W. Norman Cooper, C.S.B., of Los Angeles, California
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Some of you may have come to this lecture today asking, "Can the understanding of God as revealed in Christian Science enable me to meet and solve my problems?" Christian Science shows, as so many of the Bible characters proved, that an understanding of God can rightly adjust every problem, whether that problem be small or large, individual or national, physical or financial. We can become masters of every situation through an awareness of the ever-presence and ever-availability of God, for as the Psalmist declared (46:1), "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
You, too, can prove that God is your "very present help." I know of many people who have been healed of diseases and who have had other problems solved through the inspiration or through the understanding of God gained at Christian Science lectures. Others have found the inspiration or understanding which they needed by such means as: the study of the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy; the reading of the Christian Science periodicals; the study at a Christian Science Reading Room; listening to the radio and television programs "How Christian Science Heals"; availing themselves of the services of the practitioners who are listed in The Christian Science Journal; attending the Sunday church services or the testimony meetings held on Wednesdays where individuals who have been healed in Christian Science give joyful gratitude for the healing power of God. All of these means of gaining an understanding of God's tender care are available to you, and you are lovingly invited to use any or all of them.
Today Christian Science is showing us that we no longer have to worship an "unknown God" (Acts 17:23). Too long has mankind been led to believe that he cannot understand God, that He is "unknowable." But he can actually know and understand Him. Only as we personalize God, as we think of Him as an anthropomorphic being, can He remain unknown to us. When we recognize Him to be omnipresent Love, infinite Life, unfailing Truth, we find that God can be understood and loved as the one and only God who is able and willing to take care of our every need.
The Bible declares that God is All and that there is no other power or might. The Scriptural teaching is (Isa. 45:5), "I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me." Because God is All, there is none else beside Him, and God's omnipotence excludes the possibility of there being any other real power.
What is this God that recognizes no power beside Himself? He is not a physical personality which blesses or punishes according to His whims. Rather is He unchanging good; and being good, as the Bible declares He is, He does not send sickness or any other problem to you; but a spiritual understanding of Him heals sickness and solves problems. Being the great Lawgiver, He is unchanging law or Principle. He is the divine Principle of all that really exists, and He governs His universe, including man, harmoniously. He is infinite Spirit; therefore, He does not recognize the reality of matter. He is Soul, ever-active Life, immovable and unfailing Love. He is eternal Truth, and since He is Truth, error, the lie about Truth, has no real power or might.
The superiority of spiritual might over so-called physical power is graphically illustrated in the Bible narrative of David's conquest over Goliath. The giant Goliath was the champion of the armies of the Philistines. His height was "six cubits and a span" (I Sam. 17:4). With great confidence in his material power, he called out to King Saul and the armies of Israel for a man from their camp to fight with him. His great size and his knowledge of warfare caused King Saul and his armies to be greatly afraid and dismayed. The youth, David, was visiting his brothers on the battlefield. He, unlike those around him, was neither afraid nor dismayed. Having seen the power of God in his own experience, Goliath's physical size and his knowledge of warfare did not frighten David. "And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine" (I Sam. 17:32). "And Saul said unto David, Go, and the Lord be with thee" (I Sam. 17:37). Then Saul put his own armor on David. But the lad said, "I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them" (I Sam. 17:39), and he put them off. David had not "proved" the power of material means of protection. Therefore he put off the king's armor, and trusted God whose power he had already proved.
Then with five stones and a sling he went forth to meet Goliath. When the giant saw David, he ridiculed and cursed the lad and boastfully shouted that he would destroy him. David said with absolute confidence (I Sam. 17:45), "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts." Then David ran toward the Philistine and hurled a stone which smote Goliath in his forehead, "and he fell upon his face to the earth" (I Sam. 17:49).
This story of David's victory over Goliath illustrates the truth of Mrs. Eddy's statement in the textbook (p. 131), "The central fact of the Bible is the superiority of spiritual over physical power." David and King Saul, along with his men, were faced with the same problem — the arrogance and threatened destructiveness of so-called material power — but how differently was the problem viewed by them. Saul and his men believed that Goliath's material power was very formidable and real, hence their great fear and dismay. David knew that since God is the only power, material power could not also be powerful and real. His previous proofs of God's love gave him the spiritual strength which enabled him to say to Goliath, "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield [with material power]: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts [the source of spiritual power]." The lad knew he was in no real danger, for God was ever with him, protecting him.
Do your problems appear giant-size, as formidable and real as Goliath appeared to Saul and his men? If so, learn the lesson that David's example teaches and meet your problems as he did — with absolute confidence in God's love, protection, and care for you. Then you can say to your problems, with the understanding that Christian Science gives: "'I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts.' You cannot make me afraid. You cannot harm me. You may appear to be big and powerful, but you are actually powerless because God is the only power." And then you, too, will see your problems fall on their faces, fall into their native nothingness, just as certainly as Goliath "fell upon his face to the earth."
Does the size of your problem make you afraid? Was it the size of Goliath that made the people afraid? No, it was their fear of his physical power that made them afraid. Goliath's so-called power was not actually in his size. Was Goliath actually as powerful as he boasted? Yes, he was to those who believed in his physicality. However, to the one who understood the power of God, Goliath was reduced in size — to nothingness, to nothing real.
It might be helpful to point out that problems are not bald facts but merely beliefs in the human mind which build up in size and importance unless they are countered by the understanding that God, Principle, is all and matter is unreal. This is the basic truth that carried David through his problem.
Fear often makes a problem seem much bigger than it is. A mouse has been known to cause a herd of elephants to stampede. Why? Not because of the mouse's size, but because of the elephant's fear. To fear is to believe in a supposed power apart from God. However, when you know that God, and God alone, is the source of all good, you can never be afraid. Can you be afraid if you know that God loves you, that He supplies your every need, that He never will let you die? You need to know God's all-power, as David knew it. Then you, like him, will be unafraid. This knowledge will enable you, as it enabled him, to "run" to meet your Goliath.
It was David's understanding of the nature of God that gave him his victory. He proved that in reality material power cannot overthrow spiritual power, arrogance cannot overthrow innocence, hatred cannot overthrow love. Such knowledge enabled him to "run" to meet Goliath. This thought of "running" to meet one's problems denotes great enthusiasm; but it is important to note that this "running" to meet one's problems is "running" to meet the false beliefs entertained within one's own human sense of consciousness. Problems are not realities outside of this consciousness. They are false beliefs mentally entertained, which have not been destroyed by one's understanding of Truth.
Do you "run" with enthusiasm to meet your problems? Or do you because of fear, mental apathy, laziness, or ignorance wait until they accumulate? Do you sometimes fail to "run" to meet your problems because you accept such arguments as "I'll wait and meet them when they do not appear so big," or "when I have more time," or "when I'm not so afraid of them," or "when I know more about God." Or, perhaps, you may delay in meeting your problems because you think, "If I don't look at them, maybe they will go away." If you listen to any of these arguments, you put off the joy of proving the difficulties to be powerless. No problems, no matter how small or how big, can withstand the understanding of the one who with mental enthusiasm "runs" to meet his problems knowing that God is All.
Your Goliath, your big problem, cannot hold you in its grasp if you know who you really are. And who are you? You may have believed that you are a mortal with a sick or a well material body. But this was not Jesus' concept of man. He recognized that man is the embodiment of ideas, that he is spiritual and perfect. Jesus commanded us to be as perfect as our heavenly Father. He so commanded because he had proved by demonstration that man is perfect. David in one of his Psalms (37:37) tells us to "mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace." David saw that to "mark" or to behold this perfect man was the means of finding peace. It is also the means of finding health, joy, abundance, all that one really needs. Since the "end" of the perfect, upright man is peace, the "end" or effect of recognizing man as mortal or imperfect is the opposite of peace; that is, confusion, lack, sickness, death. When we talk of the perfect man we are talking of man, the compound idea of God, including all ideas. Since God is perfect, His compound idea, man, must also be perfect. This perfect man is your true and only identity, and you express all the qualities of God now, actively and continuously. You can meet any problem that may present itself as you become aware of the fact of your perfection as the image and likeness of God, as you "mark the perfect man."
You can behold the perfect man now. You are as perfect as your heavenly Father is. Jesus' command is (Matt. 5:48), "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," and he did not say to be perfect at some future time. We can claim our perfection as the children of God now. Jesus never demanded anything of us that we cannot fulfill. The fact that he demanded that we be perfect now, proves that we can be perfect now.
Christian Science enables you to awake to, or become conscious of, the law that God, divine Truth, Life, and Love, has created man perfect. The recognition of this law has its effect upon what appears as the material body. No intelligent individual would think of destroying anything real. Yet Jesus came healing sickness. Therefore, to him, sickness must have been unreal. Jesus came doing God's will; therefore, he would not have destroyed anything that God had created. Can you then possibly believe that God created sickness or a mortal man upon whom sickness could express itself? Jesus healed by recognizing the perfect man. This is the same method employed in Christian Science treatment or prayer.
The Bible command is (Eph. 5:14), "Awake thou that sleepest." In this awakening you do not create anything. For instance, when you awoke this morning, did you have to create a bed to be lying in, a room around you? No, you merely awoke and the things were already there. In the method of healing that Jesus used, he merely awoke consciousness, either his or another's, to the fact that God had already created man perfect. We could say that he woke them out of the sleep that man was mortal and imperfect. You do not create the perfect man, you merely wake up to, or become aware of, the perfect man whom God has already created. Let us take this one step further: we must not only awaken to the fact that God created man perfect, but that God has the ability to protect, preserve, and sustain the man of His creating.
The scientific method of healing is always to awaken consciousness out of the belief or dream of mortal existence. Suppose a little girl is frightened by a dream that she is being chased by a giant. You would not have to enter her dream in order to save her from the giant. You would only have to awaken her from her dream, and she would then no longer be afraid of the giant because she would see that there never had been a giant chasing her. When you waken to the understanding that you are the child of God, you are no longer afraid.
Christian Science awakens consciousness to the fact of God's allness and the consequent nothingness of sin, disease, and death, which appear to "chase" man and try to destroy him. The very purpose of Christian Science is to awaken you, to enlighten your consciousness so that you can see, acknowledge, and accept your perfection as the likeness of God and thereby experience the redemptive power of the Christ. You are saved only as you waken to the reality of God's creation, as you see that man is not asleep, dreaming of mortal existence, but rather awake to the understanding that you, the child of divine Love, are always at the standpoint of perfection. Real salvation is waking to your birthright of perfection.
Speaking of Jesus, Mrs. Eddy says (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 162), "Of the lineage of David, like him he went forth, simple as the shepherd boy, to disarm the Goliath." Jesus' simplicity, his innocence, his love for God, destroyed any Goliath that presented itself, whether that Goliath was lack, sin, sickness, or death. He lived so close to God that he was able to show us that these Goliaths actually had no power, that they could neither limit man's activity nor destroy his usefulness. He was indeed the Way-shower for his time and for all time.
The man Jesus expressed the Christ, which Mrs. Eddy has defined as (Science and Health, p. 583), "The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error." The word "manifest" might be defined as that which makes plain to thought. The Christ, which Jesus expressed, and which you and I can express, is that which makes plain to the receptive thought the nature of God. This Christ, this divine manifestation of God, is always present, always actively fulfilling the purpose of God.
Mrs. Eddy was ever a faithful follower of Christ Jesus. The Manual of The Mother Church states (p. 17), "At a meeting of the Christian Scientist Association, April 12, 1879, on motion of Mrs. Eddy, it was voted, — To organize a church designed to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing." The very purpose of the church that Mrs. Eddy founded was "to commemorate the word and works of our Master" and to "reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing." Mrs. Eddy had proved, when saved from near death as a result of an accident, and later through her healing work for others, that God is ever available to heal. She fully tested her discovery, which heals as Jesus did, before presenting it to the world. She writes of her practice of Christian Science (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 105): "After my discovery of Christian Science, I healed consumption in its last stages, a case which the M.D.'s, by verdict of the stethoscope and the schools, declared incurable because the lungs were mostly consumed. I healed malignant diphtheria and carious bones that could be dented by the finger, saving the limbs when the surgeon's instruments were lying on the table ready for their amputation. I have healed at one visit a cancer that had eaten the flesh of the neck and exposed the jugular vein so that it stood out like a cord. I have physically restored sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, and have made the lame walk."
Consumption, diphtheria, cancer, blindness, deafness, dumbness, lameness, or any other Goliath was proved powerless by this great woman, who loved God so dearly that she was willing to sacrifice all to follow His Son. Is it any wonder that she could write (Science and Health, p. 268): "Materialistic hypotheses challenge metaphysics to meet in final combat. In this revolutionary period, like the shepherd-boy with his sling, woman goes forth to battle with Goliath."
It is interesting to note that a medical doctor urged Mrs. Eddy to write a book explaining to the world her curative system. Of her contact with this doctor she wrote (Miscellany, p. 105): "About the year 1869, I was wired to attend the patient of a distinguished M.D., the late Dr. Davis of Manchester, N.H. The patient was pronounced dying of pneumonia, and was breathing at intervals in agony. Her physician, who stood by her bedside, declared that she could not live. On seeing her immediately restored by me without material aid, he asked earnestly if I had a work describing my system of healing. When answered in the negative, he urged me immediately to write a book which should explain to the world my curative system of metaphysics." Mrs. Eddy, of course, did write this book. It is known as the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." It is not another Bible, but a "Key" to the Bible. It has unlocked the great treasures of the Scriptures for multitudes. You may read, borrow, or purchase this book at all Christian Science Reading Rooms, or it may be obtained at most public libraries.
The method of prayer employed by Jesus in his healing work is used in Christian Science healing work. Healing is effected by excluding the belief in matter and replacing material concepts with spiritual ideas; or, to put it another way, resolving things into thoughts. Healing is not based on a blind belief in God's power to heal. As viewed in the light of Christian Science, spiritual healing is the recognition of scientific, spiritual law — "the law of God, the law of good." Mrs. Eddy has defined Christian Science (Rudimental Divine Science, p. 1), "As the law of God, the law of good, interpreting and demonstrating the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony." The practical use of this law is taught in the Christian Science Sunday School, which welcomes regular and visiting students under twenty years of age.
Let me tell you how this law of God took care of the needs of a boy of eight when a large concrete block fell on his foot — a block so large it took two men to lift it. It was found that his big toe had been badly smashed and was bleeding. From the beginning the boy was very alert, for he had gained an understanding of God and his relationship to Him. He applied what he knew of Christian Science and refused to believe the material sense testimony. He was taken to the hospital presumably to have the wound merely cleaned and bandaged. When his parents came to pick him up, the doctor told them he had amputated the boy's toe at the first joint.
When telling me of the experience, the boy's mother said, "We felt we could turn completely to Christian Science in this experience because we had seen so many proofs of the healing power of Christian Science during the ten years we had been studying it." She told me also that she put on clean bandages from time to time, and in about three weeks after the accident she noticed that the toe was beginning to grow. They continued their prayers, and the toe was restored to its normal length, and even the nail grew back.
A few years ago, the parents and the boy were in a store buying shoes for him. There was an X-ray machine there which enabled the parents to see whether or not the shoes fit properly. The boy stood on the machine and saw that the bone in the toe that had been injured was the same length as the bone in the uninjured foot.
The mother told me: "Throughout this experience we worked with the sense of completeness, with the thought that man is the spiritual idea, 'the compound idea of God, including all right ideas' (Science and Health, p. 475). Therefore man is complete. He does not have to grow to completeness. He is at the standpoint of completeness now."
Someone may be saying: "The Goliath I am battling with is loneliness. How can I destroy this giant?"
Jesus gave the answer to loneliness when he said (John 16:32), "I am not alone, because the Father is with me." Like the Master, we cannot be lonely when we realize that we are always at one with our Father, when we realize that we dwell in the spiritual universe created by divine Love and peopled with His ideas.
Sometimes we think that we are lonely because we are separated from someone or something; that there is something needed and that this needful thing or person is outside of our own being. But man can never be separated from anything needful. Right now we, as the children of God, can awaken to the understanding of our perfection and completeness. We are never alone. We are always at one with God and all He has created. We include all that we need within our own being. We lack nothing.
Mrs. Eddy has written (Message to The Mother Church for 1901, p. 20), "The Christian Scientist is alone with his own being and with the reality of things." We might say that "alone with" is the solution for loneliness. All that one needs for his completeness is to be found in his own being and in his understanding of reality.
Discordant human relationships — what a Goliath they sometimes seem! These relationships are harmoniously adjusted only when we see everyone as the perfect expression of God. Often solutions to other problems are delayed because we are not seeing those around us as perfect. One Christian Scientist found this to be true in seeking the solution to the problem of place. He was at the time working in an office, but had been accepted for new work in another city. However, many conditions arose to hinder him in this move. He decided to apply the truths he knew of Christian Science to the situation. During his prayers, he was led to these words from the Christian Science Hymnal (No. 144):
"In atmosphere of Love divine,
We live, and move, and breathe."
The word "move" stood out to him, and he affirmed: Man is moving in divine Love, in immortal Mind. He is at one with Mind. He cannot move independently of this harmonious Mind. He does not have to go somewhere to find harmony, for the only movement that is ever taking place is Mind's unfolding of itself to its idea, man. He saw that man could not be kept from his rightful place, because he is in reality always there. Right where man is, there is ever-recurring and profitable employment in reflecting God's ideas as man's real business; hence, he does not have to go aimlessly in search of it.
He declared with assurance that despite material evidence he, as the child of God, was right at that moment dwelling "in the secret place of the most High" (Ps. 91:1). His right place was in this secret, spiritual place. Therefore, his place was in no way dependent upon material conditions: he could not fear that he could be in an unproductive or unnecessary position, or in one which someone else should be filling. He realized that no one else could fill his place or be envious of it. He was, at that moment, and would ever be in his right place in the spiritual realm of divine Mind; and he had confidence in knowing that his correct spiritual knowledge would be externalized in better human conditions.
Those truths were very clear to him; but he did not find the sense of peace he knew he had a right to experience as the result of his prayers. He knew he had not fully handled the matter. He prayed for further guidance. Then the thought came, "I have been seeing myself as the perfect child of God and have been declaring harmony and right activity for myself, but am I seeing everyone as the perfect expression of God?" Then he recalled a discordant human relationship that existed between himself and a fellow worker who was his immediate superior. The Scientist had thought of this fellow worker as cruel, immoral, and dishonest. Now he realized that he must correct his thinking regarding him. He must see — he must "mark" — the perfect man in place of the demoralized opposite. He affirmed that not only was he the child of God, but that all with whom he worked were children of God, including his superior. He had been thinking of his fellow worker as separated from God, expressing qualities unbecoming to one of God's creating. Now he saw that whether his fellow worker realized it or not, he was actually God's perfect child. Therefore, he could not be cruel, immoral, or unjust. He realized that everyone in reality resides in the realm of infinite Mind, and in this realm there can be no strife between God's ideas. For the first time he felt free about the situation.
The result of this prayer was that harmony was established between the Christian Scientist and his fellow worker. The very next day a new and better position, quite different from the one on which he had planned, opened up for him. In a few days he left to take this new position, joyously aware of the fact that it is always necessary to see everyone, both himself and others, as perfect.
Another giant problem that Christian Science enables us to handle effectively is the one of age. Mrs. Eddy in her published writings never refers to her advanced years, but she has two references to her advancing years. (See The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 135.) She has said (Science and Health, p. 233) that progress is the law of God. Man who lives by the law of God is ever advancing, ever progressing; he is ever active because he expresses the activity of divine Mind.
The textbook states (p. 246), "Except for the error of measuring and limiting all that is good, and beautiful, man would enjoy more than threescore years and ten and still maintain his vigor, freshness, and promise."
The accumulation of problems, and not the accumulation of years, is one of the causes of old age. The challenge is to meet every problem every day as they present themselves. Unsolved problems added to unsolved problems become giant unsolved problems. And if we carry around these giants, these unsolved problems, they add to the claim of age. However, we have every right to meet them fearlessly with the understanding that because we are the children of God we are immune to the problems of age and fear.
We must handle the belief that we are born into matter; for if we accept this premise, we shall appear to mature in matter, age in matter, and die in matter. The belief that we are mortals, measuring life by solar years, causes wrinkles to be written on the face, the body to stoop, and the steps to become slow. Christian Science is showing mankind that man is not really a mortal; he is upright, strong, fresh, active, and beautiful. He can never become decrepit, aged, or infirm. He cannot lose the dominion which divine Mind, God, has given him.
The belief of an old age of rest or ease in matter is a death belief that must be met. Mrs. Eddy has written (Science and Health, p. 519), "God rests in action." Man being the likeness of God also rests in action. He does not rest in matter or age in a material body. Man's rest is in spiritual activity, and this activity enables one to remain fresh.
Sometimes one ages because he is mesmerized by the belief that his work is finished, that he is no longer needed or wanted. But this cannot be true, because the real man expresses God eternally.
Have you ever stopped to think that without the real man, your true identity, God would not exist?
Mrs. Eddy says (Science and Health, p. 303): "God, without the image and likeness of Himself, would be a nonentity, or Mind unexpressed. He would be without a witness or proof of His own nature." Of course, God is never without the image and likeness of Himself. He must have man as "a witness or proof of His own nature." Man must always express all the qualities of God wholly and completely. He must always reflect God, and to reflect Him is man's reason for existing.
Now, since man is the reflection of God, he is in reality as perfect as his heavenly Father. He is inseparable from his Maker. He expresses health, freedom, and dominion. He is "free born" (Acts 22:28), born of Spirit; therefore man is spiritual, immortal, and eternal.
God is the Principle of his being. He expresses activity, freshness, and strength. He cannot die. Man is the greatly beloved of divine Love. He is created and protected by God. He is ever secure in the enfolding arms of his Father-Mother, God. Man lives, and moves, and has his being in divine Love, and, remember, you are that man.
[Delivered Sept. 20, 1958, at First Church of Christ, Scientist, (city unnamed), and published in The Marcellus Observer of Marcellus, New York, Oct. 10, 1958. An advertisement in the Observer on Sept. 26 announced the lecture would be given at First Church in Syracuse on Sept. 30.]