Christian Science: Soulís Restorative Power Revealed

 

Gertrude E. Velguth, C.S., of Flint, Michigan

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

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

 

The teaching of Christian Science that all individuality is spiritually originated and maintained by God was explored at a public lecture Tuesday night, Dec. 7, in Boston.

Gertrude E. Velguth, C.S., a Christian Science practitioner and lecturer from Flint, Mich., addressed an audience in the large auditorium of The First Church of Christ, Scientist.

She declared that "man is created for the purpose of expressing God," and that "man is as indispensable to God as God is to him."

Each one of us is "an imperishable idea" in the divine Mind - a unique expression of the one Soul, God.

To begin acknowledging and understanding this through prayer "brings our original spiritual identity to the consciousness of each one of us," said Mrs. Velguth. "Soul speaks to us through the still small voice of Truth and . . . restores to us our sense of wholeness, completeness in God."

Mrs. Velguth is currently on tour as a member of The Christian Science Board of Lectureship. She was introduced to the audience in The Mother Church by Noel D. Bryan-Jones, First Reader.

Title of the lecture was "Christian Science: Soul's Restorative Power Revealed." A partial text follows:

 

Another name for God

Some years ago a young boy and his mother were going home from church one Sunday morning. The mother noticed that the boy seemed strangely silent.

He was usually quite exuberant, so she said, "Son, what is it?" He turned to her and said, "Mother, what is soul?"

Well, she was startled! She hesitated a minute and asked him what had prompted the question. He mentioned the minister's references to soul; there had been a number of them in his sermon that morning.

Naturally, his mother was delighted that he had been listening to the sermon, but he had asked her a question she had often wondered about herself, so she said, "Son, I don't know! Perhaps we had better just stick to God."

Just a few days later, this woman was visiting in a neighbor's home. This neighbor had recently become interested in Christian Science. Pretty soon the conversation led to this subject, and the boy's mother asked her if Christian Science could offer any enlightenment as to soul. Her neighbor said she was very new in Christian Science. "But," she said, "I do know that Soul is another name for God, that it is one of the seven synonyms Christian Science uses to define God."

It is like a new star in the firmament of spiritual understanding. It shines and glows! This is the way it is in every heart this revelation comes to, the revelation of Soul as God.

Mary Baker Eddy says in Science and Health, "So long as we believe that soul can sin or that immortal Soul is in mortal body, we can never understand the Science of being. When humanity does understand this Science, it will become the law of Life to man, - even the higher law of Soul, which prevails over material sense through harmony and immortality" (Page 311).

 

Old theory rejected

This is from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," the Christian Science textbook written by Mary Baker Eddy.

So we see that the old theory of soul, that it is a kind of illusive substance imprisoned in a physical body and liberated only by a process called death, is absolutely unscientific.

The Scriptures say emphatically - they even repeat - that God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him. In Science we realize that man is created for the purpose of expressing God, of imaging Him forth in His wholeness.

Mrs. Eddy is the Leader of the Christian Science movement, and students of Christian Science love her and revere her. They are forever grateful to God for what He revealed to her; among other things, a completely scientific definition of God, for such an understanding certainly enables them to glimpse the Science of Soul. This definition is also from Science and Health: "god. The great I am; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence" (Page 587).

If you will study this definition, you will notice that the first part of it refers chiefly to God's attributes, and the second part gives us seven synonyms for God. Each synonym is quite distinct in office, yet each one of them includes everything that the others express. They all help us to understand God, and so, of course, they make it possible for us, to prove God's presence in human experience.

 

Sight is spiritual

In Christian Science the study of the synonym Soul is quite revealing - it is quite liberating, in fact. When it is spelled with a capital, it refers to God and to God alone; therefore, Soul is one, just as God is one.

The senses of Soul are completely opposite to the five physical senses. They are always at peace, and they dwell in Love forever.

For instance, sight - sight is not physical, it is mental or spiritual. It is spiritual insight, spiritual vision, spiritual discernment. If we want to experience Soul's restorative power in the restoration of perfect sight, we can cultivate acute spiritual awareness. We can do this by searching the Scriptures in the light of Christian Science, and by following the leadings of Truth.

Have you ever heard of blind rage? Now rage certainly wouldn't tend to acuteness of vision, would it, if vision is spiritual, born of Truth and Love?

In Science and Health (Page 192) we read: "Human power a blind force." This is one of the marginal headings, and Mrs. Eddy says in the text, "Erring power is a material belief, a blind miscalled force, the offspring of will and not of wisdom, of the mortal mind and not of the immortal."

So let us wait on divine wisdom for guidance and direction. Let us not allow human will to lead us astray. That would be the blind leading the blind.

Hearing - this is what Science teaches us: Hearing is spiritual understanding. "Spirit, God, is heard when the senses are silent," Mrs. Eddy says (ibid., Page 89).

One day I was reading the Lesson-Sermon with a friend, when this sentence appeared in it: "Spirit, God, is heard when the senses are silent."

"There - that's just what I needed to know," my friend said. "Now I feel better." Then she told me about something that had happened the day before. She's a Christian Scientist of long standing and a successful businesswoman. She has had plenty of opportunity to apply her religion every day. She does not forget that our dear Leader recommended wit, humor, and enduring vivacity - that she expressed them herself.

 

'If we listen, we hear'

My friend had been bending every effort to satisfy a patron, but he was extremely difficult. It had reached a point where he was literally thundering his disapproval, and when she saw how futile it was, she said, "You know, if you would just stop shouting I could hear what you have to say, then I might be able to help you." Well, he just shouted at this, but this time with peals of laughter.

The atmosphere cleared completely. Then they were able to go ahead and carry out their project to their mutual satisfaction.

It is just the same if we want to hear God speak to us. We have to silence the senses. If we listen, we hear the still, small voice of God, of Truth. It clears the way through human philosophies and conceits - through all their blusterings. It guides us on to the haven of Soul - to abiding peace.

We also have the spiritual sense of smell - of intuition, the sensing of good, the sensing of God's omnipresence, omniaction, omnipotence. And taste - in its real significance - taste is spiritual, too. Taste governs our choice and selection of true friendships, companionships, home, occupation, and religion. And you can think of touch as the expression of the tenderness of the healing Christ - the gentleness, the compassion!

This is the way Christian Science teaches us the truth about the senses of Soul.

Mrs. Eddy tells us there is moral freedom in Soul, and moral freedom is manifested humanly in freedom of movement. The activity of Soul's goodness and vivacity is expressed in man - the activity of Soul's power. It can never be paralyzed by a human sense of fear or hatred.

 

Paralysis healed

I should like to tell you how a man I know demonstrated this conclusively. One morning he was suddenly afflicted with facial paralysis. There was a great deal of alarm, especially among members of the family who were not interested in Christian Science. He had recently been appointed Sunday School superintendent in a branch Church of Christ, Scientist, and his condition made him doubt whether he ought to accept the office. However, the practitioner recommended his going ahead with the opportunity - with the expectancy of healing. He was glad to accept the idea. In one week the healing had taken place, and the next Sunday he was at his appointed place in Sunday School.

In Christian Science, Sunday School is a part of church activity. Mrs. Eddy provides in the Church Manual what the children should be taught. The Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer with its spiritual interpretation by Mrs. Eddy, and the Sermon on the Mount. The next lessons consist of questions and answers adapted to a juvenile class. They have not been indoctrinated with false theory - philosophy or theology - with creed - so they are a fertile soil for the seed of the Word of God.

I know a senior class of girls who found the study of Soul most enlightening. Radiance - the teacher pointed out to them that radiance is Soul's primal quality - soft, clear, luminous radiance. They recognized radiance as the evidence of spiritual illumination. It was this shining radiance of Soul that lighted Moses' countenance as he triumphantly received the Ten Commandments so that his physical features were obscured by its glory.

 

Joy expresses Soul

The dullness of spiritual ignorance and superstition disappears - the gloom, the lackluster - under the penetrating rays of spiritual illumination.

Glorifying endowments like harmony, refinement, and dignity, beauty, poise, culture, freedom, rhythm, and color are expressions of Soul; therefore they are ours by reflection. How do you suppose a senior class of girls, 18 to 20 years of age, responded to this realization? Why, they accepted it gladly!

This was another source of inspiration to them: that joy is an expression of Soul - that in Science we never need to suppress joy. On the contrary, this spiritual attribute is to be expressed by everybody. It always abounds in the atmosphere of Soul. One definition of joy - the one that was loved best - was calm delight, spiritual and pure!

Joy is a refiner, a purifier. Joy knows no age. Joy makes the burdens light, refreshes the weary. It dries tears away, exchanges sorrow for laughter, and banishes sighs with lilting songs of praise to its heavenly source. Joy is an eternal fiber in the heart of man; we might even say it is his 10-stringed instrument of song.

 

Happiness as a healer

You know we often hear about spiritual attributes like joy and radiance. People tell us that joy and radiance and happiness are spiritual qualities, but often they do not get right down to the core of the thing and bring out the fact that they are powerful healers.

A man I know was healed of arthritis - arthritic rheumatism - when the practitioner talked to him like this: "Now there is something you can do. You don't need only to sit and read, but just start to express some of the Godlike qualities you have been reading about - like joy, for instance. A good dose of joy will mean healing to you! Just try it!" He did, and he was healed.

Suppose you owned a beautiful gem and hid it away for fear of losing it. You would never enjoy its starlike brilliance, and your friends would not get to share it.

It is just the same with joy! If we fail to express it, it is not because we do not possess it, and it is our privilege and delight to share it with the world wherever we go.

If we had everything else in this world and were to overlook joy, we would still be poor indeed. No earthly crown can ever match the celestial crown of rejoicing. Wear it every day! Nobody can rob you of it - nothing can dim its starry brilliance. It is set with a gleaming jewel - immortality.

The crown of rejoicing of course proclaims kingship, dominion - dominion over grief, woe, self-pity, discouragement, sadness, and despair. Hold to your shining crown of joy. Cherish it! Keep it glowing! It distinguishes you as a member of the whole family of man with sovereign rights of dominion. It is one of Soul's greatest restorers of beauty, health, and loveliness.

After they had made a study of Soul - I'm going back to the Sunday School class, of course - all of the synonyms took on new inspiration, new life and power. Each synonym helped the pupils to express more God-likeness - a better sense of Truth and Love - of their universality.

Soul brings out the grandeur, the sublimity of Principle; the omnipotence of Mind, its supremacy; the vivacity and freedom of Spirit. Soul accentuates the immortality of Life, the stability and certainty of Truth. Soul reveals the tenderness of Love, the compassion, the loveliness. Soul includes all of the synonyms for God and it's included in them all.

 

The Bible illumined

In reading the Bible, men of letters sometimes focus their attention on the history in it - on law, adventure, biography, poetry, or romance or culture. But students of Christian Science are primarily interested in the spiritual record. That includes accounts of the triumph of confidence over fear, Truth over error, Love over hate, Mind over matter, and Life over death.

If you study the Scriptures in the light of Christian Science you will find the deeper meanings of the Bible revealed. Passages that seemed obscure or contradictory, even meaningless, are illumined, clarified. They turn out to be practical guides to a healthy and harmonious way of life.

The Bible reveals God as Spirit, Life, Truth, Love, as the one infinite and infallible creator. It reveals that His spiritual creation, including individual man, is preserved forever in the beauty of its original holiness.

Our churches and Sunday Schools, our lectures, our literature, all bring out the importance of acquainting ourselves with God so that we can demonstrate His living presence. Our children are not taught that they attend Sunday School just to learn about God - they learn to demonstrate Him, to demonstrate the manifold attributes of His nature. Christian Science is the very Word of God; it is the spirit of Love and Truth demonstrated in everyday living. Christian Science reveals Soul as manifesting itself through man, through the perfect image of Love's eternal, inexhaustible nature.

 

God's man is perfect

Man is God's idea, an imperishable idea in Mind. Man is as indispensable to God as God is to him. Each one of us is a unique expression of God. The real man is Truth's pure idea. He is never touched by sin, disease, or death, but he is like the sun. It shines on regardless - regardless of how atmospheric conditions may seem to obscure it, and that is how man lives, in radiant Life forever. In spite of accident, deformity, limitation, chance, age, death - they are all just illusions anyway, because they are based on a material sense of existence - in spite of all these illusions man is as consistently perfect as his source because he is spiritual. We need to keep this idea of man before us always, because this is the man we are here to express, the only man, the man God made, the man God knows, the man you are.

Man has inherited no bad habits, no false appetites, no lusts, or false desires, because he is Truth's honest child, pure and sinless. God's man, and there is no other, has never been under the influence of tobacco, or drugs, or alcohol. He has never been imprisoned or in debt, never been touched by illegitimacy, or any other stigma. He has always been doing good, loving good, serving good. He has never known any influence but the influence of divine Mind. He owes no man because he loves everyone. Man experiences no bondage since he enjoys the freedom of Soul, its uninterrupted freedom.

A mortal, born of the flesh, subject to false appetites, passions, false systems of government and religion, in bondage to physical force, friction, electricity, violence, and death, is not God's man, he is man's counterfeit. His history is just a dream narrative.

 

Smoking habit discarded

Let me tell you about a man I know. He was just a beginner in Christian Science who asked for help from a Christian Science practitioner to overcome the tobacco habit.

He cooperated beautifully with the practitioner. He admitted the unattractiveness of the error, that it was just a false sense of joy. He realized that it was a waste of time and money to smoke; he knew that he was complete in God, that he did not need to lean on anything but the sustaining infinite for stability, for poise and assurance; he knew there was just one appetite, and that was for right thinking and acting; but still it seemed impossible to break the habit, and it was the word "habit" that rang out clearly one day as he was talking to the practitioner.

"But you have no such habit," she said. "Man never smoked." "Repeat that, please, will you," he said. "Man never smoked," she said. "In Truth you never have smoked, you have had no bad habit to break." He didn't say a word. He was doing some deep thinking. As he left her office the practitioner gave him a supporting statement from the Scriptures, from the Book of Ecclesiastes: "That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past" (Eccl. 3:15).

She said, "Now if God requireth that which is past, He REQUIRES, He does not just desire, He REQUIRES that you recognize Him as the only influence that ever has governed your actions, that you humbly acknowledge the history of God, good, alone, as your reflected history." He glimpsed the truth of man and his real habits and history, and this truth made him free. He never smoked again.

He had felt the mighty power of Soul's restorative activity, and that is the fulfillment of Christ Jesus' promise, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31,32).

 

How Jesus healed

Christ Jesus promised freedom for all men throughout all time if they would continue in his word, in his teaching. He was the most humble man that ever walked the earth. That is why he was able to demonstrate the divine Principle, to demonstrate Love in its fullness. Humility was his watchword. You recall that once he called a little child to him, and reminded his followers that unless they became as little children they could not enter into the kingdom of heaven. He meant, of course, that they must be teachable, trusting, receptive, innocent and pure.

Religion in his day was cloaked with form and ceremonial worship. Healing was based on material means. He preached not only in the synagogue but by the wayside, too - from a fishing boat. He used no material medicine, he gave no obedience to laws of hygiene, he never resorted to physical or mental manipulation, to change of atmosphere, diet, or exercise, yet he healed mankind of every disease, every discordant condition.

Jesus, the son of Mary, inherited a human form. In this form he was appreciable - he was understandable - to the people he came to minister to.

But Christ, the divine idea or Son of God - Christ never left the original, spiritual status for the earthly environment. The Christ was the Master's forever spiritual identity, his true selfhood, completely apart from the human element. The Christ is the embodiment of pure, sinless ideas from the realm of inexhaustible Mind.

 

Revelation follows accident

Christ Jesus never deviated from his God-directed course. He knew that he had the joyous privilege of working out his own salvation and also of guiding others on the upward way. The way of salvation was revealed by Mary Baker Eddy in her autobiography. It is called "Retrospection and Introspection." For 20 years before her discovery of Christian Science, Mrs. Eddy had been trying to trace all physical effects to a mental cause. In the year 1866 she met with a severe accident. It left effects that neither medicine nor surgery could touch, but she had an immediate recovery. At first she could not explain the miracle herself - it seemed like a miracle - but she found later that it was in perfect scientific accord with divine law.

After this, she spent three years searching the Scriptures, trying to find their spiritual meaning. This meaning gradually appeared and it helped her to apprehend Christ Jesus' teachings and demonstrations, the Science he lived and taught.

Mrs. Eddy knew that this revelation would require the overturning of prevalent modes of thought and action. No one but a profound Bible student could have appreciated the career of Christ Jesus as thoroughly as she did, his trials and triumphs. Our Leader knew that she would not be spared the condemnation of the worldly minded any more than Jesus was, but she had a spiritual conviction that her mission was divinely authorized, and this gave her a high courage, a courage that supported her every step of her way.

It was not long before her textbook was being circulated throughout the world. It contains the complete explanation of Christian Science and shows how it heals. The Glossary of this textbook contains the metaphysical interpretation of Bible terms; it gives their spiritual sense, and that is also their original meaning. For instance, we find the definition of salvation, and how reassuring it is to know this: "salvation. Life, Truth, and Love understood and demonstrated as supreme over all; sin, sickness, and death destroyed" (Science and Health, Page 593).

 

God an ever-present help

It is apparent then, is it not, that as we overcome the temptation to accept sin, sickness, and death as real or Soul-sent, we are working out our salvation.

The truth is that God is our ever-present help. His tender mercy is infinite. He guides, directs, and protects every event of our lives. He never makes His loving-kindness more apparent than when we need Him most. Now God does chasten us - the Bible says so. But do you know how He chastens us? Why, just by correcting our mistaken concepts of Him. A true understanding of God reveals Him as the God of health, harmony, happiness. In Jeremiah we read, "For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord" (Jer. 30:17).

So in Science we see that God does not send sickness; does not send any evil, in fact. He heals us of these things (He does not send them, these illusions) by imparting to us the truth about His own perfection, about the wholeness of His perfect creation.

 

Treatment is prayer

Christian Science treatment is prayer at its zenith, because it is the demonstration of what we know about God in all His ways.

How little the woman realized - the woman who had just taken up the study of Christian Science - how little she realized that when the boy's mother asked her if Christian Science could enlighten her about Soul, she had demonstrated true prayer in affirming that Soul is God - but think of the far-reaching effects of her answer. She sent away an inspired, enlightened friend who appreciated the divine source of her answer so much that she became a student of Christian Science herself later on. Prayer reached the man I told you about whose face was palsied, and demonstrated his freedom to serve a righteous cause. Wit and humor saved the day for the businesswoman with a shouting customer. It was demonstrated truth about man and his real habits and history that healed the man of the tobacco habit.

Prayer is the affirmation and demonstration of the eternal presence and power of almighty God, good. May I repeat? Prayer is the affirmation, the affirmation and demonstration of the eternal presence and power of almighty God, good.

And now, if you will permit me, I should like to tell you of an experience I had myself a number of years ago. It came on the heels of a complete physical and nervous breakdown that was due to an exaggerated human sense of duty. I broke out with a serious condition of hives. It covered my whole body, from head to foot. In this condition sleep was almost impossible. I practically did not sleep at all for weeks.

Medical diagnosis could not find the cause, and no medicine had been able to relieve the condition. Finally, I was given drugs, stronger and stronger. At last the condition was pronounced hopeless. My husband had known of some remarkable healings in Christian Science, so he persuaded me to ask for help from a Christian Science practitioner. The condition of hives cleared right away, but the sleeplessness did not yield right away.

 

Christ is always with us

Then one day my husband said, "Why don't we drive up to the cabin?" Well, this just about took my breath away, so I called the practitioner, and she said, "Go, for his sake."

When we came near the cabin I yawned! I yawned for the first time in 13 months! I said, "Why, you know, I think I'm going to go to sleep!" I went to bed and slept, for eight hours!

Progress was continuous. I persevered in my study, and grew in my concept of scientific prayer. There were many testing times, but a great deal of fear had been overcome. I fought my own battle although I had faithful help from the practitioner and encouragement from my husband.

Then one Sunday morning in a Christian Science church service I heard the First Reader read this statement from the Christian Science textbook: "Until the fact concerning error - namely, its nothingness - appears, the moral demand will not be met, and the ability to make nothing of error will be wanting" (Science and Health, Page 92).

These words really took hold. I began to feel my at-one-ment with God. I began to realize that the Christ - this Truth that heals - is always with us. I understood that this is the same Christ, Truth, that our Master applied in his healing works. Spiritual enlightenment had revealed the Christ and proved its healing power once more. I had spent many months studying, and relying on God. I had gained the demonstration of scientific prayer. It was made manifest in my complete healing. This was many years ago and ever since then I have enjoyed good health and perfect freedom. I have experienced Soul's restorative power through Christian Science, like all the other people I have told you about.

 

Man, God's perfect image

Now what does the understanding of Soul do for us? Perhaps I would do better to ask what doesn't it do?

Soul brings our original spiritual identity to the consciousness of each one of us. In this identity we behold ourselves as God's perfect image where we see God face to face. Soul speaks to us through the still small voice of Truth and we answer with rejoicing. Soul restores to us our sense of wholeness, completeness in God.

There is an inspiring hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal that really lifts us Soulward (Hymn 374):

We thank Thee, Father-Mother,

For blessings, light and grace

Which bid mankind to waken

And see Thee face to face.

We thank Thee, when in anguish

We turn from sense to Soul,

That we may hear Thee calling:

Rejoice, for thou art whole.

 

[Published in The Christian Science Monitor, Dec. 8, 1965, under the headline "Spiritual origin of manís individuality emphasized".]

 

 

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