The Unknown God Made Known

 

The Rev. Irving C. Tomlinson

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

 

It was because the church on Falmouth Street has twice proved itself too small to accommodate the people who wished to hear the tri-monthly lectures on Christian Science that the Christian Scientists elected to give their lecture of Wednesday evening, April 5, in Music Hall, and the audience which assembled there at that time gave evidence that the big auditorium was none too large. Every seat was filled some time before the lecture began, and a number stood during the discourse. Rev. Irving C. Tomlinson was the lecturer. He was formerly well known in this city as assistant pastor of the Shawmut Avenue Universalist Church, and the interest of the evening was not lessened when Rev. G. L. Perin, D.D., the pastor of the same church under the name of the Every-Day Church, appeared to introduce the lecturer. Both gentlemen were enthusiastically applauded.

Judge S. J. Hanna, First Reader of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, of this city, presided, and called on Dr. Perin, who said that though he himself was not a Christian Scientist, he had many dear friends who were. He spoke in commendation of the work that Christian Science is doing, and although he remarked that that form of religion was a little too ethereal for him, still, he said, this closing of the nineteenth century was a time of tolerance, and he was always glad to give a hand to honest, earnest men and women wherever he found them. "If I see a mother succeed in soothing and comforting a tired child," he remarked, "I am not apt to have any fears regarding her system of child-study." Dr. Perin presented the lecturer as a very dear friend whom he had known for many years. Mr. Tomlinson's subject was "The Unknown God made Known."

 

When I accepted Christian Science, about four years ago, I had been a clergyman for ten years. For the work of the Christian ministry I was carefully prepared in college and divinity school. My father before me was an earnest clergyman and my mother was a devout and consecrated woman. And yet to me Christian Science is that religion by which the unknown God is made known.

Because Christian Science is the opposite of agnosticism, infidelity, and pantheism, it may be opposed by their believers. Because Christian Science is not at all like hypnotism and theosophy, it would not be strange that their earnest adherents should not understand us. But it is at first somewhat difficult to understand why Christian Science should be assailed by those who claim to have the same God and profess to follow the same Master. The mission of this system is one with Christianity, to make mankind better physically, morally, and spiritually. Its methods are quiet and unobtrusive. It appeals only to reason and rests confidently in the Truth. Its sword is the Spirit, its shield faith, its armor the good, and it is willing to be judged by the test of Jesus, "By their fruits ye shall know them."

The study of this denomination will reveal a law-abiding, home-loving, self-respecting people. Even if the honest man does not agree with them, he can rejoice that there is growing in his midst a rapidly increasing and noble company of God-fearing people. The patent fact of the high character of the men and women, which in ever increasing numbers are flocking to its ranks, has created misunderstanding when there should have been a welcome to it as an added power among the forces of good. After thirty years of unparalleled success in treating sickness and sin, with a record of well-nigh a million so-called incurables restored to health and happiness, why should it not merit the favor of all? But, says some listener, "If Christian Science is a better method for treating sickness than medicine and a better system of healing sin than theology, then does not Christian Science take the place of both medicine and theology?"

 

Promises Fulfilled

Is it possible that those vast systems, with all their long history, all their venerable institutions, all their riches, all their worthy practitioners and ministers have been in vain? Christian Science does not so say. It would not take from them one word of praise. It would reveal to them the seed of truth therein contained. It would unfold into fair flower and fruitage their best hopes and fulfil all their promises. Seed and flower enfold a promise which the fruit fulfils. The fruit is but the making known of that which in seed and flower was unknown.

It is not the part of wisdom to ignore the past, but to see its worth and give credit where credit is due. So of medicine and theology. Christian Science does not forget their history nor fail to give credit where credit is due. It knows that in the remote past medicine was born. Its origin was worthy, for it was the answer to a human cry for help. To banish pain, to sustain health and happiness, such is its mission. To itself it has attracted a noble company, for those eager to help their fellow-men have sought its ranks. There may have been a time in the history of medicine when the drug was everything and the physician nothing. There may have been a time when matter was the all all-in-all and mind was nought. But if such a time there ever was it has long since passed away. As is well known, there has of late been a decided movement away from the excessive use of drugs, toward the wholesome application of common sense. That is to say, there is to be seen in the treatment of disease less thought put upon matter and more given to mind. Again, it is generally agreed that the recovery of the patient depends quite as much upon the quality of the doctor as upon the quality of the drug. It will be readily conceded that the starting-point in medicine is not matter, but mind. The public demands that the physician be of sound mind, and prescribes for him a long and rigid course in mental training.

 

Mind the Only Medicine

It is seen that the successful physician cultivates a cheerful mind, and the wise one would as soon administer a dose of poison as to give a dose of gloom. It is to be observed also that the modern physician has a care that his patient is kept in the right frame of mind. He knows the power of mind over body, and he does his best to transform despair to confidence. He puts his patient into a sunny room; he provides a cheerful nurse; he sugar-coats his pills, for he knows that in proportion as he helps to set the mind right he will help to set the body right. But above all there is a promise waiting fulfilment in that which the best doctors affirm is the curative agent in the treating of disease. As they declare, it is not the drug, but nature which heals. The drug is administered to remove the obstacles which check the life forces, but it is really nature, they say, which restores to health.

Does not the eye of faith behold herein a promise waiting fulfilment? It is believed in materia medica that one cause in the healing of disease is the right state of mind of the doctor, and another cause is the right state of mind of the patient, while a third cause in the cure is nature. The promise is that the nature which effects a cure is kindred to the helpful mind reflected by the doctor and the patient. The unknown balm awaiting to be made known is an adequate understanding of the helpful mind and helpful nature. If one could but possess the key to this mystery, might not matter wholly pass out of use, and might not mind alone reign supreme? If when such a slight understanding of mental conditions has in it so much of potency, why should not a deeper understanding reveal divine Mind as the true potency in healing? If when so much is unknown, mind is seen to be an active principle, why, if fully known, would not divine Mind become the one and only Principle for healing?

 

The Spirit of Religion

It is true that by reason of long experience Christian Science claims an effective method for the cure of sin. The unqualified success of this divine method in healing all forms of sin furnishes convincing proof that the entire church at no distant day will gladly accept and practise a Scientific Christianity. But nothing could be farther from the spirit and method of true Christian Science than that of wanton attack upon its sister churches. Wherever the privilege is granted it lives in peace and harmony with all denominations.

If you ask, "Does Christian Science hold that the Church has done nothing for mankind?" we answer emphatically that Christian Science does not so teach. It will yield to none in loyalty and praise of all that is worthy in the past. It knows that upon the altar of religion, history's noblest souls have laid their dearest treasures, and engraven on her scrolls are to be found the illustrious names of humanity's great benefactors. Not because it sees so little, but because it sees so much that is worthy does it declare that Christianity is capable of still greater achievements. It is to be remembered that Christ Jesus not only said, "The works that I do shall he do also," but he further said, "and greater works than these shall he do." Surely it is logical to say that the doing of the lesser is a promise of the greater works that are to come. Those who use the self-binding harvesters honor the sickle and scythe of their fathers. They are more than useful tools long since out of date. They contain the promise that has found its fulfilment. With our better understanding we see that they contained an unknown power which science has made more fully known.

 

The Unknown Made Known

And what thoughtful person is there who has not felt at times a near-by yet an unknown presence? Who that has not caught glimpses of a power they knew not, but which they felt might be the central power of all that lives and moves and has a being? Seldom is He felt amidst the busy throng, but sometimes in the silence of the forest He is felt. Sometimes beside the ocean's wide expanse, sometimes in the calm and quiet of one's own fireside, where love and harmony abide, there He appears. Out of such deep experiences the great apostle spoke concerning man's noble search to make the unknown known. "That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us." And an earnest thinker of our kin felt this all-inclusive Spirit as "the power not ourselves which makes for righteousness." And the master of all announced that "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth."

If we shall divorce ourselves from prejudice and superstition we shall confess that this unknown power has been religion's chief concern. The worthy aim and purpose of the church has been to impress man with the power of Spirit. Such is the meaning of lofty spire and vaulted arch, of ancient prayer-book and melodious litany. Such is the story of Angelo's fairest marbles and Raphael's marvelous Madonnas. They each and all enfold a bright promise awaiting fulfilment.

As the thoughtful man beholds the churches' form and ceremony, he will see in them something more than antiquated instruments long since out of date; he sees a seed of truth from which there shall spring forth, like the lilies of Easter, a fair flower, emblem of the resurrection to eternal life.

Who that has pondered well this problem of the unknown Spirit, who that beholds the eager effort to make the unknown known and sees the fields white for the harvest, who is there that will not welcome the Scientific discovery which, transforming the sickle of theology into a self-binding reaper, shall gather the waiting grain of ripened character and harvest the golden sheaves of loving lives?

 

Religion Progressive

In the secular walks of life, our own century has witnessed prodigious strides in man's understanding and control of material forces. The steaming kettle gave hint of a power which has been harnessed and at man's will obediently does his bidding. The lightning has been coaxed from the clouds and the unknown, awful power through scientific discovery has become the world's benefactor. From being the slave of matter, through scientific understanding man has become its master. No longer the serf and bondman of the earth, he has won his rightful seat upon the Olympian heights.

But shall only the artisan and mechanic be awarded the merit of discovery? Shall there be growth and progress everywhere except in religion? With humanity advancing on all sides with giant strides shall we attempt to believe that the church has come to a standstill? Instead will not the calm study of man's history reveal that the progress of the outward life is but the hint and symbol of the progress of the inward life? Is it not beyond all question a fact that physical advancement has always gone hand in hand with spiritual advancement? Does not the marvelous discovery and invention of our nineteenth century, which has so revolutionized the physical, give us the reasonable right to expect a discovery that shall be equally revolutionary in the spiritual?

 

The World Advancing

We know the thought that some of you are holding. You are saying, humanity at large has been growing better. You affirm there never was a time when the spirit of brotherhood and universal good-will was so much in evidence as in our own golden age. And over this great fact Christian Science rejoices with you. Your pride is also our glory. No longer marble shafts attest man's great achievements. Their monuments are noble charities, universities endowed, and libraries established. Their memory lives not in cold and pulseless stone, but in minds enriched and hearts ennobled.

Nor is this spirit of good-will the possession of the few; in it the nation shares. Behold the illustrious history which has added new stars to our heavenly firmament and dyed in deeper colors the blue and crimson of our waving banner. A million bondmen freed from the yoke of slavery. The awakening of the nations to calls for universal peace. And last, but by no means least, the piteous cry for help from the islands of the sea is heard, and to redeem the bondmen a great nation pledges her honor, and with bounty and with blood wipes out the dark blot of centuries, and to a hungry, eager people, transforms rapacity and rapine to education and enlightenment. Cuba prostrate and Cuba with its face toward the rising sun of liberty is living witness of the spirit of God which to-day abides in the nation's heart.

 

Good Another Name for God

But who will tell us of this Good which so moves to noble deeds? Whence comes it? Who is its father, and is its stay of long or short duration? If the falling of an apple shall tell a Newton of the law which holds in place the stars of heaven, why should not the discernment of the ripened fruit of Good suggest still grander discoveries? If the unknown Good shall work such transformations among men, what evolutions might not occur if the unknown could indeed be made known?

In each department of life the unknown Good is in operation. What is Mind? What is Spirit? What is Good? Is each a separate and distinct power? Have they no connection with Him we name as God? This much we do know, that in healing, the helpful Mind is present most where there is the most Love reflected. In religion there is the most of Spirit where Love is regnant. Where there is least of Spirit there is the least of Love manifested. In humanity there is the most of Good where Love is queen; there is the least of Good where hatred rules. And this Love which is the Cause and Soul of all, can we better name it than to call it God? For was not he right, who said that God is Love? Then the unknown Mind of healing, the unknown Spirit of religion, the unknown Good of humanity, are all made known in the God who is Love.

 

A Revolutionary System

If Christian Science went no further than to say that the good, which the world dimly sees, is a promise which finds fulfilment in the God which is Love, it would have done much. But the discovery which Christian Science has made for mankind includes vastly more. The world is willing to grant that Mind may be a cause, but it asserts also that it is only one of many causes, likewise that Spirit may be a power, but it is only one of many powers; that Good is law, but is only one of many laws. On these fundamental points Christian Science differs with the world, and, like Paul of old times, turns the world upside down, for Christian Science declares that matter is not and cannot be a cause, that the Mind which is God is the one and only Cause in all the universe. Christian Science affirms that evil never was, is not, and never can be power, for Spirit, which is God, is the one and only Power. Christian Science asserts that sin and sickness are not laws and make no laws, for Good is the one and only law which governs man and the universe.

Christian Science in taking these positions well understands that it is contrary to prevailing views. Christian Science knows that outside the Bible and its own adherents there are none that can be quoted on its side. But at this Christian Science is not dismayed, for its authority is not human opinions, but the understanding of divine Principle which furnishes the incontestable proofs that it is right. To adopt the saying of an old philosopher, Christian Science is a flower of heavenly growth, for surely earth furnishes no seed or soil from which it could spring. Friendly critic, you are right. Christian Science does contradict and deny all erroneous human beliefs. Therefore if there was nothing among men to suggest it, then it must have been derived from God. If neither books nor legends tell of it, then it must have come to man as a divine revelation.

 

Another World Discovered

Christian Science has created nothing new; it has laid bare what eternally has been. Christian Science has discovered a new world, but it is the discovery, not the creation, of another continent. As every discovery has its discoverer, so Christian Science had its discoverer. The Discoverer whose venturous bark first made known the unknown shores of Christian Science, was well fitted for the task. From childhood the eye of faith of this brave mariner had peered into the vast unknown. The old world of matter and materialism ill-suited this future Discoverer of the new world of Spirit. Its wars and rumors of wars, its sin and sickness, its trials and tribulations, its suffering and sorrow, suggested escape to fairer climes rather than continued abode amidst its weary scenes. And as this searcher for sunnier shores studied the chart of life, the family Bible, there were plain evidences of an undiscovered world of Spirit, and so it was that Mary Baker Eddy revealed to a waiting world the long-sought yet undiscovered country. If you will examine carefully the log of the voyage, you will see how hers were the first eyes to see the light upon the new shore. She lay a helpless invalid with the open grave before her; abandoning all help from matter, she turned to Mind alone as the one and only effective Cause. Forsaking every other power she trusted herself wholly to the power of Spirit. Renouncing every law of sin and sickness she rested in the Good alone. And behold, faith is rewarded and her feet touch the solid shores of Truth. The one incurable by matter is cured by Mind. The dying Christian is healed by finding Christ as her eternal life.

Such was the lonely voyage of the discoverer of the new world of Spirit.

It has been said by the ignorant that Christian Science is no discovery, that it has made known nothing that was not already known. What answer shall be made? This same charge was made against Columbus and he disproved it. How? By producing the proof, — by showing its treasures, its fruits, its peoples. And such is the proof of Christian Science. This cause is not devoid of reason and logic; for every statement which it makes it finds confirmation in Scripture, and the evidence that Christian Science is of God lies in the treasures which it brings, in the fruits it has gathered, in the people it has rescued, in sin destroyed and sickness banished, in peace and blessedness bestowed, in ripened characters and noble lives, in more than a million and a half of people blessed, — these are proofs that a new continent has been discovered.

 

The Christianity of Christian Science

Why should Christian people not welcome a movement which fulfils their brightest promises? Why should not natural scientists delight in a message that makes known the unknown God?

All that Christian Science has, Christ Jesus possessed. He healed the sick, and commanded his disciples to do likewise. When, therefore, we heal the sick and sinful we are simply obedient to his commands and following his example.

As the discovery of a new continent is valuable when it makes known to man a new world with wider liberties and greater advantages, as a revelation is only worthy of the name when it unveils what before is veiled; so the discovery of the unknown Power of Spirit which Jesus made known; so his revelation of the omnipotence of Good is worthy when it practically helps others to see what he saw, to know what he knew, and work the works which he worked.

The commandments of Jesus to his followers are plain and explicit: "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons," and "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find."

These are the promises of Christ Jesus which Christian Science fulfils. His was the God so long unknown to me and many others which "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker G. Eddy has at last made known. The God which is Love, the Love which is omnipotent Mind, infinite Spirit, and Eternal Good.

 

The Universal Invitation

As the new world flings open all its gates to the oppressed of every nation, as it freely shelters the downtrodden and heavy laden, as it proves a peaceful home for the liberty-loving and the God fearing, as it lavishes its harvests and pours out its bounties for the honest and consecrated, so this new world of Christian Science welcomes all. Are you oppressed with worldly burdens? Enter here and your burden shall grow light. Are you persecuted by sickness and downtrodden by sin? In this land your persecutors shall be exiled. Do you love liberty and rejoice in the good? Here "ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. ... And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us."

 

[Published in The Christian Science Journal, May 1900, without any indication that it was a lecture. More than a year prior to its publication in the Journal, on April 5, 1899, the lecture was given at the Music Hall in Boston under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, which was at that time sponsoring lectures once every three months. The introduction published in The Boston Evening Transcript is presented here as reprinted in the Christian Science Sentinel, April 27, 1899. The title of the lecture and several excerpts from it were given in an account that appeared in The Boston Evening Transcript of April 6, 1899. In commenting on the lecture, the newspaper added: "Before closing his lecture Mr. Tomlinson said that persons were sometimes met who did not know any person who had been healed through Christian Science. He said that many present had been, and he asked all who had been healed of some sickness or sin to stand. A thousand or more arose."

 

[The Christian Science Sentinel of April 13, 1899, published the following in connection with the content of this lecture when it was first given:

["(The following views of the Rev. Mary Baker Eddy upon the subject of the Trinity, are known to us to be those uniformly held and expressed by her. A reference to her writings will fully corroborate this statement.—Ed. Sentinel.)

["The contents of the last lecture of our dear brother, the Rev. Irving C. Tomlinson, on the subject 'The Unknown God Made Known,' were unknown to me till after the lecture was delivered in Boston, April 5.

["The members of the Board of Lectureship are not allowed to consult me relative to their subjects, or the handling thereof, owing to my busy life, and they seek a higher source for wisdom and guidance. The talented author of this lecture has a heart full of love towards God and man. For once he may have overlooked the construction that people unfamiliar with his broad views and loving nature might put on his comparisons, and ready humor. But all Christian Scientists deeply recognize the oneness of Jesus — that he stands alone in word and deed, the visible discoverer, founder, demonstrator, and great Teacher of Christianity, whose sandals none may unloose.

["The Board of Lectureship is absolutely inclined to be, and is instructed to be, charitable towards all, and hating none. The purpose of its members is to subserve the interest of mankind, and to cement the bonds of Christian brotherhood, whose every link leads upward in the chain of being. The cardinal points of Christian Science cannot be lost sight of, namely — one God, supreme infinite, and one Christ Jesus. The Board of Lectureship is specially requested to be wise in discoursing on the great subject of Christian Science."]

 

 

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