George Channing, C.S.B., of San Francisco, California
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
A free lecture on Christian Science, entitled "Christian Science: Its Assurance of True Guidance to Men," was delivered Feb. 22, 1941, by George Channing, C.S.B., of San Francisco, Cal., at Third Church of Christ, Scientist, New York City.
Mr. Channing, a member of the board of lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, spoke substantially as follows:
In a little New Hampshire township, nearly twenty-five years after George Washington had completed his second term as the first President of the United States of America, there was born to a devout New England woman, characterized by robust, compassionate Christianity, a daughter destined to bring to weary pilgrims of earth the divine Comforter Christ Jesus had promised. The tremendous mission of her babe was not known and obviously could not have been known to this loving mother by any human discernment. Nevertheless she felt, even before the birth, that her child was to serve God in some great way. That intuition in her, deep, and wisely accepted, assumed the proportions of divine guidance. It led her, for one thing, to give her daughter over largely to the care and spiritual instruction of the child's consecrated, deeply reverent, Bible-loving grandmother who, conveniently living in the household, had cemented her affections in the situation by asking and receiving permission to give the babe the Biblical name of "Mary." That intuition of the mother concerning her daughter's religious mission also inspired her to deal gently, cautiously, and wisely herself with the growing child's extraordinary spiritual experiences — to encourage her with poise and good judgment in order to bring to natural fruition whatever meaning these experiences might hold.
One such experience relates to little Mary's oft-heard calling of her name under circumstances when inquiry showed that no human being had called. The mother, perplexed but also impressed, at last investigated to her satisfaction, then quietly explained to her daughter the Bible story of the boy Samuel's call from God, admonishing her to reply, if she heard the call again in Samuel's own words, "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth." Mary did hear it again, but was too frightened to answer. Later it came as before, and she boldly replied as her mother had advised, thus satisfying the call so that it never came again in that form. But come it continued to do in various other forms, and answered it continued to be with humility, assurance, and obedience throughout a long life of vast spiritual achievement in which God's hand unquestionably guided.
This beautiful incident of the mother's advice and the child's obedient answer to the call she heard is the occasion for a heart-warming tribute to this mother, Abigail Ambrose Baker, by Sibyl Wilbur, one of the authorized biographers of this child of spiritual destiny, Mary Baker Eddy — a tribute which, because it will doubtless win agreement from us here, I repeat as the biographer has written it: "What wisdom and love in this spiritual-minded mother, causing her to guide her child into the full benefit of her first deeply religious experience! She did not contradict, rebuke, or deride; but guided gently part of the way, then left the child to go up alone to that mount of sacred experience which no two human beings, however tender their relation, can ascend together."
That same spiritual guidance which directed Mrs. Baker in her relationship with Mary, flowered to the full in her daughter's career. Through experiences, in which she was spared no cruelty or tragedy of the human mind's inhumanity, this daughter of spiritual achievement threaded her way, under direction which had to be divine in order to be effective, up to her sacred discovery of Christian Science, and on to the establishment of the Christian Science Church for the protection of the purity of its statement and the demonstration of its power to awaken men's thought to God's exclusive presence, thus healing all ills of the flesh.
Does not this experience of this mother and daughter appear to you, as it does to me, as an illustration of the truth of the Biblical promise: "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left"? (Isaiah 30:21.) And does it not also appear to you — you at least who are in some degree familiar with Mrs. Eddy's gloriously fulfilled mission of making plain in this age the applied Science of the Christly method of releasing tired humanity from sickness, sin, and the belief in the inevitability and finality of death — does it not appear to you definitely as an illustration of the unthwartable fulfillment of that Biblical promise when thought is attuned to the voice of God's guidance?
While Mrs. Eddy is individual and alone in her following of divine guidance to the fulfilling of the prophecy of Christ Jesus in revealing the divine Comforter to men, nevertheless history records many instances, to say nothing of the multitude of individual experiences it has not recorded, wherein men have found their way to the light through hearing and obeying God's voice. An outstanding illustration of this is supplied in the experience of Abraham Lincoln, who himself mentioned George Washington as another who accepted the guidance of God. Lincoln went to his task of guiding disagreeing brothers of his own nation through the deadly experience of forthcoming war into the lasting harmony of national unity, with these reverent words on his lips — words uttered as he left his home in Illinois to take command at the White House, and hinting his future success: "With a task before me greater than that of Washington, without the assistance of that divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me and be with me everywhere for good, we may hope that all will be well." History has recorded how well-founded was his hope, just as it has recorded the fruition of the hopes of others, and left unrecorded but not diminished the achievements of hosts of men and women who have built on the basis of the presence of Deity.
Sometimes the world questions the guidance of God. No one ever questioned it, however, who truly depended upon it. Something in the willingness to look to God sincerely, to discard and reject all other reputed sources of guidance, opens the ears to the voice of God. No one can hear God whose mentality is completely insulated against Him by the belief in His absence.
And no one can fail to hear God whose mentality is open to His voice through the acknowledgment of His presence. The seeming evidence of His absence will crowd upon the so-called mentality which believes Him absent, making apparently real the illusion of its despair. But the evidence of His presence will overwhelm this illusion when the heart's desire for God is accompanied by the heart's acceptance of Him. And this assurance is for one and all, for you and me and all mankind. For is not the promise without respect of persons?
"Thine ears," says the Bible (whoever you are who accept this promise) — "Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when you turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left."
In view of the ever-availability of this wholly dependable guidance it would appear evident that the reason for confusion that seems to show in the lives of individuals and of nations is the lack of an understanding of God. Perhaps it is the failure to recognize to what or to whom one is turning, when one desires to turn to God, that blights high hope and dampens in the heart the assurance of divine control and government. For I assume that the desire to know God (that essential condition for knowing His guidance) is in the heart of every intelligent person who glimpses the nature of God — God, the great Architect, who builds His man and His universe out of infinite purity, which is assurance against corruption and decay; God, who makes everything right and designs all things to satisfy the heart's great longings and deep desires, when our desires proceed from wisdom and intelligence.
If lack of understanding of God is the factor seeming to bar men and nations from His unerring guidance, let all who will, take heart. The seeming barrier is neither real nor insurmountable. Out of His infinite goodness, God has sent His messenger to this age, even that child of spiritual destiny referred to at the beginning of this lecture; and the message the messenger has brought is easily understood and cannot be denied to anyone who desires it. It is the nature of God to reveal Himself. And that which can comprehend the revelation must be a consciousness in the likeness of God Himself, characterized by purity, spiritual-mindedness, perfection of thought and desire; cast in the mold of that which is eternal. That is why God gave His message to Mary Baker Eddy, regaled Himself to her pure consciousness, cultivated in unselfish love expressing the divine, and endowed with true spirituality to the degree that unfolded, as has been said, the divine Comforter and thus fulfilled in our day the prophecy of the Founder of Christianity that the Comforter would come to humanity.
Just as it is the nature of God to reveal Himself, so it was the nature of Mrs. Eddy's thought to unfold to all humanity the revelation which had come to her in consonance with her spiritual attainment — a revelation which, to human thought, cultivated as hers was to recognize spiritual truth, was a discovery.
Both, as a revelation and a discovery she presents her message to the world in her remarkable textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" — the book which elucidates the pure teaching of Truth, committed to her trust. As a revelation, it is what God gave to her; as a discovery, it is what she found and gave to us. Revelation and discovery represent together the coincidence of reason, intuition, and spiritual understanding. You and I may well read and ponder this book, for its contents will awaken the quality of spiritual discovery in us. They will unveil in our consciousness the revelation of His just and loving and merciful presence, justice and love and mercy combining as the grace of God, who imparts to men the power to know and demonstrate man's spiritual, sinless self.
Her discovery Mrs. Eddy called Christian Science. For she knew it was Science when she observed its universal, unlimited law operating with unerring effect in the human realm, so called, as well as the divine. And she knew it was Christian; for it was in full accord with all that Christ Jesus came to say and do, and it made plain the meaning and the method of his mighty works among men. It encompassed, in other words, her demonstrable understanding of the compassionate nature of the Christ as the divine idea of God, dispelling from human consciousness the errors of human sense and unveiling in their illusory stead the ever-present spiritual facts of harmonious being.
Who or what is this God, so available and so ready to guide — this power which gives direction to our lives and removes confusion from thought which is truly acquainted with Him? Mrs. Eddy describes Him as infinite Mind, incorporeal, or without material body (albeit with spiritual expression), divine in nature and supreme in dominion and power. She identifies this Mind with Love, thus implying that Love coincides with that which is mentally perfect, or, in a word, is intelligent, and also implying that Mind coincides with that which is perfectly compassionate and tender, in a word, loving. In the same way, all the synonyms for God, including the Scriptural terms, Life, Truth, Spirit, as well as Love, and the implied terms Principle, which means the infinite source, and Soul, which means self-conscious Being, partake of the nature of Love and Mind, and all partake completely of the nature of each other. Thus Soul is not understood unless it is seen as coincident with Principle, the infinite source of all; and Principle is not understood unless it is seen as coincident with Soul, which is self-conscious Being. Each of these seven terms — Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, and Love, described by the four adjectives, incorporeal, divine, supreme, and infinite — has its function to serve as the name for Deity; but each is synonymous with the others, interchangeable with the others, and completely understood only when seen as including the implications and characteristics of the others. Truth is Spirit, the source of spiritual ideas, and Spirit is Truth, the source of reality. Life is Love, Mind, Spirit, Truth, Principle, and Soul because Life is tender, intelligent, devoid of matter, absolutely real, the origin of being which is conscious of its own existence; and, conversely, Love, Mind, Spirit, Truth, Principle, and Soul are Life because they are eternally active, undying, and permanent.
The divine Mind, then, is the essence of infinite understanding and perfect knowing, and because it is infinite, it is good, and leaves no room anywhere or under any circumstances for any other mind. "The children of God have but one Mind,'' says Mrs. Eddy (Science and Health, p. 470); and she follows that illuminating statement with the convincing question, "How can good lapse into evil, when God, the Mind of man, never sins?" Thus she makes apparent why sin would be unknown, and consequently true guidance immediately available, if mortals claimed no other Mind and accepted none other but God. (See Science and Health 469:19.)
The only Mind that is, sees its own creation of spiritual and perfect ideas forever unfolding in the infinite now of spiritual being. Therefore it cannot err, for nothing is obscured from its vision. It cannot go wrong, or make a mistake, for it is aware eternally of every detail within the range of its infinite self-understanding. It follows, therefore, that men cannot err when they acknowledge, demonstrate, and utilize the divine Mind as the only Mind. Even the desire to acknowledge it and utilize it, when such desire is honestly felt and applied, begins the identification of man as the expression of true Mind, revealing the steps to take, and guiding to the intelligent harmony and dominion of God in human affairs.
Is this so transcendental, so abstract, that you and I cannot make use of it here and now, cannot employ it to release the fevered brow from its fever, to equip the indebted heart to pay its debt, to fill chill thought with the affluent warmth of love? The proof of Christian Science is ever in its practice. Try it and see for yourself. Apply it, and win its rewards. For there is only one Mind, one Principle, one Life, one God. All that appears to be mind, but is at variance with God, is illusion. It has no real existence and appears to exist only to its supposititious self, or, in other words, to that which believes in its existence. Let us separate ourselves from the belief in it. It will vanish from us, with its cloudiness, confusion, and erring so-called decisions, before the white light of our acknowledgment and utilization of the ever-present divine Mind as the only Mind. For, when man lifts thought to the recognition of his spiritual status as the expression of divine Mind, he becomes, in consonance with that Mind, conscious of good; and this consciousness displaces, to the extent of its perceived presence and activity, the illusory consciousness of evil. And it reveals itself in the way humans can appreciate. If one is in need, the sense of supply replaces the sense of lack; and this spiritual sense is supported in human experience by whatever contributes most to supporting the spiritual consciousness of good. If one seems sick, and turns to spiritual Truth with a clear recognition of its presence and government, the sense of sickness will be replaced by the sense of health, for in the words of the Christian Science textbook (p. 447), "The recuperative action of the system, when mentally sustained by Truth, goes on naturally.'' If one is broken in body, troubled in heart, sorrowful, lonely, guilty, or fearful, spiritual sense will displace these, too, and that will appear in all sufficiency which antidotes these illusions and truly supports the spiritual consciousness of good. If one is taking the wrong path, he will, by this same unfoldment, see to take the right one, and, by persistent identification of himself as the expression of divine Mind, he will not depart from the right.
How does man identify himself as the expression of divine Mind? By being the qualities of that Mind. By being spiritually wise, spiritually pure, spiritually discerning, spiritually powerful, spiritually loving, healthful, and holy. It is not enough to be honest because it aids human relationships, to be loving because it warms the hearts of others toward oneself, to be harmless because it wins the confidence of men. Such standards are worthy and such motives help; but they do not heal. Our spiritual status is being achieved only when we are honest because we understand God, Principle, as the source of all right qualities, and are thus rejoicing in spiritual self-discovery, for man is the expression of Principle. Good effects do, indeed, appear, must necessarily appear, but they are the "signs following,'' the proof of the rightness of our course. They are not the purpose of our efforts, the objective to which we are committed. Our purpose is to be the man we are, without deception, false representation, or illusion; to be the son of God simply because we are the son of God; to be wise in the way that God is wise, thus making progress in demonstrating that the true, spiritual man is the offspring or expression of infinite Mind; to be spiritual because God is Spirit; to be active in good, because God is Life; to be conscious of our purity of being, because God is Soul; to be in the character of the source of all existence, because God is Principle; to be compassionate, protective, helpful, because God is Love; to be real and genuine, because God is Truth. Thus we make progress in demonstrating that the true, spiritual man is the child of infinite Spirit, infinite Life, Soul, Principle, Love, and Truth. In such demonstration we prove man's companionship with his divine Father-Mother, walk hand in hand with the Christ, the divinely active radiation of eternal Truth and light, establish man's ancestry as the good, the beautiful, and the true, and partake of man's divine inheritance of spiritual love, charm, winsomeness, achievement, and joy, which excludes all possibility of giving injury or being harmed.
Hosts of men and women have realized these facts in the true spirit of sonship to God. They swell the accumulating, pyramiding testimony to the power of this realization to separate man in his spiritual status from the painful illusions of fleshly thinking and living. This realization has not made them, nor will it make us, merely endure the sense of evil until it has wasted its claim to strength. Endurance in good is a quality of Truth, but, spiritually based, it dissipates the sense of evil, actively uncovers its nothingness, enables us to overcome evil, to upset and nullify its spurious designs, to be guided in the holy ways of divine Love, and thus clarify and purify the immediate so-called human scene. "The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword," says Paul (Hebrews 4:12), "piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Is not this precisely what Mrs. Eddy made practical when she wrote (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 250): "I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results. . . . Love cannot be a mere abstraction, or goodness without activity and power"? In the light of that statement, is not the love we express in our daily lives real only as it is the manifestation of divine Love, the source of all love? And cannot we make strong demands on this, our expression of Love, our embodiment of divine Love, that it appear as our guardian angel, leading and guiding into improved human relationships, truer human loyalties, sweeter ministrations of helpfulness one to another, until presently, through spiritual understanding, our manifestation of spiritual life establishes our eternal existence in God?
Is not the very practical matter of getting along with one another, living constructively with our fellow men, definitely a demand to be made on love? Surely no one would say that there is any wisdom in accepting human hatreds, dislikes, unfairnesses, thwartings, underminings, as real, continuous, or permanent? Love is irresistible. Let us express it, my friend. Let us make demands on our expression of it. Let us demand that our expression of it be so completely our thought and conduct that its coincidence with the wise moves we need to make becomes apparent in us. In the reality of divine Love's presence, which becomes manifest for you and me in the degree that we express it, there can be no collisions of thought, no warring interests, no devastating competition, no occupancy by anyone of the place that belongs to another. If human sense argues that there can be and are such collisions, let us wipe out the argument — our belief in the argument. Let us assert and demonstrate our status as the expression of perfect Love or Mind, guided by that Mind into the consciousness of full unfoldment of the individuality of each of us as the son of God. There will come to us a sense of the irresistible harmony and dominion existing in the one and only universe, God's spiritual kingdom; and there will vanish from us the sense of being thwarted from actively embodying the righteousness, goodness, and usefulness which constitute our blissful being and our only destiny.
We make and break human associations under demonstration, under God's direction for present progress, on the scientific basis that "whatever blesses one blesses all" (Science and Health, p. 206). But it is never demonstration to cease to live. Wisdom may require of her children the long view, so called, which knows that the broken human association is no break at all in spiritual unity, but is merely a call upon us for another footstep in daily experience, impelling us onward to the joy of bringing out in us the qualities of God, the character of the Christ. And "wisdom,'' says the Bible (Matthew 11:19), "is justified of her children." Such wisdom leaves no failure, no heartache, no limitation, no obscuration of the present and ultimate harmony of spiritual existence in the pathway through which it guides. For wisdom which is synonymous with Love guides by law — the law that Mind must evolve its universe accurately and precisely in terms of Mind's own nature.
How does the guidance of God heal disease? By leading thought to accept the fact that all is Spirit and the spiritual manifestation of Spirit — the fact which means that God controls you and me and the infinite universe in which we live, eternally in the consciousness of good. It leads us to this understanding, in accordance with that glorious promise in the Bible, already quoted in this lecture: "Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left." To the spiritualized consciousness this voice is clear. And when it is clear it is irresistible. It dissipates all belief in illusions. It brings about in our thought a disagreement with the appearance that matter is an agency for good or evil, and it wipes out the belief in the reality or power of evil to hinder the onward march of our lives to God and His harmony.
Salvation follows right thinking; and the Christ impels us to think rightly. The voice behind thee, which is the right or spiritual idea of being, the Christ of God, is forever saying: "This is the way: say 'yes' to Spirit and 'no' to matter, say 'yes' to divine Mind and 'no' to mortal, so-called mind." And this voice is being heard with regenerative and restorative effect by all that even desires to love God, Spirit, and honestly strives to put that desire into effect. Disease is the manifestation of unspiritual thinking — not somebody's thinking, but hypnotic, mortal mind's illusory thought claiming to belong to somebody. Just as vapor seems by a process to resolve itself into liquid and liquid into fluid, so mortal thought seems to resolve itself into matter, and matter into maladjustment, disease, limitation, and obstruction. Decide against mortal thought (or, more accurately, recognize your complete separateness from mortal thought), and you decide against disease; decide for (or, more accurately, recognize your unity with) divine Mind, and you decide for health.
In the light shed by Christian Science it is getting so today that even practitioners of material methods of healing are beginning to insist that these methods must be materially mental (whatever that phrase may mean). Articles in magazines and newspaper columns are proclaiming it. I recall one such article recently in a magazine classed among the more thoughtful and authoritative ones, which declared that the practice of medicine is rapidly approaching the point of diagnosing all physical, bodily ills as proceeding from a mental cause. It declares, as Christian Science has always done, that there is no difference between functional and organic disease, and insists that leaders in the healing art are recognizing that all disease, whether labeled organic or functional, is the effect of some abnormal state of mind. Christ Jesus knew that nineteen centuries ago, and he also knew the all-important thing which materially-minded healers have not yet arrived at, and will not arrive at through material-mindedness — he knew the true remedy for disease. He knew God. He knew that there is no such thing, in reality, as a material condition; but only spiritual existence; and he demonstrated that the illusion of a material condition will disappear, with its inharmonies, diseases, and despair, when consciousness awakens to spiritual being.
In this age Mary Baker Eddy has discovered the divine rules by which Christ Jesus' method can be applied by us, thus showing that the true understanding of God is the antidote for disease, and exalting the healing art to its divine status. All thought must accept this fact — the fact that the true understanding of God antidotes disease — for it is true. Nothing can resist Truth, God, successfully; indeed, nothing can resist Him at all, for the illusion of resistance is no resistance in reality. No one ever accepted God's allness with greater immediacy, and, consequently, no one ever healed diseases with greater swiftness and effectiveness, than did Christ Jesus; and no one in this age, except the spiritually minded Mrs. Eddy, was Godlike enough to discover the spiritual rules for this healing and to make them practical and effective. For she did make them practical and effective, as has been pointed out in this lecture, both in her demonstration of their healing power and in the measures she took to protect the purity of their statement. Largely to assure that protection, she established, under divine guidance, The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, with its branches which have now spread throughout the civilized world. And that church is today, through its wide activities prescribed by her to bless mankind, proclaiming the healing efficacy of her discovery for all who desire to hear. Her followers in the Science of Christianity, or Christian Science, are continuing to prove, as she has done before them, that the God-ordained rules of this Science for healing are always readily at hand for the certain salvation of anyone who applies them.
There is a young man whom I know, who knows that the health he enjoys today illustrates the happy effect of the guidance of God, which comes to the hearts that accept that guidance. This young man, when but an infant of two years, was pronounced by material methods of healing to be doomed to become totally blind. Such an eventuality was regarded by his would-be healers as the inevitable aftermath of another so-called disease which had been seemingly healed but obviously not so, since it was supposedly producing inescapable blindness. In the face of this unhappy prediction, his mother turned to the Christian Scientist in a near-by community, about whom it was being whispered that she was able to pray for and to help the sick who sought her prayers. In a short time, less than two weeks, the child was completely healed. With perfectly normal sight he was able later to become a student at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis and shortly thereafter to enter a university, from which he was graduated with honors, thence to enter, as his field of usefulness, the public practice of Christian Science. No, there isn't much question as to why this young man is devoting his life to helping others as he has been helped. For, before he entered the Naval Academy, he had another experience of a similar nature. Supposedly poisoned by water drunk on a pleasure trip, he and a companion were afflicted with what is regarded in mortal thought as a dread disease. His companion had what is called the best of attention in accordance with material methods; but he, himself, turned again to Christian Science. This time some of his neighbors, who either had not witnessed or had failed to learn from his previous experience with his eyesight (and, incidentally, were failing to respect his God-given right to think for himself), threatened public prosecution if anything happened to him under Christian Science treatment. But there was no prosecution. Following the sad event of his companion's passing on, while he was restored to perfect health, there was quiet, and also some appreciation of Christian Science, in the community. I pause to assure you, out of my heart's sincerity, that I mean no condemnation, or even criticism, of any method of healing to which anyone may turn for relief and help in accordance with the best light he has to guide him; but I do mean to say that the experience of the young man to whom we have been referring illustrates God's guidance into health and usefulness for those who turn honestly to Him for that guidance. Is it any wonder that this young man, like hosts of others who have had similar experiences, is ready to testify to the truth of the Scriptural promise: "Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left."
Does God guide you and me into achievement and what is called success in daily activity? Yes; every right purpose must come to fruition. In our business, our associations, our enterprises, our work, all we have to do is to ask ourselves, "Is my purpose right?" then, having taken our honest answer, conform our conduct to its leading. "How,'' do I hear you ask, "can one know if one's purpose is right?" By the simple, yet consecrated standard: "Is the effect of what I am doing, or trying to do, making more obvious to human thought the presence of God, divine Mind?" "Am I bringing out in me, through my enterprises, the qualities of God, thus bearing witness to the hereness and nowness of the cause or source of those qualities?" In this purpose, my friend, we cannot fail. Conform your business to it. Study the infinite implications of it, the wisdom that is synonymous with love, and the light you get and honestly use will bring more light for honest use, and more genuine achievement to be grateful for. Yes, the form of our activity may seem to change under this spiritual purpose pursued; but progress there will always be, satisfying and truly successful. "Progress is the law of God," says the Discoverer of Christian Science (Science and Health, p. 233); and we may rightly deduce that progress is essentially success. For progress is essentially an onward march toward the goal of complete spiritual self-realization; and so long as the march is onward it is synonymous with achievement.
Do you fear failure? Fear, rather, to let your thought wander hypnotically from the spiritual path of progress. Success, as we have been speaking of it, is always present spiritually, and therefore arrives humanly. Failure never came, and cannot come, to any consciousness except the illusory consciousness of failure. Stick to your post, my friend — the state of consciousness which is your best effort to bear witness to the presence of God through expressing His qualities. Into this state of thought comes the guidance which shows us the way, even in human experience, when we turn to the right hand and when we turn to the left. Endurance in truth is, as we have said, a quality of God; but such endurance, being in God, is not in time nor matter and can be shorn of the illusory appearance that it is. Such endurance is the perpetual, permanent, and joyous realization of the spiritual facts of being, in the presence of which we are able to assume and assert dominion over all the labor and distress we humanly encounter, until labor and distress vanish into their native nothingness.
No distress can come to you or me except with our own consent. Do you believe that? All distress, all inharmony, being unreal, that is, unknown to true Mind is therefore hypnotic; and that is why I say it cannot seem to appear without the consent of its victim. And, who, pray, is its victim? Its own unreal self. For the hypnotized mentality is one with what it seems to see, and experience. Destroy the illusion of a hypnotized mentality and you destroy what it seems to see and experience. Therefore, if we do not consent to the supposititious existence of a hypnotized mentality as ours, we shall not seem to see and experience what a hypnotized mentality claims to see and experience. Do I hear you say: "Hold on, Mr. Lecturer, there's something wrong here. I have been sick, but I never consented to be. I have been lonely, heartbroken, scourged by the lash of adversity and limitation, punished for unintentional wrongdoing; but to none of these have I consented. No one in his right mind would consent to such." You are correct, my friend. Mortal so-called mind consents to such, and mortal mind is not right mind. It partakes in no sense of reality. It is a self-deceived illusion. Traffic not with it. If you let it sit in the seat of your mind, calling itself your mind and showing to itself that it is your mind, you will be consenting to the appearance that its pains and aches are in you.
Consent to inharmony is obtained by fraud, misrepresentation, and deceit. Suggestions of evil come knocking at the door of consciousness, appearing to themselves to be real. If we admit them we consent to discord in our experience. They rarely come, of course, in the guise of something we do not want. They come in the disguise either of inevitability or attractiveness. Death does not come saying: "I am without power, but hope you will give me apparent power over you by agreeing that I am inevitable." Rather does it seem, to say, in effect: "I am life in matter, and you see me all about you everywhere. You are a witness to life's expression in matter and as matter, and since you see that matter dies, you might as well assume that you die, and you should be glad to assume that your pains and troubles will die with you." Oh, fellow traveler, don't be trapped by that! For, if we aren't spiritually fortified, you and I, we may be trapped into accepting that assertion which, when accepted, constitutes consent to all evil.
Here we have it, succinctly stated: Consent not to the belief that life is in matter, and thus consent not to evil; agree with and demonstrate the truth that Life is God and man is his spiritual expression, and thus become conscious of (and therefore experience) the reality of good.
Sickness does not come saying: "I am an illusion of impairment, weakness, pain, and decay, and I beg you to be deceived into believing that I am you." Rather does it seem to argue, in effect: "The evidence of my presence in the consciousness of mortals becomes so apparently real at times that mortal consciousness cannot, unless it chooses to be hypocritical, refuse to be convinced of my reality." Be alert, my friend. Withhold your consent. Mortal consciousness is not your consciousness.
Do you seek to punish others? Then prepare to be punished, for you have thereby consented to it. Man, the true spiritual man, having his being in the Mind which is divine, is created incapable of wrong-doing, and therefore incapable of being punished. If you believe otherwise, you have acknowledged your oneness with the deceptive mentality which agrees supposititiously to both wrong doing and punishment. God does not punish. Therefore we must not try to do so. God makes his creation perfect; and being perfect, it never needs to be punished. His law is that that which believes in the real existence of imperfection shall punish itself until, consumed by its own supposititious aches and pains, or displaced in us by the Christ in us, it disappears in the nothingness which is its native state. Oh, yes, we do have to act wisely in daily contacts with others, to make the precise moves, when God guides us to do so, which save our brother from inviting upon himself the increasing vengeance of sin's self-punishing nature. But our motive is never to punish. It is to free our brother by every God-dictated move, to recognize man's inability to do wrong — an inability which he must attest in human experience by forsaking wrongdoing or the appearance of wrongdoing. Our motive is to love God so intently, so spiritually, that we separate man, ourself and our brother, from seeming identification with mortal-mindedness and, therefore, from its self-inflicted punishments. And this motive is our own protection. For there is no escape from the rule pronounced by the Master, "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again" (Matthew 7:2).
Vice, false appetite, lust, do not come saying: "I lure you and win you with a false sense of pleasure, but I shall at last give you the painful experience of seeming to be utterly destroyed.'' Rather does it say: "Life is short, and I bring you good times to experience while you may, if you are smart." Oh, the pity and fraud of it all! We glibly say we do not consent to evil, and yet we are constantly acknowledging that Life, Soul, Mind, Love, Principle, Truth, Spirit, are material and are expressed in matter, constantly accepting that death is inevitable, sickness a certainty, and ultimate failures unavoidable. When we do that or seem to do that, we consent, let me repeat, to the unhappy ills of mortals and we get, in supposition, what we consent to.
Let us unmask this deception, this imposition, this mortal-mindedness by stripping its illusion, its nothingness, of reality in our thought, and let us thus truly withdraw our consent from its mesmeric machinations. Let us rise in the strength of Truth to assert, accept, and acknowledge our divine status. Let us insist to ourselves that our thinking, our knowing, our awareness of being, proceed exclusively from divine Mind, the one and only Mind, whose power is good, whose dominion is infinite, and whose hallowed name is God. Forth from the privacy of such prayer, which should be constant and uninterrupted because constituted in the gladness of true living, flow health, spiritual prosperity, power and peace. Even to those who merely desire this consummation and honestly seek to attain it to the best of their ability, there comes a constantly improving ability to seek it. And, co-ordinate with this improving ability, comes a pouring out of a blessing from the windows of heaven, which human consciousness is not great enough to receive in its entirety, but must, in receiving it, give way to the divine consciousness which is the blessing itself. The way is clear. It is not of human devising. It is of divine ordaining. It is the way of wisdom, of simple acceptance of Truth, of exclusion of all that is not in line with Truth — the way of all Science, which will ultimately come to know its divine foundation, and which, in Mrs. Eddy's discovery, has already found it — the way of man's unity with divine reality, which, of its own power, brings to fulfillment for you and me the Scriptural promise, "Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left'' — when, if we may paraphrase specifically, when we turn from sickness to health, from failure to success, from dying to living, from trouble to peace, from hate to love, from fear to understanding, from limitation to God.
Why doesn't the world try true Christianity? Why don't you and I try it, my friend? The world to each of us is, in a very profound sense, what we make it. It is, and must necessarily be, the objectification of our own state of consciousness. If our consciousness is a reflection of the divine, our world will be a place of triumph over evil, attained by our recognition of ever-present spiritual facts, which destroy our so-called enemy by destroying the illusion that we have an enemy.
Already some seekers for truth, honest workers in the realm of so-called physical and material science, are beginning to perceive that truth and good are to be realized only as God is first understood. Witness the words of the great Steinmetz, late far-famed head of the research laboratories of the General Electric Company, who declared, a few years ago: "Some day the scientists of the world will turn their laboratories over to the study of God and prayer, and to the spiritual forces which as yet have hardly been guessed at. When that day comes, the world will see more advancement in one generation than it has in the past four." And his successor, Dr. W. R. Whitney, confirmed this perception in the following words: "The will of God, the law which we discover, but cannot understand or explain, — that alone is final.'' Final, indeed, may I add, and also fully explained, as all will yet come to know, in Christian Science.
Guidance is the key to achievement, and guidance, as we have said, is from God. Is it employment that seems lacking in you? Then turn to the divine Mind of man for its spiritual ideas abundantly supplied for our employment and salvation. Your usefulness is inherent in you, for the spiritual ideas you embody are created by the divine Father for His use, for His employment of man for expressing His presence. Be these ideas, my friend. Your helpfulness, your loyalty, your honesty, your integrity, your wisdom, actively used, constitute the only employment you will ever have or that anyone can have. Employ these ideas right where you are, and they will become satisfyingly and gratifyingly manifest in daily experience, thus revealing what is called your job. Is it friendship and love that seem lacking? Utilize the spiritual ideas of God which lead you into the ways of loving and thus give you love in your life. Is it dominion, self-control, that seems absent? Then recognize and be grateful for the divine Mind's control of its universe in perfect freedom to do right. If we are faithful over a few things, we shall become ruler over many. If we prove our sincerity by mastering the little enslaving habits we know we can master, but which we regard as too small to bother with, we shall then find power over the larger things unfolding in us. Is it patience and happiness that seem beyond your reach? Identify yourself as God's expression and He will lead you into poise and joy. Does the path seem covered with darkness? Be conscious of your reflection of divine presence, and your course will be flooded with marvelous light.
Wherever we may seem to be, whatever may be the assertions of mortal sense, you and I, if our desires are honestly reaching up for our unity with our divine source, will never lack the guidance of God, will never fail to find the course that proves the nothingness of mortal sense and the somethingness, substance, reality, and intelligence of spiritual sense. For to such as love God the promise is real. It has been and is being demonstrated by legions of honest hearts. It will be progressively proved by you and me. "Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left."
[Delivered Feb. 22, 1941, at Third Church of Christ, Scientist, New York, New York, and published in The Brooklyn Eagle of March 8, 1941.]