Christian Science: The Science of Mind


The Rev. Irving C. Tomlinson, C.S.B.

Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts


The Lecture at Tufts College


We herewith publish in full the able lecture delivered by Rev. Irving C. Tomlinson, C.S.B., before the Philosophical Conference at Tufts College, Wednesday, February 21, at 3 o'clock p.m.; also the very appropriate introductory remarks of Prof. Herbert E. Cushman of the college.

We gladly yield to this purpose such part of our space as might otherwise be occupied with editorial remarks.

Professor Cushman said in part:


Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of the Conference:

Today we are to listen to Rev. Irving C. Tomlinson, one of the honored graduates of this college, who has come to speak to us on Christian Science. Mr. Tomlinson tells me that this occasion is notable in the fact that it is the first lecture on Christian Science given before an organization of a college by one of the authorized Christian Science lecturers. This leads me to remind you that Tufts College is a very liberal institution; and this fact is remarkable when you think that in no one of the other smaller, and only among a few of the larger, colleges of the country is there perfect freedom of thought. You would be surprised to see in how few institutions in our land is there liberty. The liberal attitude of Tufts College is in the main due to the fostering care of the honored head of the institution, who, I regret to say, is unable to be present today, but he is supported by the Trustees and the heads of the departments of learning. This Philosophical Conference is a platform for the Philosophical Department of Tufts, on which it can give an hospitable hearing to representatives of different phases of human thought. We are always glad to have our graduates come back to us, to explain life theoretically for us out of the richness of their experiences. I believe that a serious opinion seriously held by a single serious person or a body of people, is always worthy my serious consideration. I am glad to present, therefore Mr. Tomlinson, who will speak to us on Christian Science.

Mr. Tomlinson's subject was "Christian Science, the Science of Mind," and he said:


Because it is quite impossible in a single short address to treat exhaustively so profound a subject as Christian Science, it is the purpose of this lecture to present Christian Science as the Science of Mind. To understand all that this Science includes, it is needful to read and to study the textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker G. Eddy.

It is in keeping with the honorable history of Tufts College that the Philosophical Conference in seeking to know more of this subject should appeal to an authorized lecturer to tell what Christian Science is, instead of going to an unauthorized controversialist to hear what Christian Science is not. As was the case with the Copernican system of astronomy and the theory of evolution, so with Christian Science, its most bitter opponents have been those who have known the least about it. Christian Science has in itself only blessings for every worthy institution and for every honest man. Those who know even a little of Christian Science have respect for it, even though they may not fully understand it.


"As a Man Thinketh"

This invitation from the Philosophical Conference for a lecture upon Christian Science is not only evidence of a growing interest in the subject in our colleges, but it also suggests bonds of mutual interest. We all believe in the power of Mind and in the influence of the human mind upon the body. We are agreed with that ancient philosopher who said, "As a man thinketh in his heart so is he." Thoughts alter the face and the form. Fair thoughts beget fair features. Noble thoughts create a noble bearing. Greed and hypocrisy announce their presence. Lust and avarice tell their own story. The glutton may preach temperance, but his face proclaims his practice. The immortal Shakespeare well understood the power of the human mind, as when he made Lady Macbeth say to her husband,


Your face, my Thane, is as a book, where men

May read strange matters;


or again when Hamlet declared,


The play's the thing

Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King.


You know that faith and hope, qualities of mind, are auguries of success. Distrust and despair presage disaster. The warrior who inspires his forces with the conviction of certain triumph will surely lead his army to victory. The strength and courage which of old inspired a Joshua found ready response in the hosts of Israel. They drove all before them, and won their gallant victories, convinced that from Heaven came their battle-cry, "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."


The Power of Mind

I assume we are on common ground also in believing that the Founder of Christianity had a profound understanding of the power of Mind. His knowledge of the Science of Mind is shown, first, in his words. One has but to study his parables, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Lord's Prayer to see that their author was a master of thought. How much more truly than the astronomer Kepler might Jesus have said, "I think thy thoughts after thee, O God." His understanding of Mind is shown also in his unerring insight into the human character. He read the human mind as one would read a book. At his first meeting with his disciple Nathanael he said, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!'' Well was it said of Jesus, "He knew what was in man."

Not only were his words and his judgment obedient to the One Mind, but so also were his deeds. His works preeminently show him to have had a firm grasp upon higher metaphysics. All his deeds of helpfulness are wrought, not through superior physique, not through wonderful mechanical or material appliance, but the Man of Nazareth was mighty in his philosophy of Mind.

A striking instance of the healing power of Mind is found in the restoration of the demoniac child, who had been taken by his father to Jesus' students, who were practising his methods with marked success. In this particular case, however, they had been unable to effect an immediate cure, and the father then appealed to the master-metaphysician. Jesus was successful where the disciples failed. When they asked for an explanation, he declared that the method was not at fault, but that their faith was at fault. To use his exact language, he said, "This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting;" meaning, evidently, that in the Science of Mind such cases are healed through a deeper insight into and a clearer consciousness of the allness of divine Mind. This case is characteristic of all that Jesus accomplished through the power of Mind, and his works show that, with the great Physician, Mind, and Mind alone, was sufficient to restore the sick and sinful to health and happiness.

The Science of Mind was not new with Jesus. It was as old as Israel. The Father of the Hebrew race practised it, for we read, "Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech." It was known of Moses, and through his understanding of the power of Mind he lifted a race of slaves out of bondage and made them an independent nation. It was understood by David, and he sang of his God, "I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me." It was beheld by the prophets, and they told of its power for their nation, saying, "Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise."


Scientific Christianity

So far we have journeyed amicably together. We recognize the power of Mind upon the body, and we agree that Christ Jesus and the Bible characters accomplished much of their work by means of this power of Mind. The proposition which Christian Science makes to all is, that there should be no halting-place until the full Science of Mind is attained. The advance move which the Scientific Christian thinks that he has made is his conviction that Christianity is a Science. Just as you feel and know that mathematics is an exact science, so we feel and know that Christian Science, as the Science of Mind, is also an exact Science.

It may be said that the probabilities are against the existence of such a Science, for if there were a Science of Mind, it is sometimes said, it would have been discovered long ago. Upon this point the following facts are to be carefully considered.

The existing sciences are not today known by all men. There are large bodies of people who do not know of the science of music. We say that to such the science of harmony awaits discovery. Their ignorance cannot be accepted as evidence against a science which we understand.

History makes it probable that there was a time when no one on this globe understood the science of numbers. But the darkness then existing did not disturb the fact. With advancing light this science became revealed. This principle of mathematics was discovered by man when he was prepared for the discovery.

That the Science of Mind should be late in being discovered is not strange. It is what was to be expected. The natural order would be that man should discern the lesser sciences first and the greater last. As Mind is the source of all the true sciences and includes them all, its discernment would not precede but follow their discovery. As it is written, "First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear."


An Exact Science

The Christian Scientist feels, therefore, that the Creator has provided such a Science, which only awaits discovery by the individual to become as practical in solving his life problems as the science of mathematics is practical to the mathematician in solving his problems.

The science of mathematics has its principle from which all is derived, upon which all depends, and which includes the all of mathematics. The Science of Mind has its Principle, the one originating Mind, our God, from whom man is derived, upon whom man depends, and who includes all that really exists.

The science of mathematics has its separate ideas the numbers and these numbers partake of the nature of their principle. Likewise the Science of Mind has its idea, and this idea, or man, partakes of the nature of its Principle, the infinite Mind, our God. Numbers have their signs, the figures which represent them. Man has his sign, the human figure which represents him. Numbers exist in mind as ideas, and are governed by their principle. Man exists in Mind as an idea, and is governed by his Principle. That which is real and substantial in mathematics is not the signs and symbols which are seen, but the principle of mathematics and its ideas.

That which is real and substantial in Mind is not the human figure which is seen, but God and His idea, the perfect man, these are the real and eternal. Wherefore it is written, "The things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."

And this corresponds with what we know to be in harmony with experience. We all agree that the true man is of the mental realm. What he thinks and what he feels constitute the veritable man. Your friend is more than the eye beholds. He is more than the gross weight to which the scales testify. Your friend is as much of Mind as he expresses. And that which the eye sees, what of that? Is it not the visible sign and symbol of the real man? Is it not the witness of the invisible spiritual idea which the eye does not see? As in the science of mathematics the figures stand for ideas, so in the Science of Mind is not this human figure the visible witness of the invisible spiritual idea that we call man?

Man, the true man, then, is the true idea of infinite Mind, of which the body is the figure. In this view we are certainly in accord with an early statement of the Bible, that "God created man in his own image." As God is Mind, then man's real being is like Mind. And the Master said, "I and my Father are one," i.e., Infinite Mind and its idea, man, are one. Again, Jesus said, "My Father is greater than I," i.e., the Infinite Mind which includes all is greater than any one of its ideas.


Mind the True Remedy

Because the Christian Scientist regards man as an idea of Mind, just as the mathematician regards numbers as ideas of mind, he holds that what is true philosophy in dealing with the problems of mathematics, is true philosophy in dealing with the problems of man. In mathematics certain problems present themselves and certain fixed and invariable rules prevail for their solution. The mathematician in working out his problem, when he fails of the correct answer, has an exact method of procedure. He finds the mistake and corrects the error through the right understanding of the truth. Likewise the musician has a scientific method for restoring harmony when he finds discord. He knows the truth, and the truth makes him free from the discord. The mistakes in the mathematical problem are made apparent by misplaced figures. For these mistakes the figures are not held responsible. To correct the mistakes, the mind which made them must be corrected. Free the mind from mistakes and the problem will be free from mistakes.

What is true science in arithmetic, Christian Science holds to be true science in the human problem. The error in man's problem is made apparent by an imperfect human figure. For this mistake the body should not be held responsible, for the body is but the instrument of the mind. Free the human mind from its error and the human body will be free from its disease. To remedy the error of disease, then, the Christian Scientist, like the mathematician, does not treat the figure, but rather he treats the mental condition which produced the disease. He regards disease as due to the absence of Mind, divine Mind. He treats the disease through the presence of Mind. To him sickness and sin are signs of mindlessness. Life and health are the signs of mindfulness. Christ Jesus then announced the fundamental fact in the Science of Mind when he declared, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

As Christian Science has a Scientific treatment for disease, it has also a Scientific treatment for sin. In this Science of Mind, as darkness is the absence of light, so sin is the absence of Good or God. As light is the reality and darkness its absence, so Good is the reality and sin its absence. As darkness is not the child of light but vanishes before the light, so sin is not the product of Mind but is destroyed by the advent of Mind.

To heal sin, then, it cannot be Scientific to regard it as something real and genuine. If God made it, it would be eternal, and man could not destroy it. God is Good and all that He made is like Himself, hence evil is but the absence of what is real. To destroy it we know the Truth concerning that which is real, and this perception of the Truth is the sunlight from the divine Mind which destroys the supposed power and presence of evil. In harmony with which it is written, "To this end was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."


The Prayer of Faith

This Mind method for solving life's problems the Christian Scientist understands to be in complete harmony with the true and Scientific doctrine of prayer as taught in the Bible and as practised by the great Physician and by all his students. For in this Science of Mind prayer has a comprehensible and Scientific office to perform. The Christian Scientist recognizes that a constant desire for goodness and a deep-felt longing for Divine help and strength, is a constant prayer. He knows that "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Not only in the Christian religion, but in well-nigh all religions and among all peoples, prayer has a prominent place. Too often it has been so much abused that not a few philosophers have found no place for it in their philosophy. We apprehend that it has no place in much of modern philosophy. Such, however, was not true of Hebrew philosophy. Throughout their sacred Scriptures prayers are enjoined and definite assurance is given that prayer is a practical and an efficient method in the accomplishment of good.

It was so used by Jesus of Nazareth, and he announced, "All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." Those words as understood in Christian Science are plain and Scientific. In this Science of Mind prayer is seen to be the same Scientific process for solving problems as that employed in all the exact sciences. In the exact science there is but one way to solve a problem, and that way is through demonstration. In mathematics, the problem is solved when the right relations between the numbers are discovered and understood. The student does not demand that the multiplication table shall do his work for him. He knows that he must work out his own problem. He opens his eyes to the truth involved, and this clear-eyed discernment solves his problem.

The Christian Scientist regards right living as a problem presented to him for solution. And just as he regards a problem in numbers as a mental problem, so to him right living is a mental problem. The right solution to his life problem is to be gained through demonstration. His problem is rightly solved when the right relations between himself and his Principle are discovered and understood. The Christian Scientist does not pray God to do his work for him. He knows that he must work out his own life problem. His prayer consists in opening his eyes to the truth involved, and the right understanding heals sickness and sin and gives health and harmony. In complete accord with which the great Christian philosopher accurately stated the Scientific process for solving our problems in the words, "Work out your own salvation, . . . for it is God that worketh in you."


Transformation through Reformation

I am confident that your studies in philosophy and your observations among men suggest reasons favoring this Scientific method for solving life's problems. You know how the human mind reacts upon the body. It is not new to you that the physical condition is largely dependent upon the mental condition. You have seen how anger flushes the face and distorts the features; how fear brings pallor and weakens the body. It is of general comment that unhealthy thoughts induce disease and are known to result in death. Three of New York's eminent physicians, as reported in a recent issue of a Boston daily, agreed to the statement that through business troubles, through great excitement or mental disturbance, there may be developed diabetes. According to their statement, "There is never a ministerial crisis in England but two or three members of the Cabinet come down with an attack of gout." Physicians agree that death has often been occasioned through fright. And if this mental condition so affects the entire body, must it not be conceded that mind not only controls the body partially but wholly?

The believer in the Science of Mind therefore asks with good reason, If disease comes from a mental cause, why will not health come also from a mental cause? He affirms that as it is a false condition of mind which produces disease, that the right condition of mind will heal disease.

There can be no question that disease is always an effect. In itself it is not a cause. It is an unhealthy conclusion from unhealthy premises. According to the accepted rules of logic, the method in such a case would be to doctor the premises. If the premises are right the conclusion will be right. An unhealthy body is the bad conclusion resulting from an unhealthy mind. According to Christian Science it is logical as well as theological to give health to the mind. With this premise right there follows as a logical conclusion a healthy body. According to philosophy you change an effect by changing the cause which produces the effect. Certainly that system would violate every rule of philosophy which undertook to alter an effect by entirely neglecting the cause and treating only the effect.

There can be little question that disease is always an effect. Christian Science, then, is certainly philosophical when it heals sickness by healing the mental cause which produced the sickness. You clarify the stream when you clarify the fountain which is the source of the stream. Upon this point the medical experts above quoted bear strong testimony. They were discussing insanity, and the question was asked, "What is the biggest thing that can come for the treatment of the brain?" The startling answer given was, "A complete reformation of the life of every man." This is the avowed purpose of Christian Science, "A complete reformation of the life of every man," a purpose in full harmony with the injunction of the great Physician, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is perfect."

The value of a philosophy ought to be in what it accomplishes. Christian Science as a philosophy is ready to be judged by that standard. Every true Scientist furnishes the proofs of his Science in the problems he has rightly solved, by healing all manner of diseases and all forms of sin. The entire membership of the great Christian Science denomination is made up of visible proofs of problems rightly solved. Its hundreds of churches, its thousands of teachers, lecturers, readers, and healers, its tens of thousands of active workers and members are evidence to the believer that Christian Science is unquestionably the Science of Mind.


The Scientific Practice of Jesus

If we have been able rightly to present this Science of Mind, we have separated it from other systems which solicit your attention. It has been made evident that Christian Science is not faith cure where high hope and fervent trust are alone relied upon to solve the problems of life.

It is evident, also, that Christian Science is very unlike hypnotism and mental science, in which systems it is the human mind which is made the instrument of cure. In Christian Science it is the Divine Mind, God, which heals. In hypnotism it is the stronger magnetic personality dominating and controlling the weaker one. The Christian Scientist knows that the less of the personal element there is in his work the more the Divine Mind will reach and help another. By mental action he means the operations of the human will only as it is governed by the divine will, according to the Scriptural injunction, "Not my will, but thine, be done."

Those who are believers in that God who is Mind and the Creator of all, cannot rest content in the mental science that has to do only with the human mind. In our efforts to escape the despotism of matter, we may for a time depend upon our own mental power, but this finite, human mental science cannot long suffice. It must soon suggest itself to us that if we are to have a Science of Mind, why stop short of that which includes all Mind? The human is finite, its science, then, is finite. Christian Science reaches out to All Mind, the infinite God, and includes all Science. The individual is but a fraction of the whole. The system which deals only with the human can be but a fractional science. At best it is but a stepping-stone to that Science of Mind which teaches us to "know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

That the true system of scientific Mind healing includes more than faith, and more than a strong personality, is shown in all the works of the Master. Take for example the healing of the demoniac child which has already been cited. The father came to the disciples with his insane son, full of faith in their ability to heal, but his faith did not then accomplish the cure. When Christ's students asked for the explanation of their failure, he did not ascribe it to their weak personalities, but to their lack of understanding. The Bible record itself gives the power which wrought the healing, for the onlookers were amazed, not at the mighty faith of the father nor the mighty personality of Jesus, but "they were all amazed at the mighty power of God." That it was not his will-power nor his personality which did the wonderful deeds seems plain from his assertion, "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise."

The Science of Mind, then, as Jesus wrought and taught, is something more than faith cure, and something quite the reverse of human will-power. In his philosophy that which heals and works all good is the one original and originating Mind, our God. That through which this Mind works is man. That which enables man to do the work of the Divine Mind is faith or Spiritual understanding, and a life which is in harmony with Good.

As Jesus ministered to men, he saw the sick and sinful in darkness waiting for the coming of the Light of Truth. Jesus was the window through which the light streamed in. Their faith was the raised curtain which let the light pass through the window; but that which healed was the light of Divine Mind.


Personal Testimony

May I now say that all that has been set forth in exposition of Christian Science as the Science of Mind I have found true and practical in my own experience. I shall venture, in this familiar spot, surrounded by old friends and welcomed by new ones, to give to you a leaf from personal experience.

The careful training of wise instructors in these halls of learning, together with the prized association with these scholarly teachers now living, and with that patriarchal philosopher and theologian who is with us no longer, these privileges were of inestimable help to me, for which, every day, I am more and more grateful. This valued discipline strengthened an indwelling confidence in the integrity of the Christian religion. I was taught to regard the words and works of Jesus as credible and veritable facts expressed by the founder of Christianity that they might be made manifest by all men.

Associated with this confidence in historic Christianity there was begotten within me a love for the Scientific method in all departments of labor. I was led to ask, if man has discerned a science for all that is without himself, why should he not discern the Science which shall include himself. If there be the science of all that Mind creates, why, I asked, should there not be a Science of Mind itself, which is the Creator?

Moreover, I was shown here that real religion is a life of helpfulness, that true philosophy ripens into fruits. There are those here who perhaps remember that in those college days I tried to put in practice this philosophy by healing some few of pain and suffering. I found, however, that this healing lacked intelligent direction and was devoid of any scientific method. It was my will-power, my magnetism, which brought temporary relief. This I saw was not in accordance with the method of Jesus, who said, "I can of mine own self do nothing." "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works."

When Christian Science was called to my attention, a question came, born of my training here and my own personal experience. I asked, What of its fruits? I did not doubt that it healed the sick, I must know if it reformed character. To me, trained as I had been, that was not a true religion, nor was it a true Science of Mind, which did not concern itself with the entire man. I found that this Scientific Christian's chief interest was not the healing of the body but the healing of the mind. I learned that in obedience to his philosophy he sought to have not the physique of an athlete, but to have the Mind of the Lord. And four years experience has only confirmed this observation. Christian Science appeals to me more and more as the long-sought Science of Mind, because it strengthens hope and faith, intensifies high resolve and noble aim, exalts honesty and virtue, cultivates charity and selflessness, and enthrones the love of God within the heart of man.


The Discoverer and Founder

Members of the Philosophical Conference, students and friends, I thank you all for your close attention and your hearty cooperation in the presentation of this brief address upon the Science of Mind. I could not forgive myself, and you would hold me ungrateful should I fail to voice my gratitude to a teacher whose instruction I have enjoyed after leaving these halls. Though not of this college faculty, this teacher is one with them in consecrated effort and in holy purpose for the welfare of the race. From this teacher I learned the rudiments and the philosophy of Mind Science. Through these teachings all that was dear has grown dearer, all that was clear has become clearer.

Through this teacher I feel that my life has been placed upon a Christianly Scientific basis and that my problems are solvable from a Scientific standpoint. My God is divine Mind, approachable and comprehensible. My Master is the perfect expression of this Mind, a living presence whose voice of Love bids me arise from the grave of matter into his resurrection and his Life. Called to the home city and to the home church of this teacher, I have had opportunity to observe the esteem and confidence in which she is held by her neighbors. And I bear willing witness to the sincerity of purpose and the exalted life of our teacher and Leader, the Rev. Mary Baker Eddy.


[Delivered Feb. 21, 1900, at the Philosophical Conference of the Department of Philosophy at Tufts College, Medford, Massachusetts, and published in The Christian Science Sentinel, March 8, 1900.]