Christian Science: A Religion of Progress (1)
William D. McCrackan, M.A., C.S.B.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The message of Christian Science is simple and straightforward and responds to a universal need. It is not easily treated as an academic theme, nor is it, strictly speaking, a debatable question, because it provides the proofs of its own correctness, day by day and hour by hour, and these proofs are final and convincing. Christian Science does more than preach or promise, it fulfils. While it arouses the noblest aspirations and expectations of mankind, it also justifies its teachings by definite results. Like the good Samaritan, it comes to those who have fallen among thieves, whom false concepts have robbed of health and happiness, whom material methods have passed by on the other side, and pours into their wounds the oil and wine of gladness and inspiration, takes them to the inn of shelter, and leaves with them the coin of priceless value which will ensure their complete recovery and, in time, their complete salvation.
Religion of Progress
This is an age of practical achievement, and Christian Science is in thorough accord with the demand made for proofs. It lives and grows in favor with the needy of the earth by reason of its fruits. Christian Science makes no claim which it cannot substantiate, and so, in this day of advance in every department of human activity, it is demonstrating its right to be known as the religion of progress.
Not that God, who constitutes the basis, foundation, and Principle of all true religion, ever changes or progresses; not that the teachings of Jesus the Christ, the Founder of Christianity, need to be revised or the Bible rewritten. We read in the Scriptures that with God there is neither variableness nor shadow of turning; we also believe that the precepts and warnings of Jesus can never become antiquated, and that the Bible of our fathers, the great treasure-house of Christendom, when spiritually interpreted by Christian Science, suffices for our daily needs. The thread of gold which gleams throughout the fabric of the Bible will shine forth forever to be apprehended by the receptive thought everywhere. So it is not a new Bible which Christian Science contemplates, but one and the same Bible, explained in a spiritually progressive manner. It is not a new God which it proclaims, but the only true God, our Father which is in heaven. It makes no attempt at an improved Christ, for there is but one Christ, who is in the bosom of the Father, perfect, eternal, and indestructible. Christian Science is progressive, and marks an advance in religion because it throws the strong light of Science upon the nature and attributes of Deity, upon the teachings and works of the Christ, and because it makes clear and emphasizes the essential, imperishable import of the Bible's spiritual message.
Thus the term progress as applied to Christianity implies no attempted change in God or Christ or the Bible, but it does imply a very decided change for the better in the general treatment of spiritual things and in the human comprehension of eternal verities. It means the application of Science to subjects which popular thought has in times past been taught to regard as shadowy and visionary. The general opinion of mankind does not credit religion with any great degree of certainty and definiteness. And yet, if the matter be given a moment's quiet consideration, it must be evident that if there is any certainty or definiteness, any exact knowledge or science about anything anywhere in the immensity of infinity, surely that exact knowledge ought to be applicable to the Maker of all that is, to Him who has said through His prophet Isaiah: "Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together." Spiritual facts are not shadowy beliefs, not random guesses made by religiously inclined persons, nor do they vanish at the touch of careful investigation and painstaking research; rather do they loom up larger, more substantial, the clearer the investigator's logic, the stronger his powers of observation, the freer he is in heart and mind from the fetters of antiquated opinions, the farther he advances in his study of the real and eternal.
Christian Science calls upon mankind for a frank and fearless revision of its own beliefs about the unchanging God, His man and His universe. This age, which is not afraid to fly in the face of the sun on filmy wings, is asked to display the necessary courage to pass in review the things which pertain to its own salvation from false gods. Why should not right and just views concerning God and His universe be capable of more precise statement? Why should it be thought a thing unreasonable with any one that God can become better understood by the average man than has been the case in the past? Why should not the understanding of how to grow in grace, how to deepen and broaden one's spiritual concepts, progress according to law? And why should not this knowledge concerning the fountain-head of all knowledge, the Giver of all good gifts, the absolute eternal Principle of all life, in whom we live, and move, and have our being, — why should not this knowledge constitute demonstrable Science?
Christian Scientists believe that it does; that Jesus pointed out the only true, final, and real knowledge when he said, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
Consider the shifting nature of what is termed physical science, — the hypothetical knowledge dealing with the physical universe. From age to age it has changed in accordance with the temporary beliefs of mankind. Many of the commonly accepted theories of the past concerning astronomy, geology, geography, mineralogy, botany, chemistry, physics, etc., seem ridiculous to modern men, even fantastical, and in some instances dangerous.
We are a long distance now from the time when men believed the earth to be flat and the habitable portion of it was supposed to stop at the Pillars of Hercules, or Gibraltar. The theories of the past in regard to the nature of matter, in our age culminated in the atomic theory, and this theory seemed to give satisfaction for a while, but today it is being transformed out of all recognition by a new version which tries to explain matter, in its ultimate subdivision, as energy. And yet it is obvious that even this amended atomic theory will not satisfy human speculation. So long as the supposed final subdivision of matter is claimed to be something, it must be considered as capable of further subdivision. Only when matter has been reduced to its final nothingness, to a mere name for a false concept, will the atomic theory rest from its labors and sink into the realm of oblivion.
What Is God?
In the mean time, amid these floating hypotheses and theories, God remains ever the same, from age to age, throughout eternity. His man, made in His image and likeness, expresses the divine nature, and the true universe of ideas exists unaffected by human opinion. It is the province of all true religion to bring man nearer to God, to acquaint him with his Maker, and Christian Science places God at the foundation of its whole structure, bases every argument upon Him, and derives from Him its only strength and sustenance. Every thinking man finds himself, sooner or later, face to face with the all important and all absorbing question, What is God?
In summarizing the teaching of Christian Science for the student, Mrs. Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, gives the answer to that question in her work "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love" (p. 465).
Upon a correct comprehension of God depends the happiness, the peace, the true prosperity, and the true usefulness of mankind. Nay, more, — and this is a point which may seem novel to many, — Christian Science shows that the true health of mankind is determined by their understanding of God and His Christ. Not only is this correct and scientific knowledge proved to be beneficial to man in his daily avocations, in his home, in his business, in his individual affairs and in his participation in the affairs of the nation, but it exerts a beneficial effect upon the physical condition of men, women, and children, and heals sickness as well as sin and sorrow.
To know God and His Christ is not, therefore, merely to learn the doctrinal points in some barren and desultory theology, to set up dry pedantic postulates, but, as Jesus has said, to know God "is life eternal." As soon as man turns understandingly to the only true God, he begins to dwell in the consciousness of Life, begins to be unconscious of everything which can in any way infringe upon or impair life, and to be free mentally from the encroachments of fear. He is learning to be "absent from the body," from this material penthouse, and "present with the Lord," with the life-giving Principle which is eternal and fadeth not away. It is clear that if this knowledge of God and His Christ were never for an instant absent from our consciousness, Life would be ever present to us and death would be both unthought and unthinkable, leaving eternal Life to reign supreme, unchecked in perpetual activity, throughout eternity. No wonder we read in the Proverbs that "understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it."
In spite of much that is being written and preached on this infinite theme of the nature of the Godhead, one has only to watch public expression or, indeed, to search one's own habits of thought, to recognize many illogical and even dangerous concepts which need correction through careful definition.
Let us consider two of the definitions used by Mrs. Eddy in her answer to the question, What is God? namely, the definitions of God as Love and as Spirit: The apostle John makes the statement that "God is Love." Much emphasis is laid upon this reassuring declaration in current theological writing. Mankind, harassed by sin and sickness, wishes to believe this affirmation of John, hopes that it is true, and is eager for the Science which explains how it is that God must of necessity be Love, though mortal experience seems to be so full of disappointment, apprehension, and worry, and culminates in disease and death. The explanation of this seeming paradox is furnished by Jesus' statement to the Samaritan woman that "God is a Spirit," or, as this appears in the Revised Version, "God is Spirit." Proceeding from this latter saying as a basis, we arrive at far-reaching conclusions, fraught with vital importance to mankind.
The Real Man
If God is Spirit, then the real man of His creation, who is made in His image and likeness, and therefore partakes of His nature, must be spiritual, i.e., must express and manifest Spirit. The real man's Life must be Spirit, his faculties must be spiritual. Furthermore, as the image and likeness of God, the real man must be complete, happy, wholesome, and healthy. He cannot deny his parentage nor bring discredit upon his ancestry. He must be eternal and indestructible now, the ideal man, the son of God.
But this conclusion, derived from the Word of God, is found to be at variance with the testimony of material sense. It does not agree with the experience of mortal man from the cradle to the grave, for the experience of mortal man is one of sin, sickness, and death, not of undimmed joy and eternal life. Here is a discrepancy, and Christian Science provides the necessary explanation by showing that mortal, material man, who is believed to be the sport of circumstance, the prey of discord and the victim of death, is not the real man of God's creation, declared in the Bible to be the image and likeness of God. Christian Science teaches that mortal man is a false concept of the true man, a counterfeit attempting to resemble the true, but, nevertheless, easily detected because of his unlikeness to God, who is Spirit. God is not the author of mortal, material man, nor of mortal man's failures, limitations, and losses, of his final breakdown and his death sentence. God is not responsible for evil in any of its forms. He did not create it, since it could never lodge in His thought for an instant, else He were not wholly good and the Principle governing the universe were not wholly reliable. Evil has no origin in Spirit, no entity nor reality of God's making, and no eternity, but is always a false concept, assailing the mind of mortal man until such time as its lying nature is laid bare and its futile, transitory pretenses cease to frighten. Evil has no standing before God. Those who dwell "in the secret place of the most High" need not fear its empty threats, but, asserting their divine rights, may rise, in the words of the apostle Paul, "in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
Thus it is that the two statements of the Bible, namely, that God is Love, and God is Spirit, find their reconciliation in this Science. The doubts which have ever assailed suffering humanity concerning the goodness of God are dissipated. Though physical sense, left to its own devices, rises in opposition to the most High, and tries to give the impression that God is cruel and willingly afflicts His defenseless children, Christian Science, elucidating the Scriptures, proves that evil is not of God's creation or permission. Good and good only proceeds from the Giver of every good gift, and all assertions to the contrary are due to ignorance or blindness of heart. John's statement that God is Love lives on forever side by side with Jesus' profound explanation that God is Spirit.
There is much comfort to struggling humanity in the conviction that God does not authorize the miseries of our earthly experience. This conviction is the first step toward the realization that these very miseries, lacking divine sanction, cannot have any real entity or existence, and must perforce have a fictitious origin and an unreal nature. God becomes fully reinstated in human affections at the same time that the so-called law of sin and death loses its supposed hold upon human affairs.
Testimony of Material Sense
But we will not deceive ourselves in regard to the opinion of the world and of the natural man or mortal man concerning God, His Christ and His creation. Paul writes, in his first epistle to the Corinthians: "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God;" and again, in the same epistle, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them; because they are spiritually discerned."
The "natural man," or mortal, material man depends upon the testimony of the physical senses for his information. They are his witnesses. They are the feelers which he puts forth into the unknown, and according as they report so he acts or counteracts. Their testimony constitutes "the wisdom of this world." But Paul states in the above quoted texts that "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God" and that "the things of the Spirit of God" "are foolishness" unto the "natural man." Here then is an irreconcilable situation. God rejects "the wisdom of this world" upon which the natural man relies for the basis of his information, and the natural man rejects "the things of the Spirit of God" because he cannot understand them. What shall the outcome be? One or the other must yield, and no Christian can doubt the issue for an instant. God's word must prevail. If the testimony of the physical senses conflicts with the proper discernment of "the things of the Spirit of God," then this physical testimony must be set aside as untrustworthy, or false. Spirit must be supreme over matter, Truth over error, Life over death, Love over fear and hate. God must rule in His own universe, and God is Spirit, not matter.
It is well to know that immutable Truth does not depend upon what our physical senses report. No one who has looked into the peculiar habits of these senses, has noticed their strange perversity and their readiness to mislead even the natural, material man, would wish to rely upon their testimony concerning the real man of God's creation. Science, in order to be worthy of the name, must rest upon unimpeachable evidence. The knowledge of that which is unvarying and indestructible, must itself be founded upon absolutely reliable information; but knowledge derived from the physical senses does not fulfill this requirement.
It is not our purpose to enter into a detailed examination of the operation of the physical senses, nor to give advice concerning their use in material affairs. Suffice it to say that material testimony cannot be admitted before the tribunal of the most High. Testimony which shows itself to be unreliable, shifting, and mutable, even within its own limitations, when applied to material phenomena cannot be expected to establish the truth of "the things of the Spirit of God," which are founded upon the rock, which are immutable and eternal. The finite cannot bear conclusive evidence to the infinite. Error cannot establish the truth. Only the testimony of spiritual sense can affirm the facts concerning Spirit, can instruct man about God, bring eternal life or satisfy the profound craving for divine Love, for God, our strength in need, our saviour from every sin, the healer of all our diseases.
Mrs. Eddy, in her work "Rudimental Divine Science," defines Christian Science "As the law of God, the law of good, interpreting and demonstrating the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony" (p. 1). As the student learns more about the nature of God through spiritual sense, the beneficent law of God grows in clearness and he is able to reject the discordant testimony of material sense. Then comes the demonstration or proof of harmony as normal and natural. He who follows the leadings of Christian Science not only learns the letter of its teachings, but also proves their correctness by saving the sinner, comforting the sorrowing, and healing the sick. Christian Science thus becomes a daily help for daily needs, the Comforter which leadeth into all truth, available at all times and under all circumstances.
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science
It will hardly be necessary here to insist upon the fact that religion would save the sinner. Whatever may be the doctrines which divide the various branches of Christendom, all are agreed at least upon this point, that it is the natural work of religion, the business of Christianity, to save the sinner. But there is no such agreement among the various denominations upon the question of healing the sick. Jesus healed the sick, his disciples and apostles healed the sick, the early Christians for some three hundred years after the crucifixion healed the sick, by spiritual means; but during the intervening centuries the world has more and more relegated the healing of the sick to a special profession, using material means. Since Mrs. Eddy's discovery of Christian Science the healing of Jesus' time has been reinstated, in accordance with his unmistakable injunction to his followers, and today hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children in all portions of the globe rise up to bless the good and brave woman to whom they owe health and happiness.
It is difficult to speak in moderate praise of one who is performing so stupendous a service for mankind. One can only rejoice that a great and growing volume of gratitude is finding its way to her from those who, through her teachings, have been delivered from pain and sorrow, from the fear of torment and the despair of godlessness. Special circumstances seem to have fitted Mrs. Eddy from her youth for the mission of mercy to which God called her. Born of New England parentage, in the state of New Hampshire, she grew up in an atmosphere of wholesome freedom and when a young girl received, for the times, an exceptionally comprehensive education, both secular and religious. As a woman of progressive and advanced ideas, she investigated fearlessly the questions which came before the public. Especially was she interested in the healing art, and her quick recovery from the result of an accident, through the revelation of the spiritual meaning of the Bible, led to her discovery of Christian Science in 1866. In 1875 followed the publication of her epoch-making work, the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," now widely distributed among the civilized nations of the earth. This book is proving itself to be a potent factor in the elevation of the human race, and is literally making history by remodeling the lives and careers of multitudes. Mrs. Eddy has been the active Leader of the Christian Science movement from its inception, and continues to mold its growth and development along the lines of the greatest usefulness to mankind. The reward of the good and faithful servant is hers, and this is a source of gratification to every fair-minded person.
Results of Christian Science
But what are some of the chief results of Christian Science, what the principal reasons for its hold upon the gratitude of mankind?
First of all, it has exposed the philosophy of despair as unscientific. Its teachings obliterate any supposed reasons for pessimism. If it were really true, as public opinion has been only too prone to believe during the passing centuries, that God, the First Cause and basic Principle, is the author of evil as well as of good, then despair would be justified, for the struggle against evil would be hopeless. If evil could point to omnipotence as its author, it could not be successfully opposed, for it would have divine sanction. In that case, too, it would be but natural that there should be hopeless sinners and sick persons who are incurable. It is difficult to understand what the Christian gospel, or "good news," could mean under such circumstances, or wherein its usefulness could lie, if it inculcated such views; but when the teachings of Christian Science concerning the goodness of God are understood, the curtain is lifted and the student perceives clearly, for the first time, that Christianity, when scientifically understood and applied, brings complete salvation to humanity, including salvation from what is called physical health. But first must come the correct estimate of "the things of the Spirit," the theology of Jesus and its meaning as interpreted by Christian Science; then only can follow the works which Jesus commanded his followers to do, which he did himself, which his disciples and apostles and the Christians of the early church did, and which those Christians who understand his message are doing today.
Hope for All
The very first benefit which Christian Science confers upon mankind is to prove that there is hope for all. It reassures even those who have been made to consider themselves lost or incurable. It comes to the doomed and abandoned, and by its unanswerable logic convinces them, first of all, that their situation is not as bad as it seems; that evil is not as powerful as it pretends; that it has no authorization from on high, no legal status, no rights, no legitimacy; that, on the contrary, man's real origin in God justifies his reasonable expectation that good shall prevail; that peace, harmony, health, and sinlessness shall be his portion; that strength, sweetness, and beauty shall be his normal inheritance from a merciful Father; and that the Love which passeth understanding shall eventually crown all his right endeavors with success.
Christian Science gives ground for this natural hope, but it does more than that. It instructs men in the rudiments of true faith and shows them why this hope of salvation is justified by metaphysical facts. Faith then readily ripens into understanding, as the student makes practical application of the letter. From the very start new vistas of grand possibilities cheer the learner on his way, and, more important still, the actual proofs of God's infinite power and goodness encourage him to take the necessary footsteps. To follow in this way is to walk with God, to commune with Spirit, to refresh oneself with the mercy that cometh down as the dew from heaven, to have fellowship with Christ Jesus, to gain an intimate insight into his sayings and his works, and to be useful here and now to those with whom we associate. A career which opens in this way will never close, but will continue forever, developing more and more the truth about the infinite number of ideas which constitute God's universe.
Not Emotionalism or Suggestion
It is not possible to reform the sinner or heal the sick in Christian Science by emotionalism. In every instance the beneficent result is based upon Science, upon an underlying conviction and understanding concerning spiritual truth. It is not possible to heal the sick by Christian Science while believing that disease proceeds from God, any more than it is possible to reform the sinner while believing that God is the author of sin. No one who holds that evil is God-created can consistently urge its destruction. No mortal dare lay his hand to the works of the immortal. But the beneficent theology of Christian Science, exposing evil as an outlaw, without divine authorization or God-created existence, places a warrant in the hands of every follower of Christ to expose sin and sickness on sight and condemn them to oblivion as nonentities.
Nor is it possible in Christian Science to reform the sinner or heal the sick by what is termed suggestion. The practitioner who tries to influence, cajole, or force his subject to believe anything which he himself does not believe, is deceiving both himself and his subject, and is using some kind of will-power, whether it be styled mental suggestion, mesmerism, animal magnetism, or hypnotism. The practitioner who suggests to his subject some state of mind which the practitioner imagines to be desirable but does not believe to be true, is not practicing Christian Science. The practice of Christian Science admits of no questionable or equivocal situations. It means the reflection of Truth to the sufferer, the recognition and realization of the only true God, and of man's true nature as made in the image and likeness of God. Nothing short of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth will satisfy the demands of Christian Science. Not a truth to which the physical senses need subscribe, but the truth which must be spiritually discerned, which is established now, as it always has been and always will be. Against this truth nothing can prevail.
No Incurable Disease
Christian Science proves that no evil is real, eternal, or incurable, but all evil has its source in the carnal mind, the mind of mortals, and can be made to yield to the divine Mind, God the all-mighty, when mankind fulfils the terms of cure and forgiveness. No matter what form evil may take, whether it manifests itself as moral, mental, or physical, as an inherited tendency or idiosyncrasy, as loss of faculties, as an apparently inveterate habit or uncontrollable appetite, as progressive disease, organic or inorganic, functional, acute, or chronic, the infinite, omnipotent Mind is equal to every emergency and willingly masters every phase of error as mankind complies with God's ways. Should the evil to be eradicated have been pronounced incurable by expert medical opinion, by the wisest, most humane of physicians, even then that opinion would stand for naught before God, and the divine Mind which made everything that was made and saw that it was good, would still be a sufficient saviour from and healer of that particular evil in response to the prayer of righteousness or right understanding. Or, should so-called natural laws decree decrepitude or breakdown as the result of overwork, trying climate, or any other supposed cause, God would still be available to interpose a successful veto and with His immutable law frustrate the attempted destruction of man and restore him to health and happiness.
Even if the breakdown is due to moral weakness, to sin, the law of God can be applied to wipe out both the desire to sin and the fear of it, and to obliterate with the sin itself also every vestige of the consequences of sin, whether physical or otherwise. The so-called laws producing and governing sin and sickness are not of divine origin, else it were useless to attempt to destroy them along with sin and sickness. All evil is by nature evanescent and transitory. The attempt to terrorize humanity with dark pictures and awful penalties has not lessened the hold of evil, but has given it fictitious power. The day has passed when suffering mankind can be won to God or driven into heaven through fear. Today public opinion has come to recognize fear as the seed whence spring many noxious weeds. Sown in among the good grain, these weeds spoil the fair crops of the husbandman until, at the harvest, they are bound in bundles and burned. To attempt to rule by fear, or to influence others by fear, even for their good, as the saying is, is to sow destructive seed broadcast in human consciousness, where it must germinate and develop to its own destruction.
Should the evil to be cured assume the phase of loss of sustenance, should there be fear of lack or limitation, Christian Science points to the true significance of the term substance as the necessary antidote. Mrs. Eddy explains in Science and Health that Spirit is substance. Material sense cannot discern true substance. Spiritual sense alone can apprehend and comprehend that which is eternal and fadeth not away. Mankind is bidden to contemplate the nature of true substance, to cling to eternal life and inexhaustible Love, and to discard the false concepts which materiality holds before the eyes of greed and avarice or magnifies through the fear of loss. To know God is to have this same Life and this same Love, and having these, man has all. Jesus said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." If assailed by the fear of want, humanity can turn resolutely from that fear, seek God, and contemplate mentally "the things of the Spirit," which are truly substantial to spiritual sense, though material sense perceives them not. Then, refreshed by this communion with God, from whose presence fear is everlastingly banished, humanity can turn to its daily tasks with heart and mind clarified and, entertaining only good thoughts, will find its daily needs supplied.
So through the whole list of human afflictions and disabilities, there is not one which has not found its cure in Christian Science. God is ever ready, His mercy never faileth. The beneficent activity of Christian Science in proving His omnipotence is attested by a multitude of cases which no well-informed person can any longer afford to ignore.
Christian Science Indispensable
In fact, so great is the beneficent activity of Christian Science today, so wide-spread and widely felt, that it has already become indispensable to human society. Bearing in mind what Christian Science is accomplishing for the mental, moral, and physical improvement of mankind, according to a host of authenticated cases, and remembering that this redemptive work has been going on for more than forty years and with an accelerating momentum, who would be willing to dispense with this great boon now? who would desire to return to the state of public opinion which Mrs. Eddy found when she discovered Christian Science?
Let any one imagine himself bereft of all hope of salvation here and now, with nothing in prospect but deliverance through death, and the promise of good things to come hereafter; dreading a revengeful God, haunted by the fear of Him who stands for All-Power, without hope of escape from His all-seeing eye, seeking refuge in all manner of attempts to placate His awful anger. Then contrast with this the teaching of Christian Science concerning a wholly good God who does not produce the incitement to sin, nor sin itself, nor the consequences of sin; who is available now, who saves now, who need not be placated, since His love toward us far transcends our ability to comprehend it.
Imagine a state of public consciousness in which the laws of materia medica as enunciated from time to time should be considered final; that a law of heredity, for example, or a germ theory, should be able to dispose of the fate of millions without even a mental protest on their part being of any avail. On the other hand, contemplate the work of Christian Science in delivering multitudes from the operation of these self-same supposed laws by applying the merciful law of God scientifically. Consider, too, the influence of Christian Science in thus lifting the bugbear of incurability from humanity and paving the way for innumerable cures which are to come, by encouraging mankind now to lodge a valid protest against the dictum that the laws of disease are more powerful than the laws of God Himself.
Imagine a public opinion which should unanimously agree that God, who is Love, is also the author of death-dealing physical phenomena, of the convulsions of nature which maim or kill defenseless men, women, and little children. There may be many who thus believe, but since the advent of Christian Science there are also multitudes who do not; who cannot find it in their hearts to ascribe to God a form of cruelty which they would not dare ascribe to any human being. Through Christian Science mankind is learning to place all phenomena in their proper perspective, to put evil forces where they belong, and to stop attempting to father upon the divine Mind the excesses, the furies, and the violences of the carnal and fleshly mind, which Mrs. Eddy has so aptly termed mortal mind.
Whatever may be the opinion of this person or that concerning the causes which have brought about these startling transformations in public opinion, no one can deny the existence of the transformations themselves. Popular theology, medicine, and science are very different today from what they were before Christian Science came with its clarifying message. The leaven of Truth is doing its work, and the world will never again sink back into the dark days when terrifying threats were supposed to be good for the soul and no less terrifying medicines were considered necessary for the body, while in the rumbling of thunder and the noise of the cataclysm mortals thought they heard the still, small voice of God calling upon them to reform. The logic of events is driving mankind to seek shelter from itself in the ultra-physical, in beyond physics, or metaphysics. The experience of the human race is weaning it away from its reliance upon material means of salvation, because such means fail, one by one, leaving every individual who trusts in them desolate and forlorn, unable to solve the riddle of mortal existence, because mortality itself is a dream which has no real meaning, which passes away and is no more.
Spiritual Interpretation of the Bible
A further reason for the gratitude which Christian Science and its revered Discoverer receive from mankind lies in its spiritual interpretation of the Bible. Mrs. Eddy describes her textbook as "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." This work has unlocked the Scriptures to a host of earnest Christians who were not satisfied that they had found its true meaning while studying it according to conventional, literal interpretations. The Christian Science textbook is of the nature of a Bible commentary. It helps the old friends of the Bible to understand it better, and makes new friends for the Bible by bringing the indifferent, the agnostic, and the infidel to a realization of its logic and beauty. The influence of the Christian Science textbook is responsible for a great increase in Bible reading and study all over the world, and accounts for a large percentage of the increased sale of Bibles which is so marked a feature of this twentieth century.
Who that has been brought up in a Bible-reading home, but in later life has lost the use of the Bible, and found it again through Christian Science, can ever forget the beauty of the old familiar verses under the radiance of the new interpretation? Translated into metaphysical terms, the experiences of the patriarchs and prophets and the national vicissitudes of the children of Israel take on a meaning applicable to our daily lives. The works of Jesus for the first time become intelligible as the natural demonstrations of Spirit, intended for all men, at all times; and the intimate import of some of his sayings, heretofore hidden, is suddenly revealed as by a flash of spiritual illumination. Christ Jesus stands forth to the student of the Christian Science textbook as the great Exemplar whom it is possible to follow, however humbly, and who is not merely a performer of miracles which may have had value in his day, but have none in ours, nor yet merely a teacher of paradoxes. Jesus himself declared of himself, "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice." This was the truth of which he prophesied to the Jews, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
Under the guidance of Christian Science the reasons for the special difficulties encountered by Jesus' followers, by his disciples and apostles and the early Christians, as set forth in the New Testament, become clear, as well as the processes by which the carnal mind seeks to block the progress of the truth to which Jesus bore witness. The symbols of the Apocalypse reveal their profound metaphysics, and Genesis yields the secret of the true creation to those who will study the Christian Science textbook as a commentary on it. Conversely, the more the teachings of Christian Science are examined in the light of the Bible, the more does the evidence accumulate that they are Scriptural and soundly Christian.
But, after all had been said that could be said on the subject, it would still remain true that a science which is not actually applied to produce definite results lacks confirmation. The world has seen many philosophies, many systems and doctrines which appeared very satisfactory from the basis of theory, but which were disappointing, if not disastrous, when applied to daily affairs. Christian Science does not come before mankind merely with a platform or a creed for acceptance, however reasonable these may appear. It is not merely something to be believed, but something to be used, which in the using proves itself to be feasible, available, practical, beneficent, and powerful for good and against evil. Christian Science, when correctly applied, proves the truth of its own statements, and is therefore independent of the opinion of any mortal or of all mortals combined. It lives and works because it is true, and Truth is immortal. It is at the service of all who are willing to abide by its rules. It has always been available, and always will be available because it is everlastingly true.
Now, since the teachings of Christian Science are found to be based upon the Bible, it is reasonable to expect that the works of Christian Science should be recorded in the Bible as well; that not only the foundations of the Science itself should be stated there, but also specific instances of the application of that Science should be set forth by way of example and illustration. In fact, this reasonable expectation has been fulfilled. From cover to cover the Bible is full of instances of the victory of Spirit over matter, Truth over error, Life over death. These instances are generally called miracles, i.e., marvels or wonders, but they are really the natural and normal consequences of the operation of the law of God in nullifying the supposed laws of matter. Both in the Old and the New Testaments are to be found constantly recurring cases of the conquest of spiritual understanding over adverse material conditions. The Bible, when read with open mind and receptive heart, reveals itself as a grand record of healing through spiritual means. It is no mere history book, no mere collection of precepts, no mere repository of wisdom. It is also a treasure-house, full of practical demonstrations for practical people, illustrating for everyday use the eternal verities of imperishable Science.
In Jesus' time, and in that of his immediate followers, the full force of spiritual healing made itself felt. His teaching was reinforced by his works, his parables illuminated by ocular proofs, and his preaching demonstrated by his practice. He cured the man sick of the palsy of his physical ailment at the same time that he forgave his sins. He healed the centurion's servant, though absent from him. He fed the five thousand, walked on the water, and finally raised himself from the dead, through his understanding of God. By his works he proved for all time the inherent impotence of sin, sickness, and death. So that Paul, who had not known Jesus personally, and who had even considered it his duty to persecute his followers, was able to see the marvelous significance of his career as the exemplification of his teachings. He writes to the Romans, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death;" and again, to the Corinthians, "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death," and again, "Jesus Christ . . . hath abolished death."
The question now arises, Do we really believe the testimony of the Bible, or do we not? Shall it be said that this record of spiritual healing which has been in the possession of mankind for so many centuries appeals in vain to unseeing eyes and unhearing ears today? Fortunately for mankind, this outcome is no longer possible. More than forty years ago, Mrs. Eddy was ready and willing to recognize and to listen to the message of the Bible when it came to her, and, after careful proof by actual demonstration, she put down in writing, which all may read, her rediscovery of the eternal Science of being. Christian Science is now accessible to all, is in active operation in all parts of the globe, reforming and healing, lifting the burden of sorrow from the desolate, the sense of injustice from the oppressed, rounding out barren lives, straightening out misshapen bodies, purifying diseased organs, strengthening weak limbs, spreading the beauty of holiness over faces formerly distorted by pain, gathering the sheep that have strayed in the wilderness into the safety of the sheep-fold, under the tender watchfulness of the "good shepherd," where they shall not want any more nor fear the wild beasts that have preyed upon them in the past. Reason and revelation alike demand a refuge for man, a stoppage of the conflict and contest of opposing forces; and this refuge is heaven.
Heaven is not a locality, but a state of consciousness wherein good is recognized as omnipotent and God's law prevails; nay, more, — wherein He is All-in-all and His law the only law. In heaven, as described in the Apocalypse, "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
This heaven is a possibility here and now.
Christian Science Practice
To attain this heaven, which is a state of consciousness, it is not necessary to die. True, Paul wrote of himself, "I die daily;" but this evidently could not mean the act of dying in the ordinary acceptation of the word. He must have referred to the death of material concepts and fears, or to the fading away of his belief in supposed material laws, to the putting away of mortality in order that immortality might appear. It is not reasonable to suppose that God instituted death as a necessary preliminary to eternal life, since Jesus assures us that to know God is life eternal.
Humanity as a whole has never hesitated to grasp at every possible means which it could imagine or devise to avert death or to delay its approach. The utmost ingenuity of every age has been expended in perfecting life-saving contrivances. Good men and women of every generation have devoted themselves without stint to the founding and maintaining of philanthropic enterprises whose object has been to cheat death of its prey; if possible, to heal the sick, resuscitate the dying; in a word, to prolong life. Mankind has felt instinctively that the motive of such work, whether undertaken by the physician, the theologian, the legislator, or by the workers in the various charities, was noble and praiseworthy in itself.
The vast array of hospitals and asylums bears witness to this laudable desire on the part of mankind to circumvent death. The life-saving stations along our coasts are maintained for this purpose. The very lighthouses and buoys contribute to the same end. The fire departments of our cities and villages are designed to save life as well as property. Laws are passed by many legislatures all over the world to protect the lives of those engaged in various hazardous employments.
And yet, if God had instituted death as the gateway to heaven, all this life-saving work would be worse than wasted, — would constitute an officious interference with God's plan, and would be keeping millions out of the heaven to which they have a right. Therefore, we are entitled to reject the theory that God has placed heaven beyond the reach of the living and given it over exclusively to those who have experienced death. On the contrary, humanity is clearly entitled to work out its own salvation now, and to enjoy the fruition of that work now, in proportion to its right endeavor.
Christian Science, by its practice has proved itself the most valuable of life-saving institutions. Both as a preventive and deterrent, as well as a cure for sin and sickness, it is establishing itself in receptive hearts everywhere. It has flinched before no task. It has admitted no incurable complaint of soul or mind or body, and Christian Scientists have applied its teachings to the best of their understanding in meeting both their own needs and those of the many who have come to them for help.
Christian Science has appeared in an age which is preeminently philanthropic, which will not and cannot endure the miseries of mankind without making the utmost efforts to relieve them. In the world of today there are many persons who suffer more by reason of the wretchedness of others than by reason of any troubles of their own. They justly demand a taste of heaven now for others as well as for themselves, and Christian Science answers their cry by pointing the way in accord with Jesus' teaching that the kingdom of heaven is within us.
Now that which goes on within our own consciousness determines whether we are in heaven or not. Heaven implies divine harmony. Then, in order that we may have heaven within us, we must necessarily exclude every thought which is not in accord with the divine Mind, with God, Spirit, Life, Truth, and Love. It is not possible to think of perfect Love and to experience fear in the same instant. One or the other quality of thought must prevail; one will inevitably drive out the other. Therefore John's statement that "perfect love casteth out fear," is metaphysically correct, and is scientific because every one can prove it to be true for himself or herself in any age. It is essentially a classic utterance, which lives forever because it is always true.
Since it is self-evident that opposites cannot occupy the same consciousness simultaneously, it follows that Life and death cannot coalesce nor good and evil unite. "Ye cannot serve God and mammon," said Jesus. Good thoughts make a heaven of our consciousness, and evil thoughts make a hell of it. Christian Science practice, which is the necessary result of Christian Science teaching, enables mortals to substitute good thoughts, hence true thoughts, for evil or untrue thoughts. This practice is strictly metaphysical and scientific. It obtains its results through the understanding of the divine Mind, which drives out the false concepts of the mortal or material mind. These false concepts produce sin, sickness, and death, and the divine Mind in destroying the concepts also rescues mankind from the ill effects.
Picture to yourself a world in which every one was engaged in letting in the light and driving out the darkness according to the teachings of Christian Science; in which hate and its many manifestations, such as the desire for revenge, destructive criticism and condemnation, irritation, annoyance, etc., were being detected and driven out of consciousness by their all-powerful and supreme opposite, Love; in which fear, greed, envy, and jealousy were being eliminated as qualities of thought by the recognition and realization of God as omnipotent and wholly good. Picture to yourself a nation, a city, or a home in which the citizens or members had agreed never to harbor hate against any one, no matter what the provocation might be, and it is obvious that the quality of thought called hate would eventually disappear from their midst as though it had never existed there at all. Suppose this agreement to be extended by degrees to cover all evil or false thoughts of every name and nature everywhere; in the end such thoughts would no longer find hospitality in human consciousness and would virtually cease to exist.
Evil thinking, false unscientific thinking, is the cause of innumerable bodily ills which plague mankind. Evil thinking is not only undesirable in itself, but its consequences are also deplorable. Disease and disaster follow in the track of wrong thoughts, and ignorance of God provides a fruitful field for all manner of noxious weeds to grow, which take the form of physical ills. No one who has not had occasion to trace sickness to its mental causes can form any idea of the part which wrong thinking plays, not only in the wrecking of promising careers and in the collapse of flourishing enterprises, but also in inducing bodily suffering and diseased physical conditions. The skill of the most experienced and conscientious physicians, using material means, must of necessity be baffled by such conditions. Long ago the writer of Proverbs declared of a mortal, "As he thinketh . . . so is he."
Now Christian Science is teaching humanity how this substitution of right thinking for the false can be accomplished in a Christian and scientific manner. The work has begun, and will never stop until it is done. It has already conferred the most marvelous benefits upon those who have turned to it for help; daily, hourly, it is causing the full radiance of healing Love to shine upon those who have supposed that they must abandon all hope; it is searching out evil habits of thought, eradicating diseased tendencies, peculiarities, hereditary traits, acquired false appetites; and is enthroning in human consciousness the understanding of God and of His Christ.
The process, the modus operandi of Christian Science healing, entails no element of will-power nor self-will, but demands clear spiritual perception of the truth of being, sincerity and love. Individual experience, forcing the student to draw nearer to God, teaches patience, charity, and good will to all. There is no short cut, no royal road to Christian Science, any more than there is in the ordinary pursuits of knowledge. The footsteps must be taken, and if at any time they turn temporarily into the wilderness, even then the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night will inevitably lead the way into the land of Canaan, flowing with milk and honey. The outcome for every honest searcher is already assured. Whoever is willing to set aside false thinking for the true will immediately receive the benefit and eventually earn the crown. Mrs. Eddy, after many years of faithful work and marvelous achievement, after establishing the Science of Christianity and demonstrating its practical application through the cure of sin and sickness, is now able to rejoice with the multitude of those who have tested Christian Science and found it a wellspring of life and gladness, and a shelter of rest and peace.
[Published in pamphlet form by The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1909.]