Christian Science: The Science of Perfection
Dr. Hendrik Jan de Lange, C.S.B.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The stirring admonition uttered by him who is called the Saviour of mankind, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," has caused endless speculation and profound perplexity. Yet like other sayings of Jesus, when properly understood, it must have practical value for us in our everyday life. Perfection means the absence of fear and worry and the consequent enjoyment of health and happiness. We may therefore well ask ourselves if these words are not really a clarion call intended to awaken us to practical Christianity. The students of Christian Science so regard them; they accept the admonition which the words convey, and endeavor to adjust their thoughts and lives to it.
This command, "Be ye . . . perfect," sounded startling and impossible to a world believing in a God knowing sickness, sin, and death and in man as imperfect, sinful, and mortal. Nevertheless, the command was given and was undoubtedly meant to be obeyed. For long centuries, the only way out of this seeming impasse was to interpret Jesus' words in such a manner as to postpone their fulfillment. The earth, or place where we are living, was deemed to be unsuitable for attaining perfection. The attainment of perfection was accordingly placed in the future. Perfection was assigned to heaven, which in conformity with such theories, was somewhere afar off, where life eternal was going to be enjoyed and happiness experienced. Strangely enough, this heaven requiring eternal life was to be reached only after undergoing death, which is universally admitted to be the culmination of imperfection. All this — notwithstanding the Master's definite words of "Be ye therefore perfect," without any indication of a future time or a different place.
The Basic Discovery
An American Christian Science lecturer once said, if Napoleon had known enough he would have been driving a motor car and Abraham's wife would have enjoyed a sewing machine. All the materials for these conveniences were available to the world of six thousand years ago just as they are now. Basically it is thought that has changed, not matter. It is to be noted that great progress in discovery and invention has been made during the last fifty or sixty years than in any other period of human history. This remarkable progress is the result of the ever increasing innate desire for perfection, rarely recognized in one's self or in others, yet ever urging mankind consciously or unconsciously to think beyond and above its material surroundings. We affirm that the Science which enables mankind to do this is really fundamental to all other sciences which brought so many wonderful and useful discoveries to the light. It is the Science basic to the teachings and works of Christ Jesus. It was discovered by Mary Baker Eddy. She called it the Christ Science or Christian Science. It deals with the most important of all problems, namely that of revealing the perfection of God and man and of making applicable to human needs the power and law of perfection. Here the questions naturally arise, "What does this mean? Admitting your statement, how can we, everyday people, gain the proof that such a power is available to us?" The full and satisfactory answer to these questions comes whenever the Principle of Christian Science is understood and vitally accepted and its rule correctly applied.
Principle Implies Perfection
In the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," written as a result of the revelation of Christian Science, Mrs. Eddy defines the word "God" to mean divine Principle. In this way religion is lifted out of its unstable groundwork of sentiment and placed upon the firm foundation of Science. At the same time, true Science is shown to be, not a system of human conjecture ever swinging between the uncertain concepts of the human mind and the inevitable limitations of materiality, but an infinite, inspired, and provable knowledge of God, man, and the universe. The Christian Science textbook further defines God as "incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul . . . Life, Truth, Love" (p. 465). How could it be otherwise? These synonyms are in strict accordance with the Bible, where God is called "Spirit," "the Word" or Logos, "the Father of lights with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning," and where John's inspired words, "God is love," are to be found. Moreover, these synonyms are in consonance with our highest sense of the great First Cause, with the source of what we know of infinity and eternality, with the initial and original Power which made all that was made. How could we be together here; how could we be conscious and speak of perfection, if there were not a divine Principle of perfection, an infinitely perfect eternal Cause which we, in deepest adoration, call God?
Evil Not Made
Stating that this perfect and infinite Cause made all that was made, someone may remark, "How about all the imperfections, the evil, sin, sickness, death which seem to abound in the world? Has God made these?"
The answer is: How could a perfect Father-Mother God or Principle conceive of, create, and express something so utterly unlike Himself, and still remain perfect, eternal, infinite? Indeed, He could not, and cannot, because God made all that was made; nothing less, nothing more. This means — and here we have arrived at one of the most glorious revelations of Christian Science — that God did not conceive of nor make nor express the finite, the material, the sick, the sordid. God made everything, and "behold, it was very good," according to the inspired record of the first chapter of Genesis. Consequently, every thing that is real exists as an idea of the divine selfhood, God, and is perfect and inevitable as the expression of divine Principle; spiritual and infinite as the expression of Spirit; beautiful and harmonious as the expression of Soul; eternal and existent as the expression of Life; true and unerring as the expression of Truth; above all, loving and lovely as the expression of Love.
The Right Concept of God and Man Appearing
The material world with all of its imperfections and limitations is generally believed to be the only real world. It is also generally assumed that God made it and made it material and takes cognizance of it as such. It is to be remarked, however, that even prior to the advent of Christian Science many people were unable to accept the religious creeds which teach that a perfect God creates and knows imperfection, although even such liberal and advanced thinkers continued to believe in the reality of disease, sin, and death. Thus they virtually accepted, together with the believers in religious dogma, a God made after the finite sense of man, or the material concept of man. This God was supposed to be enthroned somewhere above the skies. The pictures of the old masters in Italy and elsewhere illustrate this finite sense of God. To the believers of that particular dogma, God is nowadays less definitely located, but is still in more than one respect stamped with the stigma of imperfection. The words in the first chapter of Genesis that God made man in His image and likeness, seemed to the uninspired reader to fortify the belief of such an anthropomorphic God, that is, a God after the human form.
Here comes Christian Science "in the picture," as the current expression has it. It fully accepts the statement in Genesis that man is made after God's image and likeness. However, it makes it evident at the same time that God is the perfect, divine, infinite Creator, or Cause, or Principle. Therefore, man in God's image and likeness must of necessity have no other characteristics than those which belong to Deity. He must be the very expression of these characteristics without measure and without interruption. God being the only and divine reality, God's man is the real and only man. This man is spiritual, because God is Spirit; this man is infinite, because God is infinity; this man is eternal, because God is without beginning of years or end of days; this man is ever living, because God is Life; loving, because God is Love; true, because God is Truth; perfect, because God is perfection.
This is a logical conclusion which cannot be gainsaid. A conclusion arrived at not by heeding the material sense testimony, but by following sound reasoning which in the measure of its logic partakes of the divine. The creature we have been supposing to be man, that conglomeration of finiteness, sickness, sin, feebly intermixed with beautiful and noble qualities, is not, then, the man of God's creating. That misconception of man is disappearing in the proportion that it is self-seen as unreal, and in the process, we are gaining a more permanent, perfect, and satisfactory sense of existence.
When this light of understanding dawns upon the finite concept, the new birth in Christian Science begins to take place. Thus the "new man." as Paul puts it, is born, "which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him." With this new understanding, the Christian Science understanding, Jesus' words, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect, receive a new meaning. We see better than before that Jesus did not urge upon us something super-human or impractical or untimely. We understand that we neither have to change place nor wait for perfection or salvation. We understand that it is a question of change in our consciousness, right here and now; and everybody must admit that it is possible for one to change one's thoughts, if one is shown how to do it.
Christian Science the Higher Education
It is certainly a remarkable evidence of the insufficiency of the finite conception of education that it is unable to teach consistently the most important subject, that is, how to think. Men are educated in the schools of learning in almost every conceivable subject, save the most essential of all: how to understand man's existence and his relationship to God and the universe. Christian Science fills this notorious gap. In this way, it is an educational system. Human philosophy speaks of the "higher criticism." Christian Science may be aptly called the "higher education."
This education does not start out from the finite concept. It proceeds from the only source really worth knowing — it proceeds from divine Principle or God. Starting out from the perfect and eternal, we begin to apprehend man's true status as God's image and likeness, as "the compound idea of infinite Spirit; the spiritual image and likeness of God; the full representation of Mind," as Mrs. Eddy has written in the Christian Science textbook (p. 591). "Be ye therefore perfect," as Jesus said, is then understood to mean: Have the understanding of the real status of man as God's image; stick to it under all circumstances; know that it is your divine right of which nobody, no power, no suggestion, can possibly divest you; be willing to recognize that the testimony of the material senses is incorrect and that it is undoubtedly so concerning yourself. Accept the comforting thought that God made man perfect and so maintains him forever, and with this thought reject the testimony of the material senses when it is contrary to your health and peace.
When, this work is earnestly and consistently undertaken with adequate understanding of God's loving omnipotence and omnipresence, our conditions improve. We become more loving, less selfish, less fearful. Our intelligence is enhanced, our wisdom increased, our forbearance enlarged. We are freed partly at least from the burden of believing in the necessity of sin, sickness, and ultimately of death; and that which we call our bodies experience the beneficent influence of this moral regeneration.
Existence Wholly Mental
Why are we and our circumstances influenced by our mentality? Because we take cognizance of everything mentally. This is even true of our bodies and of the bodies of others. When we see our hands or feel our feet, we receive a mental impression. It varies, with the state of our consciousness. In a state of exaltation we may become altogether, unconscious of a pain which before seemed almost unbearable. Hearing some glad news, our hearts beat more quickly, our faces are flushed by an extra amount of blood supposed to go to our heads. It has been proven, more than once, that a thought of fear has caused death. Night dreams show very conclusively that existence is mental. Dreams take us to far countries and we fly in the air on newly acquired wings, notwithstanding our bodies remain motionless in the place where we put them before falling asleep.
When studying Christian Science and gradually increasing in spiritual understanding, we see more clearly the meaning of the statement in the Christian Science textbook that man is "the full representation of Mind." Mind, God, being All, His full representation or manifestation as man stands for the exemplification of this Allness. Man's real being, then, transcends in every respect the human body. The popular saying: As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he, has been interpreted in Science and Health, "as a man spiritually understandeth, so is he in truth" (p. 213). Understanding that man is "the full representation of Mind" awakens us gradually to the recognition and attainment of that dominion over all the earth which is promised to man in the first chapter of Genesis.
To those who have not yet experienced the results of Christian Science education or practice, it may seem strange that a change of mentality should be able to accomplish so much as has been asserted here. Christian Science not only furnishes the explanation; it does more. It actually enables us to show conclusively the value of improved mentality. Thoughts are not only characteristic of their source, but when they are spiritual and therefore representative of God, they partake of and show forth the very power and presence of that source. They are divine ideas because their source is God. When we accept them and entertain them, they enable us to be the beneficiaries of the presence of God, Life, Truth, Love, harmony, perfection, as the only presence. This realization has healing power because it partakes of the presence, power, law, and activity of perfection, divine Love.
Living the Christliness of Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth was the Godlike exponent of these truths. They were the very essence of his life and works. His spiritual understanding of God and man was such that he comes nearest to the mark of perfection.
Christian Scientists love Jesus more sincerely and practically than they formerly were able to do. Why? Because Christian Science makes more clear than do other teachings the nature of Jesus' life and works. A Christian Scientist's works of healing and saving are the proof of his religious profession. Thus the assertion that Christian Scientists understand Jesus better than others is not without justification. They do, to a certain extent, the same works that he did. They heal the sick pronounced by a finite concept of medicative science to be incurable. They save the sinners with a fuller, more loving understanding of perfection or salvation, whereby the salvation becomes effective now, being based upon the actual destruction of sin.
Jesus' example stands unparalleled. He was endowed with the understanding of the healing power of Truth without measure. For this reason he bore the unique title, Christ. Happily this Christ-understanding is not confined to Jesus himself, for that would be contrary to God's law, the law of universal Love. Every one of us may gain the Christ, Truth, in some measure today, and in greater measure day by day, impelling us to develop the full status of perfect manhood. Mrs. Eddy writes in the textbook of Christian Science that Christ is "the divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error" (p. 583). Christ, Truth, is here and now, to save us from the despair and misery of the imperfect, finite, sinning concept of ourselves and others, and to endow us with the understanding of that which we really are, of our real, perfect selfhood. The Christ is not dependent upon time or place, the Christ is not partial, has no predilections. Christ is the ever-active and ever-present unfailing power of God. Nineteen hundred years ago, Christ inspired Jesus to exhort mankind to be perfect as the Father in heaven. At this moment, Christ exhorts us to the same perfection. We may all have thoughts, this very moment, which are Christlike in nature and power. These thoughts do actually reveal our perfect selfhood.
Christ the Comforter and Redeemer
Not the person of Jesus, but the Christ, his divine selfhood, was and is the healer of the sick and the sinning. Our Master acknowledged this clearly when he said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," "I and my Father are one," "My Father is greater than I." Throughout his whole career, Jesus' aim was to help his disciples and those who came to be enlightened, to understand this Christ-nature.
In the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel according to John, the Master is seen to be particularly desirous to impart that Christ-understanding to his disciples. Jesus told his friends not to be troubled about his approaching departure, but to believe in the Christ, that is, God manifested, because they believed in God. In such knowledge was salvation for all those who acquired some understanding of the Christ. In the wideness of his vision he stated that they who believed in him, that is, understood his Christ-selfhood, would do the works that he did. Thus the disciples and all of us who are pondering the sacred books of the Bible, are led to the wholly impersonal impartation of God to mankind. Jesus called it the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth. Mary Baker Eddy called it the Christ Science or Christian Science.
The Unfolding of the Christ-Idea
Christian Science comes to us as the cumulative development of the spiritual idea, or Christ-idea, throughout the ages. In the history of mankind one can trace that God-given desire for perfection on the part of humanity. It shows itself in the natural desire for liberation from all bondage and mere finite ambition. The Bible exemplifies it. In the Old Testament, we read of the prophets; that they had a clearer understanding of God's power available for mankind. They were thus enabled not only to foretell the advent of the Redeemer, but also to do works of healing which to the finite concept were miraculous.
Jesus of Nazareth — as has been narrated in the New Testament — showed that a greater amount of perfection was within the reach of mankind than any inspired person before him had demonstrated. During three hundred years after his three years' ministry on earth, the spiritual import of his teachings was understood, and his disciples and others actually proved it by healing the sick through their Christ-understanding.
Later on, however, the discernment of spirituality was lost to such a measure that Christianity considered the works of the prophets and the Master to have taken place as a special dispensation of God and in a period definitely closed. The saving of sinners remained the province of the clergy. The healing ministry, so conspicuous in the teachings of Jesus, was relegated to materia medica, to matter instead of to the one Mind, God.
In the Middle Ages Christianity seemed almost to be lost. However, that could not be. The Reformation taught humanity again the possibility of a direct communion with God, not monopolized by a priesthood. It also gave the layman the opportunity to read the Bible in its fullness. Individual investigation and judgment were in this way encouraged and established. The Scriptures were searched freely and mankind's sense of individual and collective liberty was thereby developed. This unfolding of the Christ-idea took place especially in the northwestern part of Europe. Wycliffe, Luther, Calvin were shining exponents and leaders of this movement for spiritual freedom. Wherever priest or worldly sovereign strove to crush out these God-bestowed and inalienable rights of man, undaunted individuals were found ready to leave their cherished homesteads and look for other dwelling places where they could enjoy freedom of conscience and the pursuit of happiness in the way this was inspirationally revealed to them.
In the beginning of the seventeenth century, a small body of such liberty-loving people, later on called the Pilgrim Fathers — and let us not forget that there were also the Pilgrim Mothers! — left the shores of England. After being lovingly sheltered for a while in Holland, where their memory is highly cherished until the present day, they crossed the Atlantic to settle on the North American Continent. In later years, the United States of America became a nation destined for a growth and prosperity unequaled in human history. Why? Because the framers of the American commonwealth kept aloft the banner of liberty and equality. It need not be wondered at that in this community of religious and political freedom the Science of Christianity was discovered and the Christian Science movement founded. The progressive unfolding of the Christ-idea found here a better prepared soil that made possible the great event.
The Discoverer, Her Healing And Works.
Here, in what was called the new world, a pure and loving woman, Mary Baker Eddy, discovered, in 1866, the Science of Christianity. At a time when the physicians had given up all hope for her recovery from the effects of a serious accident, she turned to her Bible after all material means had failed, and read in the Gospel of Matthew the account of the healing of the man sick of palsy (Matt. 9:2-7). A new light upon the Scriptures flooded her thought. She was healed from the condition considered fatal, much to the astonishment of her friends and the doctors.
A description of this greatest of all discoveries, and of the events leading up to it, may be found in her book, "Retrospection and Introspection."
Mary Baker Eddy's love for humanity gave her the desire to impart to others this revelation of God's perfection and of His perfect man. For three years, she withdrew from society and studied the Bible. She tells in her writings how this led her into a new realm wherein it became evident that the divine Mind alone must answer the questions about existence, and that one must acquaint himself with God in order to be at peace.
The revelation of Christian Science has been fully set forth by Mrs. Eddy in the Christian Science textbook. Here the author explains that the healings recorded in the Bible were not supernatural, but supremely natural, being in accord with the divine law; the law which frees mankind from imperfection and finiteness. This law transcends and overcomes the finite concept of law, the latter being limited and afflictive. The divine law is utilized by the right understanding of God. This understanding reveals God's law as available at all times and under all circumstances.
The divine nature of Mrs. Eddy's revelation has been abundantly proved. Innumerable instances of healing, by herself and by other Christian Scientists, have established the availableness of divine power. No disease, however incurable according to medical doctrine, has been left out from the glorious records of healing which Christian Science has produced.
Permanency of the Christian Science Movement
Mrs. Eddy is not only the Discoverer of Christian Science but also the Founder of the Christian Science movement. Feeling that the Science which reveals perfection must be perpetuated, independent of her presence, she founded The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, and made it possible for branch churches to be formed wherever Christian Scientists complied with certain requirements. The Church Manual, which Mrs. Eddy gave as the magna charta for the movement, furnishes the rules and regulations of The Mother Church and the branch churches. The latter are strictly democratic in their organization. In this way the permanency of the Christian Science movement is wisely safe-guarded.
As a further proof that Mrs. Eddy intended the Christian Science movement to be perpetuated among mankind, it may be mentioned that she ordained in the Christian Science churches preachers which would last as long as the world might be inhabited by mankind. These preachers are the Bible and the Christian Science textbook.
The Bible Fundamental
In the Christian Science Sunday and Wednesday services, a larger part of the time is devoted to the reading of suitable Bible texts than in services of any other Christian denomination. In this respect, if in any, Christian Scientists may surely not be called unchristian by those who attempt to criticize them. On the contrary — as has been stated — Mrs. Eddy received the inspiration for her discovery from the Bible. The Christian Science textbook is built upon the Bible. Moreover, many people before coming into contact with Christian Science [who] were not able to understand the Bible, have found that the Book of books has been opened and become comprehensible to them.
Let me say here that I myself did not understand the Bible before Christian Science found me. At the request of my parents I received Bible lessons from a Protestant clergyman whom I still honor for his loving devotion; but it was impossible for me to accept God and the Bible narratives as they were presented to me then. I could not even believe that my friend the pastor himself believed what he told me. How much all this has been changed since advancing somewhat in the knowledge of Christian Science! Why? Because the Christian Science textbook has verified its name by actually being for me the "Key to the Scriptures," guiding me to discriminate between the inspired Word of God and that which is not. This is in consonance with one of the religious tenets of Christian Science, declaring that "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life" (Science and Health, p. 497). This makes all the difference. Having understood as a result of the study of Christian Science that God is Love, Life, Truth, Mind, perfection, neither knowing nor admitting sin, sickness, and death, we accept as inspired those Bible passages which are in accord with fundamental Truth and logic.
One must not be inclined to suppose that by using our spiritual understanding the Bible becomes disconnected and fragmentary. On the contrary, its beauty and consistency grow in the proportion that we are endowed with spirituality. Verses which formerly seemed obscure, receive a new light and a new meaning.
The new meaning is not merely something of theoretical value and literary enjoyment; it is of immediate helpfulness in our daily lives.
In the light of Christian Science, the Bible is no longer an historic narrative interspersed with records beyond imitation and emulation because of being thought miraculous. God's hand is not shortened. As a result of the spiritual understanding which Christian Science gives, the Bible receives fresh significance. We experience that in the measure of our spirituality the wonderful works of the Master and his disciples are imitable here and now. The Christian Science practitioner feels by reading the Bible an impelling inspiration to go and do likewise.
The Christian Science Textbook Divinely Inspired
It is the faithful, intelligent, and consistent study of the Christian Science textbook and Mrs. Eddy's other writings that brings to us this wonderful illumination of the Scriptures. "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" is seen by its author as a divine revelation. She states in "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p. 115): "I should blush to write of 'Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures' as I have, were it of human origin, and were I, apart from God, its author. But, as I was only a scribe echoing the harmonies of heaven in divine metaphysics, I cannot be super-modest in my estimate of the Christian Science textbook." Indeed, the work which reveals the allness of an infinitely and eternally perfect God, and the means by which to bring out the proof of the divine perfection of human existence, here and now, unconditionally and without delay, must partake of the divine and must be divinely authorized because divinely conceived.
Demonstration and Fruition
For you and me, my friends, the most important part of the Christian Science enlightenment we are now undergoing is the fruition just alluded to. How may we experience the blessings which Christian Science promises, in ourselves, in our family, in our business, in the relations between our country and other countries, in the intercourse between our race and other races?
Let me say that only he who actually demonstrates Christian Science will understand it. Demonstration is the proof of understanding. Wherever the letter is adhered to, but the demonstration not made, the understanding has to be increased by patient study and faithful utilization of that which is learned. So it may be seen that demonstrations naturally follow all along the line of a more correct understanding of Christ, Truth; and we find that there need not be any postponement of demonstration. A mighty factor in this work is the truth taught in Christian Science that God does not impose punishment; a God who is wholly good and perfect cannot bestow or admit anything imperfect or afflictive. God is indeed Love, and has nothing in store for mankind but untold blessings. In God there is no condemnation of man. Never! We can only condemn error. A person acting erroneously is a victim of error. He needs help, not condemnation. We are helping him by knowing the perfection of his real being and the inamity of the error. In this way are brought out the divine law and order which only have blessings, not curses. From the moment one has the slightest understanding of Christian Science, these blessings appear in his life, while the curses are gradually eliminated. Understanding and fruition go hand in hand, they are indissolubly connected as cause and effect.
The Prayer of Understanding
Prayer is the means whereby we become conscious of the blessings God has already bestowed upon His man. Christian Science has revolutionized the customary prayer that asks God to do something or not to do it. The chapter entitled "Prayer" in the Christian Science textbook explains this. Asking God to do something specific for us implies that God either does not know what we really need, or is not willing to grant it to us. In "Prayer" we read (p. 2): "God is Love. Can we ask Him to be more? God is intelligence. Can we inform the infinite Mind of anything He does not already comprehend? Do we expect to change perfection? Shall we plead for more at the open found, which is pouring forth more than we accept?"
The irrefutable conclusion arrived at is that we must not ask God to do or not to do something, but that we know and realize what God is, and what man, as His perfect expression, has already received. In our prayer God must not become human to us, but thought must become Godlike. By this realization thought ascends to the throne of grace and must stay there. This takes place in the proportion that we have the desire for growth in grace. We must assimilate more of the divine, by forsaking sin and all material, finite, imperfect, degrading beliefs.
The Christian Science treatment, whereby sinners are saved and the sick are healed, is nothing else than such a scientific prayer. It is the affirmation of the divine perfection as the Principle, law and power of the treatment and the denial of all appearances, suggestions and beliefs to the contrary. The realization of the perfection of God and man confirms the truth of being, and brings it out in our daily experience. The more continuous and uninterrupted such realization is, the more potently it operates: hence Paul's admonition, "Pray without ceasing."
The healing power thus made operative is not restricted. It not only exactly meets the specific need, but it also helps to lift the burden of limitation and imperfection weighing down humanity at large. Every realization of good with the understanding of its divine origin, power, and law; every denial of error with the authority of divine Principle precipitates the destruction of disease and other evils. This is done so much the more effectively and successfully in the measure that the one who prays or gives the treatment makes his declaration of perfection from the standpoint of Truth infinite and all-embracing, and his denial of error more impersonal and of a wider range. Such realization approximates the divine Mind and establishes Mind's immanency as mankind's experience.
Those people who are desirous of being helped by Christian Science treatment and in recognition of it are willing to pay some equivalent for this work, are more readily healed than others who are either ignorant about it or have not yet discerned its value. The Christian Science practice of healing is supported by this fact. Christian Science practitioners, duly authorized and qualified for this sacred office, are to be found in nearly all large cities and in many small cities of the civilized world.
Regeneration Essential for Healing
Healing the sick is a very important section of the Christian Science ministration, but it is not the ultimate of Christian Science. The cure of bodily disorders is a means to something higher than bodily health and comfort. It is perfectly legitimate to use Christian Science for the healing of a physical complaint, but the practitioner's task is not completed when it stops there.
This reminds me of what I once heard in a testimonial meeting in a New York Christian Science church. A lady spoke of her gratitude for a healing received in Christian Science. She used to belong to the Hebrew faith, but had become a member of a Christian Science church. One of her nearest relatives had asked her. "You have got the healing now; why don't you come back to us?" She had not followed this summons, and thereby proved that her physical healing in Christian Science was but a stepping-stone to a higher regeneration.
A more loving attitude in life, a nobler outlook upon it, greater spiritual-mindedness, purity, gentleness, in one word, moral regeneration, is the main purpose of Christian Science. When the morale improves, better conditions of health and life in general will surely supervene.
Individual Salvation Ultimates in World Salvation
In this way Christian Science saves the individual and will ultimately be recognized as the only essential means for world salvation. Many movements for world salvation have been started without attaining their aim. Why? Because such movements always aimed to reform "the other fellow." Christian Science is not trapped in this fallacy. It teaches us to begin by reforming ourselves, to go on by reforming ourselves, and to end by reforming ourselves. The good example is the mightiest incentive. When we overcome a false concept, be it in the form of disease, or an enemy, or a world sorely distressed by the fears of lack of space, lack of goods, lack of markets, in every case some relief is experienced. In the case of the individual it will be more readily traced than in the case of the world, but it is nevertheless true in both cases. Since the world is made up of individuals, the salvation of the individual will greatly stimulate world salvation. If everybody begins with and keeps at self-reformation, he will help the world in the most effectual way. General fear, under which the world is so much suffering, and which is the source of many evils, is composite of the sum total of personal fear. Fear obliterated in individual thought will obliterate war between nations and races, and conflicts between classes.
Good Infinitely Available
There is plenty and more than plenty of the things which make existence desirable and enjoyable for every individual, for every nation, for every race, if these things are but conceived of spiritually enough. There is never a scarcity of mathematical numbers; there are enough two's and three's for everybody, and still there is but one number two and one number three. One never heard of a war being waged in order to conquer, say, a hundred thousand fives belonging to a more fortunate nation. Why? Because we have already such an enlarged understanding of mathematics and its figures that every one has at his disposal as much as he knows of it. And we know enough of it in the civilized world to know that there is enough for all and that warring about mathematics never would increase the figures. That is the reason why we do not war about them, and never will. The same is true of air, sunshine, and in a more restricted sense of water and other commodities. It is equally true for things which are still the objects of war and competition, although it is not yet understood sufficiently. Christian Science is giving that necessary understanding which is spiritual, and cannot be acquired in any other way. It teaches that all good is infinite, universal, eternal, instantly available for those who know enough to avail themselves of it.
Jesus has set the example in this respect as he did in all respects. At the shore of the Galilean sea, he fed the five thousand with a few loaves and fishes. How could he do it? By knowing that man as God's image and likeness lives by the Word, by the spiritual understanding of God, as a result of man's inherent oneness with God.
This instance of the infinite availability of good took place in accordance with divine law rightly understood and utilized. It is not an isolated instance. Spiritual satisfaction can be attained and maintained by every individual, consequently by every nation, by every race. "Be ye . . . perfect" means satisfaction to everyone in this audience and in the world at large. It means satisfaction in every detail of existence through the understanding and demonstration of the practical spiritual truth taught in the Science of perfection, Christian Science.
[Delivered a number of years previously and republished "at the request of many readers" in The Brooklyn (New York) Eagle, Sept. 10, 1938. An excerpt of this lecture, posted some time ago on this site, has been retired from the index of lectures but remains online.]