as they appear to men. Mrs. Eddy's scientific discovery of the truth of being has come to bring freedom to all mankind. We must love her and her work to receive the benefit, for as she says (Science and Health, p. 454): "Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way."
"But," questions one, "what have the things of the Spirit to do with my problem of sickness, despair, lack of work and supply? It isn't religion I need, but some human charity, a workable plan of relief." That has been the claim and call of the centuries; what some might term their unanswered prayer. Out of such thoughts come inactivity, chaos, and confusion. Yet, on mortals go, still declaring what they term religion or Christianity as useless and unavailing. Yet thousands, yes, millions, have found untold blessings, healing of sickness, restoration of life, hope, home, business, through true religion. Christian Science fills one's life, not alone with a glorious promise, but with work and its rich reward. In it the world is shown a pure Christianity, a practical, everyday religion which provides a study, prayer, and work that does not fail. Christian Science is here for all to use with profit. We are blessed if we accept and obey its rules.
Let me tell you how Christian Science healed one family and provided for all its members a substantial measure of good. For years they have been fed from the table of Science, refreshed and sustained by it, and provided with work. Christian Science appeared in that home through its textbook which was lent to a member who was critically ill. She was a mother of little children, who, because of her ill health, were without her care. At the time, this woman was confined in a hospital condemned to chronic invalidism or even worse, perhaps death, in a few years. Where she lived, in those days, no practitioner of Science was available. She soon saw the work was hers, that she must go alone to God for help. Through the study of the textbook there came just what the mother needed: revelation, inspiration, interpretation, and the possibility of demonstration; a spiritual vision which lifted her gradually out of fear and pain. She had suffered greatly for years from a complicated internal disorder, and hope had seemed to vanish. She was willing to go, in fact, looked to death for release. Dying seemed much easier than living, if she could have provided for her children. She prayed as best she knew for a sign of encouragement and help. It came at a time when her thought was apparently hopeless - this angelic message from God to men. In the form of Christian Science, Truth appeared to her consciousness, and through the study of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" health was restored. As she gained in understanding, she was freed of fear. The human footsteps that followed were not always easy, but the pathway had been made plain, and she was willing to work. The textbook brought to this home just what was needed, hope in God, faith in His promise, and desire to serve. The mother's healing was complete and permanent. And every member of that household has been blessed by Mrs. Eddy's revelation and demonstration of Truth.
The woman was my mother, and the home was our own. Need we say more? Instead of fear and death, there was joy and life, all the result of Mrs. Eddy's work and teaching, which the family soon learned to respect and to heed. We revere and love our Leader with enduring affection, for we know and have proved, in some measure, what her revelation brings to mankind. It heals, reforms, and restores the sick and the sinning; brings sure release from grief and a gratitude that outweighs words. What Christian Science has brought to this family over a period of more than half a century - fifty-five years - it can do for all. There is not a single person who cannot find God [and His healing Christ,] or Science; [not one but can] share in His blessing and love. All it requires, as was proven in the case of this woman, is spiritual desire, consistent prayer, and watchfulness against fear. We must avoid material thinking which suggests disease, limitation, unemployment, death. These were the claims that burdened that household, the thoughts which had to be destroyed. Entirely effective was the work of Christian Science as its members learned how to demonstrate over fear, sickness, material want. Today a family, large in number, enjoy many of the blessings Truth provides for all.
In gratitude to God for Christian Science, members of the Christian Science movement make every effort to serve in a manner acceptable to God, who is Love. To Mrs. Eddy they give full credit, for she was the one who made plain the way. No words of mine could half tell the story. We must use Christian Science in order to understand its Leader. We must serve as she did if we wish to comprehend, even in a degree, the wonders of her revelation and demonstration. Mrs. Eddy consecrated her life to God that the world might partake of true salvation. She made every sacrifice that we might be saved and blessed. Is it any wonder that her followers love her? You, too, will do the same as the healing comes, day by day. Mrs. Eddy's discovery provides consistent study, and a working plan that is safe and sure. For it, her followers humbly thank God for their beloved Leader and her message. Through prayer and service in the movement which she established, Christian Scientists look forward to building as she did.
In the Bible we may read of another city, the one constructed by "the families of the sons of Noah," who said, "Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name." The Bible calls that building, Babel; and the story is quite well known to all. It fell because it had no true foundation; for it was the work of men, not of God. Much could be said of this city, how it represents the evil beliefs of mankind. As related in Genesis, the story is an indictment against confusion, pride of place, and power. In that city one may see the evidences of self-love, self-pity, self-satisfaction, and material attainment - everything that goes with wrong thinking and planning. Through the centuries the word "Babel" has stood for the opposite of what is good and true. Its lesson is enlightening and helpful in depicting various modes of evil operating in human consciousness in harmful ways. The whole narrative shows what happens when mankind forsakes the good and true. We may look at the city as an example of erroneous thinking. We may view Babel symbolically as the plans of men which have failed to bring harmony into home, business, and other human affairs. But we need never enter the gates of that city, and it is wise not to do so. We can lift our thoughts above all erroneous thinking, with its claims of a large following of men. Like the city of Babel, the downfall of matter is certain. Every carnal or mortal thought that would limit or rule by force of human will is self-destroyed, thereby doomed to destruction. God, Principle, demands goodness, justice, and mercy for all. Nothing can permanently withstand His omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent and omniactive power. Greek, Jew, Gentile, Christian, all the races of men, must eventually unite in a brotherhood, dedicated to freedom of speech, action, and worship. Among men unity must eventually prevail in a service to the one God whose law is supreme. It is the divine will and no other. We cannot escape it. It is useless to try.
"Out of a finite sense of things,
Into the joy that the infinite brings -
This is our resurrection."
The experiences of the aforementioned family are not unusual in Christian Science. Students from all over the world can testify to the same results in practice. In fact, one has only to attend an Annual Meeting of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, The Mother Church, in Boston, to hear of widespread healings from those who come from all parts of the globe. Similar statements of benefits received are given every Wednesday in branch churches as well as in The Mother Church. Verified testimonies of healing appear regularly in the authorized literature of our movement.
Attendance at church and the reading of our periodicals soon convince the honest investigator that Christian Science heals. If in need of help or treatment, one has but to go to any faithful, loyal practitioner and receive the good each has to give. Or he may be cured, as was this mother, through study of the textbook. Many have done just this, and have been wonderfully benefited.
Thought that reaches out for Truth, and heeds its lessons, must eventually prove man's exemption from sickness and sin. We may walk slow or fast, we may gain much or little, but of this we can be sure: in Christian Science everyone can prove that there is no lack in God's kingdom, no closed door to His city, for divine, impartial Love is forever opening the way. Let us study and work to gain and express more of infinite, divine consciousness. Let us demonstrate that, despite appearances, threats of war, unemployment, beliefs of sin, disease, and death, God is dwelling with men, and that His presence, power, and love can be known and expressed by all. Let us go forth courageously, with faith in God's care. Then we can rest in action, and enjoy our blessings, because we have earned the reward of good work.
As we learn more of God, Life, Truth, and Love, we are ready for heaven, prepared for a home here on earth which represents the harmony of Spirit. Rich through obedience to the rule of Principle, one who relies wholly on God can never lack. Spiritual revelation, inspiration, illumination, interpretation, and finally demonstration, make up his dwelling place, and to these gates the real Scientist goes for refreshment and supply. The student of Christian Science realizes, in increasing measure, what adoration of God and reverence for law will do. In obedience, he seeks God’s habitation, dwells therein, conscious of ever-present good. Our Master, Christ Jesus, and the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, clearly demonstrated that a life of spiritual activity and unselfed love would bring peace supernal.
Of George Washington it was once said: "He applied himself to learning, and applied his learning to living." He was a disciple of application. He urged respect for authority and obedience to law. Some fine thinkers not identified with our movement share many of the views of Christian Scientists. One man highly respected in business, who believes in the power of prayer, recently told of a conversation he had with the great inventor, Thomas A. Edison, shortly before Mr. Edison's death. I quote him: "I asked Mr. Edison what he considered the greatest machine in existence - the one with the greatest possibilities. I thought he would mention the airplane, the internal-combustion engine, or radio developments. To my surprise Edison quietly replied: 'The soul and brain of a little child.' Not being content with the answer, I pressed him further by asking what he felt would be the next great development along scientific and mechanical lines. To the question Edison replied: 'If you take your religion seriously, the religion you profess, you should be able to answer this question yourself. This country has gone already too far technologically. Our next job is to catch up spiritually'." "Catch up spiritually" - is not that a course which all need to follow? Oh, the good that will come as we work to this end! It means a labor of love under God's direction. In the words of Abraham Lincoln: "Let us have faith that, right makes might, and in that faith let us dare to do our duty as we understand it."
Our story tonight is almost ended. It is the oft-told tale of God's love and His care. It is true, and you can prove it, as can everyone who sincerely and honestly tries. Let us walk in God's pathway till we reach His city. Let us cherish in thought the perfect idea or pure consciousness of Life, Truth, and Love. To express the rule of Principle takes love, patience, courage, and the right kind of enthusiasm. Children of God possess these qualities in abundance. And children of men, through the teachings of the Christ and Christian Science, can attain a spiritual consciousness of good that is enduring. All can walk and talk with God, and find Him their very best Friend.
"Take time to be holy,
Speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always,
And feed on His word."
Christ Jesus urged us to accept Truth and its blessings. Mary Baker Eddy interprets the Master's words and works. We urge you to continue in the study of Christian Science, for "God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her" - and you. That is the truth, as has been proven by thousands.
In a knowledge and practice of Christian Science lies the world’s salvation. Through Science we see a new heaven and a new earth. In the Bible, as recorded in the book of Revelation, John tells us much about our beautiful city foursquare, what it holds for you and me. And in the textbook of Christian Science Mrs. Eddy completes the revelation, showing how all may enter the holy city, may recognize the truth of being and be rid of all error. In speaking of perfect, spiritual consciousness she states (Science and Health, pp. 573, 574): "that we can become conscious, here and now, of a cessation of death, sorrow, and pain. This is indeed a foretaste of absolute Christian Science. Take heart, dear sufferer, for this reality of being will surely appear sometime and in some way. There will be no more pain, and all tears will be wiped away. When you read this, remember Jesus' words, 'The kingdom of God is within you.' This spiritual consciousness is therefore a present possibility."
We thank you heartily for taking this journey, for your kindly interest and patient thought. In gratitude to God for Christian Science and its Discoverer and Founder, Mary Baker Eddy, we wish to say in parting: "The Lord bless thee, and keep thee; the Lord make his face shine upon thee, . . . and give thee peace."
[Published in The Times Herald of Dallas, Texas, Feb. 9, 1941. This copy was made from a badly decomposed page. Missing text in the second paragraph of the section "The Value of Unceasing Prayer" has been supplied from another copy of the lecture.]