Ralph Castle, C.S., of San Francisco, California
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
In my hand is a copy of the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." The author is Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer, Founder, and Leader of Christian Science.
Those who have engaged in research for professional training or technical vocations realize the necessity for reliable textbooks. In fact, a work that is not reliable is not accepted as a textbook. For to be a real textbook it must contain the leading principles or most important points of the branch of learning with which it deals. Appreciation for the contents of these books is generally increased when the student knows something about their authors, something of their experience and of outstanding events which contributed to their ability to write with authority.
It is to be readily understood, therefore, that students of Christian Science are deeply interested in as well as profoundly grateful for the life of the author of this textbook from which they have received instruction in the Science of being. And the man or woman who is just commencing an investigation of this Science is bound to value its contents more fully when familiar with some of the circumstances which led to its publication.
At the outset we should remember that Mrs. Eddy does not claim to have originated Christian Science. She discovered it. Marshall did not originate the gold he found in the hills of California. He discovered it. In the case of Marshall and the gold, geologists can estimate the length of time the metal lay in the earth before its discovery, whereas Mrs. Eddy tells us in a marginal note in her textbook that Christian Science is as old as God. Now what were the major factors which led to Mrs. Eddy's discovery?
Every honest man and woman will agree that spiritual thoughts, or ideas, can be perceived only by the spiritually-minded. And one has only to read a few paragraphs in Science and Health to admit the spirituality of its teachings whether agreeing with them or not.
First and foremost, then, Mrs. Eddy was spiritually minded. Her mother was a God-loving New England woman, who encouraged in her daughter a natural love for God and such a reliance on His power that, when at the age of twelve the little girl was ill with a fever and the doctor could give her no relief, she turned to God for help. So confident was her faith in the heavenly Father's love and ability to heal her that she was restored to normal health immediately.
In later years, when bedridden as the result of an accident and hope for her recovery had been abandoned, she turned to her Bible. Reading how Jesus healed the man who was sick of the palsy, she again became so conscious of the healing power of the Christ, Truth, that she arose, dressed, and left her room to join friends and relatives — to their utter amazement.
From that time forward Mrs. Eddy devoted her life to the service of God and man, and for the three years following her healing, and what she describes as her discovery of divine laws of Life, Truth, and Love, she confined her research almost exclusively to the Bible in an endeavor to find the rule which would solve the problem of Mind-healing.
Speaking of this experience she writes (I am reading from page 109 of the textbook): "The search was sweet, calm, and buoyant with hope, not selfish nor depressing. I knew the Principle of all harmonious Mind-action to be God, and that cures were produced in primitive Christian healing by holy, uplifting faith; but I must know the Science of this healing, and I won my way to absolute conclusions through divine revelation, reason, and demonstration." Hence, we find the understanding of Christian Science to be based on divine revelation, reason, and demonstration. Without the consistent, conscious use of these three elements it is impossible to progress in its study and application.
It is significant that Mrs. Eddy always puts God first. Let us pause for a moment and review the meaning of the two words "divine revelation." A dictionary definition of "divine" reads, "Of or pertaining to God." And "revelation" is defined as "sacred truths which God has communicated to man for his instruction and direction." Throughout all her writings, Mrs. Eddy stresses the necessity for an understanding of and reliance on God, to look for and to expect divine guidance and instruction.
Incidentally, the Bible from which Mrs. Eddy studied was the King James Version, the same Version which is used in Christian Science churches in all English-speaking countries. While there are many instances of God's guidance and instruction in Old Testament narratives, it was the words and works of our Master, Christ Jesus, upon which Mrs. Eddy based the faith which was justified by her demonstrations of healing and which enabled her to set forth in this book the rules whereby we, too, can heal the sick and cast out devils. Our Leader refers to Jesus in her writings as "the Way-shower," and the very words "Christian Science," the Science of Christianity, establish for all time that her findings are based on Jesus' teachings.
In her writings Mrs. Eddy always employed words which would convey the exact degree of meaning she intended, so no doubt could arise in the thought of the reader. For instance, she uses the word "adore" only in connection with God, Jesus, and the Christ. Unfortunately, to adore has fallen into careless usage by many persons, but in its original purity the meaning remains, namely, to worship. So we see that not only did Mrs. Eddy love and adore God, but she loved and adored Jesus. And Christian Science inculcates in its students a love for God and the Master far beyond that which mere words can express.
In Christian Science, the original distinction is retained which existed between Jesus and the Christ. Jesus was a man's name, and is so still in some countries. Christ was a title meaning the Anointed or the Messiah. Originally the Master was referred to as Jesus the Christ, but gradually the article was dropped until he became commonly spoken of as Jesus Christ. But the fact remains that his entire ministry established his Messiahship, for it was concerned solely with his Father's, that is, with God's, business. To cite just one of his many statements to this effect: "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me" (John 6:38).
Jesus was actually God's representative on earth, doing nothing, as he said, in his own power or strength, but accomplishing all things — healing the sick, raising the dead, regenerating sinners, even bringing his own body back from the tomb — through his at-one-ment with the Father, the divine Spirit with which he was endowed without measure; and physical healing through the power of God, or by spiritual means, was an integral part of the religion he taught. That is why physical healing by spiritual means, or by prayer, is an integral part of Christian Science.
Miracles, or mighty works, as Matthew, Mark, and Luke record them, were regarded as signs by Jesus and by those who witnessed them. When John the Baptist sent disciples to question Jesus as to his Messiahship, instead of giving John a direct answer, the Master referred him to certain signs — the blind receiving sight, the lame walking, the deaf hearing, and the dead being raised.
You remember it is recorded in the second chapter of the Acts, when Peter was explaining the Pentecostal phenomenon, that he spoke of Jesus as "a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know." Without a knowledge of the power by which the miracle, so called, was accomplished, the miracle was meaningless. The miracles of Jesus were signs that he was truly God's representative, that his thought was so pure, so uncontaminated by materialism, that he could act as a transparency for God. He said, and I quote John 14:11, "Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me," adding, "or else believe me for the very works' sake." It is as if he had said, "If you cannot understand what I mean, take it on faith from what you have seen."
And Jesus added (Mark 16:17,18); "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." These declarations of Jesus furnish the key to individual salvation, and they are at once an authority and a command for the spiritual healing known as the practice of Christian Science. In other words, it is the practical application of divine Truth to human affairs.
A group of little ones in a Christian Science Sunday School were talking about one of their teachers. One child asked, "Is he a practitioner?" Another small one chimed in, "What's a practitioner?" "A practitioner is someone who gives you a treatment when you're ill," said the first. "Well, what's a treatment?" pursued the other. The answer came with conviction, "A treatment's a healing."
We all love the assurance with which the child thought accepts spiritual facts as real and expects to see them made manifest.
To the new student this word "treatment" sometimes presents a stumbling block. I remember asking someone, when I first started to read Christian Science literature, to explain a Christian Science treatment to me while we were walking down the street. This good friend told me what she could in the length of time it takes to walk a few blocks, but it was left for me to puzzle it out; and for the most part, the job seemed to consist of unlearning what I had cherished as fact for too many years. So, in the hope that a degree of light may be thrown on this anything but mysterious process, it may be helpful to leave a few thoughts on the subject for the newcomer.
First of all, let us have a definition of terms. During the course of our talk reference will be made to what is real, what is unreal, and to man. That we may understand one another, as employed in Christian Science the words "real" and "unreal" convey a meaning somewhat different from that in common usage.
Sir James Jeans, the prominent physicist, pronounced years ago that "the physical senses cannot cognize reality. Reality can only be perceived." Sir James glimpsed a truth which Mrs. Eddy had discovered some time previously. But Sir James reached no farther than the materially mental realm, whereas Mrs. Eddy, searching on a higher plane, found the real to be the spiritual. On one point they definitely agree, namely, that the physical senses cannot cognize reality.
The physical senses have never seen, heard, nor felt God. The physical senses have never seen, heard, nor felt Life, Truth, Love. The physical senses can only take cognizance of that which is physical, of matter and its material accompaniments. What we see with the eyes is a belief of animate matter, a perpetuation of the dream which is attributed to Adam when he slept — a dream of a material creation; a belief, mark you, not the truth of creation, and proved to be but a belief because it can be destroyed. Recent events, graphically depicted in various ways, offer sufficient evidence that matter or material objects can be completely dissipated. So where is their permanence, or in another word, their reality? The real can never be destroyed. As Mrs. Eddy states in what is termed "the scientific statement of being," on page 468 of the textbook, "Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal."
Having defined the terms real and unreal we come to a definition of man. Here we take the Holy Bible as our authority. In the first chapter of Genesis, in the story of the spiritual creation, we read that God made man in His own image and likeness. None will deny, I hope, that God is Spirit, that is, if such a one spiritually understands the Bible. God being Spirit, man in God's image must be spiritual. And that is the man in whom we are interested. The physical senses cannot truly cognize, cannot see, hear or feel him. How is it possible, then, to know the real man?
The answer is — through consciousness, spiritual sense. We know nothing of ourselves, or of anyone else, except what we think. So what are we going to think about ourselves and, incidentally, about our neighbor? Of what will we be conscious? We have the ability, through the gift of reason, to think scientifically in terms of God and His idea, His image and likeness, the real man, or to think falsely in terms of matter with its beliefs of pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow — in other words, to dwell on the unreal and temporal. It is our privilege to choose which type of thinking we prefer. And carried a step farther, it becomes self-evident that the real man, the real you and the real me, the individual consciousness which is the reflection of divine consciousness, or the image and likeness of God, does not live in this matter body. Someone may ask, "Where, then, does it live?" In the realm of the real, of course; in Spirit, God, in the kingdom of heaven, which Jesus said is within you, that is, within spiritual consciousness, not within matter.
These metaphysical premises are essential to metaphysical treatment, for the actual treatment rests on a proper recognition by the practitioner of the patient's perfection as the real man. An illuminating passage on pages 476 and 477 of the textbook reads: "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick." Let me repeat, "the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick." Jesus was not misled by what his material eyes would have had him believe.
This matter body has no life to give, for, in reality, there is no life in matter. To be sure, mankind believes in material identity, while Christian Science shows identity to be individual consciousness, spiritual and eternal. Mankind asserts that individuals are evolved through material processes, and all sorts of negative conditions are attached to them. Chemists and biochemists have been endeavoring, especially in recent years, to endow matter with more and more life, and with life-giving properties. Yet the deeper the research of these physical scientists, the more difficult becomes their problem to define a living thing. We find renowned and learned men admitting an ever-growing perplexity to distinguish between what they term the living and the inanimate. The remarkable, the astounding fact remains, however, that a New England gentlewoman eighty years ago discovered the truth of being and named her discovery Christian Science. By the application of rules which she labored to give to the world, Christian Science has been proved time and time again to solve the problem which continues to baffle and will continue to baffle those who seek to establish life in matter.
Thus we find individual spiritual consciousness is entirely divorced from the belief of life as an embryo, gradually developing form, to appear as a material baby starting on its human way to ultimate death. A marginal note on page 477 of Science and Health states, "Material body never God's idea."
To progress in spiritual, understanding, therefore, we need to recognize what constitutes true being as an idea of God; and as this truth becomes apparent we perceive the truth pertaining to all creation. To attempt to gain the spiritual heights without a clear conviction of individual man's spiritual origin and eternality would be similar to trying to solve a problem in higher mathematics without a knowledge of the numeration tables.
The more we grasp the facts of spiritual creation, or spiritual causation, the more clearly does real selfhood dawn on the understanding, and with it the realization of our individual eternality, indestructibility, and perpetual reflection of the power, presence, and qualities of God. And when considering creation, may I offer the thought that we think in terms of cause and causation. Causation implies a subject that is broad in scope.
So-called physical beliefs of sin, sickness, and death are effects of material thinking. To find a remedy for them, mankind generally delves deeper and deeper into matter, reasoning erroneously from effect to cause. Christian Science shows that we should commence our deliberations on the scientific premise that causation is spiritual. Then we proceed along the lines of spiritual reasoning, recognizing that nothing unlike Spirit could result from Spirit. In other words, nothing unlike God, good, can emanate from or reflect God. Like must produce like. And so we find earnest students of Christian Science cultivating an ability to detect unscientific reasoning and reject from their thinking the belief that error is cause by annulling it with true causation, the truth of being. And the glorious fact is, this Truth is always available. In reality, material beliefs are powerless to act as or become either cause or effect. As we have seen, material beliefs are no part of God's creation, the creation of spiritual ideas — the real you and the real me.
The effectiveness of this correct reasoning as the basis of Christian Science treatment is seen in the healing of sick minds and bodies. As an example, let me cite the case of a young man who came under the belief of a severe accident. Falling several feet, he crashed on a glass showcase. He was picked up and rushed to a hospital, where it was found that splinters of the glass had seriously lacerated him internally. A practitioner was not called until several hours later, because of failure of others to reach the young man's mother. At the time she heard of the mishap and called for Christian Science help, it was announced that the only thing that might save his life was a blood transfusion and this would have to be administered within the following thirty minutes. The practitioner instantly started work from the basis just described, and although the patient was taken to a room for the transfusion, he had rallied sufficiently for the doctors to say it was no longer necessary. They then stated that it would be three months before he could expect to leave the hospital and that it was doubtful whether he would ever be completely healed.
Practitioner and patient paid no regard to the physical evidence but religiously turned their thoughts Godward and mentally worked for spiritual progress. Citations from the Bible and writings of Mary Baker Eddy pertinent to such progress were studied diligently, and at the end of one week the young man returned to his home. In one month from the date of the accident he returned to his work completely healed. To conform with requirements of his business, he permitted the doctors to make an examination. They agreed he had been completely healed and openly declared that if they had not seen the evidence for themselves they would not have believed it possible.
Most of us formed some idea of Deity in our childhood. Mine happened to be the orthodox white-bearded, benevolent grandfather type whose eyes, although appearing quite normal, were credited with microscopic and X-ray qualities. Frankly, I did not like it when I was reminded, and I was reminded constantly, that God saw everything I did. It was not until I read this book, Science and Health, that reason told me I had really found God, and the soundness of that reason has been proved to me in countless ways by demonstration. As a matter of fact, my first healing came to me at that time. A condition for which I had been operated upon eleven times in one year, and which it was thought never would be healed, completely disappeared.
From the Christian Science textbook I learned that God must be perceived as much more all-inclusive than had been conveyed to me through the years by the one word "God." As a result of her proofs of healing, Mrs. Eddy was able to reveal to mankind the fact that God is infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love. Although in the course of her writings she alludes to the Deity in many other ways, the seven synonyms just mentioned include within themselves every attribute and quality of God as omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient.
If we wish to prove by demonstration the truth of Christian Science, our concept of God must include an ever-expanding understanding of Him in the light of these seven synonyms. This process of unfoldment in individual consciousness is obtained only through prayer, meditation, and study. And this unfoldment is revelation.
To admit God to be Love, for instance, and not to understand Him as Principle, or vice versa, is insufficient. Our aim is to understand God completely, and in order to do so our concept must include a practical, workable knowledge of Him as infinite Mind, infinite Spirit, and so on.
It is rather a good plan to ask ourselves the question every so often, "What is my concept of God?" Upon the extent of the answer depends much of our spiritual growth, for it is a truism in Christian Science to say that the more we know of God the more we know of man, by reflection, and consequently the more we know of our real selfhood.
Touching quite briefly on the seven synonyms, we start with Mind. It is impossible to conceive of God as infinite Mind and yet think there are some things in the spiritual realm about which He knows little or nothing. As Mind must be all-knowing, it follows that man, reflecting Mind's qualities, knows too, and knows that he knows. Which reminds me of the story relating to Henry Ward Beecher which many of you may remember and which I think is apropos.
As a child he was exceedingly timid. On one occasion, when in the schoolroom, he was sent to the blackboard and told to work out a rather hard problem. He stood there trembling and uncertain and failed miserably.
"That lesson must be learned," said the teacher. "I did study it for two hours," said the boy. "You may study it for two hours or ten hours," answered the teacher. "Just suit yourself; but I want that lesson."
When Henry returned to school the next day he was sure of success; yet in the midst of his demonstration the teacher suddenly said, "No." Beecher went over the entire problem again and at the same point the teacher said, "No." Completely baffled, Beecher returned to his seat, flushed with confusion.
The next boy stepped up and he, too, was interrupted by the teacher's thundering, "No." But this lad went straight ahead, finished the problem, and was rewarded by a "Well done."
"Why," faltered Henry, "I worked it just as he did and you said, 'No.'" The rebuke was immediate: "Why did you not say 'Yes' and stick to it? It is not enough to know your lesson, you should know you know it. If all the world says 'No' your business is to say 'Yes' and prove it."
Man knows that he knows. I remember a case where a practitioner was called to come to the assistance of a woman who had gone suddenly insane and, because of her violence, had been placed in a psychopathic institution at the request of neighbors. The family felt that if she could be away from this place she could be healed. However, the state authorities had announced their intention to have her committed to an asylum.
The Christian Science practitioner, knowing that the law of God counteracts any seeming lack of mercy in the thought of man, and that this law is ever operative whether the patient is knowing it or not, mentally turned away from the false evidence which had been presented over the telephone. Looking into Mind for guidance, these words by our Leader on page 469 of the textbook instantly came to her thought. I quote: "The exterminator of error is the great truth that God, good, is the only Mind, and that the supposititious opposite of infinite Mind — called devil or evil — is not Mind, is not Truth, but error, without intelligence or reality." And she knew that God's idea is held forever in His care and that if more time seemed necessary in which to work out this seemingly serious problem the human need for refuge would surely be met. In a few minutes she was able to arrange for the patient to be taken into a home where a Christian Scientist could give the proper attention, if the court would release her.
At first the judge was adamant in his refusal. Testimony had been presented that the woman was a danger to the community and a hopeless case. Then, without any apparent reason, the judge suddenly reversed himself and said: "If you can find any place where she can be restricted and in safe keeping I will grant you one month. If Christian Science has not healed her in that time she must be committed to the state asylum."
The woman left the city with her relatives to be driven some fifty miles to the home kept by the Christian Scientist. By the time they arrived she was completely healed and, within a week, returned to her own home. This was many years ago, and she has been an active, useful member of a Christian Science church ever since.
The realization of God as infinite Spirit at once conveys the knowledge that man, His image and likeness, is spiritual, unfettered by beliefs of the flesh. Approached from this standpoint we see it is impossible for the real man to be sick or sinful. God as Soul assigns to man his immortality and the ability to discern spiritual realities. Consequently, an understanding of Soul and its attributes is of greatest importance in the healing of the sick. The right sense of Soul brings the right sense of health.
Next we come to Principle. Without Principle there could be no law, no order. Man, living in accordance with Principle, can express, or reflect, only that which is supported by divine law. One could never contemplate Principle as finite or limited. To be Principle, God must be infinite and universal. Man, therefore, is forever protected by Principle, for there can be no error, no evil, no mistake in Principle. Divine law, operating in accordance with Principle, is ever active in man's behalf, and it is this law that we invoke in our own behalf and in behalf of others when called upon to meet and to destroy the claims of error manifested as sin, sickness, and death.
The three remaining synonyms, Life, Truth, and Love, are quite frequently grouped together in our Leader's writings. Each has, of course, its own separate important bearing on our study. Yet to human comprehension there appears to be a natural link between them. Life brings the thought of the fatherhood and motherhood of God. With Truth, we think of the Christ, the divine idea, or Son, and Love immediately imparts a sense of the Comforter.
As I said a moment ago, I am merely touching with the utmost brevity these definitions of God. The time allotted for a lecture would not permit discussing them fully; in fact, to obtain a full and complete understanding of Deity is the work of eternity. And this is all the more reason we should make a start here and now. So I commend to the student the Holy Bible with a Concordance thereto, and a complete set of Mrs. Eddy's writings together with a Concordance. These offer a most fertile field for research.
An element vital to the demonstration of Truth and to spiritual healing is inspiration. Without inspiration we are apt to become deadlocked in matter, in materialism.
In Job 32:8 we read, "There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding." As you know, the word "inspire" comes from the Latin, meaning to breathe into. One dictionary gives as a definition, "to animate or kindle as by a spiritual influence." And Moffatt's translation of the text from Job reads, "Yet God inspires a man, 'tis the Almighty who breathes knowledge into him."
Inspiration is a divine impulse which unfolds to man the understanding of spiritual selfhood. We need to cultivate the habit and ability of recognizing this impulse which, in reality, cannot be hindered or obstructed, which cannot be short-circuited or diverted, but which flows perpetually from God to spiritual man.
A student may sometimes lament that results of right reasoning which came easily when he was younger now seem to take longer and require more labor. If this temptation ever comes to us, we should immediately see it for what it is — the diabolical mesmerism of matter with its attendant beliefs of material substance, weight, years, lack of mobility, and so forth. There is not one particle of Truth in that kind of thinking, for no such condition can emanate from or be known to God. Therefore it is unknown to man, and on that ground it must be destroyed.
Contrariwise, true thoughts, which are clearly of God, do supply the spiritual impulse, the inspiration, which opens and reopens the door to human consciousness, enabling it to receive more of the Christ, Truth. Christian Scientists should never waste time lamenting either the past or the present, any more than they should dread the future. Demonstrating the truth of being is a conscious, present experience, and spasmodic efforts are overcome by consistent, joyous work. Work does not mean merely indulging in good intentions or in religious ecstasy, in human material platitudes or vain repetitions. Work means, for one thing, mental alertness to the claims of evil, destroying them in consciousness by scientific thinking and, when necessary or advisable, taking proper physical action. Work does not mean mere physical labor. On page 519 in this textbook Mrs. Eddy tells us, "God rests in action." So Christian Science work should be conducted with relaxation.
Inspiration to the Christian Scientist is a divinely natural experience, qualifying him to accept and express divine Truth. It flows more freely as the presence of the Christ is realized more fully. In John 20:22 we read that when Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection he breathed on them; in other words, he inspired them by his presence. Then he said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." We need to cultivate the expectancy of feeling the breath of the Christ and to receive similar inspiration.
In the second epistle of Peter (1:21) it is stated, and I quote, "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost," which may rightly be considered as being inspired by God. Mrs. Eddy says on page 84 of the textbook: "When sufficiently advanced in Science to be in harmony with the truth of being, men become seers and prophets involuntarily, controlled not by demons, spirits, or demigods, but by the one Spirit. It is the prerogative of the ever-present, divine Mind, and of thought which is in rapport with this Mind, to know the past, the present, and the future."
Inspiration is not something which comes and goes, any more than health comes and goes with the spiritual man. Neither is it something difficult to acquire, something for which we must fight. Man does not have to fight to live. Man lives by divine authority. Therefore, he is inspired by divine authority. So, if and when there seems to be a stoppage in the flow of inspiration, do not sit down under it and merely wait for a change to occur in the mental attitude. Do something about it. Instantly become alert to what is trying to hinder your spiritual growth, a would-be deterrent to the efficacy of Christian Science healing. When the error is thus uncovered it is ripe for destruction. Inspiration is the impulse to heal. It is a prime factor in the receptivity of human consciousness to revelation, for inspiration and revelation go hand in hand.
One of the most vexing problems which the world faces today is how to establish a permanent peace — peace not only between nations but within nations. It goes without saying that peace cannot be enjoyed so long as human beings entertain thoughts of war and strife, while they participate in heated arguments and bitter criticisms. If we as individuals are to make any worthwhile contribution to the attainment of peace, we must express and be conscious of peace. Peacefulness is another God-bestowed quality. The benediction of the Master, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you," is for us today if we will accept it. Jesus qualified this peace. You remember his next words, "Not as the world giveth, give I unto you." The peace of the Master is not the kind of peace the world, or the carnal mind, understands.
Are we to wait until labor and management come to forced and probably only temporary agreements; when members of different unions are willing to work side by side harmoniously; when religious groups actually encourage each other to worship God in their own way; when dissenting factions within churches unite to spread the gospel and put self-abnegation into practice? Are we to wait until differences in communities are settled; until all can live in harmony with their in-laws or even with close relatives? Or are we going to claim and enjoy here and now, that inward spiritual peace which is ours by right of inheritance as the children of God.
We can take advantage now, and I mean this instant, through a right understanding of God as divine Love, of the blessed peace which is available to each and every one of us. No one else can give it to us for it is not theirs to give. No matter how much one who is near and dear might wish to bring peace to a loved one, while he might contribute to peace, he could not fully bestow it on others, for peace is a gift direct from God, divine Love, to each individual.
Peace of mind is part of true being, and is of such inestimable value that it is probably the first possession which error would try to steal. We do not have to fall among thieves; and the various conflicts which seem to engage the attention of mankind, some of which I have just mentioned, are but thieves and murderers.
Error is so subtle it might even take on a reproachful attitude. It might say, How can you dare to be at peace when the rest of the world is engaged in strife? It is not Christian to be joyful when others are miserable. It is not kind, in fact it is not decent to be happy while so many persons, at home and abroad, are so unhappy. See how error would rob us if it could, if we would let it. Thanks to the Bible and the teachings in Science and Health we know that error, under whatever name or guise, is but a belief. The unhappiness of mankind, its distresses and sicknesses, are all false beliefs. This does not mean we are unmindful of them. Quite the contrary, we deplore the misery which human beings are being called upon to undergo and we seek to relieve their physical sufferings by every practical means in our power. But because tens of thousands of persons, or one who is near and dear to us, entertain a false sense is no valid reason for us to accept it as true.
Christian Scientists have a responsibility to contribute to the peace of the world by consistent, conscientious metaphysical work, mentally handling the false beliefs of fear, hatred, suspicion, and other ungodlike thoughts which would obtrude themselves into the attempts of nations to live peaceably together. However, if we are to contribute to the peace of the world, the nation, the church, the community, or the family, the place to start is with ourselves, in our own individual consciousness. Until we learn to live peacefully with ourselves, to know what peace of mind means, we cannot impart it to others. But when we do, the light shines, the beatific presence is felt, and its influence will permeate the thought of those with whom we live and work, and the seed thus sown will bring forth fruit an hundredfold.
As Christian Scientists we have a responsibility in letting the light shine and in remembering that God's ideas are not labeled Russian, Greek, British, or American, but that they cooperate and coordinate under the divine law of Love. The rules of procedure are clearly set forth in the Christian Science textbook and they were exemplified by our Saviour, Jesus the Christ. One of our much-loved hymns beautifully expresses a sound approach to this subject in these words (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 217):
"Then, brother man, fold to thy heart thy brother,
For where love dwells, the peace of God is there:
To worship rightly is to love each other;
Each smile a hymn, each kindly deed a prayer."