Maud Cary Bennett, C.S., of Chicago, Illinois
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The world is standing at the place where infinite possibilities for progress and enlightenment are at the crest and yet where there is also the threat at annihilation of life from this planet.
But we have in our grasp the power to insure that life is not annihilated from this planet and that instead, the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God, the glory of ever-present, joyous Life, as the waters cover the sea, as is prophesied in the Old Testament (Hab. 2:14).
This knowledge is the Science of Christianity, or Christian Science, the Science of health, the Science of harmonious living, the Science of being. Science, of course, is true knowing. So what we are going to consider this evening in one brief hour is the understanding or knowing of how to be well, to live harmoniously and happily and to accomplish the good we hope for.
We start with the Bible, which, spiritually understood, teaches us the true nature of God and man, that is, the true nature of our creator and of ourselves. From the Bible we learn what God is. We learn that God is Love, the tender Father who sustains His creation with compassionate kindness supplying every need of man. We learn that He is Spirit, ever-present, knowing no boundaries of space or time, never limited by material conditions to whom nothing is impossible. The Bible also teaches that God is Truth, unerring, unvarying, eternal, and omnipotent, and that He is Life without beginning and without end. We learn that God and his creation, man and the universe, are the only reality of existence.
The Bible tells us of man, that he is made in the image and likeness of God or the image and likeness of Love, of Spirit, of Truth, and of Life. In the very beginning of the Bible in the first chapter of Genesis, these facts are set forth: "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him" (1:26,27).
Now any other conception of man is a mistake. There is no other man. The man supposedly made of chemicals, of bone, blood, and nerves, is a counterfeit really not man at all certainly not the thinking, living creation of divine Truth. You see the man made in the image or likeness of God must be like God not subject to the variableness of mortal belief the theories that presuppose man to be open to disease, despair, lack, and inharmony.
When it is admitted that man is not made up of chemical elements which can be harmed or benefited by the addition or subtraction of other chemicals, and that our true selfhood or being is the man God created, not the one that can be chemically analyzed, then we shall be open to far greater progress than a chemically constructed man could ever be. We shall have begun to get back to the original basis of perfect God and perfect man which the inspired word of the Bible teaches and which shows us that in reality we are the reflection of Spirit, expressing its qualities, made in the likeness of eternal Truth, not in the likeness of destructible matter.
We may see then that the only reason we exist at all is because of the activity of all-knowing Spirit, or divine Mind. Perfect Mind must always be perfectly expressed and this perfect expression is man, God's likeness. There is no weapon or destructive device of any nature that can annihilate God or God's expression.
The true knowledge of God and man is the truth that has come to humanity through Christian Science. This spiritual understanding is the power by which we can destroy the threat of annihilation to mankind. We should be awake to its marvelous possibilities for they concern each one of us. The lessening or increasing of the threat is not something over which you and I have no control. It is our individual responsibility and our great opportunity.
Perhaps some of you here may have forgotten that when Jesus began his ministry nearly two thousand years ago he brought to the world not only a new way of life, but a completely spiritual method of healing a spiritual method which was used effectively for nearly three hundred years after his resurrection and ascension. Drugs and other material methods of healing had been in use for some two thousand years before Jesus' time and yet he used not one of them.
His disciples successfully used his method of healing sickness, lack, and every inharmonious condition even to the raising of the dead and so did their disciples through many generations. Then this method was lost. Light went out all over the world, giving place to what is known as the Dark Ages.
Materialistic thinking had become predominant among the people and had outweighed spiritual understanding. The superb courage of the early Christians had given way to complacency and self-indulgent love of ease. The people had gone to sleep and the materialism of the ages took over. We cannot afford to let that happen again and we need not.
Jesus never said anything to indicate that what he promised was for a future time, in a far-off heaven. On the contrary, he said that the kingdom of heaven was within us. In the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mary Baker Eddy defines the kingdom of heaven in part as "the realm of unerring, eternal, and omnipotent Mind; the atmosphere of Spirit, where Soul is supreme" (p. 590).
This is, in reality, what is within us instead of the uncertainties, the fears and doubts, the pains and sorrows, inherent in a mortal concept of man, or a chemically constructed man. There are definite spiritual laws and statutes which govern us.
The spiritual laws which govern man and universe were discovered by Mrs. Eddy in the year 1866. Mrs. Eddy was a New England woman unusually gifted intellectually and spiritually.
From early childhood she had been accustomed to daily Bible reading with her family and her home was a place where the clergy of her parents' day congregated to discuss their theories and doctrines. She loved hearing them talk but could never accept the doctrine of predestination, which supposed some souls to be saved and some to be eternally lost. This bothered her even as a child. She was unwilling to be saved herself if there was a chance her brothers and sisters were to be doomed to banishment from God.
When she was examined for membership in the Protestant church where her parents had been members for fifty years, she declared that she could not accept this tenet, which was a condition of admission. That took quite a stout heart for a little girl of twelve in those days.
But instead of the good minister and the church elders convincing her that she was wrong, she was taken into the church along with her protest. She was so earnest and intelligent that the minister's heart melted. She remained a member of that church until she founded her own, based on the Science of Christianity.
Mrs. Eddy was also, in her girlhood and young womanhood, a keen investigator of ancient and modern philosophy, logic, moral science, and the ancient languages. But she found no answer to her questions concerning God and man in any of these nor any release from the physical frailties which had plagued her from early childhood.
These answers came to her as revelation because her hunger for spiritual understanding was so great that she was willing to set aside every preconceived notion of God and to let God reveal Himself to her through her own study of the Bible. She discovered that God is knowable, lovable, and loving, a divine presence as close to everyone as our very breathing, a presence which heals sickness and pain beyond any shadow of doubt.
From the start, healing has been associated with Christian Science, just as healing was such a prominent part of Jesus' ministry. The first effects of this Science on Mrs. Eddy were to heal her of an injury which the doctors told her and her friends neither medicine nor surgery could reach.
Experiencing this immediate healing made her determined to find the laws which brought it about. And she found that these spiritual laws have a transforming influence which include far more than just physical healing. They bring about greater and higher capacity in every way.
As these divine laws are seen and adhered to they change individual natures from selfishness and ignoble desires and ambitions to nobility of purpose and accomplishment, and limited, frustrated, unimportant lives are turned into lives of successful, joyous activity.
As the splitting of the atom in these times has changed the whole concept of the nature of matter in such startling ways, so progressive spiritual illumination, brought about by the study and application of the laws of Spirit, is piercing and dissolving many of the old theological doctrines and throwing more and more light on the certainties of Spirit. To quote from the Preface of the Christian Science textbook (p. vii), "Contentment with the past and the cold conventionality of materialism are crumbling away."
Just as certain laws have always governed the round earth's movements even when men believed it to be flat so the laws of Spirit, divine Love, govern man, even when mankind seems least conscious of them. Christian Science brings these laws into focus so that we may be intelligently governed by them and so progressively rid ourselves of the limitations imposed upon us by ignorance and false education; just as the enlightenment regarding the earth's formation freed men from the fear of traveling beyond what they had believed to be its edge.
This Science acquaints us with God, our creator and the creator of our universe. It has come to restore confidence to God's goodness and in His power and willingness to bring health and happiness to us. It reveals to us a God we can trust and adore one who knows and loves us in a way just as close and as comforting as we know and love our own children.
In defining God, Mrs. Eddy used seven terms which are sufficient to make God knowable to us, and to make this knowledge of the utmost practicality for us. Four of these terms, Spirit, Life, Truth, and Love, she took from the Bible. She has used them just as the Bible uses them, as direct synonyms for God. The other three, Mind, Soul, and Principle, she found to be clearly implied in the Scriptures and inescapably logical.
Mind, she used, because nothing goes on without thought and of course infinite, divine Mind must be the source of all true thought. The Bible says God knows all things and from this we logically conclude that God is Mind which has no starting point and can know no limitations or boundaries. This Mind must be wholly good because if it included any evil at all it would be self-destructive and would have destroyed itself and its whole creation long ago.
Soul, Mrs. Eddy saw, is the substance of all being, the basis of all perception, unseen to the physical senses, but governing all in harmony and perfect continuity. So she names it as one of the synonyms for God.
Principle is a natural term for God because Principle means origin and foundation. It denotes government and law. It underlies or bases all things real and true.
If Mrs. Eddy had done nothing else than to reveal God's nature to us, she would have done a wonderful thing for humanity. But of course she did far more than this. She went on to make her discovery known and available throughout the civilized world.
She wrote the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," so that its practical teachings would be available to all mankind, always. She organized the Christian Science movement, built its Mother Church, founded the Christian Science periodicals, and instituted the activities that have enabled the science of Christianity to reach many of the most remote corners of the free world.
The fruits of these teachings may be read in the weekly Christian Science Sentinel and the monthly Christian Science Journal, and they may be heard on weekly radio and television programs. These testimonies are thoroughly authenticated instances of healing in Christian Science.
The students of this Science look to the Bible, to Science and Health, and to Mrs. Eddy's other writings for the answer to every problem that confronts them. They recognize that progress in this study brings them a constantly increasing understanding of God and His creation, which requires more and more fidelity to the divine laws.
Just to read the testimonies of healing which others have received is not sufficient to acquaint anyone with the Science involved in the healing, any more than reading of the rewards given students of engineering or dancing or any other profession or art would entitle the reader to the same prize. The Science must be practiced. It has been revealed in its entirety and the practical application of it discussed at length in Mrs. Eddy's writings. When we use it, the joyous fruits of it are ours.
Of course, many healings are brought about by the faithful work of a Christian Science practitioner, when the one who is in need of healing has not sufficient understanding or is too ill to meet the problem.
I know a man who had been partially deaf from early childhood. He had received a blow on the head which physicians declared had destroyed the hearing in one ear so that it could never be restored. This man had been a successful business man until the years of the depression came and then he found himself with a large family and no job and his money all gone. He had seen the results of Christian Science in his own family at different times, but had never felt impelled to study it himself.
But in this desperate situation he resolved to see what it could do. He went to see a Christian Science practitioner and told her that he had no money and a lot of bills. As a last resort, he had taken a small item to sell which was bringing in barely enough money to feed his family. He mentioned this to the practitioner as a cause for more despair and humiliation. The practitioner said, "You have some money coming in, haven't you?" And the man nodded.
The practitioner then made a statement which was to rouse the man to the recognition of a truth which in a very short time brought him a happy solution to his problem. The statement was this: "Why, whatever man has is evidence of infinite supply. It is evidence of the presence and activity of divine Principle, Love, and its abundant supply. Now rejoice in this fact and let the evidence multiply through gratitude for it."
The man listened and his face brightened. The words had found a receptive ear. He had gained a glimpse of the loving Father's constant care of His son and of the spiritual fact that since God is the source of true supply, supply must be infinite.
As I said before, this truth brought about a healing of the problem of supply for this man. In an almost unbelievably short time he had a very highly paid position, his bills were all paid and his family happy and comfortable.
And it was also the beginning of the gradual healing of the deafness which had been pronounced permanent. Total hearing was restored to this man as he continued to listen to the teachings of Christian Science through his study of it and the application of its rules. The belief that he was a chemically constructed man, subject to the blows of chance and misfortune, had yielded in a degree to the understanding and evidence of the ever-presence and reality of God as Love and man as His image and likeness.
This is an example of the renewing of the body through the transforming of the mind. It illustrates the irresistible action of divine Love in daily affairs. It shows that our bodies show forth our thoughts and as our thoughts are held to the truth, Truth reconstructs the body supplying all its needs.
As we turn unreservedly to God as the source and origin of all being, all fear of punishment or retribution ceases. God never afflicts but removes the cause of suffering in the most reasonable, logical way by destroying the sin which produced it and showing forth man in his true state sinless and unafraid.
The infinite Mind which made man must know and include all its own creation. It must be omniscient, or all-knowing, and man reflects this omniscience. Identifying ourselves with it, claiming this Mind as our Mind, as Jesus did and taught his followers to do, we may look to it for all of our information and find that more and more certainty and correctness come with all of our actions and decisions.
Logically, omniscience must be omnipotent because there could be nothing outside of its knowing, therefore nothing outside of its government and complete control. It could not be omnipotent if it were powerless anywhere along the line. And because man reflects God in every aspect, we can, as we ally ourselves with God and refuse to give power or presence to any other mind, demonstrate its power in human affairs.
Being infinite, divine Mind must also be omnipresent. It knows no limitations of time or space or opportunity and consequently knows no obstacles. Then any limitations or obstacles that seem to lie in our path exist only in what the Apostle Paul calls the carnal mind and Mrs. Eddy calls mortal mind. This carnal or mortal mind is not something. It is not our Mind. It is a misconception of Mind, a misconception of reality a mistake. In the degree that we disclaim it and all of its arguments it ceases to govern us, even in belief.
Christian Science shows us that any mortal mind concept that limits or degrades mankind is without foundation in Truth, and so can have no lasting effect. It can leave no mark, for it is not true. It is on this account that we can be rid of it.
If mortal mind were true, it would be eternal, but whatever interferes with the harmony and order of being is just an erroneous, temporary sense of things which the realization of the eternal, scientific facts of being dissipates. The harmony and order of being are intact. Because man is one with this harmony and order, we can demonstrate this oneness by disciplining thought to accept the true and reject the false.
Immortal Mind alone impels and governs all true thought. Recognizing this we are able to detect the false beliefs which seem to drift in to consciousness calling themselves thought, and which are really not thought at all. What is really true never changes. It is always true. What is here today and gone tomorrow has not the substance of reality.
The suggestions that come to tempt us to let thought dwell in hatred, envy, jealousy, resentment, or any other quality, divine Mind, our good God, could not include, are destructive devices of mortal mind, and cannot continue when we refuse to believe or entertain them.
There seems at times a great temptation, as we see injustice, greed, and selfishness around us, to let anger and violent emotions rise up in us. Evidently this is what Jesus' disciple, Simon Peter, did when he turned on one of the servants of a high priest and cut off his ear. Jesus' sublime compassion met this violence by touching the ear and healing it. The undisciplined thing within us that would make us react violently against injustice must yield to the Christly activity which heals and does not condemn.
When Truth and Love are present and active in your consciousness and mine, to the exclusion of fear and hate, we shall see all forms of malice disappear because they are no part of man. And we shall see sin, disease, and death disappear in proportion as we do this, for they are only the externalized manifestations of mortal mind.
Man's relationship with God is an indivisible one. Nothing can come between God and His idea, or expression, man. God's law of eternal harmony as revealed in Christian Science holds every destructive device of mortal mind in check when that law is recognized and understood.
Demonstration in Christian Science is not passive resistance, nor submission to injustice and lack of intelligence. It is the active, joyous, vigorous, conscious acknowledgment of man's power as God's expression. It is exercising the dominion that was given man in the image and likeness of God in the beginning.
Christian Science presents the only sure basis of health, harmony, and happiness in the universe, for it brings to light man's original purity and wholeness.
Intelligent prayer to an omniscient God could never offer advice to God nor implore special blessings. The prayer of greatest reverence and the one which brings the surest, most immediate answer is the acknowledgment of a God of such unvarying wisdom that our own thoughts are lifted to at-one-ment with it.
Prayer, in Christian Science, is best expressed in the words of the Psalmist, "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer" (Ps. 19:14).
This prayer does not delude us into seeking to change God's will or attempting to bend God's will to meet our demands. Our personal desires or limited human concept of what is right must be surrendered in recognition of the omnipotence of God, or good, which is always right. We don't know what is going to bring us that which will truly satisfy, but unerring, omniscient Mind does. And we can always trust this Mind, which is God, with our desires.
More and more consistent prayer, or communion with the divine source of all health and well-being, which we reverently name God, is the desire of everyone who has once seen the effects of such prayer in his own experience.
I have a friend who was stricken with a mental and physical illness which threatened to take her sanity and her life. She was taken suddenly ill and sank into an apparently unconscious state. A Christian Science practitioner was called.
The practitioner went to the home and talked to the woman, telling her of her real selfhood as the image and likeness of eternal Life and assuring her, even though she seemed unaware of what was said to her, that in reality she was invulnerable to any attack of error or evil in any form.
The practitioner stayed on for many hours sometimes talking to the patient and sometimes sitting quietly, but vigorously declaring mentally the impotence of any evil suggestion that would attempt to outtalk or outweigh the power of divine Mind which is the only power and the only presence. Also, that because God is the only Mind and man His expression, nothing could persuade either her or the patient or anyone else who knew of the case to believe that evil could have presence or power.
All sense of time was lost, and the practitioner found that her declarations of the nothingness of the false claim of mental torture and physical pain and the omnipotence of divine Principle, Love, had gone on all night before the dawn began to come in both the sky outside and in the patient's consciousness.
From then on the intensity of the belief of illness was broken and the patient was able to be up and around doing her regular household work. But there was still much to learn and she knew that she was not mentally in the state she should be. Sometimes the mental darkness seemed almost to envelop her, but she would cling steadfastly during those times to the words of the Psalmist (118:17), "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord."
Her gratitude that she could be somewhat active and normal gave her hope that eventually she would prove her complete freedom from all the enslaving suggestions that still seemed to bind her.
Then one night she went to bed feeling especially needful of declaring God's presence and protection. Her last thought before she went to sleep was, "Well, I know that God is Life and the only Life, and therefore He is my Life, and no matter how I waken, I know I shall waken with God still my Life." There was no relinquishment of life in this declaration. There was no submission to death, for she knew death was not the steppingstone to life. But there was complete surrender of all self-will to the divine will, to the omnipotence of God, or Life.
The next morning, when she wakened it was as if there were a new world all about her. She heard the birds singing and the sun was shining, and she was aware of them with joy. It was the first time in many, many months that she had wakened with anything but a heavy sense of foreboding. From then on her relationship with her family and her friends became a new and continuously joyous one. Her usefulness grew and she found that each morning brought new opportunities for real rejoicing. She had no more pain; the mental cloudiness was gone.
This healing took place many years ago and has remained permanent. It came about through my friends devotion to holding her thoughts, both spoken and unspoken, as nearly as she was able to do so at the time, to the acknowledgment of God's allness. It also came about through the practitioner's faithful handling of the false claims in the beginning of the illness.
Christian Science is, of course, exact because it is Science. It is just as exact and just as demonstrable as mathematics. We were taught the multiplication table, as I remember it, one step at a time and we were not asked to solve problems that were beyond us but only those that were in accord with our daily lessons. The only thing that was required of us was that we work each problem out accurately.
We found that our strict adherence to the correct words in repeating the multiplication table was indispensable to an understanding of it. We found to our delight that as we held to the mathematical facts in words, the practical meaning of it began to dawn upon us. Ignorance had finally been turned into demonstrable understanding and the practical variety of uses of the multiplication table became ours to command whenever we needed them.
So it is with the Science of Christianity or the Science of living. Mrs. Eddy knew that because her discovery is Science, there can be no deviation from it if it is to be demonstrated. The rules are not those of an arbitrary creed nor are they a personal demand. Its statement has to be accurate because it is exact Science. This is the reason for her emphatic insistence that the students of Christian Science stick to her works and the publications she founded as well as to the Bible as their sole guide in demonstrating this Science.
Jesus went against the time-honored systems of his day. Mrs. Eddy says, "Jesus acted boldly, against the accredited evidence of the senses, against Pharisaical creeds and practices, and he refuted all opponents with his healing power" (Science and Health, p. 18). The Mind he claimed as his Mind was the infinite Father-Mother, holding all men in brotherhood and yet conferring upon each individual the equal right to communicate directly with God and to depend upon divine Mind alone for guidance and government.
He said, "Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ" (Matt. 23:9,10).
He made a distinction between himself as Jesus of Nazareth and the Christ, Truth, which he recognized as his real being. Christian Science makes this distinction clear. Mrs. Eddy says Jesus was the most scientific man who ever trod the globe and that his teaching and demonstration of man's oneness with the Father call for our endless homage. And she defines the Christ as follows: "Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness" (Science and Health, p. 332).
Jesus was inseparable from the Christ, or divine idea of God. He rebuked and destroyed sin and death and brought to light man's immortality. He demonstrated Christ, showing forth the divine and human coincidence, the co-existence of God and man. He brought healing and substance to multitudes in the way and at the time they needed it and would accept it.
Could there be any greater reverence to God than to recognize the power He has given man and to utilize it in following Jesus' example?
Jesus taught that man's full salvation from sin, sickness, and inharmony of every kind is at hand. And the Apostle Paul, wholeheartedly accepting Jesus' teaching, said, "Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (II Cor. 6:2).
He meant your salvation and mine, salvation from fear, sickness, discouragement from everything that limits and interferes with the natural harmony of existence.
Christian Science brings a new concept of salvation showing that it is a day by day release from sin and disease, as well as from the pressures and frustrations that attend a mortal sense of life. These are destroyed through the understanding that Life, Truth, and Love are supreme and that they can be demonstrated here and now as all presence and all power. The Science of Christianity is practical and now is the day to experience its great blessings.
Educators are beginning to recognize the value of spiritual education. They see that young people today are more inquiring and more thoroughly informed along every line than they have ever been, therefore they are more vulnerable to the attacks of materialism as well as more open to good.
The training of young people is of the utmost importance at this time in world history. A well known school teacher, after many years of experience with children, said, "I learned that when spiritual need is satisfied, all physical drives assume their normal functions in the scheme of life." What a great necessity then to see that our young people are given some understanding of spiritual existence.
Christian Science is the natural answer to the problem of juvenile delinquency. Children naturally love good. They quickly accept spiritual truths which sometimes take an adult a long time to grasp. They seem to have little trouble dropping the hurts and failures of yesterday and are willing to let bygones be bygones. They normally start each new day with fresh vision and anticipation of good. They have no set pattern of thought. They are not creatures of habit. If they become so, it is because of ignorance and false education.
The great blessing of Christian Science Sunday Schools is that children and young people up to the age of twenty are learning how to protect themselves from the fears and hatreds and friction of daily experience. They are taught to look to divine wisdom to supply their needs, and learn that this wisdom will never forsake them.
They are taught to utilize the laws of God, the laws of scientific Christianity, in their own behalf. They are taught not merely Bible history, but the actual Science of the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, as well as other lessons which they may apply to their own daily problems. They are given a basis of reason for right actions and a clear statement of God's unerring laws which establish a foundation for correct thinking.
Many men and women throughout the world who have attended Christian Science Sunday Schools as children are using what they learned there and finding that it is aiding them in every way physically, mentally, financially, and in their home and business lives.
In closing, let me read a short paragraph from one of Mrs. Eddy's works called "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 185), "The spiritualization of our sense of man opens the gates of paradise that the so-called material senses would close, and reveals man infinitely blessed, upright, pure, and free; having no need of statistics by which to learn his origin and age, or to measure his manhood, or to know how much of a man he ever has been: for, 'as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.'"
To gain this spiritual understanding of God and man, which Christian Science reveals, is our great opportunity, for in this way shall the knowledge of the glory of God fill the earth, as the waters cover the sea.
[Published in The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) News, Dec. 11, 1958.]