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
The regular semi-annual lecture on Christian Science given by The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, was delivered Thursday evening, April 23, by Hon. Clarence A. Buskirk of St. Louis, Mo., formerly attorney-general for the State of Indiana, and a member of the Board of Lectureship of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Boston, Mass. Shortly after the doors were opened at seven o'clock the immense auditorium of The Mother Church was quickly filled, and the large audience, many of whom were apparently strangers, gave close attention to the lecturer, who spoke interestingly and with great freedom of the teachings of this denomination. He was introduced by the First Reader of The Mother Church, Mr. William D. McCrackan, as follows: —
Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends: — Christian Science is coming into its own. It is encircling the earth with its glad tidings borne on the swift pinions of hope. As Christian Science becomes better understood, appreciated, and loved, so the life-motive of its Discoverer and Founder, Mrs. Eddy, is becoming clearer to human apprehension, and gratitude is expressed in quarters where misunderstanding formerly ruled.
Christian Science, like the good man in the ordinary walks of life, pays for itself as it progresses. It should be remembered that Christian Science is not merely something to be believed. It is not a mere creed or confession of faith. It is the Science of Christianity, to be practised and proved. Christian Scientists are called upon to be demonstrators of an exact science which is always good. Is there any one who feels the oppression of the world's great problems? Then Christian Science offers the key to the solution of all those problems by pointing out the necessary transformation in individual consciousness. Is any one disturbed by the inconsistencies of philosophy and theology as commonly taught? Then Christian Science presents a simple, honest, radical, and Biblical explanation of the creator and His creation. Are there those who despair of the cure of bodily ills because they have tried in vain all that material medicine can do for them? To such Christian Science declares that there is no incurable ill, no law of disease which is permanent or fixed, no case hopeless.
Since the discovery of Christian Science in 1866 by Mrs. Eddy, there has been an enormous turning and overturning of preconceived notions, theories, and popular opinions; but through all these years Christian Science has gone steadily, unostentatiously upon its way, — saving the sinner, healing the sick, and comforting the sorrowing, and with a success which proves its nature to be divine. I shall not attempt, however, in this brief introduction to explain the nature of Christian Science. This pleasant task, in so far as it can be accomplished in the short time at our disposal, falls to the lecturer of the evening. I therefore take great pleasure in introducing to you the Hon. Clarence A. Buskirk, member of the Board of Lectureship of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass.
Jesus declared that the truth shall make us free; but there are unnumbered thousands of men and women throughout Christendom despairingly repeating the cry of Pilate of old, "What is truth?" It is evident, therefore, that somehow the world at large has not found the right way to truth. The world is filled with the complaint of the agnostic, who declares that he can affirm nothing and can deny nothing in respect to basic or ultimate truth; but in this initial statement agnosticism refutes itself, because the declaration that we can affirm nothing and can deny nothing is really an affirmation and a denial. It is an affirmation that truth is unknowable, and a denial that truth can be comprehended by mankind. This is a fatal contradiction at the very threshold of the so-called agnostic philosophy of negation. The philosophy of truth is a philosophy of affirmation, not one of negation.
What is the right way to find the truth becomes a question of transcendent importance when we discover that the world at large is struggling with these religious problems. In order to find out the right way to the truth it is very useful to find out why it is that so large a portion of mankind seems to be traveling along the wrong road to the truth, and why thereby the widespread infidelity, agnosticism, materialism, religious doubt and despair, altogether too much in evidence on all sides.
We find in an analysis of human reasoning that it is, in the last analysis, to be classified into two processes, one the inductive, the other the deductive. When we inspect the mode of reasoning which is most often employed we find that it is the inductive process, which does not and cannot lead us to ultimate or basic truth, — I mean thereby the truth which relates to man's true place in the universe, which relates to the being of God, to the relations between God and man, and to that dire problem in human belief which men have agreed to call the problem of evil.
We find in the history of logic or reasoning that the ancient thinkers more generally employed the deductive process. For instance, Aristotle, that great thinker of ancient Greece, employed the deductive — since sometimes called the Aristotelian. Although he lived in a country where the belief in many gods prevailed, instead of the belief in the one true God, — lived before the light of Christianity was shed abroad upon the world, — yet that great thinker and philosopher had certain valuable glimpses of the truth sufficient for him to arrive, by deductive reasoning, at one grand classification of the universe, classifying everything into noumenon or the entity, the real substance of things, and phenomenon, or the mere appearance of truth as contradistinguished from truth itself, and this classification has persisted until the present day.
A few centuries ago, however, the great English thinker and philosopher, Lord Bacon, best known to the world by his famous work, "Novum Organum," proposed a new system of thinking, — at least a system which was new to the scientific thought of the world, although practically it had always been employed; that is, the inductive system of reasoning. Sometimes this system, since the day of Bacon, has been called erroneously the "scientific" system of reasoning. As a matter of fact it has been almost exclusively employed in most of the writings upon the natural sciences from Bacon until this day. This system proposes to take facts, to aggregate as many of them as possible, and from these facts to reach by generalization the basic laws to which these facts point. That it employs facts or verities is, of course, an assumption, and this I shall consider briefly farther on.
Something over a hundred years ago Hume made the statement that all knowledge comes from without; that is to say, everything we know or can know comes through the avenue and by the use of what are called our physical senses, — a statement which has infected the literature of the world. This subtle falsehood that all our knowledge comes from without is found largely in the textbooks of our schools and colleges, and has even crept into many religious works and treatises. Such an affirmation is a denial of all spiritual discernment and intuition. It is a denial of all revelation. It is a denial that man has any power of thinking, or any basis on which to think, except as it may come to him through the avenue of his physical senses, so termed. This is the basis of materialism, and if it be true that we can have no knowledge except from without, that there is no spiritual discernment, then materialism is true, and good-by to all religious hopes and incentives; good-by to all faith in the Christian religion; good-by to everything which throughout history has purified and elevated human thinking and conduct.
Now is this inductive system to be applied to the great truths of man's being, or is it utterly unfitted for that purpose? I do not deny that the inductive system of reasoning is useful within its natural sphere. For example, it is useful for the purpose of disproving false theories. Take the materialistic theory that the brain originates thought, the materialistic statement which has been made for centuries that the gray matter of the brain in some mysterious, supposititious way originates thought, and that thinking is some kind of a mysterious emanation of this gray matter of the brain. But there is no fact to prove it. Microscope and scalpel have been engaged for centuries in the search, and they have never found it, and yet inductive reasoners, reversing their own theories of reasoning, assume, not as a generalization from known and proven facts, but as a mere matter of speculation and hypothesis, that the brain is the creator of what is called mind and thought.
The inductive process of reasoning, employed within its own proper sphere, has very recently proved this theory of materialism to be utterly unsupported. Recent anatomical investigations have shown conclusively that the brain is not affected by epilepsy, by insanity, by disease, by any kind of thinking whatsoever; that the brain remains precisely the same in insanity as before, and in these other instances precisely as before. It follows then, necessarily, that the brain is not the organ which originates thought. We have no more right to say this than we have to say that the wax cylinder of the phonograph originates the human voice.
One reason why the inductive process cannot be relied upon for the affirmative ascertainment of the truth of being is that it cannot aggregate all the facts. If you take facts as the basis for finding truth affirmatively, you need necessarily to take all the facts. You must have a complete circle of facts; a mere segment or an arc will only deceive and mislead in formulating an affirmation of truth, as the experiences of physical scientists have proved from decade to decade. For example, the discovery of the radio activities only a few years ago upset many of the prevailing established theories in chemistry. Another fatal infirmity in inductive reasoning for the formation of an affirmation of truth, is that what they call facts are not facts after all. They are only the appearances of fact, and I will prove this by the inductive reasoners themselves, thus again illustrating that the inductive process is useful in exposing a false theory.
Inductive reasoning has shown that what is called the material universe is not the real universe, but is the universe of phenomena as classified by Aristotle some twenty centuries ago. The physical scientists have now arrived at this point in their investigations, in their searching to find out from their so-called facts what matter is. You understand that I mean by matter the aggregation of the appearances of the so-called material universe as they are presented to human belief. Physical scientists have been working for centuries to find out what matter is, taking their so-called facts and by their inductive process striving to ascertain the truth about this alleged material universe, or matter; but they have only succeeded by this inductive process of reasoning, in finding out what matter is not, instead of what matter is.
This assertion finds justification in a statement from the lips of one of the great modern physical scientists, Mr. Balfour, late Prime Minister of England, who, in presiding over a congress of the physical scientists of Great Britain about four years ago, used this significant language: "The natural sciences are now explaining matter by explaining it away." This is the result of all inductive reasoning on the basis of supposed facts, and this result has followed because the alleged facts, after all, are only appearances and not any part of the truth of being. The inductive system of reasoning unfortunately is still being pursued very largely throughout Christendom for ascertaining affirmatively the truth of being. We have been educated for centuries to accept this inductive system as the true one, although uniform experience has shown that the physical perception cannot find God. But in 1875 a book was published to the world which largely reversed this inductive system of reasoning and employed the deductive process. This book is "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker G. Eddy, the Leader of the Christian Science movement. Mrs. Eddy deductively arrived at the conclusion that what is called matter is neither entity nor substance; and in despite of ridiculous ridicule and petrified prejudices, she has faithfully and unflinchingly taught this fundamental item in the philosophy of Christianity, that all of our beliefs in respect to the reality of sin, sickness, suffering, death, etc., are directly associated with, and have their genesis in, erroneous beliefs with respect to matter.
Let us examine this deductive system of reasoning as it applies to the basic truths of Christianity. Think of this for a moment. If God is, then it necessarily follows by deductive reasoning that God and His infinite manifestation is all. God is eternal, therefore these temporal facts, as they are called, do not belong to that realm in the consideration of which we can ascertain the basic and eternal truth of being. Things which are finite and temporal afford no clue to the infinite and eternal. In respect to any principle governing them they are antipodal as well as different.
Deductive reasoning assumes a premise. It takes some truth as self-evident. If it takes that which is a truth, and reasons logically from such premise, its conclusions or deductions are sure to be right. They must be right conclusions. The only fallibility possible in the deductive system of reasoning is found in the danger of assuming a wrong premise, or in reasoning illogically from a true premise; otherwise it is always the sure way to truth.
Mrs. Eddy assumes as her premise that God is. She does not stop to argue that, nor shall I — I assume that it is a self-evident truth to every person in this audience. God is. Now, reasoning deductively from this premise, the whole structure, the entire content of the Christian Science doctrine and practice inevitably follow. God is. Therefore we deduce that God is true to Himself, or, in the language of Paul: "Let God be true, and every man a liar." God being true to Himself, the laws and government of God, the very nature of God, the incentives, motives, and conduct of God, the resultants of God, must be consistent with the very Being of God; therefore it follows inevitably in deductive reasoning that God is omnipotent, or all-powerful, omniscient, or all-wise, omnipresent, or all-present and ever-present.
It follows deductively from this that God cannot be regarded as a corporeal or physical being. He must be spiritually omnipresent. Hence, He is the infinite Mind, the divine intelligence of the universe. To be God, He must be infinite, He must be eternal. To be God, it follows by inevitable deduction that God is good, that God is Love, that God is Truth, that God is Life (just as the Bible declares). You cannot think of God and think of Him otherwise than as all-powerful, all-present, all-wise, as infinite Mind and intelligence, as eternal, as good, as Life, as Love, as Truth, as the divine Principle of all that is. It is unthinkable that God could be otherwise than thus described. And these are the basic teachings of the Christian Science textbook which I have named.
It follows deductively from the premise of Christian Science respecting God, that all real manifestation of intelligence is of Him because God is Mind, speaking of intelligence in its highest sense, as the reflection and manifestation of infinite Mind. So, too, that which is of God, who is Spirit, must be spiritual. Sometimes we hear the statement from materialists, who do not even know that they are materialists when they utter it, that "the laws of nature govern us." There are no laws of nature apart and distinct from the laws of God. God is Spirit, therefore all law and government are of Spirit. The deduction then is, necessarily, that all real government is spiritual in its origin, and being spiritual in its origin is spiritual in its character or nature. Everything which is the creation or resultant of God must be spiritual, because God is Spirit. Everything which is of God must be eternal and unchanging and perfect, because God is all these. All true manifestations of Mind are eternal, and to be eternal must be perfect. There can be no destruction except of that which is temporal and imperfect.
At this point let me give a simple illustration. God is Truth. Suppose a boy has been taught and has come to believe that two times two are five, instead of four. Is that the truth? No, it is only a false belief on the part of the boy that two times two are five; but in the realm of truth there is no such thing as that two times two are five. What is the remedy? It is that supplied us by Jesus: "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Everything that is contrary to the very nature of God belongs to precisely the same category as a false belief. Suppose that one of you at this moment entertains a belief that you can acquire any real pleasure or happiness by violating any law of God which governs your being; yours is a more foolish as well as a more mischievous belief than the supposititious belief of the boy that two times two are five; and that belief stands for nothing. There is no truth in it, and the remedy for everything which is false is the scientific remedy of Jesus, that the truth shall make us free.
Now, according to this deductive system of reasoning, are sin and sickness a part of the truth of God's universe, or are they not? We do not deny that they seem to be real to what are called our physical perception and consciousness, nor does Mr. Balfour, as a natural scientist, deny that the phenomena of matter seem to be real to our physical senses; but along this line of thinking we do not care for what seems to be. We are following only the road of truth, seeking to find out what is true and what is not true, let it seem to be what it will. The question is sometimes asked, "If sin, sickness, suffering, and their like are not a part of the truth of man's being, as you Christian Scientists affirm, what then are they? What is their origin? Where did they come from?"
Christian Science answers, and necessarily answers as the inevitable deduction from the premise that God is, that these beliefs are men-made and not God-made, that they belong to the realm of erring human consciousness, and that they can have no abiding place in divine consciousness because they are absolutely antipodal or opposite to and inconsistent with the divine nature, just as a falsehood is antipodal to and inconsistent with God as divine Truth; they belong precisely to the same category. If not of God, what then are they? They are false human beliefs. They stand for nothing in the realm of reality in God's universe. They pertain to the unreal, erring human consciousness, and therefore stand for nothing because not of God, because contrary to God's very nature, and therefore unthinkable as fact or truth; and the remedy therefore is again the remedy declared by Jesus, that the truth shall make us free.
When Jesus used these words he was out among the sinning, sick, and suffering multitudes, performing his blessed and gracious works as evidential facts to convince mankind of the truth of his teachings, just as he commanded his followers of all times and countries to perform these works, not only for their humanitarian value but also because of their transcendent value as object-lessons under men's very eyes to persuade mankind of the truth of his teaching and the trustworthiness of his promises. When Jesus taught that truth shall make us free, he exemplified the statement by overcoming sin, physical sickness, and the various ills belonging to that dire catalogue called the problem of human evil.
Was Jesus trying to overcome any of the truths of being when he declared the truth should make us free? Would Jesus have stultified himself by declaring that the truth should make us free from what is true, if sickness and sin and their like were the truths of being? No! Jesus by that very language taught that they are not a part of the truths of man's being. His life, his teachings, his promises, his works, all agree with the deduction from God is, that nothing contrary to God can be a part of God's universe. Christian Science does not seek to overcome sin and sickness, suffering and their like, as a part of the truth of man's being, but as the falsehoods of erring human consciousness. We could not overcome sin, physical sickness, and their like, if they belonged to the truth of man's being, or, in other words, if they were a part of God's law and government.
To illustrate: Suppose that one of you entertained the old belief that you need to be resigned to the will of God on funeral occasions, and that sickness, sin, death, and their like are "mysterious dispensations of divine Providence," as you have been too often taught. What follows from this belief? If you entertain it, if you really believe it, how can you intelligently expect that drugs, or "the prayer of faith" which one of the apostles declared "shall save the sick," or anything else, can assist you in overcoming anything which is of God? Why take the words of Jesus in this connection. In order to forestall and remove all doubt from the minds of his followers of all times and countries, from your mind and my mind, Jesus carefully explained that his works in overcoming sin and sickness were the works of the Father, and declared that of himself he could do nothing.
What is the logic of this utterance? That his works were in obedience to and in harmony with the eternal law and government of God; that sin, sickness, and their like are overcome according to the law and government of God.
It follows necessarily, by inevitable deductive reasoning, that none of these are of God, that they are departures from the laws of man's being, and that they are not "mysterious dispensations of divine Providence" to which we need to be resigned as manifestations of the will of God, but that they may be overcome in accordance with God's law and government. What right have you, if you believe that sickness and sin are a part of the laws of your being, or are a part of the truth of your being, what right have you, I say, to seek to overcome sin and sickness? What right have you to rebel against God's intention, God's plan and government?
Sometimes the apology is attempted that these things are necessary in order to discipline or educate men into being better, as if God needed to use any such thing in order to govern His universe aright! Let us look at this proposition stripped to its naked error. Take the poor mother bending in agonized suspense over her little sick child, only a few months old. Suppose this mother has been taught, and has come to believe, that God as a mysterious dispensation of His divine providence — the God who is infinite, all-powerful, all-wise; the God who is Love — somehow has found it necessary in His divine economy of the universe to make that poor little baby of hers sicken and suffer: does not this belief on the part of this good woman necessarily tend to make her doubt God's very existence? Does not the teaching of an unloving, unreasonable, inconsistent, self-contradictory deity necessarily tend to turn our discouraged thoughts toward the despair of atheism? We need to lose our false beliefs in such a God as this. God is good, and because He is good it must be true, as the Bible declares, that "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" — not half way good and half way bad.
Before leaving the threshold of this thought altogether, let us pause for a moment to consider a single historical fact. Whence comes this belief, so prevalent in Christendom, that somehow sin, sickness, and suffering, and so on, are mysterious dispensations of divine Providence? We find that a few centuries after Calvary large numbers of Greek and Roman converts came into Christianity. They had been educated to believe in polytheism, and to believe that some of their supposititious deities were good deities and some of them evil deities. They had been taught to believe that to their evil deities were to be ascribed the various ills afflicting poor humanity, — pestilence, famine, war, sin, sickness, suffering, death, — the whole dire catalogue. When they became Christians and accepted monotheism, or the one true God, they unfortunately brought some things from their pagan belief into Christian theology. They brought with them many of their ceremonials, reminiscences of which linger in some of our Christian organizations; but, what has been far more mischievous, they brought with them their old pagan belief in the deific origin of evil, and they engrafted upon their belief in the one true Christian God their old mythological belief from their pagan religion that sin and sickness, suffering and death, and their like, are the resultants and creations of God. Unfortunately that old pagan notion, contrary to the teachings and works, contrary to the entire logic of the words and life-work of Jesus, has persisted to this day.
We find, as another historical fact, in the biographies of great and good men like Martin Luther, like those two grand pioneers of Methodism, Rev. John and Rev. Charles Wesley, especially in the biography of Charles Wesley, as we find in the biographies of other great and good men through the Christian centuries, that they repeatedly sought to rediscover and restore to mankind the benefaction of the Christian way of healing the sick which was taught, exemplified, and commended to his followers of all times and countries, by our Galilean Wayshower. But somehow these great and good men were not able to differentiate between the teachings of Jesus in respect to God being Love, absolute loving-kindness in all His relations to mankind, and the belief from pagan theology that God directly or permissibly is responsible for these various phenomena of evil. This discovery remained for Mrs. Eddy to make. Why not made sooner? I know not. Why was wireless telegraphy not discovered sooner? Humanity is moving upward and forward on the stepping-stones of its past to higher things.
It may be asked at this point: Why has the Christian system of healing the sick gone into practical decadence and disuse for so many centuries? You Christian Scientists say that Jesus taught the only true way of healing the sick. How comes it, then, that this true way taught and exemplified by Jesus has been permitted to fall into practical disuse throughout Christendom for centuries? The answer is largely to be found in the historical fact to which I have just alluded, that the theology which is borrowed from old pagan beliefs has been perpetuating the falsehoods that sickness, suffering, death, and the various ills of humanity are of deific origin; whereas Jesus taught that the works in overcoming these were of the Father, not himself, declaring that of himself he could do nothing; and he also taught that the truth shall deliver us, that the truth makes us free. Surely the office of deductive reasoning is a grand one when it points out the utter unreasonableness and utter self-contradictions and inconsistencies of ecclesiastical false teachings, and points out to us the right way to truth.
It follows deductively from the teaching that God is, that there must be a true way for overcoming sin, sickness, etc., and only one true way. This true way cannot be a matter of man's invention, but it must be a matter of discovery. Jesus taught the one true way for overcoming sin and sickness, and now what is this way? Let us take the words of one of the immediate apostles of Jesus, who declared that "the prayer of faith shall save the sick," and examine some of the meanings of this declaration.
What is faith? In the Epistle to the Hebrews it is defined as "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." The logic of these words is this: the fact that we have faith proves that there are things hoped for and not seen which have substantial existence, indeed are the substantial existence. We could not have faith in things wholly non-physical if they had no existence. All knowledge does not come from without. Men in all ages have had the benefit of spiritual intuitions and spiritual discernment. During all the centuries men have had some glimmering perceptions of spiritual truth and light. The fact that we have these glimmerings, however obscure and imperfect, is the highest character of evidence in proof that man must have spiritual perceptions. All mankind would have been in total spiritual darkness, instead of being in the enjoyment of even the most imperfect perceptions of spiritual light, if men did not have spiritual perceptions, and if it were not true, as the Bible declares, that faith is "the evidence of things not seen." What follows as the necessary deduction? If we have spiritual perceptions then we must have spiritual faculties. If we have spiritual faculties, then this points to the fact that man is an immortal and spiritual being, in the image and likeness of God, who is Spirit.
We live in an age when the world is taking off its hat to money without always stopping to enquire very closely how the money is acquired, but all thinking people recognize that there are higher questions than those which relate to the acquisition of wealth, — questions which are connected with man's spiritual existence and immortality. We need to remember these higher questions. We are too prone in our idolatrous kneeling before "the god of this world," to overlook the grandeur and nobility of man's destiny as an immortal spiritual being. We are too prone to forget the things which are "not seen," that God is, and that in this universe of "things not seen" we really "live, and move, and have our being." We thus lose sight of the true perspective and the true proportion of things. What kind of faith must we have? A doubting, halting, tentative faith? No. Jesus declared the necessity of "unwavering" faith. How shall we obtain this faith? Jesus taught the way, and he declared, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." As we apprehend the Christ, Truth, and begin to do his works, our understanding is further enlightened and fortified. We need to work in the way Jesus taught, as well as to believe in the way he taught.
And do any doubt that the works help us? Faith is largely a matter of spiritual discernment, and so far as reason can assist faith the works are of transcendent importance. Take, for instance, the boy with the arithmetic in his hand. He has a good teacher at the other end of the room, who has impressed upon him that it is his duty to believe, we will say, the rule in multiplication. The boy wants to believe it, to have faith in it, and he willingly obeys when the teacher tells him to memorize the rule. But when for the first time does the boy have "unwavering" faith in the rule in multiplication? It is after he has worked out problems under that rule. He may make mistakes, but he soon discovers that his mistakes occur because he is not following the rule, and that when he does follow the rule correct results are sure to follow. Faith is a state of receptivity to truth, and therein it is the antipode or opposite of fear, which is the state of receptivity to falsehood; and whenever any teaching goes abroad over the world which cultivates and encourages fear, this is an encouragement of the very opposite of faith, it is an encouragement of receptivity to falsehood.
Now prayer, what is it? It is not the assumption of any particular physical attitude. It does not merely consist in words. It is not a selfish asking for something. Jesus said, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Very positive words; but he also cautioned us that we must not pray amiss. Suppose we are praying for something which is not good; that is praying amiss, because nothing which is not absolutely good can come from God, neither in answer to our prayer nor as the creation or resultant of God, and for the same reason; because it is contrary to the very nature of God, and therefore unthinkable and impossible.
What is it to pray aright? It is to pray to the true God, the God who is not the author, for any purpose whatsoever, of sin, sickness, and death, and who does not need to employ evil as an instrumentality for the accomplishment of good. When we pray aright we pray to divine Truth, Life, Love. Suppose we pray to God, who is infinite Life, believing that He is the author of laws of sickness and death. Such a prayer must be amiss, as Mrs. Eddy has shown us. Why? Because infinite Life is the all-vitalizing, life-sustaining Principle of the universe. Its antipode is sickness; its antipode is death. The laws of sickness and death, so called, are not of God, because God is infinite Life. Does infinite Life use sickness or death to carry out the designs and purposes of all-creative, all-vitalizing Being? Never! It is utterly illogical and unthinkable.
Suppose you pray to God as divine Love, how must you pray aright? Christian Science teaches us that in our notions of God, who is infinite loving-kindness in all His relations to poor humanity, we must refuse necessarily every teaching that God discriminates in favor of sin as against sickness, so that the sick are farther away from His help than the sinning. Men, women, and children can believe, and they want to believe, in divine Love, but not in divine hate, cruelty, caprice, vengeance. The modern enlightened Christian is smiling in pity at the hoofs and horns which once were thought to be useful for scaring them into being religious. The signboards which pointed the quaking beliefs of so many of our ancestors to a place of brimstone luridly burning forever, have about all rotted down. Faith in divine Love is needed, — needed by young and old. It purifies and pacifies the misapplied energies and activities of youth and middle age, and points out that the phenomenon of death is the destruction of what is false, not of what is true; for nothing that is true, nothing that God ever made, is to be destroyed. Whatever is true is eternal. Thus it elevates and fortifies our thinking, and thereby our lives, when the years soften the tones in the music of life, and when we approach what our physical consciousness would teach us to be the Abdullah's cave of old age, full of gloom and darkness. Away with the dry-rot of false belief! "Have faith in God," said Jesus; not in something else — not in men-made wisdom, but "have faith in God." The logic of this is, have faith in the law and government of God. It is sufficient for all the real needs of humanity in all ways, at all times, under all circumstances and conditions.
Now when we pray to God we are in communion with divine Truth if we pray aright to the true God; we are in touch with divine Truth, and thereby we must assimilate more or less of the truth which Jesus promised should make us free. You may say, "I do not understand how Truth can make us well if we seem to be sick. I do not understand how mere thinking, in prayer or otherwise, can change the secretions and excretions of the body." I had a medical friend, an intelligent, good man, who was doing the best he knew, according to his light, to alleviate the sufferings of poor humanity, but who was working under a system which looks upon man as a mere physical machine. This doctor put that question to me, and I answered him as I say to you now: According to chemistry, as shown by recent experiments, using their own terminology and from their materialistic view-point, the mental condition does affect the character of the secretions and excretions of the body. The experiment was this: They took the various excretions of the body, perspiration, breath, and so on, analyzed them chemically, and what did they find? They found that the breath, the perspiration, etc., of a person in a normal condition of mind were harmless; whereas the excretions of the body of a person who was laboring under intense excitement, under great fear, great anger, and so on, were found to be more or less poisonous; and this was the answer, from his own view-point, to the question of my friend.
We all know that thinking affects us in many ways. We know that when we pray aright to the one true God, our thoughts, emotions, aspirations, all climb to the very highest levels they are capable of reaching. Why should it be thought unreasonable that God, who is all-good, all-wisdom, all-power, should provide some means whereby we can overcome sin and sickness? Is it any more difficult to explain how prayer can overcome sickness than to explain how it can overcome sin? Jesus taught that they are precisely the same process. Deductive reasoning from the premise that God is, shows that both are effected by the same process; that this must be the true process, and that therefore no one can invent any true process as a substitute, through compounding drugs or anything else. God has given us the true way of overcoming sin and sickness, even as Jesus taught and exemplified it to his followers. Sin and sickness alike are departures from the truth of man's being under God's government. Why should you think it unreasonable or improbable, then, that divine intelligence has provided the one true way for our return?
Take some one who is skeptical as to the efficacy of prayer in overcoming sin or in overcoming sickness, and ask that person: Can you think of any process so reasonable as the process of prayer, if God intends and wishes that humanity shall be able to overcome sin and sickness? Wise were the words of the Quaker poet: —
I dare not fix by mete and bound
The power and love of God.
Dare you do so, my skeptical friend? God is Spirit. Man is God's image and likeness; therefore, in his true individuality, spiritual. Hence it follows, by sure deductive reasoning, that there must be intimate divine relations between God and man, which are represented by God's law and government; that these relations cannot be useless, but must be useful and usable, and therefore that we can make use of God's law and government for our higher harmony and happiness according to the measure of our understanding and obedience. Thus, to overcome sin, sickness, etc., is to do "the works of the Father."
Let me illustrate prayer from this viewpoint for a moment. I do not expect to explain all the mysteries of infinite intelligence. To do so would require an intelligence equal and like to that of Deity. Can any one explain why the rose grows upon a rose-bush instead of a currant-bush? No. Can any one explain why the acorn sprouts into the oak instead of the fir tree or the pine tree? In the last analysis, no botanist attempts to answer such a question; but a simple illustration along this line may prove useful in your meditation and reasoning hereafter on the subject of the utility and efficacy of the prayer of faith, which, as the apostle James declares, "shall save the sick."
A year ago last February I lectured at Bremerton, in the State of Washington, where is situated one of the navy yards of the Pacific coast. While I was there a wireless telegraphic message was received from a vessel several hundred miles away on the Pacific Ocean. That message was received at only two places, — at Bremerton, and at the other United States naval station down in California. There were thousands of other electrical instruments along that coast which did not receive the message, which got no benefit from it, and the operators of which did not even suspect its existence. Why the difference? It is explained in wireless telegraphy. (Here, by the way, let me say that wireless telegraphy was scouted at as absurd and impossible only a comparatively short time ago, even by educated electricians; now it is a proven and accomplished fact. We have no right to deny wireless telegraphy, or anything else, merely because we cannot know or comprehend the process or modus operandi.) So far as is necessary for the purpose of this illustration, I ask the privilege of explaining how this was accomplished, although many of you may be already well informed upon the subject.
Very briefly, then, the modus operandi is this: On board that vessel, hundreds of miles away on the Pacific Ocean, a powerful dynamo was connected with and actuated the sending instrument. This sending instrument transmitted into the mysteries of the upper air, in all directions alike, this wireless message which was received at Bremerton. I again ask, Why was that message received at Bremerton and at one other place on the coast, and not received, or its existence even suspected, at thousands of other receiving instruments? The receiving instrument at Bremerton and the receiving instrument down in California were attuned or harmonized to the sending instrument. All the other instruments were not attuned or harmonized to the sending instrument. What is the true office of prayer? It is to attune or harmonize men to God. It is not to change or better God, but it is to change and better men. It is to put us in a receptive spiritual attitude for the messages of divine Truth which Jesus promised shall make us free. God is not off in some distant corner of the universe, to be reached by some supposititious sort of long-distance prayer telephone. God is everywhere. God is infinite Mind, Life, Truth, Love. God's dynamic messages of divine truth are for us everywhere, and all the time, but we need to harmonize or attune ourselves to God, just as that receiving instrument at Bremerton was attuned or harmonized to the sending instrument on board the ship on the Pacific Ocean.
Let me say, in conclusion, that the world owes a debt of gratitude impossible to estimate to that great religious and humanitarian teacher whose deductive reasoning as applied to Christian Science has rediscovered to mankind the way taught by Jesus, whereby the overcoming of sin, sickness, and like ills has become a scientific, proven, accomplished benefaction to the world; and whereby the promise of Jesus, speaking of the eternal Christ or Christ-truth, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world," and whereby his promise, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also," and others of like glorious and blessed import, are proven to be true promises, not meaningless, impractical, or false ones. I repeat, the world owes a debt of gratitude which cannot be measured to this foremost woman and public benefactor of our age. She has furnished to the world treasures beside which the crowns and jewels in London Tower are baubles. She has brought to the world a new religious epoch. She has sown the seeds which already have grown into a most glorious harvest. She has taught a religion of divine Love, — just as Jesus taught it, — a religion which is needed by the world instead of the old theological teaching of a cruel, unkind, unloving, revengeful deity.
Mrs. Eddy has given to the world this restored benefaction of the Christ-healing of the sinning and the sick, showing that it is a provable fact, a scientific fact, because it was once performed by Christ Jesus, who taught that it was the work of the Father, the work of Truth! in other words, in accordance with the law and government of God, and that proven then, it can always be proven. What the Christ-truth stood for in the first century it stands for in this twentieth century, because truth is of God, and "the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever;" without "variableness, neither shadow of turning." What man or woman of this age, or what man or woman for many centuries, has accomplished the good already accomplished by Mrs. Eddy, and what man or woman's work has such a shining prophecy of future good? Often, when I read Mrs. Eddy's purifying and uplifting utterances, I wish I could alter just one word in Keats' lines, so that they might read, —
A thought of beauty is a joy forever;
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness.
When, just before the battle of the Nile, Napoleon said to his army, "Soldiers, from yonder Pyramids forty centuries look down upon your actions," he spoke of past centuries. If our great and beloved Leader, who has fought so long, so faithfully, so victoriously, — not as Napoleon fought, but for the good of mankind, — if she should say to her army of followers, now far greater than all the combined hosts which followed under the banners of the French captain, that forty centuries also look down upon their actions, it would mean the grateful centuries of the uplifted and purified future.
[Delivered April 23, 1908, in The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, and published in The Christian Science Journal, June, 1908. The introduction was published in the Christian Science Sentinel, May 2, 1908.]