Francis William Cousins, C.S.B., of Manchester, England
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Recognition of God's righteousness is what pushes on men's efforts to bring goodness into human affairs, said a Christian Science lecturer in Boston, Feb. 11.
Francis William Cousins, a Christian Science teacher and practitioner from Manchester, England, spoke to a noonday audience in John Hancock Hall. The event was sponsored by The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston.
Mr. Cousins related how prayer based on the "conscious understanding of God's presence and power" enables man to triumph over all the tragedies of human experience.
Emphasizing the need for gaining deeper glimpses of the nature of God, he said: "It is possible for each one of us individually to know our Father."
In proportion as we do this, he added, we discover our "oneness with our Father as His reflection. From the fact of man's oneness or unity with God springs the individual's desire to be good."
This is what enables us to "find that the kingdom of God is within us, as Jesus taught" and "will eventually reveal the complete dominion which man has over matter."
Mr. Cousins, who is a member of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship, was introduced to the audience by the First Reader of The Mother Church, Gordon F. Campbell.
Title of the lecture was "Christian Science Reveals the Good That Is Available to Mankind." The following is a complete text:
In this lecture we shall learn how Christian Science can bring hope and enlightenment to men and women today. It is intended to show that there is much good already available to us and that we can, by understanding the teachings of Christian Science, realize the ever-presence of infinite good.
If we were to be asked the question now, "What aspect of good would you desire at this moment?" I do not doubt that there would be almost as many different answers as there are people present. It is possible that you have all answered this hypothetical question already in your own thought.
It would not surprise me if someone wished for good health, nor would I be surprised at the desire for freedom from some form of bad habit that has enslaved one.
Possibly there may be those who would feel that it would be a welcome manifestation of good if they were receiving a greater measure of supply, so that they could adequately meet the righteous needs of a family. And what about the person who feels that his daily experience would be much happier if good in the form of companionship were available to him?
Then again, there could be those who seem to need an idea that would help them to complete an invention, or some other kind of project.
All these quite legitimate desires come within the term "good" as broadly defined, and there is no reason why we should not see the manifestation of these things in our present experience.
There are many here, no doubt, who would wish to have a larger measure of understanding. By this I mean a greater understanding of God's government of the universe. These may be likened to the ones referred to by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount when he said (Matt. 5:6), "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."
Now Jesus indicated the way by which we can gain the enjoyment of the good things we seek. Did he not say (Matt. 6:33), "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you"? So the one looking for health must cease looking at, or to, the body to give him health. He must look for, and to, God's righteousness, if health is to be added unto him or demonstrated by him.
I am sure no one here today would expect a bad habit to last very long in the presence of a spiritual understanding of the fact that God's righteousness is ever present. When one's supply appears to be inadequate for the legitimate demands of one's family, the recognition of the presence of God's righteousness, expressed in spiritual ideas, soon shows him that he is blessed, indeed, with spiritual abundance, which in turn meets the human need. Seeking the kingdom of God does a great deal for the one beset by loneliness, and also the mental realm of study and inventiveness is quickly seen to be abundantly supplied with useful ideas, all falling into their proper place.
Now, I have only touched on a few examples to illustrate the subject of this lecture, that "Christian Science Reveals the Good That Is Available to Mankind," and I want to ask you to consider the following incident.
Many years ago I was spending a busy day in a city that was noted for its large proportion of wet weather, and it had been necessary for me to make a number of calls in this city on a very wet and dismal day. There had been no sign of sun whatever, and in due course the time came for me to board an airplane that was to return me home across the sea.
As the plane gained height it entered into an extremely heavy bank of clouds and continued up through it. In a short while the clouds seemed to become diffused with a soft pink light which gradually got brighter until suddenly the plane emerged into the clear atmosphere above the clouds, with a brilliant sun shining in the west.
Henceforth, my journey continued eastward in clear atmosphere with the plane traveling along just above what appeared to be a solid bed of white cotton-wool. In descending, the plane needed to reenter the cloudbank, and to emerge below it in readiness to land. Upon the ground it was now quite dark.
I thought, what a good illustration this is of one's experience in Christian Science. Our work may seem to lie in the dismal unenlightened world and then through the application of the rules of Christian Science we rise through the clouds of doubt and fear and find that all the time during the seeming darkness and dullness there has been that bright and cheering sunlight ever glowing, ever giving off its soft radiance.
The airplane pilot knows that, properly handled, his machine can rise above the clouds, and so he is not disturbed by them. His instruments enable him to pilot and control his machine even though he cannot see through the clouds.
Similarly the Christian Scientist can navigate his journey through the dark and stormy clouds of mortal thinking, because, through reliance on God, he can control his progress and see that the unruly elements of false teaching and education cannot prevent him from experiencing his God-given right to harmonious existence.
We might well consider the cloud bank to be like the appearance of evil, making the world a dark and dreary place, but the cloud is only vapor. As the cloud bank hides the sun, so material sense would hide from us the true spiritual light to which we, as actually the sons and daughters of God, are entitled. Just as the airplane goes through the cloud bank, as if it did not exist, so we, with our understanding of God, infinite, omnipresent good, and His spiritual creation, man and the universe, can rise above, or see the nothingness of evil of every kind.
Countless students of Christian Science have realized the ever-presence of God, the ever-presence of good, so that which had troubled them before sickness, sin, lack, loneliness, and doubt has been overcome, and health, goodness, spiritual abundance, home, and trust have been demonstrated.
And so today we have a great chorus of thanksgiving going up to the one who has made it possible for us in this age to see that all good is available to all. I refer to Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, for above all else she desired to bring to mankind a knowledge of the availability of infinite good.
She did not desire that one should covet material things, or look for ease in matter, which is so frequently thought of as good health. She hoped that men would see that Jesus' teaching that "the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21) is a practical teaching which naturally leads us to understand that by being spiritually minded we are able to rise above the clouds of doubt and fear induced by relying upon the evidence of the physical senses.
That we should develop our spiritual senses our innate capacity to understand God was the hope of the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. Mrs. Eddy learned after much suffering and tribulation that the discord and unhappiness in her experience resulted from ignorance of the true nature of God, and from false teaching about Him. She endeavored to put before mankind, in a manner they could understand, the revelation of Truth that had come to her, and which resulted in her instantaneous healing from the effects of an accident which her physicians expected would be fatal.
Her yearning for an understanding of God, aroused by early Christian upbringing by devout parents, prepared her for the reception of the divine message of Christ, Truth, which she, with her abundant spiritual intuition, saw was what the world was hungering for. She pierced the cloud bank of false teaching and ignorance and rose higher into the clear atmosphere of Spirit. Faithful to her divinely appointed purpose she committed to paper her inspired discovery of the law of God, good, which she named Christian Science, and this we now have in the textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures."
Even in the short time at our disposal in this lecture perhaps we can rise somewhat above the clouds of material sense and glimpse the clear atmosphere of spiritual reality where the blessings of perfection are ever available.
The King James Version of the Bible (which incidentally, is used in all Christian Science church services in English-speaking countries) together with Science and Health are the two textbooks for our study. From a devoted study of these we may obtain divine guidance.
The first chapter in Science and Health is entitled "Prayer," and a study of this chapter quickly shows one that the first step to take in the reforming of our thinking is to pray. The gospels show us that Jesus frequently went apart, sometimes into a mountain, to pray, or in other words, as Mrs. Eddy describes it (Science and Health, p. 32), "Jesus prayed; he withdrew from the material senses to refresh his heart with brighter, with spiritual views."
So here at our first step in prayer we see the need to go beyond the material view of things and gain spiritual enlightenment. Such prayer is always answered. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7:7) promises us, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." This seeking and finding activity must always be through resort to the realm of Spirit, because man's true dwelling place is in the realm of Spirit, and therefore one can never find true satisfaction in the so-called realm of the material senses.
The great discovery Mrs. Eddy has made is that of the true nature of God and of man. She defines God on Page 465 of Science and Health as follows: "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love."
Nothing exists in God's creation which is unlike Him, or in other words, that does not reflect Him. The definition of man that Mrs. Eddy gives us on Page 591 of Science and Health describes this likeness, or reflection, for it states that "man" is "The compound idea of infinite Spirit; the spiritual image and likeness of God; the full representation of Mind."
The way to rise above the cloud bank of error with regard to man, therefore, is to realize man's oneness or unity with God. This is not done by asking Him for material things or conditions, but in realizing that our needs are actually spiritual, and that we already possess, by reflection, God's spiritual qualities and ideas.
The result of this rising in consciousness is to find that even in our human experience the spiritual understanding of man's oneness with God is demonstrated in the solution of our problems.
Now let us take the various desires of mankind as indicated at the commencement of this lecture, and see how we can rise above the earthly darkness, through the cloud banks of fear, into the bright clear atmosphere of spiritual thinking.
Perhaps one of the most persistent ways in which this phase of darkness presents itself in our lives is sickness. And, although we see around us today much evidence of tremendous research along medical lines, yet all the study, and care and devotion which is given to the sick still does not provide sufferers with an understanding of God or of man, His perfect reflection or image and likeness.
Medical research, vaccines, etc., do not really give to mankind the healing results which follow in the wake of seeking God and His righteousness. Although the unselfish service of noble men of medicine is recognized, no one today would seriously claim that there is less sickness in the world as a result of all the material research which has been undertaken. Does research into matter provide an introduction to the understanding of God, which is the only pathway to true health?
Mrs. Eddy's experience of healing, at the time of her discovery of Christian Science, came because she looked away from matter to Spirit, God, for help. And later she realized that the more she understood God, the better health she had. She makes a most interesting statement along this line in her book "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 169): "Early training, through the misinterpretation of the Word, had been the underlying cause of the long years of invalidism she endured before Truth dawned upon her understanding, through right interpretation. With the understanding of Scripture-meanings, had come physical rejuvenation. The uplifting of spirit was the upbuilding of the body."
As Mrs. Eddy rose above the clouds of false dogma and doubt she was able to enter the clear atmosphere of spiritual inspiration. In this state of spiritual consciousness, which we too can attain, we can recognize the ever-presence of the Christ, which Mrs. Eddy defines as "The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" (Science and Health, p. 583).
What happens when we do recognize the Christ? The false view presented by material sense testimony is immediately replaced by the true spiritual view. We awaken to the fact that God's goodness is everywhere available, and healing takes place.
Part of the illusion of sense testimony is that sin and grief are realities. Working from the scientific premise that all evil appears only in the false belief, or dream, of material existence we can rise above this cloud bank and see that both sin and grief are unreal because not God-created, and hence can be eliminated.
Just think for a moment of a world without these two evils, sin and grief. There would be no crime, no delinquency (juvenile or otherwise), no gambling, no alcoholism, no adultery, no jealousy, no covetousness, no heartache because we think we have lost the enjoyment of God's qualities which we saw in our dear one.
Do you think that this is too idealistic to be practical in this world? The moment that you realize that salvation is an individual matter you will realize that the teachings of Christian Science can give you the understanding of God which destroys errors in human thinking and leaves the purity of joy and bliss.
Let us see how it does this. The Bible assures us that God is our Father, and the prophet Malachi says (2:10), "Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?"
It is possible for each one of us individually to know our Father. The recognition of the fact that we have direct access to God, not requiring any intermediary, gives us the desire to demonstrate oneness with our Father as His reflection. From the fact of man's oneness or unity with God springs the individual's desire to be good, to realize that he is actually the expression of Mind, Life, Truth, and Love.
In each individual there is the eternal desire, though often dormant, to express Soul, God, and however much an individual seems to be under the cloud bank of evil, there is still the possibility of his being able to understand his true selfhood as God's likeness and then to forge his way through and come out into the pure atmosphere of Spirit.
This is the essential teaching of Christian Science so beautifully expressed in the first verse of Hymn 29 in the Christian Science Hymnal, which reads:
"Breaking through the clouds of darkness,
Black with error, doubt and fear;
Lighting up each somber shadow,
With a radiance soft and clear;
Filling every heart with gladness,
That its holy power feels,
Comes the Christian Science gospel,
Sin it kills and grief it heals."
Christian Science destroys sin by taking away the false belief that one can gain pleasure from sin or that one can gain anything satisfactory from matter. It is spiritual understanding, not false appetites, that gives us true satisfaction. Spiritual ideas give us all we need in the way of supply.
The truth that man has access to the infinite supply of spiritual ideas emanating from the divine Mind means that no individual needs to be dishonest or to indulge in false appetites and false pleasures.
Generally speaking, students of Christian Science are quick to set their thinking in order when they find some discordant physical condition endeavoring to make itself felt. Are we as quick to demonstrate the unreality of evil when it presents itself in the form of sin? Are we tempted sometimes to find an excuse whereby we can indulge our false pleasures a little longer?
On Page 171 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy tells us:
"Through discernment of the spiritual opposite of materiality, even the way through Christ, Truth, man will reopen with the key of divine Science the gates of Paradise which human beliefs have closed, and will find himself unfallen, upright, pure, and free, not needing to consult almanacs for the probabilities either of his life or of the weather, not needing to study brainology to learn how much of a man he is."
The term "gates of Paradise" is a picturesque one which has been used down through the centuries, but I am sure we can liken Paradise today to that condition of spiritual harmony which we are endeavoring to see and understand today. We do not need to keep the "gates of Paradise" closed; we can start now to reopen them, as Mrs. Eddy says, with "the key of divine Science," the understanding of God's kingdom, the realm of spiritual thinking. As we do this we shall find that the kingdom of God is within us, as Jesus taught.
With the knowledge and understanding of Christian Science we can help our neighbor to reopen the gates of Paradise. This activity has nothing to do with death, but requires a spiritual understanding of Life, God; and as we gain a better understanding of Life, we destroy the very foundations of grief.
Do you remember what happened to two of Jesus' disciples who allowed grief to overshadow their clear thinking? These two disciples were journeying to the village of Emmaus, from Jerusalem, after the crucifixion of Jesus, and they were greatly troubled at the loss of their beloved Master.
Luke's gospel tells us (24:14-16) that "they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him."
Those disciples had, in their own thought, put Jesus away in a sepulchre, and they were going to leave him there. Their unenlightened thought allowed them to believe that their Master's life had ended, that he could no more lead them on to greater heights. Their reliance on physical sense testimony had obscured their vision.
So sure were they that Jesus was confined to a sepulchre that they did not recognize the man walking with them, and only after their thoughts were uplifted were they able to recognize their Saviour.
The experience of those disciples is not substantially different from ours today. We may grieve if we accept the mortal belief that our loved ones have passed from our view. But, it we know them for what they truly are, the spiritual image and likeness of God, we shall find that we cannot be separated from them; for God's expression is eternal and we all actually live together in Him.
Our Saviour, the Christ, is ever with us at the times of our doubt and darkness, and is ever-present to uplift our thought to the point of spiritual understanding.
Our talk today about light dispelling the clouds of darkness would not be complete without reference to the disturbing condition often referred to as mental illness. Christian Science brings a wealth of compassion, hope, and promise to those under this cloud by demonstrating clearly that this darkness is illusion.
It is false to consider darkness as something, for it is but the supposed absence of light. Fear that sometimes accompanies darkness is also false. The moment we turn on the light in a darkened room we can quickly see the contents of the room.
Likewise, the moment we apply the light of ever-present Love to these mental conditions, false fears are uncovered and their unreality is demonstrated. Mrs. Eddy's discovery that God is Mind is the standpoint from which we must work. The fact that Mind, God, is omnipotent, and omnipresent, is quickly seen to be the destroyer of the false notion that there are many minds, which is often the basis of insanity.
Man is not one of many separate minds, each of which might become diseased, or weak and tired. He is the reflection of the one divine Mind which can never be other than perfect. It is this conscious understanding of God's presence and power which becomes manifested in healing.
A question which often puzzles many good people is, Why do the righteous appear to suffer as well as the guilty? Is not this unjust? This question often presents itself at times of disaster.
Generally speaking, scholastic theology can only say that the explanation lies in the hands of Deity and will be explained, perhaps, in the hereafter. Many people have accepted this thought and are resigned to the belief that God has good reason for permitting disaster to happen.
Christian Science, however, shows clearly that God is Love. He is the Father and Mother of man. It is unthinkable that He would inflict disaster, or any evil, upon His offspring.
Jesus knew that many people in his time were troubled by the prevalence of disaster, for in Luke's gospel he tells us that people perished then both as a result of unjust persecution, and of disaster. He was referring to the tragedy that befell a number of people when the tower of Siloam fell and slew them. He said (Luke 13:4,5), "Think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
Jesus made it clear that it we believe in the reality of evil, then we must expect to taste the fruits of that false belief, but if we change our thinking and dwell "in the secret place of the most High" (Ps. 91:1) we can be protected from these evil experiences.
Mrs. Eddy has provided us in Christian Science with the antidote for the fear of disaster, when she says in Science and Health, page 300: "The temporal and unreal never touch the eternal and real. The mutable and imperfect never touch the immutable and perfect. The inharmonious and self-destructive never touch the harmonious and self-existent."
You will find in a consecrated study of Mrs. Eddy's writings a scientifically demonstrable explanation of God, His universe, and man. With this understanding one need never fear so-called disasters, tragedies, and injustices, whether they be called the falling of the tower of Siloam or the detonation of a hydrogen bomb.
If we understand the all-presence and all-power of good we shall see that we are living in a most wonderful era of human history. Because of the influence of Christ, Truth, in human consciousness tremendous strides are being made today which will eventually reveal the complete dominion which man has over matter. It behooves us, therefore, to grow in understanding of the eternal spiritual universe.
We have much to be joyful about, and we shall help our fellowman by letting him see that we are not afraid of the future, for we have learned that the only time there really is, is the perfect, ever-present now.
Now I am sure that we have seen today that it is possible for us all to rise above the conditions of thinking which in the past may have made our experience so full of difficulties and unhappiness. We have seen that what is required is a change of concept of God and His universe, and that this change of concept involves the visitation of the Christ.
The Christ, the divine manifestation of God, has continually appeared down through the ages. The first indication of the Christ presence that we find in the Bible is in the third verse of the first chapter of Genesis, which reads, "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." This light or understanding of God, appeared in the consciousness of many great people.
For example, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and other prophets, all had spiritual vision, or perception, of the ever-presence of God's light. Doubtless, many other people through history have also perceived the Christ, although we may have no record of them.
Jesus, because of his virgin birth, had a greater appreciation of the Christ than any other individual. We have in the New Testament details of his wonderful demonstrations of the Christly power. We see that power demonstrated in the healing of the palsied man let down through the roof (Matt. 9) where Jesus indicated that sickness and sin are healed by the same process. We see it in the raising of Lazarus, where he demonstrated to all around him that the perfection of God's universe, including man, is an ever-present fact. We see it in all Jesus' healing works.
How do we know that these healings of Jesus were Christly in nature? Because they all involved spiritual reformation. It is regeneration which gives evidence of the Christ. It is the Christ which Jesus referred to when he said, "I am the light of the world." This light, or understanding of God, causes the annihilation of the clouds of darkness.
Need we go astray when we are seeking God? Can we go astray when we have the understanding of God given to us by the seven synonyms by which Mrs. Eddy has defined God Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, and Love?
Such understanding of our heavenly Father naturally makes us realize that for Jesus to say (John 8:12), "I am the light of the world," necessarily means that he could also say in the same verse, "He that followeth me [Christ] shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
[Delivered Feb. 11, at John Hancock Hall, under the auspices of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, and published in The Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 12, 1965, under the headline "Recognition of God's Presence Makes All Good Available".]