Christian Science: Gods Antidote for Trouble
Paul Stark Seeley, C.S.B., of Portland, Oregon
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
One of the commonest things in the world is trouble. Nearly everyone has some of it. There are many kinds. A few are sin, sickness, sorrow, fear, lack, discouragement, strife, and world problems. One thing all men can agree on: they would like to be rid of trouble. It is mankind's number one enemy. Trouble takes the joy out of life, it robs us of happiness, health, and peace. The common need of everyone, everywhere, is to learn how to get rid of trouble. Christian Science provides this know-how.
The purpose of Christian Science is so intimately to acquaint men with their source, God, that they can utilize the forces of the loving intelligence which God is, to free themselves from all trouble. A good start has been made toward accomplishing this. Because its teachings have proved they are a reliable antidote for trouble, the Christian Science movement has grown from a single organization in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1879 to over thirty-two hundred organizations in forty countries in 1950. But its work has only begun.
The first step towards getting rid of trouble is to find out what causes trouble. Then one can better judge the means suited to getting rid of it. Christian Science exposes its source as being the devil, God's opposite; not a hoofed and horned person, but the one evil, material mind. All trouble-making thoughts such as sin, fear, hate, selfishness, and cruelty derive from this evil sense of mind. Furthermore, it is this evil, material sense of mind, not God, which produces the material, Adamic concept of man who is mortal, afflictable, and as Job says, "of few days, and full of trouble" (Job 14:1), in contrast to the true and spiritual man, made as the Bible says, in God's likeness.
All should know that Christian Science is based on the Bible. It teaches nothing which is at variance with the Scriptures. Christian Scientists use the King James Version of the Bible, and they diligently study it. At every Sunday service a Lesson-Sermon is read, consisting of chosen references from the Bible and from Science and Health.
What causes the trouble named disease must be mastered to effectively cure disease. A physician whom I had known for some years once spoke critically to me of Christian Science. It then occurred to me to ask him what, as a well-educated physician, he regarded as the basic cause of all disease. He replied, "Lowered vitality." "But what causes lowered vitality?" I inquired. "I presume it is nature," he said. "And what is nature?" I queried. With some hesitation he replied, "I suppose nature is God." "Then do you believe God is the cause of all disease?" I asked. Emphatically he answered: "No, I do not believe God is the cause of disease. Really, I do not know what causes it."
Trying to get rid of disease, or any trouble, without knowing the nature of its cause, is like trying to get rid of an obnoxious weed by slashing at its top, leaving its root to sprout again. "Every plant," said Jesus, "which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up" (Matt. 15:13). To uproot the trouble plant you must master the evil mind that is its root. Christian Science does this.
An eminent physician saw something of the mental cause of disease when he said, "A man cannot fear, he cannot hate, he cannot worry intellectually; he does these things with all his organs." A hate "jag" or a fear or jealousy "drunk," he observed, does oneself great physical harm (Dr. Crile in the Cosmopolitan, May, 1933). Physicians and psychiatrists see this. What they now need to recognize is that the one antidote for these trouble-making thoughts is to recognize and utilize the spiritual fact that man's only real consciousness is constituted of the harmonious, health-producing thoughts whose substance is the Mind that is God.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, names the source of all trouble mortal mind. On page 405 of the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures," she writes, "The basic error is mortal mind." This staple fact must be recognized if we are ever to overcome trouble. Never forget that when any trouble argues to you, it is the evil, mortal mind talking the same talking serpent that got Eve and Adam into so much trouble. The way has now been found in Christian Science to nullify and silence it.
Now for step two, which is to find how to get rid of trouble once we have found its root, the evil, mortal mind.
What we all want is harmony and peace. So we must find the source of these. As evil, negative, mortal mind is the source of trouble-making thoughts, is it not logical to conclude that from the altogether good, intelligent, and divine Mind come the thoughts which bring harmony and peace? Christian Science teaches that God is this all-intelligent, good Mind, the one universal cause. In this causative, good Mind there is not one trouble-making thought. Its ideas produce concord and peace.
Your one true selfhood and mine is this positive Mind's untroubled individual expression. This selfhood derives its substance, individuality, thoughts, and faculties from Mind, alone, for it is caused, conditioned, and governed by nothing else. What is capable of being basic cause but absolute intelligence, and can there be absolute intelligence apart from pure Mind? As long as we cling to the evil, mortal sense of mind and man, trouble grows. In the degree we accept and express the true sense of Mind and man, trouble goes.
Whether you will or no, you are united to something greater than you are. Most mortals think of themselves as united to a material body, and also united to a mind that causes them, at times, to be worried, resentful, discouraged, bad tempered, sinful, critical, and so on. They also believe they are somehow united to a better mind that provides for them thoughts of kindness, honesty, justice, and wisdom. But this mortal, mixed sense of things leaves God, the altogether good Mind, out of account.
This causative Mind inevitably contains in itself all its ideas, its manifestation. How could it be otherwise? The sun does not evolve sunbeams, or the principle of music tones, and then cast them adrift. They remain coexistent with their source, included in, and governed by, their source. It is so with the infinite causative Mind and man, its highest idea, or expression. Man is indeed joined to something greater than himself, and that something is the one causative Mind, his God and Father.
You cannot be a trouble-expressing mortal and also the child, or expression, of God, who destroys trouble. Which concept do you accept as the true? With Jesus, Christian Science accepts sonship with God, Spirit, Mind, as man's only true status, and repudiates the claim of his sonship with matter as negative and untrue. The advantages of being humble enough to accept your true status as an individual manifestation of eternal Life, or causative Mind, are great. As you come to understand somewhat that your only real Mind is God and that as God's expression you have the limitless resources of wisdom, ability, and love which belong to God, you begin to see something of the deep meaning of Jesus' statement, "I am in the Father, and the Father in me" (John 14:11). Know this for yourself every day.
The oneness of man, not with ignorant enigmatical matter, but with all-intelligent Mind, is the cornerstone of the Science of Life. As it is understood it becomes the antidote for all trouble. Says Mrs. Eddy on page 91 of Science and Health: "Let us rid ourselves of the belief that man is separated from God, and obey only the divine Principle, Life and Love. Here is the great point of departure for all true spiritual growth." Our freedom from trouble appears in the measure that this ridding ourselves of the belief we are separated from God is accomplished. The demand on us to do this is inexorable.
Tennyson said of God, "Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet." God is nearer to us than any material thing, feet or breathing. The word "near" implies closeness, but with some space between. Ever-present Mind, God, is not "near" us in this sense, because it is the substance and Life of us. Between us and our causing Mind and sustaining Life there is nothing. We must more constantly realize we dwell in this "secret place of the most High," in living unity with the Almighty. No trouble is there or comes there. In the understanding of our oneness with God's allness is our superiority to godless trouble.
Other definitive words for God than Mind and Spirit, used by Christian Science are Truth, Life, Soul, Principle, Love. Each emphasizes some aspect or quality of God, but all are in their full meaning synonymous terms for Deity.
An aviator in the recent war, a Christian Scientist, was accustomed, each time he took off, to turn to God, realizing something of his unity with the all-embracing Mind, and thoughtfully to repeat the Lord's Prayer. Three members of his group, then in training, were killed within a short time in tail spins. Soon after, to break the fear that settled on the group, the commander ordered all planes into the air. At the top of his high ascent this young flyer's plane went into a spin. For a moment he was frozen with fright, but as he fell rapidly toward the earth he turned to God with all his heart and cried out, "Come on, Pop, help your boy!" Down, down, down, the plane fell. He could do nothing with the controls. At five hundred feet perhaps five seconds from the earth the plane righted and came in for a perfect landing.
His commanding officer hurried to greet him and exclaimed, "What did you do to get out of that spin?" Standing at attention he saluted, and looking his commander in the eye he said: "God picked it up, sir, and put it down. I had nothing to do with it." But his humble willingness to trust God with all his heart, with death but a few seconds ahead of him, brought to bear on the situation the mighty forces of divine intelligence, available to save men from the trouble which cruel material forces would claim to impose on them. The forces of Mind, demonstrated by man, subjugate the forces of matter. "The central fact of the Bible," writes Mrs. Eddy, "is the superiority of spiritual over physical power" (Science and Health, p. 131).
Who will say that there was irreverence in the aviator's boyish outcry to his heavenly Father, "Come on, Pop, help your boy," when godless matter said death was but a few seconds away? Rather was there a son's intimate recognition of his mighty, all-loving Father as infinite cause and his complete, unselfed reliance thereon. He proved that "man's extremity is God's opportunity." And he did all this on the basis of man's inseparability from God, his Life, his All.
God Makes Man Ageless
Troubles incident to years cannot derive from eternal Mind, so they cannot belong to its manifestation, man. How could immortal Mind evolve a mortal man? Can God, who is permanent and ageless, be evidenced in what is temporary and aging? God's man is God's likeness and coexists with God, for Mind, God, is his Life forever. As this scientific fact becomes understood, immortality will appear as the only true order of being. No one is going to find that the physical process called death advances him into immortality. We attain the eternal as we understand our natural unity with the eternal.
"Time," says Mrs. Eddy on page 598, line 30, of Science and Health, "is a mortal thought, the divisor of which is the solar year." Then the meaning of the solar year 1950 might be thought of as a fraction. The numerator is 1950 and its denominator "a mortal thought." The fraction is 1950 parts of this mortal thought called time. Since a mortal thought has no substance, 1950 parts of it cannot have any substance, or any influence on man, the expression of eternal, timeless Mind. No more can 50, 60, 70, 80, or 100 parts of this mortal thought really affect the Mind-constituted individuality of man, whose substance is God. These truths provide the basis for the realization of immortality.
A group of physicians and surgeons recently announced that "years alone have NO EFFECT in bringing about the degenerating disorders. Time has no effect on human tissues. Those who develop a time neurosis (a fear of time) subscribe to the prevalent superstition that time is in some way a poison exerting a mysterious cumulative action."
It is not time that brings decrepitude. It is mortals' ignorant belief that time can deplete them that needs to be overcome. We must stop measuring life with the devil's yardstick, time. Life is immeasurable; Life is God. "This is life eternal," said he who knew, "that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). In other words, eternal life comes by knowing God as the only true Life and by understanding Christ Jesus' work as the demonstration of man's sonship with the Father, Life, superior, as is God, to time and destructive forces.
If we are to get rid of trouble, here is a point to remember: God causes us and also governs us. The latter fact mortals lose sight of. Mortals generally believe in a good God as the cause of man and things, but they illogically believe either that this good God governs badly and imposes trouble on us or leaves us to be governed by evil forces that afflict and destroy us. We need to logically follow through from the good basic cause and see that this good cause both causes and governs man, always. How then can godless evil forces ever usurp God's government of man? They cannot and do not. To really understand this knocks out trouble.
Can you imagine the principle of mathematics giving up control of any number? No more can causative Mind ever yield jurisdiction over man, which it exercises through its moral, spiritual, intelligent forces, or laws. What God makes, God governs, primarily, presently, eternally. From this standpoint Christian Science refuses to budge.
We begin to overcome matter, and the troubles that go with it, first by subjugating it compelling it to take a servient rather than a dominant place in our lives. Before one sees something of the spiritual idea of Cause as Mind and man as its effect, or manifestation, he has been inclined to accept matter and mortal mind as pre-dominant in his life. If the material body said, "You are sick," he echoed, "I am sick." If mortal mind suggested, "You are discouraged and afraid," he was liable to concur. He believed he was a child of the flesh, tied to it and pretty much governed by it. He believed in God, but just how God fitted into human affairs he wondered.
Then, through Christian Science, he discovered that matter is not the all-in-all it claims to be. "Opponents of Christian Science," Mrs. Eddy observed, "think of matter as something and almost the only thing, and of the things which pertain to Spirit as next to nothing, or as very far removed from daily experience. Christian Science takes exactly the opposite view" (Science and Health, p. 350). He began to recognize God as his Mind, always present and always constituting him as its conscious, individual representative, or expression. He began with spiritual sense to discern in a measure that his true individuality is something more substantial than flesh, blood, and bones, that it is spiritual, of the substance of eternal Mind, and is truth caused and governed by God, and so harmonious, healthy and good.
His measurable understanding of what is spiritually true subjugates matter and compels the body to be normal instead of discordant and human experience to evidence more of the love and goodness of God.
He enjoys the zest for spiritual discovery in a research work which, in terms of the times, might be called "Project: Overcoming." As John puts it, "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son" (Rev. 21:7).
If liquor and tobacco have previously seemed harmless indulgences, he re-examines his evaluation of them. He sees that whereas his life objective is to supplant the negative, material sense of selfhood with the positive and spiritual sense of man, nicotine and alcohol accentuate the material sense of life. Any supposed pleasure in them inheres in his belief that they add to his satisfaction in an unspiritual sense of being.
He sees this is deceptive, for he knows that God, his only real Life, is more to him than poisonous alcohol or tubes of volatile nicotine. He sees that the indulgence of these false appetites salts one down in matter. The desire for them, he sees, is not from his real Mind, God, but from the devilish carnal mind, and is foreign to his real manhood. And so they pass out of his thought and life, and the overcoming advances him a step toward spiritual reality. Whereas matter had dominated him, he now has subjugated and overcome it.
False appetite is enslavement to matter, however astutely those desiring to profit from promoting it may dress it in garments of pseudo respectability and deceptive, artistic advertising.
Mind naturally expresses itself in ideas and causes these ideas to be manifest in man. How else could causative Mind, basic intelligence, make its nature known? Referring to his God-given qualities and ideas, the Master said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9).
Christian Science is a revelation; its source is the one Mind. The revelator, Mary Baker Eddy, discerned the true ideas of God and man because, like the spiritual-minded prophets, her thought was less darkened with mistaken material concepts than the thought of those about her. When there is a rift in the clouds, the sun shines through.
From her early childhood in New Hampshire, she evidenced a deeply religious nature and outstanding faith in God as Love. A wilderness of trouble in early womanhood, including the loss of her husband, separation from her child, and poor health, deepened her resolve to learn more of God and His power to free men from trouble.
In 1866, not long after Lincoln's great work for freedom from slavery was accomplished, more spiritual light came to her through a remarkable healing of herself by complete reliance on the deific Mind and its government of her being. She then knew that God could and would free men of trouble when they understand Him. Nine years of intense study of the Bible followed to find the way by which God heals men.
In 1875 Science and Health, the textbook of Christian Science, was published. It has been read and studied by men and women of all classes. One of these was Charles Steinmetz, the renowned electrical engineer and physical scientist. This great thinker was once asked to define electricity. One who worked with him in his laboratory told me his reply was, "The best definition I have ever seen of electricity is given by Mary Baker Eddy on page 293 of Science and Health."
Steinmetz, who knew as much about electricity as any man of his time recognized the penetrating discernment of Mrs. Eddy, not only regarding spiritual things, but on the enigmatical subject of electricity, which was his life study. The definition he referred to reads, "Electricity is the sharp surplus of materiality which counterfeits the true essence of spirituality or truth, the great difference being that electricity is not intelligent, while spiritual truth is Mind."
Science and Health has been translated into French, German, Spanish, and Swedish and is available in Braille. It is in many public libraries and can be read, borrowed, and purchased in all Christian Science Reading Rooms. It is a book of seven hundred pages and eighteen chapters. Many have been healed by reading it.
The worst enemy you and I have is the material sense of self, which we have been educated to believe is our true self. The Bible portrays two concepts of man: first, the man God makes in His likeness; second, the man who was begotten by Adam and Eve, the mortal, material sense of man, of whom Paul said "They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God" (Rom. 9:8).
A physician defines the material man as "a mechanism run by electricity and chemical reaction, . . ." a machine made up of twenty-eight trillion electric cells" (Dr. Crile in the Cosmopolitan, May, 1933). Do you think that is the likeness of God, His son, your true manhood? Christian Science teaches it is the material mind's likeness, its misconception of man.
The objective of "Project: Overcoming," is to overcome, with an understanding of God and His man, this misconception of man, evil's agent. Our repudiation and denial of it must be consistent and unequivocal. Snubbing the erroneous sense of self when it suits our convenience and hobnobbing with it when that suits our fancy, works our self-dismissal from "Project: Overcoming."
The forces of divine Mind are equal to any human need. A little girl of five fell from a moving automobile when the unlatched door swung open. She was rushed to a hospital, where an X-ray picture showed a badly fractured skull.
The parents asked that no medicine be given her, as she and they were Christian Scientists. The doctor replied: "There is no medicine in the world that can touch your little girl's problem. Can you pray?" They said, "Yes, we can and we shall call a Christian Science practitioner." He said: "Fine; twenty-four hours will tell the story. I leave it to your prayers."
Within twenty-four hours the child sat up and asked to go home. The nurse insisted she must be quiet, that she had a bad cut on her head. Quickly the child answered, "That is not my head, but Adam's!" She went home the next day. A few days later the doctor examined her head, eyes, and heart and pronounced them perfect. To a neighbor he said: "I did nothing for her. It was God who healed her."
Accidents are phenomena only of negative mortal mind. An accident is not caused by, or known to, God, and never takes place in the universe of positive Mind. The practitioner realized something of this spiritual fact and that the real God-constituted individuality of the child could not be harmed or hurt by godless material forces. God, she knew, eternally governs the life and identity of man and outlaws all godless forces.
Sometimes it is said Christian Science is good for nervous troubles but not for organic diseases. But one trouble rates no higher with God than another. God heals them all as Christian Science is understandingly applied.
A woman was afflicted with cancer of the lungs and throat which had extended to the brain, causing her to be irrational. She had been given up by three doctors, who so notified her husband in a typed copy of their findings.
A friend spoke to him of Christian Science. He consulted a practitioner and requested her to work for his wife. The practitioner realized that Truth, God, removes evil belief and all effects of the belief. She applied to the case these statements from Science and Health, page 151: "Every function of the real man is governed by the divine Mind. The human mind has no power to kill or to cure, and it has no control over God's man." Within a short period of time the woman was given an x-ray at the hospital, which showed such marvelous improvement that she was released. Her complete healing followed, and today she is enjoying perfect health.
Discordant human relationships sometimes in the home, often in business make up a large part of the world's troubles. Selfishness and self-will in many forms breed friction and inharmony, which in turn often produce physical disorders.
On page 585 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy refers to Christian Science as that "with which can be discerned the spiritual fact of whatever the material senses behold." Every phase of discordant relationship beheld by the material senses is the opposite of the spiritual fact the true order of relationship which causative Mind causes to be. As the spiritual fact is accepted as the real, it lifts thought above the sense of friction and brings harmony and peace.
Because God, real Mind, causes all that really is, He must cause all real relationship. All that is true relationship God makes mortal mind and mortals do not. Causative intelligence causes all its individualities to be harmoniously related to one another with understanding and appreciation for one another. The oneness of causative Mind ensures the unitedness of all of its manifestations.
An Oriental woman with some knowledge of English became interested in Christian Science. One day she asked a more advanced student how she should think in order to overcome discord in her home. The relationships were not harmonious. It was explained to her that she should turn her thought away from the human scene of human personalities and conflicting wills to find the spiritual fact, realize that all men are really God-caused and God-governed and live under God's laws in harmony and peace and that the fiction of inharmony must yield to this divine fact.
She went home and prayerfully worked along the lines indicated. A few days later she returned, all in smiles, and exclaimed, "Now, I have no harassment." Harmony had been restored. In the degree God is understood to be the real Mind and Life of all men, naturally unifying all in the symphony of the divine order, where divisive mortal mind and selfish human will are unknown, the unity of all with God and with one another will appear. Then we can all say, "I have no harassment."
There is one place where you and I can overcome trouble. That place is in our own consciousness. Only there did Jesus say the kingdom of God can be found. The first lesson each of us needs to learn is that "each individual is responsible for himself" (Miscellaneous Writings by Mary Baker Eddy, p. 119). Each has the ability to control his thoughts, which in turn control his life. It has been said, "If a tramp knocks at your door you do not have to go tramping with him." So if the trouble-making thoughts of mortal mind knock at the door of your consciousness, tempting you to be sick or sinful, fearful or discouraged, you do not have to keep company with them. Rather see and declare their complete unrelatedness to you as the son of God, and you to them.
God gives you and me the ability to think truthfully, spiritually. We must use it or get into trouble for not doing so. Sometimes mortals are too lazy to make the effort or would like someone else to do it for them. A youth called to his father in the night and said, "Dad, you'd better get up and work for me: I feel very ill." Dad answered, "Jim, you'd better get up and work for yourself." Silence for a little; then came Jim's voice, "Oh, well, it's not as bad as all that!" Do not be a lazy Jim!
Prayer of the right sort is the way by which to overcome trouble not the prayer that asks God for personal favors as though He liked to be implored, and then to grant or withhold His favor as suits His fancy. "Prayer," writes Mrs. Eddy, "cannot change the Science of being, but it tends to bring us into harmony with it" (Science and Health, p. 2). This is the motive of prayer, to bring our thought into harmony with, into agreement with, God and His law.
Jesus made three rules for prayer: first, "Enter into thy closet;" second, "Shut thy door;" third, "Pray to thy Father which is in secret" (Matt. 6:6). Mrs. Eddy comments thus on his statement: "The closet typifies the sanctuary of Spirit, the door of which shuts out sinful sense but lets in Truth, Life, and Love. Closed to error, it is open to Truth" (Science and Health, p. 15). The first rule, to enter into thy closet, means, so Christian Science teaches, mentally to turn away from the material world and with spiritual sense find ever-present Spirit, God. To close the door means to shut out of thought material sense testimony, be it fear, sickness, sin, or despair, however aggressive. To pray to the Father means to realize the universality of God and His idea, deific Mind and its manifestation, the All and Only. It means to find with spiritual sense the presence of God and Love's kingdom, with all of God's children healthy, happy, and harmonious therein, unfettered and untroubled by mortal mind, matter, or physical sense.
The student must turn thought completely away from the material scene. If he leaves open the door of the closet, or sanctuary, and tries to think of human persons and situations and what he wishes God would do to them, his prayer is little more than an expression of willful desire. He must find God, His allness, the perfection and harmony of God's kingdom and man, and then realize that in this spiritual reality is the truth that reverses and nullifies error's lie that may be arguing to him.
The Master foresaw the convulsions that would shake human existence to its depths before the material misconception of life and man is surrendered for spiritual reality. He tells us to "stand in the holy place" (Matt. 24:15), and "When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28). He saw through and beyond the final chapters in the struggle between the dragon of materiality and the spiritual forces of the Mind that is man's Life and God.
His command is to look up to God, not down into matter; to lift up our thinking above the carnal, the material and evil, to the spiritual, the actual, the real. If we do, we find our redemption draweth nigh. Redemption is release release from the lying claims of the godless evil mind that it can over-power, dominate, and tyrannize man, can supplant God's government of man with its blind sense of law and power.
Christ Jesus kept in the forefront of his consciousness the unalterable spiritual fact that, regardless of all that the material mind and matter claim, "the kingdom of God is at hand" and that this kingdom "is within you." This was the central theme of his mission. Should we not spiritually follow him and his line of thought, confident that the omnipotent forces of causative Mind will correctly subdue and annihilate the negative, ignorant forces of material-mindedness, every one?
The material mind would if it could, through organizations political or ecclesiastical, rule the world with arbitrary power. But in the Revelation of John he tells us that it is the Word of God which shall rule the nations "with a rod of iron" (Rev. 19:15) "with a rod of iron!" Here is the spiritual fact, the absolute, just, beneficent government by God of all men, which reverses and nullifies the lying claim of evil that it can and will dominate the earth with its rod of iron.
It has been a long time since Eliphaz spoke this truth to Job, when he was all but overwhelmed with trouble. But his words are as true now as they were then. To everyone sincerely engaged in "Project: Overcoming," they apply (Job 5:19): "He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall be no evil touch thee."