Colin Rucker Eddison, C.S.B., of London, England
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
In these days, when the world is faced with upheaval and discord, when old landmarks are being swept aside and old standards challenged, when human society seems reeling under the blows of misfortune and distress, many are echoing the words of the Psalmist, "Who will shew us any good?"
Christian Science answers that despairing cry with confidence. For Christian Science is showing that a right understanding of the Bible enables mankind to find the infinite goodness of God present everywhere, in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Christian Science cries to the sick, the sorrowing, the fearful, the weary of heart, to those who find in their own human character an almost intolerable burden — it cries to you and me, whatever our trouble, "There is one way out."
Mary Baker Eddy and Her Work
In the year 1866 Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, when she was lying seriously ill from an injury caused by an accident, turned to the Bible in her extremity. She read there the story of the man sick of the palsy, and read it with the result that she was able to rise and leave her bed, and restoration to health followed. This experience led Mrs. Eddy to a prolonged study of the Bible, in order to find the explanation of her healing. For three years she searched the Scriptures until she discerned the great truths of being which the Bible contains, truths which, when understood, bring healing not only from physical ills, but from every ill that may assail us, healing in the widest meaning of that word.
All English speaking people must feel admiration and gratitude for the great figures of the Reformation, who gave us the Bible in our mother-tongue. Christian Scientists have a still deeper thankfulness for the life and work Mary Baker Eddy, whose teachings reveal the true spiritual meaning of the Bible, and its practical value in human life.
Important indeed is the illumination which Christian Science throws upon the Gospels. Mrs. Eddy has shown that the works accomplished by Christ Jesus — the healing of the sick, the feeding of the multitudes, the raising of the dead — were not feats of supernatural power, but were the result of a scientific understanding of the true nature of God and man, an understanding of the infinity of God's being and the essential goodness of His creation. The Christ, Truth, which Jesus understood, and which constituted his true spiritual nature, enabled our Master to prove the powerlessness of material laws and limitations, and thus to become the Way-shower for mankind out of material bondage into the boundless freedom of spiritual reality.
Throughout her life, Mrs. Eddy was inspired by an unquenchable desire to serve humanity. Having discerned in the Bible the Science which explains the teachings and the works of Christ Jesus, Mrs. Eddy's next task was to make her discovery known. She wrote and published the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," in which the truths of Christian Science are set out in clear and forceful language. She wrote many other works on this subject. She founded and organized The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts; she established its periodicals and its many other activities; she guided and supported its growth and development. In all she did Mrs. Eddy showed herself to be a wise, unselfish, divinely inspired Leader — one who saw humanity's deep-seated needs, saw the truths about God and man which would meet those needs, and established the means of bringing those truths to the world.
"God's Preparations for the Sick"
In the brief space of time available for a lecture it is not possible to give a complete account of the teaching and practice of Christian Science, but in Mrs. Eddy's "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 268), there is a sentence which indicates not only what Christian Science does, but how it does it. She writes, "God's preparations for the sick are potions of His own qualities."
Let us consider in the light of this statement some of the qualities of God, and how they may help us in facing the problems of daily life. I shall not attempt to review all the manifold qualities of God, and their power to free mankind from its troubles and its follies. It happens, however, that in Mrs. Eddy's writings there are five characteristics of God with which she has associated the word "quality." They are: intelligence, understanding, individuality, harmony, immortality. She does not imply that this is an exhaustive list and there are also different kinds of qualities, of a special nature, such as attributes and properties, but I shall confine myself to the five characteristics I have named.
There is no more important question than the question "What is God?" Christ Jesus tells us that to find the right answer is to find eternal life. The Bible contains the history of the gradually developing concept of God, ranging from primitive theories of deity as a god of battles, swayed by jealousy and revenge, up to the sublime revelation found in the New Testament that God is not only a God of love, but the God who is Love.
Mrs. Eddy's study of the Bible and her deep spiritual insight enabled her to answer the question, "What is God?" in the Christian Science textbook as follows: "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love" (Science and Health, p. 465). These seven synonyms reveal the true nature of God. They indicate the wisdom, the vigor, the power, and the tenderness of the one and only creator. The qualities of God must be of the same character as the Being in whom they inhere. They must be divinely mental, spiritual, vital, loving. They must be changeless, eternal, universal, omnipotent.
Following out Mrs. Eddy's metaphor we may ask, How are we to drink potions of God's qualities, how take those healing spiritual draughts? We take them by means of prayer.
Prayer is something which Christian Scientists regard as being profoundly important, and they are learning through the study of Christian Science how to pray aright. To the Christian Scientist prayer is not just a duty, or, as it were, an insurance against calamity; it is a joy and a happiness. For Christian Science shows that though prayer may begin as petition, it reaches its heights of power and achievement in spiritual understanding. The Christian Scientist does more than ask to be blessed, he knows that God has blessed man to the full already, and is forever saying of man, as Christ Jesus heard Him say by the waters of Jordan at his baptism, "This is my beloved Son."
Not that the material, sinning, suffering man is the beloved son of God. Christian Science is enabling us to see the unreality of that son of Adam, that material man who seems to have an existence separate from God. The Bible teaches that "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him." We are learning to know that this image, or reflection, of God is the only real man. The false, material conception of man, with its troubles and difficulties, its sorrow and disease, is dissipated and dispelled as the truth about man is understood, just as surely and as naturally as the belief that the earth is flat vanished when it was learned that the earth is round.
The relationship of God and man, Father and son, Mind and idea, is closer than any human relationship can be, for God and man are inseparable, are one. That is not to say that man is the equal of God. An idea is no more the equal of the mind that conceives it than an effect is equal to its cause, yet the two are inseparable. Christ Jesus declared the unity of God and man when, speaking of his true spiritual selfhood, he said, "I and my Father are one." Mrs. Eddy explains in Science and Health (p. 361) that this means, "one in quality, not in quantity." And she goes on to say, "As a drop of water is one with the ocean, a ray of light one with the sun, even so God and man, Father and son, are one in being."
Since man is one in quality with God, man possesses and expresses the qualities of his creator. We drink deep of "God's preparations for the sick" through true prayer, through the realization that the qualities of God are expressed in man because he is the reflection of God; they belong to man because he is the idea of the one divine Mind.
The Quality of Intelligence
Christian Science declares that God, or Mind, is the infinite intelligence which creates and governs all reality. Nothing which really exists can be unknown to God. The infinity of the divine intelligence was once illustrated to me in this way. One of the greatest natural scientists of the nineteenth century, at the end of a long career of research, said that he had only touched the fringe of his subject. Now that was only one subject among many. He realized how little he knew of what there is to be known. Divine intelligence knows all.
Again, since God is infinite, He can know nothing outside of, or apart from, His own infinite being. God's omniscience cannot include a knowledge of something unlike Himself. God is Life, therefore He can know no death. God is Spirit, therefore He can know nothing of matter, or of material conditions. God is Love, therefore He can know nothing of hatred or fear, of malice or jealousy. God is good, therefore He can know no evil. It follows that man, one in quality with God, reflecting the divine intelligence, can know nothing of death, of matter, of hatred, of fear, or of any other evil.
All our difficulties and troubles come from the false belief that there is reality in both good and evil. The book of Genesis indicates this. After the true spiritual creation has been described, the creation where "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good," the Bible goes on to give an account of another creation — a supposed material creation in which man is made from dust, and evil makes an early and spectacular appearance. Both accounts of creation cannot be true, for they are incompatible. Christian Science teaches that the second is the false one. And in this second account disaster is shown to follow at once, and to continue, from the acceptance of both good and evil as being real — as being something which God knows, as being, in fact, objects of divine intelligence.
Human achievement seems too often vitiated by this apparently inevitable combination of good and evil. Electricity gives us light and heat, intercommunication and entertainment, and is at the same time potentially one of the most destructive forces that exist. The internal combustion engine has given us rapid and varied means of transport and has opened up the world to many who, without it, might have known little beyond the narrow confines of their own homes. Yet it has been used for wholesale devastation in a degree unknown before its invention. As Mrs. Eddy wrote: "If materialistic knowledge is power, it is not wisdom. It is but a blind force. Man has 'sought out many inventions,' but he has not yet found it true that knowledge can save him from the dire effects of knowledge" (Science and Health, p. 196).
But there is a remedy, there is a way out. The remedy lies in our reaching a clearer understanding of the truth that man reflects divine intelligence — the intelligence which Mrs. Eddy describes as "the primal and eternal quality of infinite Mind" (Science and Health, p. 469) — the intelligence which knows good, and good alone. In the proportion that this understanding is gained mankind is finding deliverance from the dangers and disasters that belong only to a false, material concept of existence, in which good and evil are both believed to be real, and are both therefore liable to be experienced.
There is practical help in the understanding that divine intelligence is available to man. A young man who had been a member of a Christian Science Sunday School had been taught to test his own impulses and to consider whether they were based on divine intelligence, or whether they were the suggestions of the carnal mind. During the four years' war he found himself in a portion of one of the front line trenches, which was under heavy bombardment. He told me that he felt a great and urgent impulsion to move from where he was standing to the other end of the trench, but his Sunday School training bore fruit in his experience, for he said to himself, "Is this God or is this fear that is urging me to move?" He came to the conclusion that it was nothing but fear and stayed where he was. A moment later the other end of the trench, to which he had felt impelled to move, was destroyed by a direct hit from a high explosive shell. Now, other conditions might have required different action, but he did the right thing in those particular circumstances. He experienced the protection that comes from reliance on divine intelligence.
It was foretold of Christ Jesus that he would know to "refuse the evil, and choose the good." And that ability becomes ours as we come, through a study of Christian Science, to share our Master's understanding of man's unity with God, man's oneness in quality with the divine Mind.
The Quality of Understanding
Our conception of the scope and power of divine intelligence is enhanced when we see that it is linked with the quality of understanding. God's intelligence extends beyond a mere awareness to a complete understanding of Himself and of his own creation.
Mrs. Eddy has said much concerning the importance of the spiritual understanding which Christian Science gives. She writes in Science and Health (p. 505): "Spiritual understanding, by which human conception, material sense, is separated from Truth, is the firmament." Now the word "firmament" means primarily a foundation, something solid. That the dictionary tells us.
Certainly we are on solid ground when we thoroughly understand any subject; understanding gives us something more than empirical knowledge. It used to be told how some of the old workmen, employed years ago in the manufacture of dyestuffs, were able to produce very beautiful dyes by taking a "handful" of one ingredient, a "pinch" of another, "so much" (as they say) of a third, and mixing them all together. They achieved remarkably good results, but they could not say how they did it. They could not tell the exact amounts of what they used, nor say just how they mixed them, what temperature the water should have, and in just what proportions it should be added. They had no real understanding of their processes, and their knowledge was limited in its usefulness and was not capable of being accurately recorded for future guidance. Their results were reached by the rule of thumb rather than by scientific knowledge.
Are not men and women too often handicapped in dealing with the problems of human existence by just such limitations? And may not that account for many failures and disappointments ? Here again, Christian Science shows the way out, for it is teaching us how to meet the demands of daily life from the sure foundation of spiritual understanding. When a Christian Scientist is called upon to face any trial or hardships, any sickness, or loss, or disaster, he is learning to bring to bear upon it a spiritual understanding of the truth about God and man — an understanding of the infinite perfection and tenderness of divine Love and the unreality of anything and everything unlike God.
The power and confidence which a scientific knowledge of any subject gives is illustrated in a story told of one of the great French natural scientists. He was an authority on the classification of animals, and the relation between their structure and their habits.
The story goes that the pupils of this learned professor decided to play a joke upon him. One of their number obtained from a museum the skin of a wild horse in which he wrapped himself, placing his hands in the horse's hooves which remained on the pelt, and donning a mask in the shape of an African buffalo with its heavy curving horns and fierce eyes. He then went at dead of night to the professor's bedroom and in the dim light of a candle stood by his bed and said, "Professor, professor, I have come to eat you!" Whereupon the professor roused himself, looked at the apparition in the dim light and said, with the greatest contempt, "Nonsense! horns, hooves, you don't eat flesh, you only eat grass!" No threats of being devoured by an animal whose horns and hooves marked it as a grass eater had any terrors for him.
Christian Science reveals the allness of God and the consequent nothingness of evil. When we understand the Science of true being as clearly as that French professor understood the facts of zoology, the pretensions of evil to hurt or harm — whether in the form of sickness or sin, of disaster or death — will seem as futile to us as the student's pranks to the professor.
Christian Science offers us the spiritual understanding which brings salvation. That understanding is gained not by human cleverness, not by mere intellectual ability, but by humble, grateful, confident acceptance of the truth about God and His love, and power, and goodness. Hear the prophet Jeremiah, "Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom . . . but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord."
The Quality of Individuality
The one infinite God has infinite individuality. As we learn through Christian Science to know God aright, we learn to know what his reflection, man, is, and so come to understand our own true spiritual individuality.
Surely the most outstanding characteristic of spiritual individuality is freedom. God being infinite must be free, for He is unconditioned by anything apart from Himself. So, too, His reflection, man, is free — free to express God and God alone.
Freedom of speech, impartial justice, and freedom of religious worship are among the greatest possessions of a free people. But there is an even more fundamental and precious right, and that is the right to freedom of thought. Yet in human experience freedom of thought seems often to be assailed. The power of social or political pressure, mass mesmerism exercised consciously or unconsciously, claim not only to influence and control action but thought itself.
But the right to freedom of thought is only vulnerable so long as man is regarded as having an existence separate from God, with a limited, mortal mind dependent upon matter for its processes and functions. When the truth about man is understood, namely that man reflects the one omnipotent Mind, it becomes clear that his freedom of thought is unassailable, because it rests on his relationship to God.
The way in which men and women may become victims of false suggestions was seen in the experience of someone I know. He is a business man, and during a period of great financial stress he was able, happily for him, to experience a very prosperous year. The auditors gave their report to him one morning, which showed that in spite of the general difficulties, he was in an excellent position. He then went out to lunch with some business friends, and during the meal, these friends spoke constantly of the difficulties and hardships they had encountered and the losses they had sustained. My friend told me that at the end of the meal he felt sure that he, too, had suffered loss and was poor, and could hardly persuade himself that the excellent report his auditors had given him could be true. And yet it was true. And sitting there, with that report in his possession, he suffered the miseries of a man who faced disaster. He had to reassure himself again and again of the facts of his prosperity before he could recover his mental poise and good spirits.
Christian Science teaches us to realize that all our problems, whether they seem to be mental or physical, are really false suggestions, which we accept as being true — suggestions of that carnal mind which Paul called enmity against God. The remedy lies in coming to understand our true spiritual individuality as ideas of God. It is on this basis that Christian Science faces and masters all that would seem to deprive man of his freedom — sickness, sin, poverty, tyranny, and the like. He faces such things not as stubborn realities, but as false suggestions that man can express or experience something which is opposed to God.
The Apostle Paul bade the Ephesians put off the old man, and "put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." This is done through true self-denial. Christ Jesus said that if a man would come after him, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow him. That self-denial entails far more than depriving oneself of certain cherished activities or indulgences. What is it to deny anything? The first dictionary definition of the word "deny" is, "to declare not to be true." Obviously it cannot be our true spiritual individuality as ideas of Mind that our Master bids us deny; it must be a false material sense of self. The only basis there can be for denying, or declaring to be untrue, our material selfhood, is the understanding of our true spiritual individuality. As we learn to know our real selves — to know ourselves as God knows us — we can truly deny, or declare untrue, and understand to be untrue, the false, material personality, with its failures and its jealousies, its weakness, its sin and disease.
The process of true self-denial is not one of self-persecution or self-condemnation, though we may sometimes have to be firm with our false sense of self. Someone once said, "Do not be too hard on yourself, or you will be hard on other people." The way is one of true self-knowledge. We need to face ourselves — to face the false, material self for what it is, a misconception, and renounce it; to face our true self, our spiritual individuality, and embrace it. Mrs. Eddy writes in her "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 185): "Self-renunciation of all that constitutes a so-called material man, and the acknowledgment and achievement of his spiritual identity as the child of God, is Science that opens the very flood-gates of heaven; whence good flows into every avenue of being, cleansing mortals of all uncleanness, destroying all suffering, and demonstrating the true image and likeness." Such self-renunciation is not done in a moment, nor do Christian Scientists claim to have attained as yet to a full understanding of man's true individuality. But they know this attainment is possible, and they are reaching it in some measure. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
The Quality of Harmony
The subject of true spiritual individuality leads naturally to that of harmony.
The word "harmonious" is one which is sometimes used rather loosely, almost as though it meant simply pleasant or superficially successful. Actually it has a far deeper significance. Harmony has been defined as "the combination or adaptation of parts, elements or related things, so as to form a consistent and orderly whole." Clearly, then, harmony is a quality of God and of his universe, including man. There can be no lack of combination or adaptation, no chaos or inconsistency, among the ideas of the one infinite and perfect Mind.
Harmony entails order, system, symmetry. It means that each of God's ideas fulfills its purpose in God's plan perfectly. Each does its own work, and wastes neither time nor effort in trying to do the work of another. As we begin to understand something of God's universal law of harmony, so our human affairs express greater harmony — that is greater order, better system, less waste, less friction. The right people find their right posts, the right things are done at the right time.
There can be no harmony without discipline. Anyone who has sung in a big choir, or played in an orchestra, knows that. If the basses try to sing the tenor part, or if one singer wants to be heard above the rest; if personal preferences as to time or volume are indulged — there is chaos, and the performance is unpleasant both to hear and to take part in. But when the discipline of the conductor is accepted — when each singer does his part to the best of his ability in proper relation to the whole — something is achieved which is a satisfaction to audience and performers alike.
True harmony is obtained, not by the suppression of man's individuality, but by its perfect expression in subordination to the discipline of the one Mind. Harmony reigns in God's universe because all His ideas express God, their creator, in absolute perfection.
Music, no doubt naturally, gives apt illustrations of harmony. And it is interesting to note how music, particularly singing, is the medium throughout the Bible for praise and gratitude to God. Singers "that should praise the beauty of holiness" led the army of Jehosaphat to victory. Paul and Silas sang praises to God at midnight as they lay bound at Philippi, and not only were they delivered but their deliverance led to the conversion of their jailer and all his house to Christianity.
I remember spending a night or two some years ago in the Surrey hills during the early part of the summer. I had gone there to hear the nightingales. It had been a heavy, cloudy evening, and I had heard only one bird singing, and that faintly and fitfully. In the middle of the night I was awakened by a storm. And above the beating of the rain and the rolling of the thunder, I could hear the songs of three different nightingales, rising strong and clear and confident over all the turmoil of the storm.
We need to sing songs in the night, in the dark times, because then we need more than ever to realize the presence of God's harmony, and gratitude helps us to do so. A young student of Christian Science was once suffering from a painful physical condition, and a friend to whom he was talking remarked, "Joy is a great healer." The young man thought to himself, "Well, I will rejoice all right when I get rid of this pain. I shall have something to rejoice about then." As long as he thought like that he kept the pain. Then his eye fell on the sixth verse of the forty-seventh Psalm, which is so urgent in its insistency, "Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises." As he read those words it struck him at once, "Why, of course I can rejoice now, in spite of the pain or of anything else, because I know that God is ever present, that His law of harmony is here, and that evil has no true power nor reality." He was so busy rejoicing in God's presence that he thought no more of the painful condition till some days later, when he realized it had never troubled him again from the moment he saw not only that he could rejoice in spite of it, but the reason why he could do so.
Our gratitude and happiness, our "joy in the Lord," are not the expression of a facile optimism, they are based on the scientific understanding which Christian Science gives that God's law of universal harmony is present and effective everywhere and always.
The Quality of Immortality
Christ Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." More abundantly than what? Surely more abundantly than can ever be experienced so long as life is thought to be in or of matter, and subject to sin, disease, and death. Abundance of life comes with the understanding that God is the only Life. True immortality means more than the survival of identity after death. It means that in reality man enjoys the fullness of spiritual life here and now, because he reflects the immortal Life which is God.
Our Master's whole career on earth was a triumphant example of abundant life. He fed the hungry multitudes with resources ridiculously small from a material standpoint; he found in a fish's mouth the money to pay his tax; he healed all manner of disease without material means; he raised the dead. By his own resurrection he proved that immortality is a quality expressed by man as God's image and likeness.
The Saviour declared himself to be the Son of God, and declared, as we have seen before, the unity — the oneness in quality — of man with his heavenly Father. Christian Science is showing us how we may follow in the Master's footsteps and demonstrate, or prove, man's immortality. That achievement is not the work of a day, it is a question of here a little and there a little but more today than yesterday; more tomorrow than today.
The Christian Scientist faces the problems of life — whether sickness or sorrow, lack or disaster — with the conviction of man's immortality as his basis of thought. He challenges the reality or power of anything that would rob man of the fullness of life, and that seems to lead to death.
Above all, the Christian Scientist knows that only as he lives the life of a true Christian — a true follower of Christ Jesus — can he hope to prove man's immortality. The life of Christ Jesus was, beyond all else, a life of love. Love, real love, is not mere sentimentality or emotionalism. Love is something deeper, grander, more enduring than that. If we want to know what love is, we must study the life and works of Christ Jesus. And in our age we have the preeminent example of the life of the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. The love expressed by Christ Jesus and by his devoted follower, Mary Baker Eddy, had all the strength, the vigor, and the tenacity which come from the understanding that the only real love is the love that expresses God, divine Principle, changeless, impartial, universal. That is the love which destroys all fear. Only as we really love can we really live; for as Mrs. Eddy has said in one of her poems, "Love alone is Life" (Poems, p. 7).
Salvation Through the Qualities of God
In a communication to the press, in the year 1901, Mrs. Eddy declared, "What remains to lead on the centuries . . . is man in the image and likeness of the Father-Mother God, man the generic term for mankind" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 347).
Man in the image and likeness of his creator expresses the qualities of God. Can we not see how salvation for the whole world lies in putting off the old man, the man of wrath, of malice, of fear, of hatred, the man whose limitations lead him into selfishness, greed, and war, and putting on the new man, the man who is one in quality with God? That new man is, in very truth, the only man, and as that fact is recognized, the old man is put off; for he disappears, as falsity must always disappear in the light of Truth. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God," said the Apostle John. Now and always man is one in quality with God. Here and now, in reality, man reflects the divine intelligence which knows good alone in all its limitless infinity; man understands to its depths the truth about God and, about himself; he knows his own true spiritual individuality; he expresses the unbreakable harmony of the one infinite Mind; man is immortal now.
As we learn to know God aright through the Bible and through the light thrown upon it by Christian Science, we learn to know man aright, to know our true selves and to know each other. Mrs. Eddy quoted these words in her "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 51), and they will be proved true in our experience, as the truth about God reveals the truth about man:
"When from the lips of Truth one mighty breath
Shall, like a whirlwind, scatter in its breeze
The whole dark pile of human mockeries;
Then shall the reign of Mind commence on earth,
And starting fresh, as from a second birth,
Man in the sunshine of the world's new spring,
Shall walk transparent like some holy thing."