Christian Science: The Christianity of Christ
The Rev. Irving C. Tomlinson, C.S.B.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
There was a very large and deeply interested audience at the Malden Auditorium last evening (Tuesday, April 23), when Rev. Irving C. Tomlinson, C.S.B., of Concord, N. H., delivered a lecture on the subject, "Christian Science, the Christianity of Christ," under the auspices of First Church of Christ, Scientist, of this city.
Before eight o'clock, the time of the opening of the lecture, the seats on the lower floor and first balcony of the beautiful theatre were all filled, and as the curtain rose Mr. Arthur H. Pope, First Reader of First Church of Christ, Scientist, of this city, introduced ex-Representative Harvey L. Boutwell, who had accepted the invitation to preside over the meeting. He stepped forward and in a few opening remarks, he declared that the sincerity and earnestness of the believers in Christian Science had almost persuaded him to believe. He then introduced Rev. Mr. Tomlinson, who was received with marked applause.
The lecturer spoke in a very easy and pleasing way. Every one seemed to listen most attentively throughout his interesting treatment of his subject, and it was evident that he had given many in the audience some thoughts for consideration. Among the gathering were noticed many of the most prominent ladies and gentlemen of our city. Even though one did not fully agree with the speaker, one could not but feel drawn towards him by his frank manner and kindly way of addressing all who held a different view.
Malden Evening News.
Mr. Boutwell's introductory address was as follows: —
Ladies and Gentlemen: — On the fly-leaf of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," I found this sentiment: "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." The great fundamental purpose of Christian Science, as I understand it, is to know the truth, and the great aim and object of the Christian Scientists is the establishment of truth and the dissipation of error. Certainly they have a high purpose and a noble aim. Every true citizen, be he Jew or Gentile, Protestant or Catholic, believer or unbeliever, may unhesitatingly subscribe to the sentiment which I have quoted, and may well join hands with the Scientists in ascertaining the truth, and in the establishment of that which is for the welfare of mankind on earth and in the realm beyond the river.
We are here to-night to hear truth and error discussed from the standpoint of Christian Science. As one who owes allegiance to no denomination, no creed, no sect, but who finds good in all; believing thoroughly in a government which guarantees free speech and guards zealously the right to worship God according to the dictates of one's own conscience, I am glad to listen to-night to the truth as the Christian Scientists see it.
I am free to say that if Christian Science points out the only true line of demarcation between truth and error, I want it for myself and my family, we all want it, and want everybody else to have it, in order that the world may roll on through the coming centuries as one harmonious whole. Being without the pale, I am not expected to give testimony to-night, and yet, I feel impelled to say that I have looked upon the work of the Scientists in wonder and amazement. Among my friends in the faith, I have seen a zeal, an unselfish devotion to duty, a consistency, an honesty of purpose and sincerity of heart equalled by few and surpassed by none. I am convinced that the tortures of the Spanish Inquisition, or burning at the stake, would not deter some of my friends from following the teachings of Christian Science.
When I see the exemplary lives of the followers of Christian Science, and learn that their methods of casting out error produces not only pure minds and hearts but better bodies as well, — when men of standing and veracity say to me, "Whereas once I was blind, now I see," when the palsied rise and the lame walk, I am inclined to say, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian Scientist."
The lecture to-night will be given by the Rev. Irving C. Tomlinson of Concord, N. H., a graduate of the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, a member of the Board of Lectureship of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass., a duly authorized lecturer of New England, and one thoroughly qualified to tell us the truth as Christian Science interprets it. I have the pleasure of presenting Mr. Tomlinson.
The Christianity of Christ: who can estimate its worth? Its Founder was the noblest character in all history. Upon its rolls are inscribed the names of the great and good in all ages. What priceless sacrifices have been laid upon its altars! What deeds of love have been wrought in its behalf! The Christianity of Christ! It is the true "Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." It is the "pearl of great price," to possess which a man would give all that he hath.
Christian Science has a glad message for all. To those who are dissatisfied, it comes with the gospel of love. It declares that the Christianity of Christ should be the possession of all, and he who is without it lacks the one thing needful. Christian Science comes to the discouraged and disconsolate, and declares that there is hope. It comes to the sick in mind and the sick in body with the glad news that for them there is health and life.
Christian Science is as a grand organ, which giveth forth its sweet harmonies to those only who understand it. I can but place the key of this noble instrument in your hands. If you would bring out its divine harmony you must use that key, study its science, and put in practice what you learn.
How can we better define the Christianity of Christ than in the words of Jesus, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind," and "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." The Founder of the Christian religion had a very practical idea of what he was sent to do. He told nothing of a great hierarchy, he formulated no creed; he said, "I come to do Thy will, O God," and again he declared that he came "to seek and to save." At another time he affirmed, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." And the Apostle James compressed the whole of his religion into a few words when he said, "If ye fulfil the royal law, . . . Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well."
The works which Jesus did to prove the value of his religion were such as met the immediate needs of those around him. He opened the eyes of the blind, unstopped the ears of the deaf, cleansed the leper, and made whole the outcast and the prodigal. In this he was in full harmony with the religion of his fathers. The Old Testament, when rightly viewed, is a manual upon practical living. In the first book of the Bible we read the first case of sickness recorded therein. Abimelech, the friend of Abraham, was taken ill, and we read that Abraham prayed unto God and God healed Abimelech. In the Psalms God is described as one "who forgiveth all thine iniquities, and healeth all thy diseases;" and in the last chapter of the Old Testament it is declared that the "Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings," and this prophecy was fulfilled in Christ Jesus, for it was said that he healed all manner of diseases. Nor is it anywhere implied that this practical religion should be for Bible times only. The Founder of Christianity declared, "The works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do." His disciples healed the sick, and the church for the first three hundred years of its history was obedient to the entire command of the Master, to preach, and heal.
According to the teachings of the New Testament, you can no more divorce practical works from the religion of Jesus than you can take the blue from the sky, or love from a mother's heart. Said one apostle, "Faith without works is dead;" and the beloved disciple declared, "He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?"
How better, then, shall we define the Christianity of Christ than to say it is the complete understanding and the perfect application of the royal law of Love.
Christian Science may be described as a revival of this early Christianity. It seeks to be obedient to the whole command of the Master. Its first church was established in 1879, on the basis of Christian healing. From this one church have sprung nearly six hundred others, whose members are to be found in every state and territory of the United States, in Mexico, in Islands of the Sea, in England, Germany, and France. The text-book of the denomination, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by the Rev. Mary Baker G. Eddy, was first published in 1875. Through the reading of this book, and through those who have been instructed therein, more than a million people have been healed of sickness and sin. In these twenty-six years, two hundred and twenty-two editions of this book of one thousand copies each have been published and sold. In its strict obedience to the command of the Master, "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead," has not this healing gospel the right to the name of the Christianity of Christ?
It is sometimes said that healing ended with the life of the Master, and it is also declared that it is not a part of religion to heal the sick. It has been stated that Jesus healed the sick because of the power which he possessed and which none others had. The words of Jesus and the practice of the early church do not bear out that statement. He declared, "These signs shall follow them that believe; . . . They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." The works which Jesus accomplished, his disciples did likewise. If we are without these practical works, then are we without that feature which made the religion of Jesus unique.
Christian Science would have it distinctly understood that its healing is not accomplished through will-power or animal magnetism. The false healer declares, "I can of mine own self do everything." Jesus said, "I can of mine own self do nothing;" it is "the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works." Again he said, "Not my will, but thine, be done." So in Christian Science God is the Healer. The less there is of self, the more there will be of the Father. The Christian Scientist seeks not to exalt self, but to exalt God. In himself he is nothing. With God, he becomes a power for righteousness. When fairly viewed and clearly understood we believe it will appear that the practice of this church is identical with the practice of Jesus and the early church.
To those who have been long attached to the use of drugs it seems unreasonable and impossible that one can be healed without them; to abandon material remedies is, to them, to attempt to be healed by doing nothing. Christian Science recognizes this condition of mind and does not undertake to thrust its religion upon those who are unprepared for it. Christian Scientists have never sought by legislation to compel others to use their method of healing, however much they themselves may believe in it. They offer their services only to those who seek and desire them. To them it does not seem unreasonable to believe that there is another method of healing than that through the use of drugs. It is said that it must be right to use drugs or God would never have made them. If God really did make the herbs of the field to be used for medicine, then it is only reasonable to suppose that he would have made a healing herb for every disease. The fact is, that there is not a known herb which is an unfailing cure for a single disease. The truth which all well know is that there is no invariable rule for the action of drugs, and therefore they cannot be the product of the divine Mind, for all which He produces is invariably and unalterably good.
The practice of Jesus does not show that drugs are the only method of healing. It was said of him that he healed all manner of diseases, and yet he never used a single drug. If it were God's way to heal the sick by material remedies, would not Jesus have employed this method? He trusted God alone, and taught his disciples so to trust Him, and declares that the works which he did others should do also.
The message which Christian Science has for the world is, that the Christianity of Christ may be understood and applied so that sickness shall be banished and life and health be in the possession of all. The rejection of this effective gospel by some is due to the fact that they fail to understand its teaching. It is supposed that this religion does not believe in the existence of the universe. These mistaken people understand that the teaching of this system is that all that the eye beholds has no existence, and therefore they see no reason in this system. The teaching of Christian Science is that God made all that was made, and behold, it was very good. It declares that all that is true, and beautiful, and good, is permanent. It takes from man only what he does not want, and leaves him the good, the beautiful, and the true. It agrees with the apostle who said, "The things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
Again, this system is questioned because of its supposed teaching as to the unreality of sickness. To the sick, there is nothing that seems so real and genuine as pain. This healing gospel does not dispute that, to their sense of things, suffering is real. Just as the mistakes in mathematics are no real part of the science of mathematics, so it is held that sickness is not a part of the Kingdom of God, that it is a false condition which will give way to the truth. This religion holds that life and health are positive, that sickness is negative and not the real part of man. Had Jesus regarded sickness as a part of God's kingdom and something real and eternal, he would not, and he could not, have healed it for what is of God endures. To him sickness was not of God, and therefore he could and did destroy it. The withered arm seemed to be real; Jesus proved that life was the real when he commanded the man to stretch forth his arm and it was made whole like to the other. Because Jesus saw that sickness and sin were false and untrue he prescribed the true remedy when he declared, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
Again, Christian Science is questioned by others because they feel that it teaches the overthrow of law; they regard man as under the control of law, and they insist that these laws act with certainty. They reject Christian Science because they do not see that these laws can be overturned. The truth in regard to this religion is, that it takes account of natural law; but it holds that the law of God is in fact the one and only law, and is supreme over all.
As we have seen, the apostle spoke of Love as the "royal law." To Jesus Love was Law. To him, even as the law of gravity controls and governs the material universe, so the law of Love controls and governs man. As the Bible declares, in this Love "we live, and move, and have our being." The Christian Scientist does not say that to our sense of things there is no human law, but he affirms that the law of flesh is not the master of man. The rain which falls at the foot of a stately elm is governed by the law of gravity, and he who should say that water will run up hill would be declared to have lost his reason; and yet, when the water reaches the roots of the tree, there is another law at work, and as sap it seeks the topmost branches. The law of the tree has made null and void the law of gravity. So with the law of Love, — this law of divine Mind, — it makes null and void the law of the flesh and destroys sickness and sin, and in its place brings health and harmony. In accordance with which, the Apostle Paul said, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." How plain this is, as we follow the footsteps of Jesus. He enters the home of Peter, and Peter's mother-in-law is lying sick of a fever. There is a human law which affirms that a fever has so many days to run; but, to this man who understood the law of God, he spoke the word, and the law of the flesh is made null and void, and the healed woman takes her place in the family circle. There cometh to him a leper saying, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." There were laws innumerable which had been applied to that leper, and he was said to be incurable; but Jesus spoke the word of Life, and the man was made whole. Such was Christ's understanding of the love of God. It was Good, created only the Good, and brought forth only Good. That divine Love was Mind, and that Mind understood created health and harmony. That Love was Law, and that Law understood destroyed all forms of sickness and sin, and abolished even death itself. And what Jesus practised in Palestine Christian Science declares may be practised now and here. As in days gone by, so now, God is Love, and that Love is Law. Man is not alone, working against the laws of the universe, omnipotence is with him, and that All-Power is his benefactor. God is not afar off; He is here, nearer than the air we breathe, and if we but give ourselves to Him, He will give Himself to us and panoply us with His strength and His eternal life.
The supreme question is, How is man to take advantage of this law of Love? The founder of Christianity has given us the answer. Said Jesus, "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." According to the Master, a knowledge of God and His Son constitutes Life. If one would be a mathematician, the first requisite must be an understanding of mathematics; if one wishes to be skilled in the science of musical harmony, he must master that science; and if one desires to practise here the life of Jesus, and would attain a God-like life, then must he have an understanding of that life. When the great King Solomon began his career, he went to God in prayer, and his Heavenly Father said to him, "Ask what I shall give thee." The youthful king asked not for wealth or honors, but he said, "Give therefore Thy servant an understanding heart," and we read that God gave to him not only an understanding heart, but riches and honor also. He who has understanding has all else. Therefore, said Jesus in effect, This is life eternal, to know God and His Son.
Jesus understood God to be Good. When one came to him saying, "Good Master," he replied, "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God." He knew God only as Divine Love, and the tender name he gave to this Infinite Love was, "Our Father which art in Heaven." It is written in the first chapter of Genesis that "God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good." Now there is nothing very good in sickness or sin, therefore God did not make them. No earthly parent could afflict his child with sin or sickness, and is our heavenly Father less loving than the earthly one? Sickness is no part of God's creation. Health is positive; sickness is its absence, — a negative; and just as love destroys hate, so the goodness of God understood destroys sickness and sin. I have been told by one grown to womanhood that, as a child, when in pain from any hurt, she would seek her mother, and the mother's kiss would seem to end the pain. If an earthly mother's love can bring the healing balm, what will not the love of the heavenly Parent bring if we but seek it as trustingly as the child a mother's knee?
Everlasting arms of love
Are beneath, around, above.
God it is who leads us on,
His the arm we lean upon.
And Jesus not only knew his heavenly Father as Good, but he knew Him as divine Mind. Of old it is written. "How precious also are Thy thoughts unto me, O God;" and another said of man, As he thinketh in his heart, so is he. Who has not seen the influence of mind? What a man's mind is, that a man will become. Do his steps lead toward the home and the church? His face will tell the story. Are his steps tending toward vice and infamy? They shall write their history where it shall be read of men. False thoughts induce disease. A sick mind produces a sick body. If, then, a wrong mind is the precursor of disease, why should not a right mind heal disease? And so the apostle has declared, "Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind."
This understanding of the "royal law of Love" lifts man into his true estate. The Christianity of Christ makes man the child of the heavenly King, a prince in the kingdom of heaven. Man is no longer a worm of the dust, he has found his true estate. Too often man is mean because he thinks meanly of himself. Holy Writ declares of man that he was made in the image of God, and it is said of man that God made him to have dominion over all things. As light was made to have dominion over the darkness, so was man made to have dominion over all the beasts, over the elements, and over all unlike Good.
Man without a true knowledge of himself and God is as a shipwrecked mariner on a storm-tossed sea. Man possessed of the understanding of himself and God is supplied with the chart and compass which takes him from the stormy billows into the haven of peace.
The means which Jesus gave to man for accomplishing good was Prayer. He was in harmony with the religion of his fathers. They believed that through prayer God was the helper of man. Jesus said, "Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer. believing, ye shall receive." Either Jesus meant literally what he said, or prayer is valueless. Why, then, are not our prayers answered? The Bible gives us the true reply. It says, "Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss." The Christianity of Christ asks and receives because it asks aright. When the prodigal was feeding on husks and deprived of the blessings of his father's home, the only prayer he offered was to arise and go to his father. He made no long petitions; he sent him no urgent requests; he knew his father loved him and would have a welcome for him. So when the Master stood before the tomb of Lazarus he sent up no long petitions to God to raise the man; instead thereof he said, "I know that Thou hearest me always." But he did understand that God was Good, that God had not sent sickness or death; he did know that Mind was all-powerful, and that Love is an eternal law; and this knowledge burst the bonds of death and restored Lazarus to life. True prayer is a prayer of understanding, and such prayer is not sent forth in vain. A mathematician, when he would demonstrate his problem, understands the principle involved, and this understanding destroys the errors and brings out the truth. When a musician would produce harmony, he understands the principle of music, and this understanding gives the melody. So prayer is the true understanding of man and his Principle, the God who is Love, which governs all, and this prayer of understanding banishes the discord of sickness and sin and brings forth the harmony of health and happiness.
But, you ask, how may this be learned? When the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science had healed herself through her understanding of the royal law of Love, and when she had healed others, she taught them to understand this law of Love. Then she kept not the discovery to herself, but she made the knowledge clear and plain to all by giving to the world the text-book of this denomination, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." This book is to be found in many public libraries of the land, and every member of this church is glad to loan his book to those seeking its understanding.
It is my privilege to live in the home city of the Founder and Discoverer of Christian Science. From the people there, and from others whom I have met, I have learned her history. She was born of pious and godly parents. So pure and true was her early childhood that a sainted clergyman said of her that she was sanctified before she had birth. She was always a great student of the Bible, and at her mother's knee was taught that prayer to God would heal the sick and sinful. In childhood even, she banished sickness by an appeal to her heavenly Father. As she grew to womanhood her thoughts were upon God and the ministry of helpfulness. I met one who knew her in her early married life, and she told me that it was a joy and comfort to visit Mrs. Eddy in those early days and be blessed by her gracious presence. I have met another who later knew her before she discovered Christian Science, but when her thoughts were upon helping others, and she banished pain and brought relief to this suffering one through the love she bore to God and man. In 1866, having met with an accident which the physicians declared was incurable, she turned from earth to heaven, and opening her Bible to the healing work of Jesus, the Christ power which through him made whole the diseased, blessed her, and she arose from her bed of pain healed and well. She saw that the same power which healed her would heal others, and she gave three years of devoted study of the Bible that she might make known this law of Love to others. She sought not to keep the secret to herself, but her whole desire was to make clear to others that religion of Christ which banished sickness and sorrow and gave joy and health. She is now the Leader of the mighty movement, and the same loving trust in God which marked her early days is with her now, the same tender sympathy for the afflicted adds a beauty and a grace to the charm of years. All her waking hours are given to benefit humanity. She has been misunderstood, but she has not faltered in her love to God or her fidelity to man.
To those who have studied the religion of Jesus in the light of Christian Science, it is indeed the royal law of Love. It has banished pain and suffering, it has healed the sick and sinful, and made white the stained robes of the fallen. It has put before man a star of hope and cheered him with the eternal presence of the living Christ.
Then, brother man, fold to thy heart thy brother.
For where love dwells, the peace of God is there:
To worship rightly is to love each other,
Each smile a hymn, each kindly deed a prayer.
[Delivered April 23, 1901, in Malden, Massachusetts, and published in The Christian Science Journal, December, 1901. The introduction was published in The Christian Science Sentinel, May 9, 1901]