The Operation of Divine Principle in Our Behalf
Ralph E. Wagers, C.S.B., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
One day a clergyman appeared at the office of a Christian Science practitioner to discuss the subject of spiritual healing. He had been ill for some time. Medical treatment had not relieved him, nor had his prayers or those of his colleagues. A member of his congregation had told him about a friend who had been healed in Christian Science of a similar condition, and he wanted to know how it had been accomplished.
These two devoted Christians went over several Bible statements about God with which they were both familiar, the clergyman listening attentively to the explanation of these statements from the standpoint of Christian Science. At the conclusion of the visit he made this startling comment: "I have been preaching about God for over thirty years, but now I see what I must do to be healed. I must go home and gain a better understanding of what this God really is that I have been preaching about." They had only one more visit, during which the clergyman said that he was being greatly helped through the better understanding of God that he was gaining.
My friends, when you and I see for ourselves what this clergyman saw, that what we need is to gain a better understanding of God, then God will lead us into a glorious experience that will become more interesting and profitable as we go along. You may say here: "Well, that may be all right for someone who is desperate, when everything else has failed. But I'm getting along pretty well. Perhaps sometime later I'll look into that." But why put it off? Why wait for some crisis, or some future time, to gain that which is most essential to your well-being? Paul declared (II Cor. 6:2), "Behold, now is the accepted time." Right now you have no greater need than to understand what God is, and what this understanding can mean to you practically. Your presence here indicates some appreciation of this need. So let us begin by taking a few simple but fundamental steps in that direction.
First of all, let us face the question, "How can I understand a God that I cannot see or cognize with the physical senses?" Paul answered this question when in his first letter to the Corinthians (I Cor. ) he said, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." In other words, God is understood, not through the physical senses, but through spiritual discernment – through spiritually understanding the ideas which express the divine Being and nature.
God as All-presence
Take for instance, the idea of God as omnipresence. Can you conceive of God as being in one locality and not in another? Surely not. Everything that God is and does must be everywhere present – here, there, and elsewhere. So we do not have to seek God in some remote or far-off place called heaven. Nor is there a place called hell where God is not. So infinite is the divine Being and nature that His every quality is present everywhere. His intelligence, wisdom, and love, His justice, mercy, and power are omnipresent, with us everywhere. In fact, we cannot conceive of a point in space where God is not present. The Psalmist sang (Ps. 139:7-10) "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me."
God as All-power
The idea of God as omnipotence reveals God as not only the source but the substance of all power. The creative power is everywhere present and there really is no other power. It is the power which impels every constructive action in man and the universe. Being spiritual, this power is to be understood spiritually rather than materially. Someone may ask: "But what about the destructive forces that seem to be all around us? Did God create them?" Not, at all. In Christian Science we learn that evil is not of God. Destructive forces are only a mockery of power, which, when faced with spiritual understanding, fall of their own falsity. In the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy (p. 525), we read: "Everything good or worthy, God made. Whatever is valueless or baneful, He did not make, – hence its unreality."
God as Omniscience
The idea of God as omniscience, as all true knowing or Science, reveals God as the one supreme, creative, and governing intelligence. Again, this knowing is everywhere present. Since divine Mind is universal and impartial, everyone has free access to God's wisdom and intelligence. It is that to which Isaiah referred when he declared (Isa. 55:1), "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."
"All right, then," you may ask, "what does God know?" What could God know but His own nature? If you will admit that God is of a constructive and orderly nature, you will have no difficulty in admitting that He can know only that which is constructive and orderly. The Bible refers to God thus (Hab. ): "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity." Hence, from the standpoint of omniscience, evil does not exist as reality. There is no evil in the divine knowing. If God does not know evil, then, my friends, we have a right to challenge its claims to power in our lives. Mrs. Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, has written in her book "No and Yes" (p. 16), "For God to know, is to be; that is, what He knows must truly and eternally exist." And we must conclude that what He does not know, does not and cannot truly exist.
The idea of God as changeless, as "the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning," as James puts it (James 1:17), provides the basis from which to dispose of evil's false claim that we exist subject to upheavals and catastrophes, cycles which include inflation and deflation, good times and hard times, war, disease, old age, and death. God's will for His children includes only that which is good, orderly, and progressive.
Perfection is another idea which reveals what God really is and the nature of His creation. Mrs. Eddy makes this remarkable statement (Science and Health, p. 353):
"Perfection underlies reality. Without perfection, nothing is wholly real."
God is not a house divided against itself. This means that the spiritual creation is not a combination of opposite qualities, of good and evil, Spirit and matter, health and disease, life and death. When we believe that such contraries could be included in the divine nature or creation, we are eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil of which we read of in the book of Genesis, and against which divine wisdom so definitely warns us.
God as Divine Principle
"But," you may say, "the term God is still just a word to me." Well, all right, Christian Science has found most of us at that same point. Then just what is God? Christian Science defines God in terms of seven vivid synonyms, which are Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love. Each of these words, when capitalized, is elevated to convey its deific meaning.
Throughout the years we have been presented with the concept of God as a glorified manlike person to such an extent that at times it seems difficult to adjust ourselves to the idea of God as the infinite, ever-present, divine Principle of the universe, including man. But if we are to grasp Christianity in its Science and understand how Christ Jesus accomplished his outstanding works of healing – to the point where we can go and do likewise – it is necessary to know God as the Principle of this healing work. The six other synonyms for God become to us more absolute and significant when understood in their relationship to Principle.
Human nature and the problems confronting mankind, were not very different in Jesus' time from what they are today. When the multitudes brought their problems to the Master they found themselves in the presence of a divinely inspired metaphysician who had great compassion, but who looked at their problems from the standpoint of divine Principle. To Jesus, Spirit was the reality. His approach to what matter seemed to be was not to ignore it, but first to subdue it by overcoming abnormal beliefs, then to abandon it altogether in what has been referred to as his ascension – his demonstration of complete spiritual perfection.
A Personal Healing
An experience of mine illustrates this operation of divine Principle on our behalf. While on a lecture tour, and far from home, I turned my ankle and found myself in excruciating pain. It was necessary for me to keep on walking for several minutes under most trying circumstances. As soon as possible I went to my room in order to handle the situation metaphysically. It was clear to me that my work was wholly the operation of divine Principle. Therefore both the work and the worker were being divinely sustained. I declared that because all that man is and does in Science is the reflection of this divine Principle, Love, I could not be subject to accidents or injuries due to carelessness or any phase of evil. In this assurance, I was able to walk quite a distance to board an airplane, though it seemed impossible to have a moment of comfort.
At my destination there was more walking and standing to do, but finally I managed. All this time I persisted in identifying myself with divine Principle rather than with a formation of matter, and finally was able to get some rest. The first thing in the morning the suggestion presented itself that because of the condition it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to stand on the foot. The urge was strong to see if the ankle would move, but this was recognized for what it was – merely temptation. The thought flooded my consciousness that so far as the operation of divine Principle was concerned, there had never been any accident or injury. With this realization, I was able to stand and walk across the room completely free. My work had not been interfered with for a moment. Here was just one more proof of the healing efficacy of Christian Science.
The Basis of Perfection
One of the first things a child learns in his study of mathematics is that there is a principle or law that makes two and two always equal four. Perhaps he begins by thinking of mathematics in terms of apples. Two apples and two apples make four apples. But the fact that two and two equals four stands independently of apples. Numbers are the ideas of mathematics. They are always in perfect relationship to each other because they are in perfect accord with their principle. Since seven is one idea, for instance, and it belongs to everyone, everywhere, there will never be a scarcity of sevens. The number seven will not be increased or decreased through being used forever.
If I should print on a blackboard that three plus three equals seven, as a mathematician, never departing from principle, you would instantly deny it. You would not even argue about it. You would reject the false appearance and hold to the mathematical fact that three plus three equals six. In this mental process, you would detect the error and put the truth in its place, thereby correcting the misstatement, or error.
Now, in a way, this is what occurs in a Christian Science treatment. Instead of the chalk and blackboard, suppose the medium of deception is an X-ray picture showing a condition of tuberculosis. Immediately a spiritually-minded Christian Scientist would think in terms of God or divine Principle rather than of physical structure and symptoms. He would realize that God, the creating, governing Principle of the universe, is the source of health, not of disease, of order, not of disorder. God is the infinite One, beside whom there is no other. God, then, is man's one and only source – the origin and substance of everything that constitutes his being in Science. As there is not one iota of evil in this divine source or substance, no evil can be found in the divine idea, man. From the standpoint of his divine Principle, man is spiritual, perfect in being and nature, function and action. Being without cause or origin, evil in the guise and disguise of tuberculosis has no foundation in fact. It has no Principle. It is only the three plus three equals seven.
Your True Existence and Mine
The record of your being, and mine, does not begin and end with certificates of birth and death. Our being is recorded in the spiritual account of creation as told in the first chapter of Genesis. We are the man made in God's image and likeness, with dominion over all the earth. This man includes no matter, no sin, no disease, no death, no fear, no weakness, no limitation. He is recognized as being good, very good, as complete and as pleasing God. No mist, or false conception, has ever obscured God's recognition of the perfection of His own image and likeness.
Healing: the Operation of Divine Principle
The withered hand was restored through the Master's realization that man's God-bestowed perfection was a spiritual fact that could not be lost through a mistaken belief that man was material. The hand became normal as the beliefs of mortal mind were replaced with the ideas of the divine Mind. Material psychology, mental suggestion, and human philosophy had no more in common with Jesus' method of healing than they have today with the practice of Christian Science. "The physical healing of Christian Science results now, as in Jesus' time," writes Mrs. Eddy, "from the operation of divine Principle, before which sin and disease lose their reality in human consciousness and disappear as naturally and as necessarily as darkness gives place to light and sin to reformation" (Science and Health, Pref., p. xi).
In the face of the Master's command to preach the gospel and heal the sick, it is not surprising that earnest Christians are interested, as was the clergyman mentioned earlier, in the reinstating of primitive Christian healing. And that is what Christian Science is doing.
When these works of healing are understood to be not miracles, but scientific demonstrations of divine Principle or power, all Christians will again be devoting themselves to healing through spiritual means, even as Christian Scientists are now doing.
Christian Science and the Christian Church
There may be those who think of Christian Science as merely a sect, as something apart from the Christian church. In no way has it departed from Christianity as Jesus taught it. Christian Science holds to all that is valuable and spiritually essential in Christian teaching, including spiritual healing. Without this healing, Christianity would be like a fig tree without figs.
Mary Baker Eddy
The study of Christian Science will provide many things we need, but there will be none more vital to our progress than a correct appraisal of the life of the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science our beloved Leader, Mary Baker Eddy.
What was it that impelled Mrs. Eddy to seek an explanation of her remarkable healing from the effects of a fall upon the ice in the year 1866? What impelled her to make the sacrifice necessary to discover the divine Principle and rule which she knew must be involved in that healing? What could it have been but divine Principle itself unfolding in her consciousness?
What impelled her to sit daily in a barren attic room filling sheet after sheet of paper with that which was later to be recognized as the very revelation of divine Science itself? It was a love so unselfed and pure that we can begin to appreciate it only as we, too, touch the hem of Christ's garment – as our thought is anointed with something of the same holy grace. Here was divine Love unfolding itself to her in terms of Science.
What impelled Mrs. Eddy to attempt the colossal task of publishing her textbook, founding her church, launching a world-wide movement, establishing an international daily newspaper? What enabled her to endure the almost overpowering burden of ecclesiastical, medical, and materialistic resistance, the hatred and abuse that were showered upon her by disloyal students, and by pulpit and press? Was it not her longing to see the healing Christ again made available to suffering humanity at whatever cost to herself? This was not a personal desire to be great or to be different. It was neither selfish ambition nor egotism. No, my friends, it was divine Principle, Love, using her as what has been described in the Bible (Acts ) as a "chosen vessel" to convey to the world the grandest and most precious gift that could possibly be bestowed.
Consider if you will the fruits of her sacrifice and devotion. Take the last chapter of Science and Health, for instance. This chapter is entitled "Fruitage." It consists of one hundred pages of testimonies of those healed by merely reading the book. These testimonies include healings of numerous diseases, such as rheumatism, hernia, tuberculosis, fibroid tumor, catarrh, valvular heart disease, cancer, Bright's disease, dyspepsia, and a host of others. Read this chapter. If you have read it, read it again, and realize as you read it that each healing resulted from the operation of divine Principle in a receptive human consciousness.
Hernia Healed by Reading Science and Health
Such was the experience of a friend of mine, a boyhood schoolmate. His sister, who is now a Christian Science practitioner, was healed of migraine headaches through Christian Science treatment. During the years that followed she had tried to encourage her brother to read Science and Health, but his prejudice against his misconception of Christian Science had kept him from doing so.
He confided to a friend that he was soon to undergo an operation for hernia, and requested that in case the operation was not successful, his family be notified. His friend said, "Yes, I will do as you ask if you will promise me that before you have the operation, you will read a book which my wife is studying." He agreed to this only as a means of terminating the discussion. Because he was too weak to call for the book himself, his friend brought it to him.
When he looked at it he saw that it was the same book which his sister had been asking him to read, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. In relating his experience to me he said that he had thought of Christian Science as something that might be of interest to a woman, but it had not occurred to him that it would also be of help to a man.
There was nothing for him to do but to start reading that book. He found it so interesting that he continued to read for several hours. Lunch time passed. The dinner hour came and went without his being aware of it. When he came to the chapter entitled "Genesis" he stopped, realizing that he had not eaten since morning. To his amazement the dull sense of heaviness had disappeared. He walked the length of his corridor as though he was walking on air. He dressed and went down to a restaurant, enjoyed a good meal, and walked several blocks farther before retiring, with not a bit of discomfort. The next day he canceled the hospital reservation and dismissed the doctor.
The following Wednesday evening he attended a Christian Science testimonial meeting for the first time. During the meeting two men testified that they had been healed of hernia through Christian Science treatment. He realized then that he, too, had experienced a healing in Christian Science. During the twenty years or more that have followed since that time he has had not the slightest recurrence of the difficulty. His healing aroused a desire on the part of himself, and later of his wife, to get a better understanding of Christian Science, with the result that he has served as First Reader in a Christian Science church. His wife has become a public practitioner of Christian Science, and both are consecrated and loyal workers in the Christian Science movement.
How to Prove God's Protecting Power
Christians have long been referred to as God-fearing men and women, God-fearing in this instance meaning God-loving and God-trusting. There are those, however, who would warn us of the danger of carrying this trust in God too far. Christian Scientists are assured that the opposite is the case. They are convinced that danger arises in not carrying it far enough.
If we would protect those who are serving in our military forces from danger and discord, including the bad effects of boredom, we would be constantly aware of their inseparability from divine Principle, Love, as the source of their being – and ours. We should avoid entertaining mental pictures of our loved ones as being separated from divine Principle, Love. We should think of divine Principle operating in them as the law of protection, preservation, and prevention of evil.
Perhaps you wonder how this could be of help to one who is thousands of miles away. Thousands of miles away from what? Certainly not from divine Principle, Love. And if you were there yourself, could you truly believe that you could do more to protect them than divine Principle is already doing?
To support them as we should be doing, deep devotion and constant dedication to God and His Christ are required. Can we justify doing less where we are than we expect them to do where they are? Where Principle is operating, and that is everywhere, there is no danger. The suggestion of danger is merely the three plus three equals seven. Then, let us think of those who are serving a righteous cause in terms of divine Principle in operation rather than in terms of danger and discord. Our realization of the ever-presence of divine Principle in operation will act as a law of deliverance to them.
Today, in every country, those who are charged with carrying on the functions of government have great responsibilities. What can we do to help them? We can support the work they are doing in a way that will not be mentally manipulative, but in a way that will aid in easing their burden, by realizing that divine Principle is operating in the field of government, directing faithful men and women in the performance of their duties, and replacing those who are unfaithful.
What Is Divine Principle?
We have considered what divine Principle will do. Now let us see what divine Principle is. A well-known dictionary defines principle as "cause" or "beginning." The Bible declares (Gen. 1:1), "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Does that which is infinite have a beginning? Was there ever a time when there was no spiritual universe, when the creator had no creation, and the Father was childless, unexpressed? Not, according to the teachings of Christian Science. In Science and Health (p. 502) we read, "This word beginning is employed to signify the only, – that is, the-eternal verity and unity of God and man, including the universe." In your true selfhood, you are the son of the one father, the effect of this cause. Then why not claim it?
The same dictionary defines principle as substance, "primordial substance" – or substance in its original form or state. Because Spirit is primordial, it never became matter; nor could Spirit become material through entering matter. In fact, from the standpoint of the allness of Spirit, there is no matter. What we seem to see as matter is merely a subjective state of suppositional mortal mind. Spirit, God Himself, is the very substance of your being, never subject to discord and decay. Then why not claim it?
Other definitions of principle are "force" and "energy." How remarkable it is that the dictionary should point to the fact in Christian Science that, rightly understood, force and energy are spiritual.
Principle is defined as "an original faculty or endowment." Your faculties and mine are divinely bestowed. They are not dependent upon matter, but remain safe in Mind, their divine source. They are eternally ours by reflection – immune to accident, injury, disease, age, and impairment. Why not claim this?
The dictionary defines principle as "a settled rule of action, a governing law of conduct." Therefore, when we reach out to divine Principle for guidance, our course of action will be settled and unerring, our standard of conduct moral, stable, and sound. Herein is our complete protection from indecision, vacillation, and temptation. Let us claim this for ourselves.
Hence, divine Principle, God, is the cause or source of our identity, the primordial substance of our being, the power or energy by which we act, the origin of our faculties, the bestower of all that we need and possess, our settled rule of action, our governing law of conduct by which our harmony and existence are forever maintained.
Divine Principle as Love
But there is one definition of Principle which is not specifically brought out in the dictionary. That is Love.
Man's highest endowment is his ability to love. Perhaps this is one reason why divine Principle and Love are so often coupled together in our Leader's writings. Love being Principle, and Principle being Life, if we would live we must love. It is just as important, then, to love as to live. In fact, the purpose of living is to love, and if we do not love unselfishly and purely we have never discerned the purpose of our life.
The demand of Principle is not, then, merely to refrain from hating our neighbor. If we would be obedient to divine Principle, we must love him. "Oh," one may say, "it is all right for you to love your neighbor, but how can anyone love a neighbor like mine?" Do not wait for him to be worthy of your love. It is not your neighbor who determines whether or not you will love him. It is God, divine Principle, that demands this. That which impels you to love is Love itself. Include your neighbor in the realization that whatever God is providing for you He is providing for him. That is loving him. What is true about one son of God is true about every son of God. So what is divinely true about you is also divinely true about your neighbor.
You are not asked to love an undesirable neighbor, but to love what this neighbor actually is as a son of God. Someone has said, "What I see in my neighbor is me, not he. What my neighbor sees in me is he, not me." It is as wrong to see what we dislike in our neighbor as it is for him to be what we are seeing. If we cannot change him, we can change our thoughts about him to conform to divine Principle, and thereby help awaken him to express what he really is. "But," you may say, "that is not easy." How do you know? Have you ever really tried it? If you haven't, why don't you?
Love has been referred to as the greatest thing in the world. John places its value above that of faith and hope. Christian Science practitioners stand before the contemplation of Love as though on holy ground. In a book entitled, "We Knew Mary Baker Eddy," Series One (p. 74), Mrs. Eddy is quoted as having presented her concept of the manner in which her healing works were accomplished in substantially these words: "I saw the love of God encircling the universe and man, filling all space, and that divine Love so permeated my own consciousness that I loved with Christlike compassion everything I saw. This realization of divine Love called into expression 'the beauty of holiness, the perfection of being' (Science and Health, p. 253), which healed, and regenerated, and saved all who turned to me for help."
Divine Love Expressed
A mother of two children was
awakened to the Love which our Leader reflected when they went to
This is the mother's account of her illuminating experience (Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy, by Irving C. Tomlinson, pp. 61, 62): "I wish I could make the world know what I saw when Mrs. Eddy looked at those children. It was a revelation to me. I saw for the first time the real Mother-Love. . . .
"As I turned in the procession and walked toward the line of trees in the front of the yard, there was a bird sitting on the limb of a tree, and I saw the same love, poured out on that bird that I had seen flow from Mrs. Eddy to my children. I looked down at the grass and the flowers and there was the same Love resting on them. It is difficult for me to put into words what I saw. This Love was everywhere, like the light, but it was divine, not mere human affections.
"I looked at the people milling around on the lawn and I saw it poured out on them. I thought of the various discords in this field, and I saw, for the first time, the absolute unreality of everything but this infinite Love. It was not only everywhere present, like the light, but it was an intelligent presence that spoke to me, and I found myself weeping as I walked back and forth under the trees and saying out loud, 'Why did I never know you before? Why have I not known you always?'
"I don't know how long it was until my boy came to me and said, 'Come, mother, they are going home.' I got into the carriage and drove back to the hotel, but that same conscious intelligence and Love were everywhere. It rested upon everything my thought rested on.
"When we got back to the hotel, there was no boil on my child's head. It was just as flat as the back of her hand. . . .
"Each time I saw Mrs. Eddy I had a wonderful revelation of God. I know she was no ordinary woman. God had anointed her with the oil of gladness above her fellows, for she 'loved righteousness, and hated iniquity.' "
My friends, in our true selfhood we are the holy reflection of divine Love, the same Love which this mother felt in Mrs. Eddy's presence that day. Let us learn to know this tenderness, this pure affection. It is the Principle of our being, our very Life. It enfolds us, protects us, guides us, comforts us, heals us wherever we are. It is God with us, always.
Shall we not feel the strength of this Principle, the power of this Love? Mrs. Eddy writes in her book, "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 287), "Divine Love is the noumenon and phenomenon, the Principle and practice of divine metaphysics." And she adds, "Love lived in a court or cot is God exemplified, governing governments, industries, human rights, liberty, life." And finally (Miscellany, p. 132), "Divine Love hath opened the gate Beautiful to us, where we may see God and live, see good in good, – God all, one, – one Mind and that divine; where we may love our neighbor as ourselves, and bless our enemies."
[Published in The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) News, Feb. 24, 1955.]