Christian Science: The Comforter of Promise
Frank H. Leonard, C.S.B.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The great interest of the world in the Christian Science movement finds its inception largely in the fact that innately the whole human family is seeking for what it deems to be treasure. With some that treasure seems to be gold, and yet, when it has been acquired, it has often been found to be a burden, a care, rather than a thing of joy and happiness. It has sometimes even been found to be the means of fastening selfishness on one, and in this we see the fulfillment of the statement, "The love of money is the root of all evil." Another class of treasure seekers is that which believes the most desirable of all things to be the deepest knowledge of all things that are material and this class has found that a search confined simply to material knowledge leads one far astray from the most desirable of all things, for many who are leaders in the forum of human opinion believe that they have lost all faith and confidence in God, and so, surely, have found their treasure turned into dross.
The treasure which the whole human family is really seeking is not something that is afar off, but something that may be had now and that the real man may not be separated from. The innate desire is for good, and the treasure for which the whole human family consciously and unconsciously is seeking is the realization that God is Love.
The Way to the Light
The realization that God is Love has seemed heretofore so transcendental as to be beyond the grasp of human consciousness, but, through Christian Science, we have come to know that apart from this realization all would be darkness and hopelessness. The light that Christian Science has thrown upon love is literally the light which "shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." Love, as Christian Science teaches, is the manifestation of the very presence of God; in fact, is God. When we realize this, we know there is nothing for which we may look that is higher, greater, or holier; and when in our search we find even a faint perception of this love, a little dawning of the light, a little of the radiance of the infinite God, there comes in the heart a sense of happiness and freedom that no words may express.
It has been rightly indicated that the Christian Scientists are the happiest people in the world. We are the happiest people in the world because we are no longer afraid of God with that fear which means terror, but are filled with that fear which is the "beginning of wisdom," which is awe and reverence, because we have had it proven to us that God is Love and nothing less than Love. The human family sees all of the turmoil, wretchedness, and unhappiness with which mortals have to contend, hears the story on every side, and, having been taught that this wretchedness is real, has grown into the belief that somewhere, somehow, and for some purpose, the God who is Love has sent all this to them in the hope and expectancy that it will make them love Him better.
Overcoming Evil with Good
In many places the Bible speaks of the God of vengeance, and hate, and wrath; but careful study will show us it is always a belief in evil which is bringing out the declaration that God is a God of vengeance, or of hate, because evil, when it comes face to face with the God who is Love, is rendered speechless, hopeless, and helpless, is "cast out into outer darkness," wherein there is no light, no life, and wherein the real man, the man that God made in His own image and likeness, is not and never was.
What is it that destroys a lie? The truth about which the lie is told. Does the truth destroy the lie because it has in itself a perception or conception of the lie? Absolutely no. The truth which is of God is true. It is the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and in it there is no element of falsity. To a mistaken sense the truth may seem narrow, bigoted, arrogant, but, like Christ, it is "the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever," and from everlasting unto everlasting we shall find eternal truth, the truth that makes men free, the same as it always has been, for it is of God. When a lie comes face to face with Truth, it cries out: "What have I to do with thee?" and the command, "Be still, and know that I am God," obliterates the lie and leaves no evidence of it whatsoever.
Human parents love every one of their children, and surely God loves every one of His children. It stands to reason that as fathers and mothers we would never think of presenting a temptation to our children, we would not clothe it in so fascinating a garb as to make their yielding to it almost certain, and then punish them for yielding to it; yet this is exactly what many believe about God. We have been told that temptation is put into the world so that our faith may be tried, with the hope that we may be able to resist and so gain eternal life. Humanly speaking, the endeavor to resist evil is almost hopeless. It surrounds us in such a multiplicity of forms that no matter which way we turn we find ourselves environed with evil; we are beset and besieged with it until, hopeless and helpless, we yield, and then are to be punished for yielding to something that God, who is Love, has placed before us!
Freedom in Knowing God
Christian Science teaches us that God never had anything to do with evil in any form; that He does not create it, has no consciousness of it; and in this recognition we find the germ of freedom which is working in the world today — the germ which Christian Scientists have found and have accepted, that they may have the ability to stand, to express the fullness, the stature, and "the glorious liberty of the children of God." The promise is: "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." The prayer of the Christian Scientist is — and it is being answered — that we may be freed from believing that God ever gives His children anything else than love.
When Peter went with the Master at the time of his arrest and stood among the servants of the high priest, he was charged with knowing Jesus the Christ. To this he replied, "I know not the man." Was it God that tempted him to deny the Master? No, not for one instant was that temptation from God. It was a temptation from evil, and when he yielded to it three times in succession he was yielding to the suggestions of evil. When, however, the awakening came which Jesus had told him would come, instantly the scales fell from his eyes, and in meekness, humility, and sorrow he turned his back on the temptation; and in that repentance and turning away from error he stood upon the "rock" upon which the true church is established.
We are finding that the true sense of love is a very practical thing, a very necessary and effective thing in dealing with ourselves, for we are beginning to realize that the only enemy any person has is his false self. When Jesus was on earth he was surrounded on all sides by those who believed themselves to be his enemies, but in meekness and humility he proved the supremacy, the allness of Truth, and thus stood absolutely free among them. Pilate asked Jesus; "Art thou the King of the Jews?" and his response was: "Thou sayest." He knew that his manifestation of divine Love was so transcendental, so great, and so powerful that they could not grasp it, and so believed him to be an enemy against their rights, hence one they ought to destroy. It is impossible to grasp the spirituality of Christ Jesus' teaching from any other than a spiritual viewpoint. The scribes and Pharisees, however, endeavored to grasp the Master's teachings from a materialistic viewpoint, and so failed utterly to comprehend the message of freedom and peace he had for them. The same futile endeavor has continued from that day to this, until the knowledge of spiritual truth has been finally established among mankind through the ministry of Christian Science.
When I was a boy at school my reader contained the story of two knights who met on a road one day, and stopping to greet each other, observed suspended across the road a beautiful shield. After exchanging salutations one of the knights remarked: "What a beautiful silver shield!" The other knight responded: "Surely it is beautiful, but it is not silver, it is gold." This started a controversy which finally led the knights to endeavor to destroy each other in order to settle the question as to which was right. Setting their lances in position, they ran full tilt at each other, but failed to do any damage. As they turned again to the assault, each found himself looking upon the other side of the shield, and saw that his fellow had been right in his statement, for the shield was silver on one side and gold on the other. It is impossible to apprehend Christ Jesus' teaching other than from the standpoint of a knowledge of God. This is the lesson which the Master left for all his followers to learn and live.
Knowing Christ Jesus
The materialistic endeavor to comprehend the religion of Christ Jesus has led the world to believe that it is possible to gain this knowledge through intellectual analysis and discernment; but failure has followed failure when expectation was based on this kind of endeavor. We can discern the teaching of the Master only through spiritual apprehension and demonstration. Our Master brought this out very convincingly when in a prayer of thanksgiving he said, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." He also said; "Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein." We know full well he did not mean that adults must shrivel backward in stature and years until they are physical children before they can enter the kingdom of heaven. Christian Science makes it clear that in this statement he was simply calling our attention to the need of the mental attitude of the little child.
Why do we send a little child to school? We send it that its ignorance relative to things which already are may be eliminated. The teacher works out for the child a very simple example in addition, and asks, "Do you understand this?" He instantly replies, "Yes." As a matter of fact he may not understand at all, for we never understand anything that we have not made our own through actual individual labor and endeavor. The child has intelligence enough, however, to have faith in the source whence comes this information, and because it has this intelligence and faith it proceeds to demonstrate for itself that one added to one makes two, etc. Thus it makes knowledge its own for all time.
We have an elder brother who came to this earth saying and doing all things necessary to turn us in the right direction that we might have salvation. It indicates intelligence on our part if we have faith in him as the source whence not only statements but demonstrations of the power of the word of God come, and so accept and prove our acceptance of our Master's teaching by doing the works he commanded.
No Creed and No Dogma
Christian Science is not endeavoring to establish a new standard of Christianity. It is rather, if anything, deploring new standards of Christianity and turning thought to the old standard, the standard established by Christ himself. The Rev. Lyman Abbott at one time said: "Christian creed and dogma were things unknown in Christ Jesus' time, having been tied on to religion in modern days." Christian Science is without creed and without dogma. It is the antithesis of personal opinion, and is an urgent appeal unto the sons of men to give up personal opinion and ideas as to the way Christ's religion should be established, and go back to the way in which it was demonstrated by Jesus of Nazareth.
Christ Jesus established the standard of Christianity. He never took it down, and no one else may. He established the standard to which all of us must attain before we have a spiritual right to the designation of Christian or Christ-follower, when he said: "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." When he made that statement he was healing the sick, with the word of God, from all manner of disease, cleansing the leper, casting out evil, raising the dead, feeding the multitude, disappearing from the people in one place and appearing before them in another, walking on the water, stilling the raging tempest with the word of command, finding Caesar’s tribute in the fish's mouth, and presenting himself among his disciples through an unbroken wall.
These are the works that Jesus the Christ did, and the scientific Christianity of Christian Science teaches that they may be done again. Christ Jesus himself said that if we believe on him we shall do the works that he did. According to the standard established by the Master, if we are not making progress toward the ability to do the works he did, we do not believe on him, no matter though our lips say we do a thousand times; rather do we belong to that class of whom the Bible tells us that in the latter days they shall cry: "Lord, Lord," and the response unto them shall be: "I never knew you." Why? Because the works have not been done which prove him to be both Lord and Master.
The Measure of Knowledge
One of inquiring frame of mind might say: "I do not see any Christian Scientists walking on the water today," and to this we would answer: "Humanly speaking, no." But what does that prove? Does it prove that the Master made a mistake, wittingly or unwittingly, when he said that if we believed on him we should do the works he did? Or does it prove, rather, a failure on the part of his followers to be absolutely obedient unto him?
If we should go into a school and investigate the matter, we should find that at least thirty per cent of the students of mathematics return incorrect answers to sixty per cent of the problems they are endeavoring to solve. Would we conclude from this showing that there was something the matter with mathematics and that this subject should be eliminated from the school course, or would we instantly realize the necessity for better work on the part of the students in order that right answers might be obtained? Christian Scientists have never claimed that with their present grasp of the scientific operation of the law of God they have overcome the universal belief in sin, disease, and death; nor have they ever claimed that they heal every case coming to them for treatment.
If one wishes to cross the road, what is the first thing to be done? The first thing to be done is to desire to get on the other side, and the next is to take the first step in that direction. You cannot take the second step, the fifth step, nor the tenth step first. You must take the first step first; and Christian Scientists are taking the first step in that journey which leads out from "darkness into light," from sense to Soul. Leading us in this way is the Wayshower, the one who has been "in all points tempted like as we are," but who has met and destroyed all temptation, who has done all of the works that I have enumerated, and has said that if we believed on him we also shall do them. In view of the fact that they are accomplishing the solution of present-day problems, Christian Scientists know that the only necessity is continued study, obedience, and progress, in order to bring about the ultimate accomplishment of all things.
Christian Scientists believe in universal salvation. We do not believe that this great problem of eternity is to be solved in a few brief years, beset on all sides by temptation and great odds; but we do know that, either through "kicking against the pricks" until we are tired and wretched and turn like weary children to the outstretched arms of the Father, or else through the scientific use of the word of God as our Master used it, we shall go on working out the problem of salvation until we have accomplished it; for the Bible declares: "They shall all know me [God], from the least of them unto the greatest of them;" and the Master said, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God;" "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
Need of Intelligent Faith
What the world needs is intelligent faith; not blind faith, for blind faith leads one simply to the door of hope, closes it in one's face, puts a question mark upon it, and leaves one hopeless and helpless without light or guidance in the darkness. We need the faith that has a reason for its existence. Consider what our Bible tells us that faith accomplishes. It tells us that if one has "faith as a grain of mustard seed," the smallest seed known in the seed kingdom, and he "shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done." Does the world at large believe that this statement is really true? If one should be seen by the sons of men standing before a mountain with uplifted hand, saying to it, "In the name of Almighty God I command thee: Go hence," would those who witnessed it raise their voice in a song of thanksgiving unto God that such a faith had been found, or rather would they look around to see if his keeper was in sight?
When it comes to real, abiding, steadfast faith in the promises of the Bible, we are very much like the woman who read the statement I have just quoted and said, "That fits my case exactly, for in my back yard is a sand pile that for years has stood where I need a garden, and I am going to put that statement to test this very night." So she got down on her knees and prayed all night that the sand pile might be removed and cast into the sea where it would harm no one. When dawn came she arose from her knees, and going to the window, looked out and saw the sand pile still in the same place. As she saw it she said: "There, that is just what I expected!" The painful point of this story is that those who hear it are not at all surprised that she did not find her faith justified and the sand pile gone, since it shows that all are more or less tainted with the same unbelief which she manifested.
When we come to the place where we have grown intelligent enough to have real, abiding faith, we shall be able to move mountains, whether they call themselves mountains of rock and earth, mountains of sin, mountains of suffering, or mountains of woe; and this same faith will straighten every crooked path and make plain the "way of the Lord."
Christian Science Redemptive
Christian Science includes true theology, philosophy, and therapeutics. It may be asked what relation these subjects bear to each other, and in answer it may be said that the work of Christian Science is redemptive and therefore elemental. God during all eternity has builded all things that really are. No one truth of Christian Science is greater than another; singly and collectively its teachings stand with man inside the door of hope, the changeless word of God.
The scientific recognition of God heals the sick. The knowledge that God is Mind is eternal salvation. The theology of Christian Science turns us absolutely to God as omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, the only lawmaker and lawgiver, — the All-in-all. The philosophy of Christian Science takes man beyond the human concept into the shekinah where "Jesus has passed before us" (Science and Health, p. 41), away from the finite misconception and into the infinite knowledge of God. The therapeutics of Christian Science heals the sick by enabling them to realize that God is good, and that nothing can come from good except good, for cause and effect must agree.
Until one has become a Christian Scientist, and has felt the shackles of doubt and fear and unbelief fall from him; until one has found the cleansing from hate, malice, jealousy, rage, self-love, self-will, self-justification, and self-complacency, one has never known what it means to be free. To know that God is, eliminates the possibility of believing in the reality of aught else, — it is to be free. Christian Science teaches that "all is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation" (Ibid; p. 468). Again, we are told to pray for that Mind "which was also in Christ Jesus." Christian Science teaches that God is Mind. To say that God is infinite Mind is simply to say that God is omniscient. To say that God is the source of all knowledge is to say the same of intelligence, and to say that God is the source of all intelligence is to say that He is all the Mind there is, and no other conclusion can be logically reached. The Christian Science teaching that God is the one and only Mind is not, therefore, new, being simply the complement of the Bible teaching that He is omniscient.
Let no one make the mistake of thinking that what we term mortal or personal mind is God, for the belief in personal mind is the cause of all the wretchedness, hate, jealousy, malice, war, dishonesty, and untruthfulness the world has ever known. This belief in minds many is the belief in gods many, and leads to a belief in utter lack of individual responsibility in all things, the inability to discern what is good and what is evil, and finally to the belief that evil is more potent than good and is man's master.
Spirit All Power
The Bible teaches that "to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." The carnal mind is that which the Christian Scientists characterize as mortal mind. The spiritual mind is absolutely the Mind "which was also in Christ Jesus," working through him to do and accomplish all of the things which were done in his ministry, to the glory of God. When we are intelligent enough to realize the truth of this statement, we shall cease our endeavor to justify ourselves and seek rather to justify God in all His changeless glory and majesty, and go on growing in grace till the light shall dawn in our consciousness, bringing us the realization that there is no will, no way, no law save God's. The result of this faithfulness will be the attainment of the kingdom of God and His righteousness, which the Bible teaches us are within, — not within a human frame, but within a right knowledge of God.
The majority of those who are Christian Scientists today became such originally not so much because they wanted to as because they had to. They were in many instances wretchedly, desperately, hopelessly sick, had tried every human means to gain their health and had found no relief. Then, and then only, they turned unto God, and there found the fulfillment of promise and were made free. I myself belonged to this class. Born with what is said to be an incurable organic disease, I never found relief from suffering until I turned to God. The decree of dissolution had been pronounced against me when Christian Science was brought to me by a relative who had been healed through its ministry, and I found indeed that "man's extremity is God's opportunity." After three months' treatment by a Christian Science practitioner, our family physician again examined me and stated that I was as perfect a physical specimen as he had ever examined in his professional career. That examination took place in the month of March, 1885, and from that day to this, Christian Science, as revealed to the world through Mrs. Eddy, has met every diseased condition that has presented itself; has destroyed it, and left me free.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science
A question often asked is, What position do the Christian Scientists accord to Mrs. Eddy? Do they place her on the same plane with Christ? Do they consider her a mediator? It happens that I have something that I have been carrying in my pocket for a good many years, which answers this question in Mrs. Eddy's own words a great deal better than I could possibly answer it myself. In an article written by her and printed in the New York Herald, Feb. 1, 1895, she says this, —
"There was, is, and never can be but one God, one Christ, one Jesus of Nazareth. Whoever in any age expresses most of the spirit of Truth and Love, the Principle of God's idea, has most of the spirit of Christ, of that Mind which was in Christ Jesus. If Christian Scientists find in my writings, teachings, and example a greater degree of this spirit than in others, they can justly declare it. But to think or speak of men in any manner as a Christ, is sacrilegious."
It does not seem possible that there is any one who believes that the Christian Scientists have ever thought of the Leader of this movement as a Christ. Her meekness and humility in pointing us always away from her personality, to Christ as our shepherd, should have long since settled this question. Christ? No. Jesus of Nazareth? No. But one of the meekest and humblest of his followers. Striving not for personal advancement, for personal glory, though capable of having commanded very great adulation, Mrs. Eddy has abjured everything of the kind, and has bidden us look away from her and unto Christ. She watches, strives, and prays, in season and out of season, to have more of that Mind in her "which was also in Christ Jesus," in order that she may emulate the example he has set for us; that she may so prove to the whole world the truth of the Master's teachings that men may read as they run, and that the veriest child may understand and know God and His Christ.
Love: Not Worship
It has been said that we Christian Scientists worship our Leader, and this statement has gone hand in hand with the belief that we have placed her on a plane with Christ. Christian Scientists do not worship Mrs. Eddy, or any other person, for the instant personal worship enters into consciousness that selfsame instant one ceases to be a Christian Scientist. No, we do not worship her; but we do love her. We love her with a love that transcends any that may be described. We love her for her self-sacrifice.
We give our allegiance to Mrs. Eddy, and she occupies the position of Leader in our Cause, because to her first came the apprehension which enabled her to prove the efficacy of Christian Science. Then she left friends and relatives and secluded herself that she might discover the law by which Jesus wrought his wondrous works. She thus gained the absolute knowledge that these works were not exceptional, not occasional, but were the manifestation of God's law, and realized that when His law is known, these selfsame works may be accomplished by every man, woman, and child on the face of the earth. Never was one so blessed and so wonderfully cared for as was she while she communed with God in those years.
The result of her communion? It has meant to me personally, the difference between a dead boy years ago, and a live man now. It has meant the difference between a wrong comprehension of God which engendered hate, and a right comprehension of Him which has made me desire nothing on earth so much as to be found good enough to speak the word unto those who are seeking light, in order that they too may partake of Christ's cup and be one with our elder brother in the knowledge and light of God.
The position which Mrs. Eddy occupies is that of a channel, a channel of grace that has been so cleansed and so purified by striving, watching, and praying, through her has come to this world Christian Science, — the Comforter our Master promised he would send, the Comforter that is in our midst today, binding up broken hearts, healing from disease, and delivering us from all our iniquities. And it is because, through this Comforter, thousands have been raised out of sickness, sorrow, pain, and death, that we give to the one who made this possible the love and devotion to which she is justly entitled.
Do we put the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," which Mrs. Eddy has written, on a plane with the Bible? No, we do not, and never have. There is just one Bible, and that Bible is the Holy Bible that is used, loved, and revered by Christians all over the globe. Our churches use no other Bible than the authorized version, because in that text we have found sufficient food to sustain us and lead us on the journey out of darkness into light.
The Only Thing Worth Knowing
The Christian Science textbook is exactly what it is called — a textbook. Webster's definition of a textbook is "a book containing the leading principles of a science," and that is just what the Christian Science textbook is. It is the textbook about the only thing that is worth knowing, and that is, the knowledge of God, of Truth, which our Bible teaches us makes men free. I have met people who have said, "I have read that book through from cover to cover and do not understand it at all. So far as I am concerned, there is nothing in it for me."
Suppose one should come to you and say, "When I was a boy I had little opportunity for schooling, and so never knew anything about mathematics. In recent years I have found that this is a serious handicap, and I determined about six months ago that I would learn what there is in mathematics. With this determination I went into a store and bought an arithmetic, an algebra, a geometry, trigonometry, and calculus. In my desire to start right, I looked through the books until I found a place where it said plane geometry, and as I was looking for something plain, determined I would start my investigation there. I found it was dense and solid and abstract, so I thought I had better begin with the little book they call the arithmetic. So for five hours a day during the last six months I have been reading these textbooks, and I don't know a bit more about mathematics today than I did when I started. Therefore, so far as I am concerned, there is nothing in mathematics for me."
Suppose another, who never had studied anything other than English, should say, "I bought a German reader the other day, and took it home for an evening’s enjoyment. After dinner I sat down with the book and, starting with the first page, went through page after page trying to find a sentence I could read. Then I tried to find a word, and then a letter, and there was not an a, b or c in the whole book from one end to the other. As far as I am concerned, there is nothing in German." Would you think either statement an indication of intelligence?
What would your attitude be toward one who would make either of these statements? You would say "You might read the textbooks of mathematics from now until the end of time and never know whether one statement made therein was true or otherwise; but suppose you take a problem arising in any one of them, put it down, and apply the rule under which it is to be worked out. Then, when you have worked it out rightly, and obtained the correct answer, you will know by reason of your demonstration that the teaching is true, and on the basis of that demonstration you will clearly realize that all of mathematics is demonstrable.
Christian Scientists have for years been studying the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," in conjunction with the Bible. They have taken every problem of daily living as it has arisen, and have applied the rule, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." They have taken the light that has come through the Christian Science textbook, and wherein they have been obedient, loyal to the teaching of the Bible, as demonstrated by the Master, they have brought out the right answer, thereby proving Christ's Christianity to be scientifically demonstrable by all who believe on him.
Christian Science teaches us that divine Love is our shepherd, and that this realization frees men from want of every kind; that Love is the shepherd which maketh us to lie down in the "green pastures" of fulfilled promises, the shepherd which leadeth us "beside the still waters" of the river of eternal life, the shepherd which prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies, teaching us that our enemies are not our brethren, but the wrong thoughts about God which we have held and clung to. It teaches us that this same Love is the Love which maketh us to "dwell in the house of the Lord for ever," abiding "in the secret place of the most High," "under the shade of the Almighty;" and then comes the full noontide glory of the realization that this is the day of our Lord.
The kingdom of heaven is attained. His will is "done in earth, as it is in heaven," and in the realm of the real, the realm of God, man stands now in the fullness, the liberty, and the "stature of the fulness of Christ;" perfect, even as his Father which is in heaven is perfect.
[Published in pamphlet form by The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1915.]