The Hon. Clarence A. Buskirk, C.S., of St. Louis, Missouri
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
A splendid audience, which completely filled Symphony Hall, assembled April 10 to listen to a lecture by Hon. Clarence A. Buskirk. The lecturer was warmly greeted by this large and appreciative audience, to which he was introduced by Mr. William D. McCrackan, First Reader of The Mother Church, who said, —
Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends: — Permit me first of all to make you welcome in behalf of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. Let me assure you that the invitation upon which you are present here to-night is one which comes from the heart.
Christian Scientists have many proofs in their personal experiences, in their own spiritual, mental, and bodily estate, of what Christian Science can do to help and heal, to save and comfort. They therefore rejoice in every proper opportunity of extending the glad tidings of Christian Science to those who may feel the need of its ministrations.
There is much natural inquiry in regard to Christian Science, due to the good works which it is accomplishing, here and elsewhere. There is probably no one in this audience to-night who has not at least heard of some specific instance of reformation and healing through Christian Science. Indeed there are many here who have been thus reformed and healed of sin or sickness. It is natural, then, that there should be a pronounced desire to listen to some presentation of the subject from the lecture platform which shall be authoritative and official.
It will doubtless be within the scope of the lecture to-night to respond to this natural spirit of inquiry, as far as the shortness of the time at our disposal will permit. The lecture is likewise designed to correct false notions concerning Christian Science which may still be latent in the public mind. And since it is not possible to do justice to Christian Science itself without due regard to its Discoverer and Founder, Mrs. Eddy, I feel certain that our attention will be called also to the life and life-motive of that great and good woman.
The lecturer of the evening comes to us well fitted by a legal training to weigh and measure evidence with care and deliberation. He has served the State of Indiana as Attorney General. He is now a member of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you Hon. Clarence A. Buskirk.
The full text of Mr. Buskirk's lecture [follows:]
It will be found that the study of Christian Science — whether its teachings are or are not accepted — is an educational process; that it broadens and uplifts our humanitarian and religious thinking; that its teachings make for righteousness and right living in all ways. Among its practical fruits, it will be found that it constantly uplifts thought and life to higher ideals of purity and peace, of faith and faithfulness; that it is leading the skeptical, the discontented, the disconsolate, the wretched — and these are to be found everywhere, in proud mansions and humble cottages alike — out of the fogs and darkness of doubt and despair into the sunlight and joy of an assured faith that God is, and that God is Love, as the Scriptures declare. It will be found that it has already so far leavened the thought of mankind that the world at large is recognizing, more and more as each year passes, that thinking sickness and talking sickness, that malice, lust, envy, fear, worry, and their like, all are dire enemies to our health as well as to our happiness. The student of the signs of the times will find, as I think I am justified in affirming, that the influence of Christian Science on the world's thought may be aptly compared with the tropical currents of the Gulf Stream which penetrate the frigid latitude of the Atlantic; and that the wholesomeness of its teachings has so far influenced the thought of mankind that this twentieth century is already budding, thickly budding, with radiant changes and probabilities.
It has been charged by our critics, as if it were a fault, that Christian Science tends to make optimists of its followers. We admit the charge, and rejoice that it is true. Why should not Christian Scientists be optimists, when they find it constantly proven to them in their everyday experiences that God really is, — not as a mere perfunctory dogma, but as an actual and joy-inspiring fact in their daily lives? They ought to become yet more and more optimistic, because they are brought to realize more and more that God is an immanent ever-presence of divine and absolute lovingkindness in all His relations to men: that God's laws are the only laws which really are, and that all of God's laws governing our being are for our harmony and happiness in all ways, at all times, for all purposes, under all circumstances and conditions: that all error is falsehood, and no part of the truth of our being, whatever its appearances to what we term our physical senses; that error, therefore, is not of God, and has no law or power behind it or sustaining it except in our own false beliefs, and therefore that it can be overcome by overcoming these false beliefs, according to the promise of Jesus, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
Hence, Christian Science teaches that whether we smile in the sunshine or sorrow in the shadows; that whatever successes or dangers, disappointments or disasters may seem to visit our mortal lives: that however our earthly fortunes may prosper, or may darken and decay, still we should find humility, peace, content, joy in the abiding assurance that the arms of divine Love are around and beneath us always; that behind all appearances is the eternal unity of good, and over all a wise Providence of unlimited divine lovingkindness. Words of gold these, — the very first in our textbook, — "To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings."
Christian Science is not the invention of a new religion. It is earnestly seeking the restoration of the primitive Christ-religion in its purity and in its entirety. In its purity, it is free from the numerous man-made creeds, dogmas, scholastic subtleties, and inventions which have been accumulating during nineteen centuries. In its entirety, it is seeking to obey all the commandments of Jesus, including his command to "heal the sick" as well as his command to "preach the gospel."
Christian Science preaches the gospel; that is, the good news, the glad tidings of divine Love, and its followers recognize, as did Jesus, that merely to preach the gospel is by no means sufficient. They recognize that it is necessary now, as in the days of Jesus, to prove the gospel to mankind by its practical and evidential works, overcoming sin, sickness, suffering, and their like, according to the spiritual means and methods therefore which were taught, exemplified, and commended by Jesus to his followers of all ages and countries. Hence Christian Science teaches its followers the need to do something as well as to believe something, and its working doctrine is to do good among our fellowmen. It teaches that good works are quite as important as good words; indeed, that, unless they are manifested in works, words are liable to become mere dry-as-dust formulas —
As idle as a painted ship,
Upon a painted ocean.
It teaches that to learn anything aright, we must test, apply, and prove as we learn. Sometimes our Christian brethren say to us that they knew about the spiritual healing of the sick, from their reading of the Bible, before the advent of Christian Science. We answer that no one has the right to declare that he understands the Christ method of healing the sick, until he has tested, applied, and proven it to be true, by his own actual works. The understanding of the process and its practical application go together. The better we understand it, the better we can apply it, and the more we apply it, the more we understand it. The spiritual understanding thus gained is the sure foundation for the faith "without wavering" which heals the sick, according to the Scriptural examples and promises.
Christian Science teaches that the means and methods employed and taught by Jesus to preserve life and health were never those which are believed to be capable of destroying them. It teaches that anything capable of producing bad results is not a safe or wise instrumentality to produce good results; that we must cling steadfastly to that which is good and eschew the perilous services of evil altogether; that not only are God's gifts to His children for all of them alike, the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, the prince and the pauper, but that they are also absolutely perfect gifts, being the gifts of divine wisdom and Love; that they are not like the calomel which leaves behind it the belief of decaying bones; that they have not been hidden away from the knowledge of mankind for thousands of years, as the bark of a tree in the depths of South American forests; that they are not alcoholic demons issuing from alembics contrived by men's cunning appetites, blasting millions of human lives and homes, and yet sanctioned too often by materia medica, as useful stimulants. No; infinite intelligence does not need to mix evil and good together in any such a stupid and blundering way as that, and infinite Love never would be, never could be, thus guilty!
Even the very brief sketch of the Christian Science movement which my time permits reveals some unique and extraordinary facts. Its textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" written by the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker G. Eddy, has now passed its three hundred and ninetieth edition. The Mother Church, in Boston, Mass., now has over thirty-five thousand members, a large proportion of whom are members of its branch churches. Altogether, the denomination has over nine hundred churches and societies, in various parts of the world, which hold religious services each week. Its growth is constant as well as rapid, and results from the grateful advocacy of the hundreds of thousands of its beneficiaries, whose number is constantly increasing. It has not received, and it does not need any outside or adventitious aid to accelerate its growth. No powerful prince or potentate, no conquering army, no social considerations have espoused or assisted it. Its wonderful energies have all been steadily and steadfastly developed from within itself. There must be a great meaning behind such a growth as this, in such an age as this, especially when we consider that Christian Science has its following from all ranks and pursuits of life, that it does not appeal to the fears or the excitable emotions of mankind, that its teachings antagonize many of our preconceived notions, and that several established institutions have been conspicuously active and aggressive in their opposition to it from the beginning. It is a fact worthy of careful thought that those who refuse to test its worth are often found opposing it, while those who are its adherents have tested it in their own persons and homes; and is not the experimental knowledge of its adherents far superior to the mere academic theories of its opponents?
The Bible shows that Jesus and his followers healed the sick without drugs or other material aids, and it is an incontestable historical fact that these works were accomplished by the early Christians for nearly three hundred years after Calvary. Let me remark in passing, that the history of man-made churchcraft throws a revealing light on the reasons for the decadence of the Christian healing of the sick after the third century. These cures covered "all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." That there was then, or is now, a small percentage of seeming failures does not impeach the trustworthiness of the Christ-method of healing the sick any more than the occasional failure to add a column of figures correctly can be said to impeach the rule in addition. For nearly forty years Christian Science has been healing the sick under the lime-light of the world's suspicious observation. First these cures were by the hundreds, then by the thousands, then by the tens of thousands, and now they are accumulating too rapidly to be enumerated. If they had not been verifiable Christian Science would have long since passed from the respectful attention of mankind. These cures are proven by a mass of evidence the parallel of which is almost unknown to human history, and like the Christian healing of the first, second, and third centuries, they have passed into history as incontestable historical facts. Few of those who are intelligently in touch with the history of our times would dispute the fact of these cures. Basing their theories on their own preconceived notions instead of facts, the opponents of Christian Science first theorized that the alleged cures were merely imaginary; but the evidence accumulated until they were driven from their first position. Next they theorized that the cures were confined to certain nervous disorders; but the evidence kept accumulating, and they were driven from their second position. Now they are generally admitting the fact that the cures do take place, but many of them, especially those who are non-Christian, are offering theoretical explanations of the works of healing which eliminate Christianity from the phenomena. But already the evidence demonstrates that their theories do not square with the proven facts. The objections to the Christ-method of healing sickness which are based on medical or other materialistic theories cannot withstand the force of accomplished facts. Facts are the mightiest weapons of truth, while mere theories of negation are among the feeblest; and whenever a theory is permitted to dominate facts, then falsehood is liable to triumph until the usurped authority of the theory is overthrown. Christian Science appeals to accomplished facts.
The witnesses to the works in Christian Science are now to be found in every continent, and in many of the far-off islands of the seas. Take these United States and our neighboring Canada, witnesses are to be found in every city, and they are beginning to be found in almost every community. They are of all ranks in life. They come up to at least the average standard for respectability, intelligence, and veracity. They know whereof they speak from their own actual experiences. They are not conjecturing or theorizing on the basis of preconceived notions, materialistic or otherwise, but they are testifying from accomplished facts. Many of these witnesses have been rescued from alcoholism, lifted from the gutters of drunkenness and restored to lives of sobriety and usefulness; and they are crying out in their gratitude that they have found the pearl of great price. Many of these witnesses have been enabled to overcome their use of opium, chloral, cocaine, and other vicious drugs, and they are crying out in their gratitude that they know that their Redeemer liveth. Many of these witnesses have been lifted up from beds of pain and apparently hopeless invalidism, and thus helped to find the peace that passeth understanding. Many of these witnesses have seen the grim enemy which men call death shadowing the thresholds of their homes and threatening to bear away loved ones from their family circles; have heard their faithful physicians despairingly admit that their efforts were all in vain, and then, as the last resort, they have had recourse to the blessed ministry of Christian Science, and lo, their fading loved ones have been restored to their arms, with the roses of health once more blooming in their cheeks and the light of happiness beaming again from their eyes.
The gospel taught and exemplified by Jesus, restored to its purity and its entirety, is thus proven to be a practical religion, suited to all the needs of our every-day lives. Is it not plain, after all, that it cannot be a true religion which is not both scientific and practical, harmoniously adapting itself to all the needs, in all ways and at all times, of suffering humanity? "Search the Scriptures," read anew the promises, the commands, the life-work of our Galilean Way-shower, and such was the religion which he brought to mankind, pure and undefiled.
The Leader of this great movement, Mary Baker G. Eddy, was born near the city of Concord, N.H., in which city she now resides. All her life she has been a devout Christian, a constant student of the Bible, and a loving worker for the welfare of humanity. From early childhood she evinced high intellectual gifts, a rare spirituality in thought, life, and conduct, and an eminent literary ability. Her life throughout has been that of a good and noble woman.
In 1866 she met with a serious accident and in her extremity resorted to prayer, and her healing followed. For three years of assiduous study, the Bible was her only textbook, and at length she made the discovery of the scientific explanation of the Christ-healing, and named it Christian Science, or the Science of Christianity. At once she began to test, apply, and prove the Christian rule of healing which she had found. She restored to health a large number of persons who had suffered from "all manner of sickness and all manner of disease." Then began her great and loving life-work of making this saving truth known to a sick and suffering world. In 1875 she published "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," the textbook of Christian Science. Later she founded The Christian Science Journal, of which she was editor and proprietor. She also founded the Massachusetts Metaphysical College, of which she is president, and The First Church of Christ, Scientist, of which she is Pastor Emeritus. She has written numerous books and pamphlets on the subject of Christian Science. These evince remarkable literary genius and are characterized throughout by irrefragable logic, high spiritual and humanitarian thinking, and an integrity of utterance which never shrinks nor swerves from its direct path in order to propitiate or compromise.
Like every great spiritual and moral reformer whom the world has ever known, she has been the target for envenomed assaults; but her irreproachable life and the loftiness and purity of her purposes have made all these assaults vain and ineffectual. She stands preeminent as the foremost woman and public benefactor of the age; for she has given to the world what all its gold and silver could not buy. Her discovery of Christian Science and the working doctrine of the Christ-healing, and her success as a reasoner and writer in putting it before the world as a trustworthy Science, is being gratefully recognized by many thousands. She has made one of the great religious epochs in history; and today she is loved and revered by multitudes of men and women throughout the earth, whose lives and homes have been the beneficiaries of her teachings.
Her discovery of the Science or philosophy of Christian healing, after its obscuration for centuries, may be aptly compared with the discovery of this western continent by Columbus. This continent had remained hidden from the knowledge of the civilized world by the mysterious Atlantic with its wide wilderness of stormy waters. History has now found that it had once been discovered by the adventurous Northmen, centuries before Columbus, but the discovery had been forgotten and the very existence of this western world had passed from the minds of men except as a vague and discredited tradition. The genius and courage of Columbus discovered this continent anew, and he receives therefore the undying gratitude of his race.
Thus the healing ministry of Christianity became lost to the world during weary, waiting centuries; but finally the hour struck, and through the spiritual discernment and courage of a woman it was restored to mankind. Far more precious than all the treasures which the Spaniards coveted; far more precious than the fabled Fountain of Youth sought by the adventurous Ponce de Leon, is the discovery given to the world by Mrs. Eddy, for in "healing the sick" Christian Science uplifts, purifies, and establishes the thoughts and lives of its followers.
Too frequently ingratitude has rewarded the benefactors of our race. Prison chains and a disgraced name awaited Columbus on his return to Spain. His old age saw the undeserved chains stricken from his limbs, but he did not live to see his reputation restored to its purity. Posterity had to perform that act of justice. Although Mrs. Eddy was called upon to drink the cup of ingratitude for a time, she now stands as a loved and revered figure, crowned with success and honors and surrounded by the pure incense of gratitude — not of worship — arising from the hearts of unnumbered thousands throughout the earth. A pure and consecrated life, a gifted and good woman, with unfaltering devotion to the high Cause with which her name will be associated through coming history, she now stands in the sunlight of an assured triumph. When misunderstood and misrepresented, she has been sustained by the consciousness that she was working for God and humanity. Calumny's ammunition has now been exploded, its force expended; and there is not a dent in the armor in which she has waged for over thirty years, and is still waging, "the good fight."
One of the basic teachings of Christian Science is the non-reality of matter. Its classification of matter as unreal or phenomenal has been the subject of much misapprehension, misrepresentation, and ridicule. On page 468 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy uses these words: "Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal." She does not say that matter, meaning thereby the material universe, is imaginary; she does not say that matter does not seem real to our physical senses, but she seeks to define and classify it with scientific accuracy. This accuracy is found to be necessary for the practical work of healing the sick, as it is also necessary to a scientific understanding of the works accomplished by Jesus and the early Christians.
Christian Science uses the terms, the true, the real, and the eternal, as interchangeable and synonymous in this classification. It is obvious that what is true is likewise unchangeable and eternal. That one and one are two, is true now, always must have been true, and always must continue to be true; therefore, real and eternal. But what is reality? Here we meet with a great confusion of ideas in general thought; a confusion which arises from the failure of many persons to distinguish between what is real and what merely seems real to our physical senses. Reality is something entirely distinct from these appearances of reality. In our best modern dictionaries the definition of reality is as follows: A fact, or truth, as opposed to an appearance, — a fact or truth which exists in and of itself, independent of any outside cause.
Christian Science is the antipode of materialism, and is earnestly seeking to be its antidote. Teaching that God is Love, and that man is immortal, it gives to human life a higher incentive, and nobler ideals constantly beckon to us as with celestial hands.
Christian Science emphasizes the Scriptural declarations that God is Spirit and that man is God's image and likeness; therefore, that man in his true individuality is a spiritual being. It teaches, and by its works seeks to prove, that we are all citizens of a spiritual universe; that each of us has an immortal spiritual destiny. The grave has never been the final goal of humanity, and the tombstone has never been more than a mere milestone on humanity's journey. In our self-seeking efforts for power, place, and money we are apt to forget that universe made up of things "not seen," but as a part of which we live, and move, and have our being. We are too prone to burrow in dirt and darkness like the mole, and thus to lose sight of the dignity and grandeur of our destiny as spiritual beings. We thus miss the true perspective and the true proportion of things. We may hold the dollar so close to our eyes as to shut out not only the celestial map, but also much that is fairest and sweetest about us in the dusty journey of this life.
Through all the centuries men have had some glimpses of spiritual light. These glimpses may have been dim and obscure; but they could not have been attained if the light did not exist. That men have ever had some glimpses of spiritual light and truth, instead of remaining in total spiritual darkness, is the highest evidence that man has the power of spiritual perception. If men have spiritual perception, it is because they have spiritual faculties; if they have spiritual faculties, it follows that man in his true individuality is a spiritual being.
As God is Spirit and man a spiritual being in God's image and likeness, there must be intimate relations between God and man; and these relations must be useful, and likewise usable. It follows that men can make use of these divine relations for their higher harmony and happiness according to the measure of their understanding.
We read in the Bible that one of the apostles of Jesus declared that the prayer of faith shall save the sick. This statement, made without any reservation or limitation whatsoever, is sustained by numerous declarations of Jesus as to the efficiency of faith and prayer. Every well-informed Christian understands, of course, that he cannot consistently doubt or deny the power and efficacy of prayer, and also that there is nothing in the Bible which limits in any way the universal power and efficacy of prayer and faith; but this must not be a mere ignorant and superstitious faith or blind credulity, it must be a faith founded on spiritual understanding. The office of prayer is not to persuade God to alter His intention or plans. Its office is to bring mortal thought into subjection to divine law, and to put humanity in a better spiritual attitude and condition to be receptive to the benefits of the eternal and unchanging laws of divine Love. The office of prayer, like that of Calvary, is to reconcile man to God, not God to man.
We learn from the words of Jesus that faith, to be efficacious, must not be halting or questioning, but must be an absolute trust in God's divine power and lovingkindness. Jesus said, "Have faith in God." Four short, simple words; but they are a priceless jewel that on the forefinger of time shall shine forever and ever. These short, simple words, "Have faith in God," taken home, and made a part of our daily thought and consciousness, will prove a priceless blessing to our lives and homes.
In God confide! In faith abide,
O thou whose heart seems sorely tried!
God is forever at thy side!
Seek Him, no power His smile can hide;
Ask Him, thou wilt not be denied!
Learn faith! In God confide!
But how shall we best learn to have perfect and unfaltering faith or trust in God? How does the child learn to have perfect and unfaltering faith or trust in the rule in addition? Not merely by reading its words and memorizing them. He needs to do something more than that. He needs to test, apply, and prove the rule in addition by working out problems according to it. When he has done this, his faith in the rule of addition becomes unquestioning. Hence, Jesus taught his followers of all times and countries to perform, after his example, the practical and evidential works, including the healing of the sick, which prove that our trust in God has sure foundation. Hence the words of the apostle, "Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone;" adding, "Shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."
Just as children seem to need pictures in their primers to impress the text upon their minds, so men in all ages need living examples before their very eyes, need the practical and evidential works to teach them unquestioning and absolute trust or faith in God. Without these works, their faith becomes dead, being alone, as the apostle declared. Jesus taught his followers, without any limitations as to time or country, to perform these works, and in the way he performed them, in order to spread his gospel of divine Love, and also, which was of even far greater importance, to preserve the gospel to all the generations of mankind. In order to forestall and remove all doubts on the part of his followers of all times, in respect to their ability to perform the works which he performed, he carefully explained: "He that believeth on me (including, of course, his teachings), the works that I do shall he do also." He also carefully explained that these works were of the Father, not of himself, and that of himself he could do nothing; that he came to fulfill the law, not to destroy it. He not only commanded his followers of all times to heal the sick, but he also said to them, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." He likewise promised his followers of all times, speaking of the eternal Christ, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."
The history of Christianity proves that Jesus taught the only successful way for spreading and preserving his gospel. We cannot bisect Christianity, we cannot cut it in two and take away its works, without its faith becoming dead, — in keeping with the words of the apostle.
Let me repeat, in passing, that when Jesus taught the only successful, and therefore the only scientific way to spread and preserve the gospel, he must likewise have taught the only successful, and therefore scientific way to "heal the sick." Whatsoever is true for the one is likewise true for the other. Cure a case of cancer, for example, without drugs or surgery, especially after drugs and surgery have confessed their inability to cure it, — and this has been done many times under the ministry of Christian Science, — and you are doing two things. You are persuading the most skeptical of the truth of the Christ gospel, and you are likewise demonstrating that the Christian method of healing the sick is the scientific and therefore the right method.
Some are skeptical concerning the power of prayer to "save the sick," because they do not comprehend how prayer can influence or change a man's body. Is it any easier for them to comprehend how our thoughts always stamp their impress on the face and other parts of the body? Do not our every-day observations prove this to be the fact? Are not these influences exerted by thought on the body often very powerful, and often instantaneous? And is it any more difficult to comprehend the power of prayer on the body than it is to comprehend how religious martyrs, under the high sustainment of faith in God, have shown utter unconsciousness of physical agony even when burned at the stake? Common experience proves that good thoughts benefit us in all ways, the physical included. When we pray aright, our good thoughts climb to the very highest level they are capable of reaching. Prayer is communion with God, divine Truth, and when we pray aright, our thoughts, emotions, aspirations are all in touch with divine Truth. Why should not our good thoughts in prayer benefit us in all ways, the physical included? Why should not their influence, like the influence of other thoughts upon our bodies, be both powerful and instantaneous? Who has any basis by which to measure or limit the benefits of prayer in all ways? Surely it is not unreasonable that God should have provided a means for availing ourselves of the full benevolence of the divine laws which govern us. And what process or means to this end can you conceive of as better than prayer? Human experience in all ages attests the power of the prayer of unquestioning faith. And the power of one person's prayer to benefit another person is a demonstrated fact in Christian Science as well as in the pages of the Bible. Wisely did the poet Tennyson write: —
More things are wrought through prayer
Than the world dreams of.
And wisely also did the Quaker poet Whittier write: —
I dare not fix by mete and bound,
The love and power of God!
Christian Science points to accomplished facts in the Christian healing of the sick through the instrumentality of the prayer of absolute faith in the only true God, a faith sustained by works based on the right understanding of God. Against such works, the skeptic as to the power of prayer and faith has only his doubts and theories of negation, with no accomplished facts to support them. We need to remember that there is no unbelief so stubborn and egotistic as the unbelief of ignorance. The head that is most frequently wagged in arrogant doubt and denial is the empty head. As Macaulay has reminded us, missionaries find it impossible to persuade the islanders, in latitudes where frost is unknown, of the fact of ice. They have never seen ice, and in their ignorance are unable to comprehend how water can change into a solid block. Although assured of the fact by the best of human evidence from those who have actually seen ice, the ignorant islanders smile in self-satisfied incredulity. Their unbelief is another instance of the feebleness of theories of negation. We have no right to dispute a fact testified to by respectable witnesses merely because in our ignorance we may not be able to comprehend it.
Sometimes the members of other Christian denominations put a question like this: If our prayers are unavailing in physical sickness, how can you Christian Scientists expect us to have any faith in your prayers in like cases?
When the apostle declared that "the prayer of faith shall save the sick," he was not theorizing, but was speaking from his own knowledge of the "healing of the sick" accomplished by Jesus and his followers. He spoke of things which he knew as facts, just as you speak of facts which come under your own personal observation. Thus, when Christian Scientists declare that cures of physical sicknesses are being wrought now by following the Christ-process of healing the sick, they are not theorizing, but speaking from facts within their own experiences. The cures to which they are testifying so abundantly all over the civilized world are already incontestably proven, like the cures of the era of Jesus and of the early Christians for over two hundred years after Calvary. Let me say, at this point, that the history of ecclesiasticism throws a revealing light upon the reasons for the decadence of the Christian healing of the sick, from the middle of the third century after Jesus.
If Christian Science prayers are of proven efficacy in overcoming physical discords, and if, on the contrary, the prayers of some other Christian denomination are admitted by its members to be ineffectual in like cases, surely then it is entirely fair to urge that those who thus pray ineffectually must somehow pray amiss, however fervent and sincere they may be. It is our duty as Christians, a name which means lovers of suffering humanity, to strive to discover the explanation, and to strive likewise to free our minds of all bias and prejudicate opinions in making the search; and no Christian can consistently permit this search to relax in the least degree for fear that his denomination may be brought into reproach for failing "to heal the sick," through the success of the Christian Science ministry in fulfilling the command and promise of Jesus.
Christian Science teaches that we must appeal to God as Spirit, and not to any manlike God; and that we must not appeal to a supposed God whom we regard as the author of evil in any of its phenomena, such as sin, sickness, suffering, and death. If God be not the author of evil, and we appeal to a supposititious being whom we believe to be the author of evil, then it is plain that we appeal to a being who does not exist. We do not need to urge that such a prayer could not be expected to be effectual.
Christian Science also teaches that the phenomena of evil are not the reality or truth of man's being, — man in his true individuality in the image and likeness of God. If this teaching is true, then he whose consciousness is infected with the falsehood that evil is a part of the reality or truth of man's being cannot pray effectually for the removal of that which he believes God has ordained and created, and which therefore really exists. He lacks the basis of "faith unwavering."
Christian Science is differentiated from other modern Christian denominations by these two propositions. It is teaching and doing its works upon the basis that God is not the author of evil in any of its manifestations, and that all such manifestations, not being the creations of God, are not a part of the reality or truth of being. Christian Science for nearly forty years has been insisting upon these propositions as fundamental parts of the Christ-process of healing the sick, and it is upon these propositions that Christian Science bases its successful practice in the healing of the sick. Furthermore it is because of these propositions that Christian Science has met with such strenuous opposition from those who teach that God is the author of evil and that such evil is real. If Christian Science is right on these points, it explains what otherwise would be incapable of explanation by its wonderful works in overcoming sinful habits and physical sickness. If it is right respecting these points, then the works of "healing the sick" which were performed by Jesus and the early Christians for about three centuries of the Christian era are fully explained, and a much-used weapon is thereby taken from the hand of infidelity.
It is unthinkable that the creative Principle of the universe could be otherwise than God is described in the Bible to be, viz., Spirit, Truth, Life, Love. It is also unthinkable that such creative Principle could create anything which is opposed to His own divine nature. Hence, Christian Science discerns by the light of our highest reason, as well as by the authority of Scripture, that it is sublimely true that "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." Not only good, but very good. Hence, Christian Science has no teaching that admits or even suggests that God is the author of evil. It has no teaching which admits or suggests divine hate, cruelty, or injustice. It is wholly incapable of drawing any portrait which suggests any of the attributes of a satan, and of writing beneath it the sacred name of God. Indeed, it is incapable of drawing any portrait of Deity, except with the celestial colors of love, joy, promise, and faith.
But, does any one ask, who made the phenomena of evil, if God did not make them? They are man-made, not God-made, for they belong to human consciousness, and it is unthinkable that they can belong to the divine consciousness, which is Love, Truth, good. Let me again revert to our mathematical illustration. If we have been erroneously taught that twice two is five, this falsehood would belong to human consciousness, not to the divine consciousness. If we fully believe this falsehood, act upon it for years, suffer erroneously by reason of it, lose money and suffer from this false teaching that twice two is five, can we say that God made such a falsehood? God is Truth, and therefore is utterly incapable of creating falsehood.
To be the creative power God must needs be the Principle of harmony, not discord, and so is utterly incapable of creating aught discordant. God is Love, and so is utterly incapable of creating aught that is hateful, unjust, or cruel. God is wholly good, and therefore does not and cannot employ evil as an instrument in His divine economy.
A false philosophy has too long taught us to accept things for what they seem to be, instead of for what they are. Christian Science teaches that all reality, all which truly exists, is very good, because nothing exists which is not of God, of divine and infinite good.
It is a false theology, contrary both to our highest reason and to the Scriptures, which teaches that the appearances of evil, the phenomena of sin, sickness, and suffering, are the creations of God. We must either reject God altogether, or we must recognize that it is as unreasonable to say that infinite good creates evil as it is to say that infinite Truth creates falsehood. Though we believe that sin, sickness, and suffering are realities of man's true being, this does not make them so. In sound reasoning appearances belong to one category, realities to another which is entirely distinct.
A profound truth is embodied in the Scriptural statement: "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he." The concept which we have of God exercises a most powerful influence over our character, conduct, habits of thinking, and physical being. Indeed, it is impossible to measure or limit the activities and scope of this influence and its far-reaching effects. Christian Science arouses the sleeping attention of mankind to the pressing importance of a right concept of God. If we believe that God is the author of sin, we look upon sin as an unavoidable, and indeed indispensable part of the economy of the universe, and will not such a view of sin tend to make us more tolerant of its presence in ourselves and others, and to discourage the energies of our resistance against it? If we believe God to be the author of sickness; that sickness is one of the dispensations of divine Providence (to use a phrase that was once much in fashion), what is the use of our taking any steps to get well? If we believe that God decrees us to be sick, can we expect that drugs, prayers of faith, or anything else, will defeat the deific purpose? We can only become more hopeful in our efforts to overcome sin and sickness as we lose our belief in such a God. Our false belief that God is the author of sin or sickness leads us to doubt God's existence and turns our discouraged thoughts towards the despair of atheism. Would Jesus have overcome, or taught his followers to try to overcome, anything which was of God?
The man-made dogma that God employs evil to accomplish good has too long led men to imitate what they have supposed to be the divine example; to use evil means and agencies, thus deceiving themselves with the pretext that thereby they could accomplish good. We best prove, not only our higher understanding of God, but we also best prove our love of God, by our love of what is good, because God is good.
To the great lethargic masses of men and women it may seem easier to crook the elbow and lift a spoon to the mouth than it is to think rightly. Some people find it easier to let others act as the keepers of their conscience, forgetful that each of us individually is responsible for himself; but all such indolence is a crime against ourselves and against our fellow-sufferers. This indolence can never help us to strike from fettered human consciousness the rusty manacles of false belief, and to realize the prophecy of Jesus, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." The Founder of the Christian Science movement has recognized and met the necessity for restoring Christianity to a basis that is profoundly spiritual, and that eliminates all materialistic and pagan falsehoods; that is practical and humanitarian, adequate to all our needs, all our distresses; that is intellectual and logical throughout its doctrine and practice.
[Delivered April 10, 1906, at Symphony Hall in Boston, Massachusetts, under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, and published in The Christian Science Journal, May 1906. The introduction was published in the Christian Science Sentinel, April 21, 1906. An earlier and longer version of this lecture is available on this site, with the title Christian Science: The Gospel of Love.]