Stepping-Stones in Christian Science
Prof. Hermann S. Hering, C.S.B., of Boston, Massachusetts
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
A lecture on Christian Science was given under the auspices of Eleventh Church of Christ, Scientist, of Chicago, in the church edifice, 2840 Logan Boulevard, Thursday evening, January 31, by Professor Hermann S. Hering, C.S.B., of Boston, member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts.
The subject of the lecture was "Stepping-Stones in Christian Science." Professor Hering spoke substantially as follows:
We are all interested in the attainment of health and harmony. When we wish to accomplish something, to attain an end or reach a desired goal, we first find the way and if we wish to be successful, we follow that way.
"To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings. The wakeful shepherd beholds the first faint morning beams, ere cometh the full radiance of a risen day. So shone the pale star to the prophet-shepherds; yet it traversed the night, and came where, in cradled obscurity, lay the Bethlehem babe, the human herald of Christ, Truth, who would make plain to benighted understanding the way of salvation through Christ Jesus, till across a night of error should dawn the morning beams and shine the guiding star of being. The Wise-men were led to behold and to follow this daystar of divine Science, lighting the way to eternal harmony"(Science and Health, Pref. p. vii).
This is the opening paragraph of the Preface to the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," written by the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy.
Jesus, the human herald of Christ referred to, spoke of himself as the Way, and Mrs. Eddy calls him the Way-shower. She refers frequently to his guiding finger posts that point the path to heaven, to the hills that must be climbed, and to the obstacles that need to be overcome, thus indicating what the true way is that leads to present and final salvation.
All who have had enough of the world's tribulation, who long to emerge into a life of health, happiness, and genuine satisfaction, can now through Christian Science find the way which Jesus laid out, a way which leads surely to spiritual emancipation and which is paved with stepping-stones that all must tread.
Mrs. Eddy also says in this Preface, "Ignorance of God is no longer the stepping-stone to faith" (Science and Health, Pref. p vii). The dictionary defines stepping-stone as; "A stone affording a foot-rest, as for crossing a stream, etc.; hence, that by which, one advances or rises."
The portal to this pathway is the heavenly gate of understanding guarded by divine Truth, which shall not be shut at all by day nor by night, and whose passport is fidelity.
The Psalmist says, "Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me." We find a similar prayer in the beautiful hymn (Poems, p. 14), written by Mrs. Eddy while she was pastor of what was then known as the "Church of Christ, Scientist," in Boston,
"Shepherd, show me how to go
O'er the hillside steep,
How to gather, how to sow,
How to feed Thy sheep;
I will listen for Thy voice,
Lest my footsteps stray;
I will follow and rejoice
All the rugged way."
Let us now proceed along this path, treading in thought as best we may in the brief space of a lecture, some of its spiritual stepping-stones, learning how to climb where necessary, how to overcome or avoid the stumbling-blocks, pitfalls, and byways, and how to keep faithfully to this highway of hope, guided by spiritual Truth which alone leads to the understanding of God.
These stepping-stones are not the only ones that mark the upward path out of the waste places of material sense, nor are they necessarily found in the order here given, but they serve to show the guidance provided by divine Truth and Love in the passage of mankind out of mortality into the promised land of immortality and peace.
Genuineness A Guidepost
An important guidepost at the outset is that which tells us whether we are seeking the aid of genuine Christian Science or some one of its many counterfeits or imitations; for he who wants true Christian Science must be careful not to accept what is offered until quite sure that it is the Science presented by Mrs. Eddy in her writings and practiced by her loyal followers.
Associated with this endeavor should be the certainty that the one to whom we apply for aid, the churches and lectures we attend, the literature we read, are all presenting this genuine Christian Science. Many unjustly use the name Christian Science while they accept only a portion of Mrs. Eddy's teachings and reject the remainder. Have they then any moral right to use that name, and should we not be cautious?
Having determined then to partake of Christian Science in its purity, we are ready to enter the pathway, and we shall find that one of the first stepping-stones is honesty, not only an honest recognition of Christian Science, but also honesty of purpose in one's appeal to it.
A person with selfish motives, one who wishes to be healed of the effect of sin but not of sin itself, one who looks for gratification of ambition or desire, or one who in Scripture language is seeking the loaves and fishes instead of the Master's word, is not likely to receive healing nor to remain healed until this dishonest attitude is corrected.
Praise, Joy, Gratitude
Another valuable stepping-stone at the beginning of our journey is praise to God. To praise means to express audible approval and commendation, to extol, to laud, to glorify, to worship. Praise therefore is never without words, and is the utterance of a sincere and genuine adoration and affection, which establishes a right and necessary attitude towards God.
Associated with praise is rejoicing, being filled with joy, manifesting gladness, triumph, cheer; not a state of lamentation, complaint, grieving. The Psalms repeatedly enjoin upon us the paramount need of praising and rejoicing.
Also associated with praise and joy is gratitude, which means thanksgiving, good will toward one's benefactor, appreciation of favors and benefits received, and the disposition to acknowledge them.
Mrs. Eddy refers very pointedly to the value of gratitude. In the Psalms, indeed throughout the Bible, the need for being grateful is stated. Experience in the work of Christian Science healing shows that gratitude is vital and essential both on the part of the practitioner and of the patient. Sometimes the healing does not begin or is not completed until we count our blessings, for gratitude opens the windows of heaven.
Jesus, when he multiplied the loaves and fishes, first gave thanks; at the tomb of Lazarus, who was said to have been dead for four days, he gave thanks to God before raising him; at the last supper, when he took the cup and brake the bread, he gave thanks, in all these experiences knowing that his God and Father had already answered before he asked Him, a very scientific, spiritual attitude. Daniel and the Apostles also expressed thanks to God in their prayers.
Ingratitude, on the other hand, is a serious evil, which Mrs. Eddy refers to and comments upon very strongly in her writings. Shakespeare declares that "ingratitude is a marble-hearted fiend." This mental attitude of ungratefulness is often a decided hindrance to healing, especially in slow or so-called stubborn cases. Thanklessness, ill will toward one's benefactor, unwillingness to acknowledge benefits received, are darkened states of thought which seem to hinder the healing light from entering consciousness.
Praise, rejoicing, and gratitude, lying close together in spiritual progress, are very important stepping-stones. These qualities, being the recognition and acknowledgment of a superior and supreme Being as the one cause and source of all good, evidence an uplifted, hopeful, and expectant thought which in consequence is more receptive of the healing Truth and Love.
An indispensable stepping-stone is humility. Mrs. Eddy says in her "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 1), "Humility is the stepping-stone to a higher recognition of Deity." Note that she does not say "a," but "the" stepping-stone.
The word "humility" means lowliness, meekness, modesty, submissiveness. Only as we become willing to leave all for Christ, to give up the human for the divine, material boastfulness for spiritual meekness, can we reflect the spiritual light of impersonal Truth which alone gives us real strength.
Humility is the gateway to moral courage, for moral courage is a spiritual quality attained only through submission to divine power. We cannot take effectively even our first steps without some measure of humility.
A stepping-stone closely related to humility is obedience, which connotes compliance with law and duty, willing and due submission to authority. Indeed, it means reverence, allegiance, loyalty, fidelity, devotion.
Ζschylus, the Greek poet, has written, "Obedience is the mother of success." This is made evident when we see how success in mathematics can be attained only through strict obedience to its rules and laws, and that the mathematician who has the greatest freedom in mathematical work and achievement is that one who is most obedient to mathematical truth. Too often is license, disobedience to law, looked upon as freedom, whereas in fact it is sheer bondage.
Another closely related stepping-stone is sacrifice, in the sense that Jesus meant when he prayed, "Not my will, but thine, be done," for we cannot be truly obedient and gain the divine sense until we are willing to give up our false human sense and personal desires.
Sacrifice means a relinquishment or yielding, a giving up, an offering to God. It does not necessarily mean destruction of one's right thoughts or desires, but laying them aside for possible betterment, that the divine may prevail.
Mrs. Eddy in her writings frequently refers to the vital import of Jesus' human sacrifices for the benefit of humanity. She emphasizes the great need for the sacrifice of cherished human beliefs in order to attain spiritual understanding, and she adds that if this is our foremost desire we will relinquish for it our trust in everything else. She indicates that spiritual strength grows out of sacrifice, and again and again does she use the significant phrase, "Leave all for Christ," for Truth; in other words, give up the human to attain the divine.
Self-immolation is the essential and ultimate sacrifice that we all must make. Truly then is self-sacrifice a stepping-stone to harmony, to heaven on earth.
Recognition of the Discovery
A stepping-stone of preeminent value, that many fail to see, is the recognition that Christian Science is a discovery, a revelation, and not a human theory or invention.
The word "discover" means "to find and bring to the knowledge of the world"; hence, "to disclose or reveal something that exists." Mrs. Eddy's work brought to light the deep truths of existence which had remained hidden, namely, the truth about God, man, and the universe, indeed, the true nature of existence, together with the spiritual basis on which Christian healing was demonstrated by Christ Jesus and his followers.
It was revealed to Mrs. Eddy's uplifted thought that God is infinite Spirit, Mind, and that all existence is spiritual, not material; that man in God's image and likeness is wholly spiritual, and not the corporeal mortal that he seems to be; that divine Mind, unfolding to the human consciousness, brings health and harmony, and that thereby Christian healing could be again restored to the world. She tested and proved the truth of her discovery by doing much marvelous healing work, most of which was instantaneous. Thus she not only made the discovery and received the revelation, but she also demonstrated it. The revelation continued to unfold to her until she saw clearly the complete truth which she subsequently gave to mankind.
Mrs. Eddy's Leadership
Here naturally follows the stepping-stone of leadership, a stone that many attempt to avoid, or omit. The question of leadership is often looked upon as a matter of volition, ambition, or policy. In Mrs. Eddy's case, however, she became the natural and logical Leader of the Christian Scientists, because, as the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science and as its first demonstrator and teacher, she possessed authoritative understanding, was inspired and led by God, and was thus the one to whom her followers normally looked for guidance.
Christian Scientists will therefore always regard Mrs. Eddy as their Leader, who through her writings is not only teaching them the revealed Truth, but also guiding them along the safe pathway heavenward, a Leader whom they can trust, in whom they can have absolute confidence, and to whose counsel they can always turn for help. This attitude is similar in its degree to that held toward Christ Jesus, who, though no longer on earth nor in the flesh, remains forever a distinct individuality as our Master, our Saviour, our Way-shower.
To understand Christian Science correctly in its deep spiritual significance and purity, as well as its completeness, and to demonstrate it successfully, Mrs. Eddy must be seen rightly, and recognized as the one and only Leader of this movement.
The Christian Science Church
Another stepping-stone of importance in our heavenward path is an understanding of the position of The Mother Church in the Christian Science movement, its Messianic meaning and purpose; in other words, the divine part that it plays in this redemptive mission of Christian Science.
Mrs. Eddy related her regret that her discovery of the Science of Christian healing and her spiritual interpretation of the Bible were not welcome in the orthodox churches, and that this compelled her to form a church of her own. The Boston church which she founded in 1879 was later reorganized as The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and became The Mother Church, the central church of the denomination. The local Christian Science churches and societies throughout the world, are branches of The Mother Church, when duly authorized.
The By-Laws of this church were all prepared by Mrs. Eddy with great care as they were needed, and are contained in the Manual of The Mother Church. The form of government thus instituted by Mrs. Eddy has been proved to be the most satisfactory and the safest method possible for The Mother Church and its branches. It is clearly to be seen, then, that The Mother Church is still governed by Mrs. Eddy through her By-Laws in the Manual, and for this reason is the church in which the Christian Science movement is safely and permanently anchored.
Teachings of Christian Science
The stepping-stones of greatest magnitude in our journey are the teachings of Christian Science. These teachings and their application, are clearly set forth in the textbook entitled, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," written by Mary Baker Eddy. This book was first published in 1875, nine years after her great discovery. The other writings of Mrs. Eddy are amplifications and elucidations of the textbook and are a great aid and inspiration to thoughtful students. The teachings of Christian Science may therefore be learned through these books, especially with the use of the two Concordances to her writings, which greatly facilitates this study. Such study enables Mrs. Eddy's interpretation of her teachings to be seen and thus protects against misinterpretation.
Definition of God
The whole of Christian Science teaching is based upon God. Mrs. Eddy opens class teaching as given in the chapter "Recapitulation," of her textbook, with the question, "What is God?" to which her answer is, "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love" (Science and Health, p. 465). It is important to see that these four qualifying words, incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite, apply to all of the seven terms for God. She also declares that these terms are synonymous, that "they refer to one absolute God," and that "they are also intended to express the nature, essence, and wholeness of Deity."
While these seven terms, or names for God describe the whole nature of God, yet each one has a characteristic, distinctive meaning, bringing out some special and essential quality of Deity. Individually, however, every name includes all the others, and so each one expresses the wholeness of God. To illustrate, when St. John declares that God is love he defines God as Love; the term Love, in the light of Christian Science, includes the sense of Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, and Truth and thus expresses the wholeness, the entirety of God. When we study these terms in their infinite sense, we obtain a wonderfully enlarged and comprehensive concept of God, increasing daily with the growth of our understanding.
Recognition of Real Man
Since man, according to the Scriptures, is the image and likeness of God, we can know this real man only as we know God aright. The Scriptural definition of this God-created man has been misunderstood by the human mind, which knows only the material man as conceived of through physical sense and which declares this material man to be the divine image, a divine product, as Eve asserted at the birth of Cain, "I have gotten a man from the Lord." This human mind then tries to visualize a God of such character as would resemble this human man; in other words, to make God manlike, instead of to make man Godlike.
Mrs. Eddy has made it possible to discern the Godlike man, because it was revealed to her that God is infinite Spirit and that man is His expression. Consequently, we can know the man of God's creating instead of believing the corporeal human being to be this man. The real man is therefore not material, but spiritual, a divine idea or reflection. Our image seen in a mirror is wholly mental, incorporeal; also the projection on a moving picture screen is mental, immaterial; similarly man as the reflection of God is spiritual.
When thinking of the spiritual, incorporeal nature of man, we shall find it helpful to consider the seven synonyms for man which Mrs. Eddy uses, and to study their meanings, both in the dictionary, and in her writings with the aid of the Concordances. These synonyms are idea, image, likeness, reflection, expression, manifestation, representative. We take a great step onward when we begin to see the spiritual, incorporeal nature of man.
An elevated stepping-stone along this pathway is a right comprehension of Christ Jesus, our Lord. The teachings of Christian Science have removed from the old theological teachings concerning the Master, the errors which prevented mortals from seeing him as their practical Exemplar and everyday Way-shower. This change has made it possible to understand his dual nature, the humanity of the man Jesus, and the divinity of the idea Christ which was his spiritual consciousness, the actual reflection and manifestation of God.
It is a help to note that he did his healing work in order to demonstrate divine power as evidence of the supremacy of Spirit here on earth and thus to awaken a right belief and faith in God, and to show that the God of Truth and Love is always "a very present help in trouble," evidence sorely needed in this materialistic and distracted age.
Although his wondrous birth set him apart from others in a degree, yet his life in the flesh showed us the way to overcome the flesh and all evil.
Christian Science thus reveals Jesus as a true and practical human Way-shower who marked out the way alone which we can and must travel in our passage heavenward, and shows that the healing work is a divinely natural result of a right understanding of his teaching regarding God and the divine mode of living.
Reality and Infinity
We come now to consider another stepping-stone of fundamental importance. This stone is the spiritual understanding of infinity with which alone spiritual reality, the nature of God and His ideas, in other words the truth about all things, can be grasped. This seems to be a difficult task because of the tenacious human sense of limitation and the habit of thinking finitely. Let us, however, consider this question a moment and see if we cannot at least get a glimpse of it.
We have seen that the revealed definition of God includes infinity as a fundamental nature of Deity, and anyone who has read Mrs. Eddy's writings has undoubtedly observed that she uses this word "infinity" as a basic, qualifying term for reality.
The etymological meaning of the word "infinity" is "not finite." The word "finite" means "having an end.'' Infinity therefore means without end, and thus without beginning, without limitation or boundary in any direction, thus without physical dimensions, without restriction as to size, space, quantity, quality, degree, time, and so on.
Infinity also means unchangeableness, and consequent indestructibility. It is evident too that whatever is infinite is everywhere, for Truth by its very nature is omnipresent. It follows then that divine Truth and all that is absolutely true must be infinite or must partake of the nature of infinity. As reality is necessarily all, and therefore infinite, it is possible to understand or to grasp the nature of the real only as the proper conception of infinity is gained.
Let us then endeavor to turn from the finite in every direction and strive to attain an unlimited, infinite sense of existence as reality, and thereby see that whatever is finite and destructible is not real. We shall obtain a truer, larger sense of being and environment when we thus lift thought from the finite to the infinite, which means from the material to the spiritual. Since God is infinite and is Spirit, do we not need this spiritual sense of infinity in order to know Him aright and to obtain a fuller sense of immortality, the eternality of our being?
Overcoming Animal Magnetism
Here we come to a stepping-stone that Mrs. Eddy considered very important, a stone which many fail to see or try to avoid, and one that is quite often wrongly regarded as a stumbling-block. Mrs. Eddy learned, when introducing Christian Science, that as she taught and applied the truth about God and man, and the healing power of the divine Mind, there was aroused a great deal of opposition to the reappearing of this spiritual light of the early Christian era. She not only experienced open opposition, but silent hatred, hateful thinking, and much malice, with deliberate intentional effort to injure her, her students, and her Church. Jesus, speaking of his similar experience said, "They hated me without a cause."
Mrs. Eddy has declared that she was divinely led to call this evil material nature or quality "animal magnetism," a term that was already in use. In Genesis this evil is called the serpent; in the Apocalypse, the dragon, the developed form of animal magnetism. This name is a logical and descriptive one, since all material existence is based upon animal attraction of some sort. It is therefore the fundamental error to be recognized, fairly faced and denied, overcome as a false claim. It is the nature and cause of all discord; it is the exact opposite of Christian Science, and is its enemy; in other words, it is the belief that there is life, truth, intelligence, and substance in matter.
Mrs. Eddy calls this overcoming "handling." To "handle" any error means to take it up as a serpent and remove its sting, its claim of power, thereby making it harmless. Error is fully handled when its claim of power is mastered; the belief that it is real, destroyed. Mrs. Eddy teaches us that we must cast out error and that we do this by denial, not by letting it alone. We cannot clean house simply by studying a textbook on good housekeeping. We must learn to see dirt and remove it. This is the Christian Science method of handling error and this metaphysical house cleaning must be done by men as well as by women.
One of the evils and dangers darkening our pathway, which is often unrecognized and unacknowledged, but which needs to be overcome, is fear. Mrs. Eddy directs especial attention to fear and its bad effects, saying in substance that, when fear is wholly destroyed, the healing is accomplished, showing how important it is thoroughly to handle and overcome fear.
Fear is the belief in a power apart from God, indeed greater than God. Hence to fear is little short of sin. We are never afraid of infinite Truth, Life, and Love, of infinite good. Therefore we are never afraid of anything real, but of a supposed something outside of the realm of reality. Consequently fear is always about something that has no actual existence, and is always induced by what is unreal. This thought, however, cannot be realized except as God's presence, power, and supremacy are known.
The Scriptures tell us, "Perfect love casteth out fear." The destruction of fear through Love follows the fact that fear, being the absence of Love, is a negative condition, while Love is the infinite presence; also that fear fundamentally is ignorance of God's presence and power, which ignorance, the divine intelligence, Love, enlightens and removes.
It is to be regretted that in addition to inherited or latent fear many of the educational methods of today tend to increase this already heavy load by impressing upon the conscious thought of children and adults fear of everything around them. These methods outline, through medical instruction and in other ways, dangers and evil contingencies that make living problematical and disease and death seemingly the only certainties. All of this is the exact opposite of the teaching of Christ Jesus and his method of dealing with disease and evil, for it must be admitted that his method minimizes fear rather than magnifies it, and that his results prove his method to be the most efficacious one that the world has ever known. Human conditions should be regulated, never by fear, always by wisdom.
Basis of Demonstration
In the working out of human problems in any line of experience, it is necessary to start from a basis which includes the truth of the subject, its underlying rules and scientific relations. Consequently in the healing of disease or in the amelioration of inharmonious business or social conditions through Christian Science, we naturally start from the basis of the true God and the true man to know the divine reality and the operation of divine Principle. We do not start from the basis of matter, physical science, medical science, human will, mental suggestion or any form of hypnotism. This definitely differentiates Christian Science healing from all forms of so-called mental healing and is a stepping-stone of marked importance.
Mrs. Eddy was once asked whether it was right to refer to one's self "as an immortal idea of the one divine Mind" (Miscellany, p. 241), that is, as a spiritual idea, while seeming to live in the flesh. Mrs. Eddy replied: "You are scientifically correct in your statement about yourself. You can never demonstrate spirituality until you declare yourself to be immortal and understand that you are so. Christian Science is absolute; it is neither behind the point of perfection nor advancing towards it; it is at this point and must be practised therefrom. Unless you fully perceive that you are the child of God, hence perfect, you have no Principle to demonstrate and no rule for its demonstration. By this I do not mean that mortals are the children of God, far from it. In practicing Christian Science you must state its Principle correctly, or you forfeit your ability to demonstrate it" (Miscellany, p. 242).
On this metaphysical basis of the true God, the true man, and the divine reality we can and should recognize all disease and inharmony as claims, as false demands made upon us for belief, and consequently find that we can separate these discordant beliefs from ourselves, see them as no part of us, "unsee" them, as Mrs. Eddy says, and thus be healed of them. When we lose our belief in them, because of the consciousness of Truth, they disappear, for the life or existence of an error is the human belief in it; when the belief ceases, the error's seeming existence automatically ceases.
Truth Corrects Error
The next logical stepping-stone is to see and understand that Christian Science healing is accomplished when divine Truth corrects human error. Human misery is healed scientifically by knowing divine Truth, becoming conscious of its presence and then recognizing human discord as illusion or error, thereby displacing it in consciousness with Truth. Just as the application of mathematical truth corrects an error in computation, so divine Truth corrects specific human error when rightly brought to bear upon it; for Truth has the inherent power to assert and establish itself, because it is already and always omnipresent and omnipotent. There is no difference in value or effect between one error of belief and another, between one disease and another; in other words, between a large cipher and a small one, a green one and a red one, an old one and a new one, or an inherited one; they are all ciphers. The seeming difference is only the human belief about it, and here again is exemplified Jesus' immortal statement, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
Sense Testimony A Stumbling-block
An almost universal stumbling block in this spiritual pathway presents itself in the question of the unreality of sin, disease, and death, of all human misery, indeed of the whole of material existence; not that anything, good and harmonious is unreal, but only that the finite material sense is so.
The ideas of infinite divine Truth alone are truly real, and are spiritual, indestructible, harmonious. Consequently material, destructible, discordant things, and all that is finite, have only a seeming existence outside the realm of reality or infinity. So they are merely false states of consciousness, erroneous beliefs of the carnal mind, which St. Paul said "is enmity against God" and which Jesus called "a liar and the father of it."
In this connection it is helpful to recognize the fact that not one of the physical senses ever testifies to absolute Truth. Truth is not perceived through physical sense, but solely through understanding, a very different faculty, for example, we cannot see the mathematical truth of the multiplication table through the sense of sight or by merely looking at it, but solely through mathematical understanding. So it is with the perception of all truth. This shows how important it is not to give undue value to impressions received through these senses.
Two of Mrs. Eddy's early discoveries were (1) the mental nature of all existence, and (2) the unreality of the material sense of existence. She solved the riddle of the universe when she saw these points from the basis of the reality of infinite Mind and its infinite expression.
Professor Ostwald's discovery of the kinetic nature of matter, that is, matter as a form of energy, and Professor Einstein's discovery of the relativity of all material phenomena, corroborated from a human standpoint Mrs. Eddy's spiritual discovery, since they disclose the insubstantial nature of all material existence.
Healing of Sin and Disease
To journey successfully along the pathway to health and harmony, the distinction between the healing of sin and the healing of disease must be clearly made. This is very plain in Mrs. Eddy's teachings.
The difference briefly is this: sin involves desire and gratification, while disease does not. In other words, sinners usually want to hold on to sin, while the sick want to let go of disease. Therefore, to heal sin or the indulgence of any error, it is necessary first to see the sin as sin, to admit and acknowledge it to be evil, and then to forsake and destroy it as a false claim; whereas, in the case of sickness, unless caused by sin, it is necessary only to see the unreality of disease in order to destroy it.
It is important to see this scientific point, that to admit we are sick makes the sickness harder to heal, while to admit we have done wrong aids in rectifying the error and in bringing about a right healing.
The pathway out of sin seems narrow to those who are unwilling to tread it. To some it seems impossibly narrow and steep, and they believe they cannot "make the grade," but to those who are in earnest its narrowness is seen to be a guiding protection.
A stepping-stone that must not be overlooked is that of faith, which means confidence, trust, expectancy.
Christian Science healing is not faith healing in the ordinary sense of the word, yet it results from that fuller faith which is understanding, that absolute confidence in the presence and power of God, in the immutable and unfailing nature of divine good, which, as we journey on, supplies the assurance and conviction that divine Truth is ever operative as well as ever present.
As we come to understand Christian Science, we shall have increasing faith that the application of its Truth and the operation of its laws will correct any error in human affairs. Lack of faith is due to lack of understanding, and because Christian Science now makes it possible to know and understand divine Truth, we can have the confident, expectant faith in God's power that we need.
In the vicissitudes that seem to come to all of us, when storms may make our journey along the path difficult or dangerous, a right faith in God, an absolute trust in His loving care and guidance, inspires fearless confidence and is always a strong defense, a safe rock to which to cling.
While walking and climbing the rugged pathway upon the stepping-stones of Truth, passing the mile stones of Spirit, gaining clearer glimpses of the heavenly horizon, experiencing higher joys and entertaining more exalted motives, we are encouraged by the wonderful goal always before us and are divinely strengthened in all times of weariness. We shall encounter storms of error and the enemies of righteousness will oppose our progress and attempt to reverse our gains, but the divine Love that provides the "pillar of cloud" by day and the "pillar of fire" by night, according to the Scriptures, will also provide the necessary protection "from the snare of the fowler," from "the pestilence that walketh in darkness,'' and from "the destruction that wasteth at noonday," as the Psalmist says. He continues, "There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways." That is to say, when we dwell, as he declares, "in the secret place of the most High," in the consciousness of divine Truth, it is then that we "shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty," under the protection of divine Love.
St. Paul admonishes us in his Epistle to the Ephesians, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." Then he adds: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints." Here the term "all saints" refers to all Christian believers, whom the great Apostle calls "the faithful in Christ Jesus." This includes you and me.
Briefly stated, putting on the whole armor of God is knowing what God is in His infinite fullness and allness, knowing what real Mind is, what Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, and Love really are in their infinite presence and perfection, as already referred to. With this spiritual knowing our thoughts will be, in Mrs. Eddy's words, "an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort" (Miscellany, p. 210). Just as darkness cannot enter a room filled with light, so the darkness of error and evil cannot enter a consciousness filled with the light of Truth and good. Herein lies our protection.
A diligent study of the enumerated elements of this "whole armour," especially with the use of the two Concordances to Mrs. Eddy's writings, will yield much enlightenment on this important and timely subject of protection.
These stepping-stones in the divine pathway to heaven, to God's kingdom, which His love provides and His daystar illumines, where His "still small voice" is ever saying "this is the way, walk ye in it," "Lo, I am with you alway," these stepping stones can be successfully traversed only with the footsteps of devotion to Truth and of a great sacrifice and overcoming of material things.
It is not a royal road. Just because it leads to heaven, to perfection, it is beset with obstructions and temptations, which the steps of true progress have always encountered throughout the world's history. It is constant uphill climbing, for we are endeavoring to rise above the mists of earth, striving to rend the veil of materiality, in order to reach the brightness and joy of real being.
We may weary during the climbing of these "steps unto heaven" and we may occasionally rest by the wayside, but if we are faithful and in earnest, we shall soon push on again and gradually become used to climbing, being refreshed by the ever-available wells of living water, encouraged by the broader horizon and the enlarged outlook which spreads before our eyes with each advancing step, always alert to the divine finger posts and milestones, until we joyously reach the goal.
Jesus said, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
This journey "unto heaven" requires unceasing communion with God through prayer, as we have just learned from Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, and this prayer is answered in each advancing step, and in constant directional leading and spiritual inspiration.
We have seen from the beginning of our efforts the vital importance of an acknowledgment of a higher power, a looking upward, a dependence upon something beyond the material, for our guidance, our support, our healing.
This appeal to God, the Giver of all good, from a perhaps starved heart, or one bleeding from the world's wounds, petitioning for divine grace and forgiveness, is prayer. The recognition of the presence, power, and forever willingness of infinite Love to meet all honest needs, is prayer. The desire for spiritual light and strength, for wisdom and understanding that enables us to affirm confidently what is real and deny scientifically what is unreal, and thereby to see our true relation to God through Christ, is prayer.
Our beautiful hymn (Hymnal, No. 88) tells us that,
"Pray'r is the heart's sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed;
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.
"Pray'r is the simplest form of speech
That infant lips can try;
Pray'r the sublimest strains that reach
The Majesty on high.
"Pray'r is the Christian's vital breath,
The Christian's native air:
His watchword overcometh death
He enters heav'n with pray'r."
He enters heaven with prayer, here and now.
[Delivered Jan. 31, 1929, at Eleventh Church of Christ, Scientist, 2840 Logan Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, and published in The Chicago Leader, Feb. 1, 1929.]