George Channing, C.S.B, of San Francisco
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Delivered in Convention Hall, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Friday evening, April 7, 1939, under the auspices of Second Church of Christ, Scientist, in Tulsa. The lecturer was introduced by Miss Lela Caudle, who said:
Friends: Second Church of Christ, Scientist, in this city welcomes you.
Your presence indicates a desire to know more about God and His healing power. In the 22nd Chapter of Matthew, a lawyer asked the Master, "Which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind." Understanding and obedience to law brings healing.
I am happy to present Mr. George Channing, of San Francisco, California, a member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church, of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, whose subject is: "Christian Science: The Healing Power of Spiritual Understanding." Mr. Channing.
If you and I were asked tonight by the Power capable of satisfying our every request to name the thing that we most desire, there should be no more reluctance or confusion in our thought than there appeared to be in the thought of Solomon, the new, young King of Israel, whose wise reply to that question is recorded in the Bible in the third chapter of the first book of Kings. "Give me, O Lord," he said, "an understanding heart."
The correctness of this request, the reason why it was fulfilled, and the additional blessings it brought to Solomon so long as he was true to his spiritual promptings, are significant in the hint they give of the true way to pray to God. Solomon did not ask specifically for anything more than the understanding, as the Biblical narrative amplifies it, "to discern between good and bad," yet he experienced the affluent results which follow our offering this kind of prayer. God always does answer the prayer for spiritual understanding, for such a prayer comes out of spiritual understanding, itself — some unveiling of this divine quality in the so-called human mind, some yielding of the human mind to its presence as the infinite understanding of the divinely intelligent and perfect Spirit, God Himself. It takes wisdom to ask for wisdom, and Solomon in asking for it, was, in the degree that he discerned the spiritual nature of wisdom, recognizing the true nature of his own being and asking to see more of that nature. This brought him, as Bible readers will remember, the commendation of God, which remained with him so long as he was true to his high ideal. "Behold," said the heavenly Father, "I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart." And the divine Spirit further explained that because Solomon had not asked for riches and honor, nor to have his enemies destroyed, but had asked for the one true thing, he was to have all of these other things as the effect of his right desire; and if he would but serve God truly he was also to have long life in which to serve Him.
You and I, in our search for full, rich, satisfying and useful lives, will do well to remember the lessons of that narrative and to utilize them with even greater fidelity than Solomon continued to do after he had grown older on the throne of Israel. The first and most important of these lessons is that the purpose of true prayer is always to gain and utilize spiritual understanding, or the understanding of divine Spirit, God. And the second is that the effect of such prayer, when its purpose is attained, is always seen in improved human experience. Centuries after Solomon had succeeded in illustrating these great truths in some degree, Christ Jesus, the divine son of God, stated the rule in all its perfection and demonstrated it in flawless practice. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness," he urged, "and all these things," he promised, "shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). And years after that, in the fullness of God's own time for mankind's discernment of Christ Jesus' complete meaning, came Christian Science, through its divinely inspired discoverer, founder, and revelator, Mary Baker Eddy, proclaiming that it is unselfed love, a spiritual understanding of God, that constitutes the prayer that heals the sick and reforms the sinner. "A great sacrifice of material things," says Mrs. Eddy (Science and Health, p. 16:1), "must precede this advanced spiritual understanding." In the phrase "this advanced spiritual understanding," she was referring to an explanation she had previously made that, to paraphrase her words, we can receive holiness only as we are fit for holiness, and fitness for holiness is attained through the constant prayers of self-forgetfulness, purity, and affection. It takes both practice and understanding, she makes clear, to be heard of God, to feel His perfect power for good and to be conscious of His infinite blessings, for, in her exact words, "Practice not profession, understanding not belief, gain the ear and right hand of omnipotence and they assuredly call down infinite blessings" (S&H, p. 15). In this light, therefore, we are led to see that the "great sacrifice of material things" which "must precede this advanced spiritual understanding" turns out to be no sacrifice at all, for it results in our becoming aware of having all we could need and all that enlightened sense could ever ask for. For Mrs. Eddy refers to such spiritual understanding as prayer, and declares that "Such prayer heals sickness, and must destroy sin and death" (S&H, p. 16).
If spiritual understanding is thus the object of our true desires and the means by which our daily experience is improved, manifestly it will profit us to know more about spiritual understanding and how it is utilized. "Spiritual understanding, by which human conception, material sense, is separated from Truth, is the firmament," says the Christian Science textbook, referring to God's creative command (Genesis 1:6) "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters." That which separates the falsity of human conception from the reality of all that God conceives or creates is, then, spiritual understanding.
The acquisition of this spiritual understanding — this divine quality that exposes the nothingness of human conception and recognizes, discerns, and realizes that God is the father of man, including the universe, requires an answer to the foundational question: "What is God?" Already in this lecture we have been using the word Spirit as a term for God. Spirit is one of the Scriptural names for God. Christ Jesus, you will remember, told the Samaritan woman at the well that "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24).
Surely it is the understanding of this Spirit, which must be worshipped "in spirit and in truth," that constitutes the spiritual understanding we must attain. Spirit is not the only name for Deity used in Scripture and for that reason accepted by Christian Science as a synonym for God. Life, Truth, Love are others. These words, with their initial letter capitalized, are exalted to their high place in the language of Christian Science as names for God, both because of Biblical authority for this use and because reason and revelation informed Mrs. Eddy that the creation of God is in the likeness of God, its cause or source. Hence, since all that truly lives is the effect of God, its source can be designated by the word Life (with the capital "L") as a convenient synonym for God. So also the source of all that is true or, more properly, all that truly is, can be designated by the word Truth with a capital "T". And the source of divine or spiritual ideas is Spirit (with the capital "S"), the animating, divine Mind, Soul, as Webster states it. Soul is a synonym for God because it is the source of conscious expression, or ideas. Love, the creative, all-encompassing, infinitely-attractive source of all that nourishes and sustains and protects, is also a name for God. And to these synonyms Mrs. Eddy has, with great discernment, added the name Principle because, from its Latin root, it means the source of all that exists.
God, then, is defined clearly in Christian Science as "incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love" (Science and Health, 465:9). It will be observed that the first adjective modifying these terms is the word "incorporeal." God is incorporeal; that is, without material embodiment. He is divine; that is, Godlike, not contaminated by the imperfections of humanity. He is supreme; that is, above all, above even the appearance of mortality. He is infinite; that is, boundless, all-inclusive, without limitation of any kind. When Christian Science makes its great declarations about God, that He is omnipotent, meaning all-powerful; that He is omnipresent, meaning everywhere present; and that He is omniscient, meaning all-seeing, all-discerning, it follows these declarations to their necessary conclusions. If God is omnipotent, He can have no opponent and no opposition, for there cannot be more than ALL. In the same way, if He is omnipresent, He cannot be absent from His universe, which means He can never be absent from man. And if He is omniscient, He cannot be unaware of the slightest detail in His unfolding, spiritual creation. Moreover, His infinitude implies His perfection and His perfection implies goodness, for that which is infinite cannot be imperfect since imperfection means that something is lacking, while infinitude means completeness. Furthermore, perfection has no element of destruction and accordingly is synonymous with goodness. The Anglo-Saxon tongue doubled the vowel in the word God and called Him good, thus stating His essential nature.
What we have been saying about God is revealed in Christian Science as the foundation upon which all true consciousness rests, the basis for all right reasoning and true intuition. The Christian Science textbook puts it this way: "To grasp the reality and order of being in its Science, you must begin by reckoning God as the divine Principle of all that really is" (S&H, 275:10-12). It is clear that once we understand the nature of the creator we are in a position to deduce the nature of creation, for like produces like. Once we understand God, we understand man. For, as pointed out by the Christian Science textbook (p. 467), "Reasoning from cause to effect in the Science of Mind, we begin with Mind, which must be understood through the idea which expresses it and cannot be learned from its opposite, matter." Since God is Spirit, His creation is spiritual. This amounts to saying that there is no material man and no material universe, for man, including the universe, is the creation of God, Spirit. Matter being finite, it cannot be included in the infinite God nor be the offspring or outcome of Him. That which is not material is spiritual and partakes of the nature of Spirit, or Mind. Hence, man, the offspring of divine Spirit or Mind, is spiritual. The offspring or creation of Mind is idea. Hence, man is spiritual idea and exists as idea in the divine Mind.
In arriving at this conclusion, let us put aside the protestations of human sense that man is material and give no quarter to them. If our premise is correct that God is perfect, divine Mind or Spirit, then our conclusion is correct that man is perfect, divine, spiritual idea. And at this point Christian Science raises its revolutionary banner and declares that anyone who realizes that this is the truth will find evidence of its truth in his own consciousness and therefore in his experience. "Spiritual understanding," to quote the Christian Science textbook again, "by which human conception, material sense, is separated from Truth, is the firmament." This definition supports our position, already arrived at, that spiritual understanding is the divine quality that exposes the nothingness of human conception and recognizes, discerns, and realizes that God is the father of man, including the universe. By this understanding humanity is healed of its discord, inharmony, and distress. By it, it gives up its material sense only to find it replaced by a divine sense of truth and joy. For has not Mrs. Eddy declared "The foundation of mortal discord is a false sense of man's origin" (Science and Health, 262:27-28) — a declaration that obviously implies that a right sense of man's origin is the foundation of true harmony?
Sometimes there are those who would deny the Bible and the God it presents, and rule them out of their own affairs and those of others. Sometimes there are those who question the meaning of the Bible but try to accept it only as a narrative of historical fact. Sometimes there are those who question not at all, but are nevertheless holding to mistaken interpretations of its meaning that work no good in their lives. To any and all of these and to the world in which they live, Christian Science comes with the greatest message of this age to men. It is not an exhortation or a plea for sentimental goodness based on a hope that some power may by chance observe and reward. It is a straightforward, direct, scientific message that your conceptions of Deity will control your experience. It is the revelation, based on demonstration, that the Bible presents the one true God and His unchanging law which, when understood, will make you conscious of good and not of evil. "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God," cried the Psalmist (Psalms 14:1). That cry is based upon the fact that the fool is merely fooling with the mesmeric suggestion that there is no substance, presence, power, or law, in the universe; and the tragedy of it is that it will be so to him, in the degree that he believes it. Whatever our conception is of divine reality, that conception will operate in our consciousness to produce evidence of its own nature. If the conception is divinely true, it will reveal the evidence of harmonious Truth in us in terms of health, holiness, and immortality. If it is untrue, it will produce in supposition, to that extent, the mesmeric evidence of inharmony and discord. Man cannot escape his relationship to God as spiritual idea expressing the perfection of divine Principle, Love. If the spiritual fact of this relationship is permitted to dwell in consciousness, the human mind will yield to it, and the clear proof of its truth will be made apparent by the operation of divine law.
I recall with gratitude that I have often witnessed the operation of this law in my own experience. On one occasion a member of my household, very dear to me, became ill with a disease, which, besides being very painful, brought on inactivity and was said by some to have a possibly fatal termination. Although we were Christian Scientists in our household, we permitted ourselves to be seized with fear, anxiety, and a sense of personal responsibility. We watched and hoped during the day and then spent sleepless nights expecting to hurry the next morning to the bedside of the loved one to make sure that nothing tragic or disastrous had happened. Weary and worn after a period of such thinking we suddenly discovered what was wrong with our prayers. We were laboring under wholly erroneous concepts of God, as evidenced unmistakably by the conduct we were pursuing. We were believing that God is sometimes separated from man, at least temporarily, else why were we hoping that He would come back and restore the loved one to health? We were agreeing that God's law of ever-operative good could occasionally cease to operate, else why were we laboring to bring it into operation again? We were believing that God had momentarily dropped His responsibility for the perfection of the man He made, else why were we assuming restless responsibility for the goodness of His creation? Promptly we set to work to correct these views, to restore in our own thought the right concept of God and His law. God is divine, intelligent, all-pervading, ever-active Love. He made His man out of that which intelligently, consciously, spiritually expresses Love, the divine Principle, which is God Himself. His law is the divine decree that His unchanging presence as ever-active, divine, unfolding Love shall never for a moment cease to be expressed by the man He made. No individualized expression of this Principle, Love, could, therefore, ever cease to carry out its destiny as a witness to the ever-present eternality of God, good. The responsibility is God's; the response to His government and His goodness is man's. With the restoration to our consciousness of this right sense of being, our conduct changed for the better, as conduct always will when such restoration occurs. Anxiety and worry lessened to the vanishing point. We rested peacefully that night, and in the morning witnessed the beginning of the end of the disease. Our loved one was shortly restored to perfect health in an atmosphere of calm assurance that God never ceases to govern.
In this experience, I had seen the power of spiritual understanding overwhelm the spurious claim to power which false conceptions of Deity, or divine reality, had seemed to assert. I had witnessed the operation of that great spiritual law of healing which Christ Jesus exemplified with glorious perfection and which Christian Science is now stating in its entirety and demonstrating again for mankind. Right here let me make it clear that the assertion and proof offered by Christian Science that spiritual healing is as available today as ever it was at the instance of Christ Jesus himself is no arrogant or unauthorized claim of its own. That assertion and proof is included in Christianity itself. Christ Jesus himself is authority for it, so emphatically so that it is difficult to see how one can be a Christian without accepting both the possibility and the necessity for Christlike works, including spiritual healing, here and now. After going up and down Palestine, making manifest the presence of God by healing the sick, regenerating the sinful and replacing material death with a sense of spiritual life, he not only promised his followers that they could do all that he did, but he commanded them to do it.
Jesus moved among men just as you and I move among men, but his every thought had its source in God. His consequently expanding demonstration of his own salvation from mortal conceptions of God and of his ability to save others from them is yours and mine to follow. You and I are under the divine law which demands demonstration of perfect spiritual manhood and we shall attain it, now or ultimately, only in the way marked out for us by our perfect Exemplar, Christ Jesus. He was infinitely resourceful, because he knew no other Mind save that which is God in which dwell all the spiritual ideas, the infinite resources of man, supplied by the heavenly Father. This enabled him to know instantly where to find a coin with which to pay the taxes and to feed, without confusion, five thousand hungry mouths on the desert place in Galilee. His spiritual understanding of the self-nourishing capacity of the infinite, divine Mind of man was manifest in these results, operating as a law of destruction to material suggestions that divine resources were absent or limited. He was independent of matter or, in other words, self-reliant, because he understood and relied upon his divine Principle, Love or Spirit, which encompasses and governs all true being. This enabled him to disappear from his enemies when material obstructions challenged his escape, and to reappear among friends or enemies whenever his progressive demonstration of the presence of God required him to do so. It enabled him to still the tempest at sea when it threatened the well-being of his disciples. It enabled him to go through the crucifixion and to prove at the end that the divine Life he expressed was unscathed. He was intelligent beyond human comprehension, because he understood the divinity and infinitude of his Principle or source which is God. This enabled him to confound his adversaries when they sought to match intellectual argument against divine understanding. And it also enabled him to heal sickness, sin, and all manner of discord. For divine intelligence, or spiritual understanding, sees through and exposes as false any and every material, finite conception of divine Love, God, thus dispelling the effect of such misconceptions and replacing them with true spiritual ideas manifest in holiness, harmony, and health. He was humble, for he ascribed all power to God and never let the false suggestions of timidity, hesitation, or self-aggrandizement limit the effectiveness of his outstanding talent for expressing God's power. This enabled him to say to the Centurion who pleaded for help for his servant who was ill, "I will come and heal him" (Matt. 8:7), and to follow the word with the healing. It enabled him to speak spiritual truth to the officers sent to arrest him so that they made no arrest but reported in wonderment to their superiors, "Never man spake like this man" (John 7:46).
It will be observed from what has been said here that Jesus is our Example because he utilized perfectly the spiritual understanding of God for the healing and salvation of mortals. We cannot honor Jesus too much nor follow his example too reverently. But it is important to you and me, striving to follow his example by utilizing his power, to recognize that he was not himself the power he used. His power was the spiritual understanding of God, the right idea of man's divine source — the Christ, with which Jesus was endowed beyond measure and which is available to you and me for doing the works he did and the greater works he promised. Jesus and the Christ are inseparable, yet distinct. For Christ is the divine idea of sonship to God and is inseparable from the true spiritual man. The Christ dispels falsehood. It destroys in the human consciousness material misconceptions of Deity and the discord, disease, and death which attend them. "Christ," says the Christian Science textbook, "expresses God's spiritual, eternal nature" (Science and Health, p. 333:9-10). As the activity of God for salvation, the Christ has a divine office, and Jesus as the Saviour fulfills the office of the Christ. But this office is not an ending, vanishing, or terminated one. It is ever present as the healing and saving activity of the Mind which is God, the Mind which St. Paul says was in Christ Jesus and which he exhorted you and me to permit to operate in us. This healing and saving activity of God, operating in the human consciousness to destroy the misconceptions of God, which largely constitute that so-called consciousness, is the Christ. It is the right idea in whose presence wrong notions cannot exist any more than darkness can dwell with light. It has impelling force. It may be described as the divine impulsion, as distinguished from Jesus, the perfect example, who supplied the true model of man forever yielding to this divine impulsion. You will yield to it too, my friend, for it is Truth itself. It will never cease to be Truth and will therefore never cease to assert itself in your thought, for it is divine Life unfolding the understanding of its own reality. It is forever making headway in the recesses of human thought, sometimes through the hard-learned lessons of our mistakes, sometimes through the light it sheds and which we happily let in without the scourge of resistance. It will presently or ultimately remove from human thinking every false, material theory, hypothesis, and notion about the all-powerful, beneficent, perfect creator, and reveal man as the spiritual son of God, inheriting the infinite health or wholeness of divine Life, expressing the perfect harmony of divine Love and knowing the permanence of eternal Truth.
What is this human consciousness which the Christ, or spiritual understanding of God, persistently saves from itself? It is the apparent mind of humanity deceptively seeming to be a mixture of mortal notions about God and of right ideas which the Christ is revealing. Right ideas and wrong notions cannot truly mix, although they may seem to exist side by side in individual human thought, like the tares and the wheat. But the error which seems to mingle with truth in the so-called human mind is one with the completely unregenerate mentality called mortal mind, and is therefore as unreal as mortal mind, whether it masquerades in the guise of good or is blandly unregenerate and evil. For mortal mind is always unreal; it claims to be a place where the Christ does not work, and this claim exposes this so-called mind as a myth, for Christ, be it remembered, is the activity of God, and there can be no place where God, divine Life, is not infinitely active. Thus, whatever appears as mortal mentality in the so-called human mind is, let me repeat, a myth, and must be so seen to be destroyed; and whatever shines forth in the human mind as divinely good is real and true, for goodness that is divine is of God. It is the belief in the presence or existence of mortal consciousness, appearing as human thought, that is being dispelled by the Christ; and this is the process of salvation. It will go on until mortality is swallowed up of immortality, as St. Paul puts it, — until all belief in a dying, suffering, limited, ignorant mentality is crowded out of supposititious existence, and the divine Mind, Life, Soul, Principle, Spirit, Truth, and Love, is seen to occupy the whole ground of His own creation, man and the universe, consisting of spiritual ideas.
In pointing the way for rising above material and physical seeming, and making the salvation of mortals from sin, sickness, and death apparent here and now, the Christian Science textbook gives many a rule of divine metaphysics ("meta", the Greek prefix, meaning beyond, and the whole word meaning beyond or above physics, or matter.) "The categories of metaphysics," it explains on page 269, "rest on one basis, the divine Mind." And then it states the rule. "Metaphysics," it says, "resolves things into thoughts, and exchanges the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul." On the basis of all that has been said here tonight, this divinely inspired rule for healing and salvation ought to be clear to us all. "Metaphysics," let me quote again, "resolves things into thoughts, and exchanges the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul." Can you resolve a thing into a thought? Well, the illness of my loved one about which I told you a few moments ago was resolved into a thought when I saw that this illness was presenting itself to my observation in conjunction with a misconception of God. And the healing appeared when I exchanged the notion of God's separation from man, of the suspended operation of His perfect law, for the ideas of Soul which corrected these notions. Christ Jesus resolved a thing into a thought when he saw that the hunger of the five thousand was identical with a notion that God, the one Mind, could wander from His nourishment, and the law of His self-sustaining nature could cease to operate. He exchanged this object of sense for an idea of Soul when he demonstrated the divine Mind's ever-present awareness of its sustenance and made this idea manifest in the way the five thousand could understand it, through receiving and eating all the bread and fish they needed.
Important in these demonstrations of the power of spiritual understanding is the guidance and direction which accompanied them. God always leads and guides His man, or idea, for the wisdom to take the steps that we need to take appears to us under prayer when we need to take them. Jesus knew to send his disciple to find the needed tax money in the fish's mouth. He knew to go back to Bethany to restore his friend Lazarus to a sense of life at just the right time to glorify God most, as the healing is recorded in the Gospel of John. So will you know, my friend, and so shall I; so will the business man, the cultured scholar, the practitioner, and the workman, if we cultivate the Mind that was in Christ Jesus; and, knowing, we shall act on what we know; for action, the activity of divine ideas, is included in every demonstration of the power of God. True prayer is action. It is not merely asking God to make us good; it is being good. It is not merely asking for wisdom; it is being wise. It is not merely asking for spiritual understanding; it is using it. Is it right to petition for wisdom? Yes, we can and should desire it — desire to know ourselves as reflecting the wisdom of God. But in desiring wisdom we have already begun to use it, and the use of it brings its own right effects. The fear of the Lord, says the Bible, is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7), a passage which might be translated as "the love of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." This, then, is the modus operandi of divine, spiritual healing and salvation. Spiritual understanding aids the resolving of inharmonious conditions into false thought. Spiritual understanding reveals the right, or spiritual, idea which displaces and replaces false thought. The right, or spiritual, idea entertained in consciousness as true — in other words, realized or accepted as real — operates as a law of healing, of harmony, of restoration to life and peace in human experience.
Healing is not physical. It is the manifestation of the love of God restored in consciousness. The Christian Science textbook begins its statement of the doctrine of Christian Science with the declaration that "divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object" (Science and Health, 304:10). The Christ, the divine idea of God, is ever-present, without beginning, but the dull eyes and ears of humanity had for centuries caught only faint glimpses of this spiritual Truth. In this situation of need, the love of God was such that Jesus appeared, for Jesus was necessary in order that the effects of the Christ might be seen and heard, and human sense taught and enlightened by the spiritual idea. Hence, in Biblical language, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). It will always be thus wherever the spiritual idea is entertained in consciousness. What appears to human sense as changed physical conditions, harmoniously adjusted, will accompany the spiritual awareness of the love of God for man.
Is this a new concept — this recognition of the mental nature of existence in all its aspects? Yes, it is new to the unenlightened thought. It was so new when Christ Jesus practiced it on the shores of Galilee that men called his works miracles, although they were the divinely natural effects of divinely natural law. It was so new, so revolutionary in 1866 when Mrs. Eddy, through spiritual purity and fitness, discovered the divine Principle, of those works, that she had to demonstrate, against great opposition from the world's thought, that her discovery, which she named Christian Science, could be founded and established in the world. Nevertheless, she persevered, healed the sick, regenerated the sinner, and taught others to do the healing work for which she herself had been taught of God. Her extraordinary love for humanity was dictated by her boundless love for God. It contributed towards marking her as the greatest benefactor of the age. She wrote her great book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," which, as has been previously remarked in this lecture, is the textbook of Christian Science, organized her Church, and founded it as The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, with branches which have since spread throughout the civilized world. And she founded Christian Science in the consciousness of men where it will be as the Rock that is Christ, overturning and overwhelming false concepts of Deity and bringing to light spiritual truth which will ultimately, surely usher in God's kingdom on earth.
In the seventy-two years since her discovery, the world has felt her influence profoundly. No longer is the "mentalizing of the objects of sense," as it may be called, a reluctant procedure in the world. Leaders of human thought, distinguished men of physical science, are beginning to accept the mental nature of the universe as a clue to scientific truth. It was just seven years ago when a distinguished British General, Jan C. Smuts, then head of a society for the advancement of science, declared before that society that "scientific discoveries point to evidences that the material objects recognized by man's senses are, in their origin, as immaterial as thought or mind." Another distinguished British scientist, Sir Arthur Edington, known far and wide for his writings on physics and astronomy, stated just four years ago before a group of students at Cornell University that "we must not attempt to answer the question 'What is the mystery of existence all about?' by looking only at that part of experience which comes to us through certain sensory organs and saying: 'It is about a universe of atoms and chaos; it is about a universe of fiery globes rolling on to impending doom.' Rather it is a spirit, within which truth has its shrine, with potentialities of self-fulfillment in its response to beauty and right."
Statements like these from intellectual leaders show plainly that the resolving of things into thoughts is arresting their attention as a possible explanation of the so-called mystery of human life. This is a step, a first move in the right direction. The discoverer of Christian Science knew, and her followers also know, that the only true and final way is the divine way which demands "exchanging the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul." The resolving of things into thoughts, is so to speak, part truth. Christian Science leads on into all truth. For Christian Science is the divine Comforter, so accepted by its discoverer and her followers as the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Master Christian that the Comforter would come and lead into all truth, — the full and complete truth, as Christian Scientists understand it — that God creates man as His spiritual idea and that God is the only creator.
Let me emphasize here, lest there be misunderstanding, that the practice of Christian Science is no mere intellectual wrestling without the support of goodness and purity. Indeed, purity and goodness and like qualities are the gateways through which spiritual understanding appears in consciousness to do the work of Christ. Moral goodness is not the healing power, but there can be no true healing power that is not accompanied and supported by a genuine striving after and attainment of moral goodness. Mrs. Eddy gives this fact its proper importance when in her book "Rudimental Divine Science," she begins her long and enlightening answer to the question: "How should I undertake to demonstrate Christian Science in healing the sick?" with the simple command: "Be honest, be true to thyself, and true to others; then it follows thou wilt be strong in God, the eternal good."
The purpose of Christian Science, as we have seen, is to blot out the myth of mortal mind, that supposititious mentality that is untouched by the Christ. Out of that illusory mentality, like a hypnotic dream, comes the thing called sin, the belief that man can have a mind wholly the opposite of God and that he has power to act apart from the impulsion of the Christ. The healing of sickness is but an attestation of the fact that sin can be and has been healed. The healing of sin is accomplished by persistent employment of spiritual understanding whereby the divine Mind is demonstrated to be the only Mind, and man the conscious expression of that Mind. Such healing comes like the awakening from a sleeping dream and demonstrates the nothingness of sin by showing that man has no power to sin for he has no mind with which to do it. This is the true forgiveness of sin — the demonstration of man's perfection — made manifest in human experience as the forsaking of sin. It is the infinite mercy of God appearing in the proof that God made His man in the likeness of Mind wherein is no element of injury or harm.
Thus we are led into the consciousness of eternal harmony to which spiritual understanding is united through divine Science by the Principle which is God. The calm and exalted thought, which the textbook indicates is synonymous with spiritual apprehension, is at peace. What a peace this is in its spiritual significance! Sin conquered, sickness healed, God all, and man His expression! This is an ideal by no means impossible of attainment; and the "peace of God which passeth all understanding" accompanies every step of progress along the way. What a blessing to a confused and war-fearing world that this spiritual peace which Christian Scientists are striving after and attaining in some measure must now shed its healing light upon nations and men!
Perhaps it may be well just here to apply our thought briefly to the problem of world peace in the light of what Christian Science teaches regarding the healing power of spiritual understanding. First, let us make clear that it will do no good to condemn nations or persons. Misconceptions of divine Truth, which constitute discord, are no part of man. They need to be displaced by the spiritual ideas of God; and the displacement must begin first in our own consciousness. Why do nations seek war? It is because of the human mind's false sense of substance — the belief that substance is material and therefore limited.
Nations are today regarding raw materials as "something," or substance. Competition grows among nations for as great a supply of raw materials as can be had, because raw materials appear to human thought to be the life-substance of a nation, determining its trade and its material wealth. But raw materials, like all material things, are limited. There are seemingly not enough to give every nation all it wants of them, especially when some nations seem to have cornered an excessive share. When some nations get an abundant share, other nations feel themselves deprived. And from a sense of deprivation, the human mind seems to move rapidly toward hating, hurting, and even killing in the hope of freeing itself from that sense.
In this situation, as in all situations, the human mind is totally inadequate to stem the destruction wrought by its own unleashed passions. It has no answer to the problem it seems to create. But Christian Science supplies the answer.
Here is the crux of the whole matter. A nation's true substance is in the spiritual qualities its people express, just as your substance and mine is in the spiritual qualities we express. The expression of a spiritual quality by one individual or one nation does not in any way limit the expression of it by another. Accordingly, war will be outlawed when we come to see spiritual qualities as substance and recognize the law by which spiritual understanding meets men's needs. There must be cultivated in human consciousness a realization of the fact that men and nations will be aware of having all they need of raw materials, or whatever it may be they need, if their outlook and practice are divinely spiritual.
Fortunately we are not at the mercy of the decisions of others before making a start in this march toward peace. Each of us is a law to himself, herself. As the individuals are who live in the world, so is the world and the nations that constitute it. Salvation is individual; and peace, so far as it is real to any individual, must abide in his own mental dwelling place. How can nations abolish fear, so long as individuals are afraid? How can nations remove the sense of limitation, so long as individuals harbor the sense of being deprived of what is good for them? How can the nations seek first and single-mindedly that spiritual understanding that guides and directs in true harmony, when individuals neglect to seek after spiritual understanding? No man can be in need who lets spiritual qualities shine forth to identify him as he really is, and no nation can lack the full realization of its destiny when its citizens are individually and increasingly utilizing man's endowment of spiritual qualities.
In revealing true, spiritual peace, therefore, Christian Science comes not to deprive men or nations of anything, but to point the way to spiritual fulfillment through spiritual understanding. It will solve, and is solving, the problem of war, but not asking men to live with a gnawing sense of need or to become martyrs to a false sense of meekness. It will curb, and is curbing, the fierce and self-willed spirit in men and nations, but not by asking that ambition be discarded and life become a humdrum. Christian Science, through spiritual understanding, comes to deprive men and nations not of their desires, but of a false concept of their desires; not of their ambitions, but of a false concept of ambitions, and it replaces these false concepts with spiritual ideas which reveal the ever-satisfying, unlimited abundance of God.
Just as spiritually-minded individuals are seeing it in increasing degree in their own consciousness, so will the world yet see the disappearance, not only of war, but of discord, sin, disease, inharmony of every kind, as life is lived on the Christianly-scientific basis of spiritual understanding which means spiritual fulfillment. "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need," declares the discoverer and founder of Christian Science (Science and Health, 494:10); and Christian Scientists understand her teaching to mean that the human need is to let divine Love displace the myth of mortal mind and be revealed in the majesty and power of its infinite goodness as the only Mind of man and the universe. The need of humanity is for spiritual ideas and these are ever-present in the Mind that is God. Spiritual understanding reveals them. Your desire for it, and mine, is born of spiritual understanding itself. In utilizing this understanding we shall be praying the already answered prayer of the young King Solomon — the prayer of rich fulfillment and the consciousness of spiritual peace: "Give me, O Lord, an understanding heart."
[Delivered April 7, 1939, in Convention Hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma, under the auspices of Second Church of Christ, Scientist, Tulsa, and published in The West Tulsa News of Tulsa, April 13, 1939. Also published in The Christian Science Monitor, March 1, 1946.]