J. Lingen Wood, C.S., of Vancouver, British Columbia
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
During this hour it is not my purpose to force the teachings of Christian Science upon anyone. This would infringe upon the rights of the individual, rights for which the Christian Science Church itself firmly stands. We believe that everyone has the right to work out his salvation in the way which to him seems best, and we respect this right. However, we are convinced that the teachings of our religion are a reinstatement of those of the early Christian church; this conviction has been arrived at through the practical application of these teachings in our daily lives. We have witnessed the healing of physical disease, regeneration, and the solving of all kinds of human problems, through prayer alone. This is convincing evidence of a spiritual understanding of God and of the teachings of Christ Jesus. We feel that we have a duty to publish the good news that the healing Christ is with us now even as it was nearly two thousand years ago during Christ Jesus' ministry on earth.
The first of six tenets of Christian Science, which are found in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, states (p. 497), "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life." While the Bible is the best seller among books, it is doubtful whether the teachings contained in it are as generally and as adequately recognized as they should be, as applicable to, and indeed entirely practical in, daily human affairs.
Mrs. Eddy was unquestionably among the most consecrated and deepest students of the Bible throughout all time. Reared in a home atmosphere of devout and earnest religious thought, it became natural for her to think spontaneously in terms of the power and presence of God. During her childhood, she had experiences in which the prayers of her mother, and also of herself, resulted in the healing of physical ills. She noted, however, that sometimes their prayers did not have this result. Being naturally a deep and independent thinker, Mrs. Eddy pondered on such inconsistencies, and she discerned that there existed a relationship between the effectiveness of prayer and an understanding of the spiritual sense of the Scriptures. Also she came to the conclusion that all physical effects have a mental cause and, consequently, that discordant physical conditions could be brought into harmony by Mind.
In 1866, when hope of her recovery from an injury caused by an accident had been abandoned, Mrs. Eddy was led to ponder prayerfully Christ Jesus' words to the palsied man (Matt. 9:2), "Thy sins be forgiven thee." She glimpsed the truth that there is a spiritual power which Christ Jesus understood. This power came into instant operation as he uttered the words, reversed all so-called material laws of disease, incapacity, sin, and sickness, established the fact of man's perfect health and well being, and it restored the body to its natural harmonious functions. She realized that Mind, not matter, is the first and only cause, that man, being the reflection of this infinite Mind, is immortal. That the understanding of this living truth is practical in this day and age was proved by her immediate and complete recovery.
She found that not only was this truth successful in healing physical ills, but also practical in daily affairs. In every detail of planning and taking steps to develop the organization of her Church and its world-wide activities, she humbly, patiently waited on God, exercised the wisdom and intelligence with which He endowed her, and obeyed His guidance. The launching forth of this vast Christian religious denomination, including the detailed preparation of By-Laws to govern its administration, was an accomplishment utterly beyond the power of a human unaided by the divine Mind.
On one occasion when she was well over eighty years of age she was asked how she made investments. Her reply was that she invested only in the very soundest of securities, Government and Municipal Bonds, and before making a final selection, she studied statistics of population and money values of the areas being considered, and when these appeared large enough to warrant it, she made the investment. Her business acumen and also her capacity to discern the trend of human events were developed through her understanding of the Science which he discovered. In Science and Health (p. 128), she tells us: "A knowledge of the Science of being develops the latent abilities and possibilities of man;" and, "It raises the thinker into his native air of insight and perspicacity."
The fundamental law of life was revealed to Moses on Mount Horeb. It is the First Commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20:3). Christian Science reveals that this law of God is the one comprehensive law governing man. This law when understandingly put into practice in the daily lives of mortals, results in complete mastery of adversities and untoward circumstances. In spite of this fact, mankind throughout the ages have been beset with intense fear that a supposedly, but to mortal sense very real, relentless evil power outside of themselves, over which they have no control whatsoever and which they ignorantly attribute to God, is governing their destiny.
The law of God is clear and simple in statement, infinite in application. It demands a clear recognition of and strict obedience to one power only, one Life, Truth, and Love. It brooks no interference with its operation. It is the mandate of the one and only Cause, divine Principle, Love, the infinite All. It is omnipotent, ever present, and unceasing in its activity. It governs every detail of God's own manifestation of Himself, His own reflection or image and likeness — man. Being omnipotent, it wipes out of human consciousness all such evils as fear, limitation, greed. Being the law of Love, it operates in human consciousness to obliterate hatred, resentment, all that is unlovely, replacing them with its own ever-present qualities of love, well-being, completeness, health, harmony.
As an illustration of the healing effect of bringing the law of love into human consciousness, I relate the experience of a woman who, in her teens, had spent a short period as a student in a Christian Science Sunday School. After leaving the Sunday School, her active interest in Christian Science had been discontinued. Some years later a diseased condition developed in an internal organ. Her doctor told her that the condition should be carefully watched and, in the event that the symptoms continued, surgery would be necessary. Although he had not mentioned the name of the condition, from his remarks she inferred that he thought it was cancer. She became very fearful. Having no faith in material methods, she went to see a Christian Science practitioner, who talked with her and gave her some references to study. She was obedient, and also began the daily study of the Bible and of the textbook, Science and Health, which is an established practice for all Christian Scientists.
To those present who may not be familiar with our system of healing, it may be helpful to point out that this daily study illumines human consciousness with Truth, leading it to a clearer spiritual understanding of God. This results in the uncovering of erroneous and evil thoughts, much the same as turning on the light in a darkened room reveals objects over which one might otherwise trip. In this case, hatred of her father-in-law was uncovered. This erroneous mental state, which provides the soil for disease, was cast out of consciousness and replaced with love. After three weeks she was free from all suffering.
However, there was still another evil thought, or devil, lurking undiscovered in her consciousness. Several years later at a time when much publicity was being given to cancer, she began again to experience distressing symptoms, but in a different part of her body. The suggestion of cancer became aggressive. Recalling her previous success, she searched her thought for hatred, anger, resentment, but honestly felt that she was guilty of none of these. Then her prayers revealed what the trouble was. It was fear — fear of cancer. She declared firmly that she had no need to be afraid of fear. She claimed and exercised the power to cast it out of thought and saw it for what it is — a lie.
She was greatly helped and deeply inspired with this selection from Mrs. Eddy's book "Retrospection and Introspection (p. 61): "Science saith to fear, 'You are the cause of all sickness; but you are a self-constituted falsity, — you are darkness, nothingness. You are without "hope, and without God in the world." You do not exist, and have no right to exist, for "perfect Love casteth out fear."'" She saw that fear and evil are just simply mortal illusions, nothingness. Then all fear of the disease left her, the symptoms disappeared never to return. (See Christian Science Sentinel, Vol. 59, No. 29, pp. 1269, 1270.)
Do you not see the paramount importance of keeping constant, watchful guard over your thinking, of weighing carefully what you accept, or to what you give mental consent as having reality, of things going on around us, of what the world is talking and thinking? Although Paul was not one of Jesus' disciples, he certainly gained a clear understanding and vision of the Christ and proved its practicality in his daily life. He became an outstanding pillar of the early Christian church, an earnest and enthusiastic promoter of Jesus' teachings. His writings consequently are authoritative. After pointing out in his epistle to the Philippians the importance of keeping thought on the things that are true, honest, just, pure, he added, "Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you" (Phil. 4). That is the theme, the rule for daily living, stated over and over again throughout the history of the Israelites as related in the Bible — obey the laws of God and it shall be well with you. In line with this, Mrs. Eddy exhorts us in Science and Health (p. 261:4), "Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts."
It has been said that business and religion do not mix. This statement is a fallacy. It can only be attributed to a misconception of both true business and religion. The most religious man the world has ever known, the Founder of Christianity, Christ Jesus, referred to his mission on earth as business. If anyone should know, surely it is he. You may recall that when twelve years of age, he was missing from the caravan with which Joseph and his mother Mary were traveling on their return from Jerusalem to Galilee. They went back to Jerusalem and found him in discussion with the learned scribes in the temple. When they rebuked him for causing them anxiety by not having accompanied them, he said (Luke 2:49), "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?"
Christ Jesus emphasized that the requirement to attain eternal harmony and bliss is obedience to what he called the two greatest commandments of all. These were, first, to give God first place in all our thoughts and activities, and the second one was the application of the first to human experience, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." The Golden Rule is definitely the most important one to practice in all our daily affairs. It requires that love and compassion be exercised toward neighbors who need help, rather than condemnation and criticism when they appear to manifest greed, anger, jealousy, and such undesirable qualities. Sometimes it may appear that it is not easy to love a fellow man who has been unkind and unjust to us, but the law of God demands that we love him. This does not mean to love errors being manifested by the mortal, but to discern and love the true man of which the mortal is the erroneous concept.
We find in the lives of some of the Old Testament leaders clear evidences of the effects of the application of God's laws in human affairs. Perhaps Joseph, one of the younger sons of Jacob, was the most interesting and clear example of the success, the protection and preservation, which result from living in accord with God's laws.
The laws of God are as efficacious, practical, and available today as they were in Joseph's time. Earnest and willing obedience to them surely opens the way for anyone to fill that position in human experience where that one can best bless and benefit mankind, as in Joseph's case.
God is just as essential to us in our daily affairs as He is to our moral and spiritual life. Knowledge and understanding of God's laws are just as essential to the carrying on of daily affairs as tools are to a mechanic. The acknowledgment to oneself that God, good, is the one and only Mind, that He is our true consciousness, the giving of God His rightful, first place in our thinking constitutes our acceptance of Him as being everything to us, which in reality He is, everything — our business, health, prosperity, happiness — everything worthwhile in life. God is the only source and condition of our existence, our inspiration, destiny, our all. We are absolutely at one with and inseparable from Him, not in the sense of two beings joined together, but as the one Mind and His idea included within His infinite selfhood. A good illustration of this unity, is the fact that the sun and its rays are not two, but one, light.
It is often assumed that salvation can only be obtained at some vague time in the future, in what is called the hereafter. This assumption is not borne out in the following statement by Paul in II Corinthians (6:2): "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." Salvation is definitely possible in the present; it is not dependent upon going through the human experience called death. Christian Science declares that all material existence, including death, is a mortal dream, a mesmeric state of thought. The need of mankind is to be saved from the belief, mesmeric suggestion, of material pain and material pleasure, sin, sickness, and death — from the illusion or dream of life in matter. The process of gaining this goal is stated in Science and Health (p. 39): "To break this earthly spell, mortals must get the true idea and divine Principle of all that really exists and governs the universe harmoniously."
Principle means the original, the first and only, cause; it is the basis of all creation; that is why Mrs Eddy included it as one of the seven synonyms for God revealed to her — Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love. In Christian Science we learn that God, divine Principle, is the source of all supply; therefore man, the image and likeness of God, the reflection of God, manifests this unlimited supply. Perhaps I should explain what Christian Science means by reflection. When you look in a mirror, you see your own reflection. This reflection depends entirely upon the one in front of the mirror; it can do nothing of itself; it would not exist if that one were not there. Similarly man as the reflection, the image and likeness of God, manifests the nature of God. He is what God is expressing of Himself within His own infinite selfhood. Man lives because God is Life. As St. Paul states in Acts 17:28, "For in him we live, and move, and have our being." So you see, man, the reflection of God, wants for nothing; he has all he needs, no more no less; he is complete and absolutely inseparable from God, divine Principle. There can be no shadow of lack in the infinite fullness and completeness of divine Principle, any more than there can be a speck of darkness in the full shine of the sun.
The Saviour of mankind, Christ Jesus, showed the way of salvation and how to overcome all obstacles, including death, thus proving that Life is eternal. Christian Science teaches that Christ was not a surname or a synonym for Jesus, but was Jesus' office or title. It teaches that the Christ was and is the infinite, divine nature of which Jesus was the highest human expression; that the Christ is the complete, infinite expression or reflection of the being of divine Love. Jesus was the human, the fleshly, man, who best exemplified this ideal of God, ever at one and absolutely inseparable from Him. We find this clarifying statement in Science and Health (p. 332): "Jesus was born of Mary. Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness." Throughout his three years' ministry on earth, Jesus was imparting this "divine message" and was presenting proofs to mankind, by word and deed, of the healing, redeeming power of this message. He admonished his followers to take, and to continue along, the way he showed.
The constant, persistent keeping in thought and living in daily life the things of God, the things that are true, just, honest, is the activity of the Christ.
While this divine influence, the Christ, is unfolding to human consciousness, awakening it from its dream of materiality, one should not be unduly surprised at evidences of spiritual progress, at what appear to be unusual occurrences, such as remarkable preservation in times of peril, enlarged capacity to correctly assess events, an increased mental alertness, a clearer sense of good health, or finding one's needs met before they are voiced. Did not Jesus promise (Matt. 6:8), "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him"?
Christian Science reveals that spiritual perfection actually exists, always has existed, and always will exist throughout all time. Christ Jesus knew this to be true. He counseled his followers (Matt. 5:48), "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." He also said, when asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God should come (Luke 17:21), "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." From this it is clear that Jesus knew that heaven, the kingdom of God, is not a locality, but is a state of perfect being, a harmonious state of mind, which can be experienced here and now. It is in the place where to mortal sense the opposite seems to be. In other words, the mortal or material concept is nothing more nor less than a distorted or reversed view of what actually is. As we first wipe out of thought all that is unlike God — the unreal, which actually only hides from us the reality, just as a lie believed only hides but does not destroy the truth — then earnestly, persistently fill thought with the things that are good and true, we are becoming conscious of the kingdom of heaven, harmony. This spiritualization of thought develops in human consciousness mental alertness, vision, confidence, which are externalized in improvement, adjustment in human affairs.
This is illustrated in the following experience. One of the partners in a small retail business arranged with the sales manager of a wholesale house to supply certain articles to be held on consignment, to be paid for as and when sold. Due to circumstances, it became necessary for the business to close down. The other partner telephoned the sales manager, told him what they proposed doing, and asked what he wished to do about the goods on consignment. The sales manager repudiated having made any such agreement. This resulted in a rather violent reaction on the part of the senior partner, who promptly said that he would be right down to discuss the matter. On his way, anger and resentment cooled down somewhat, so he decided to stop off at a Christian Science Reading Room. He found a much-loved article entitled "God's Law of Adjustment" in one of the bound volumes of The Christian Science Journal in the library. Near the end of the article his attention was arrested by this sentence: "We should be willing to relinquish our former views and change our thought on any subject as often as wisdom furnishes us enlightenment."
Being a student of Christian Science, he realized that here was something he had to do. He must completely reverse his attitude; he must let divine Principle govern every thought, word, and action. He had learned that this would give him dominion over his thinking, enable him to cast out the carnal mind suggestions of anger, hatred, resentment, and to replace them with calmness, love, and co-operation. He saw that spiritual discernment of his brother man as spiritual, not material, as consciousness, not a physical sentient form, was what Christian Science demanded of him and, further, that man, consciousness, being the reflection of the one infinite, perfect Mind, can only know or be aware of what divine Mind knows, that is, good.
It was remarkable how rapidly his thought calmed, how quickly thoughts of anger, resentment, disappeared. He was able to see and accept that God, divine Love, was actually governing not only his own thinking but that of the sales manager, also. He became humbly obedient to God's law, was ready to relinquish human outlining, and to leave the solution of the problem entirely to God's will. He had gained a glimpse of the fact that although to mortal sense there appeared to be injustice, anger, resentment, actually only the kingdom of God was present in consciousness, the ever-existing truth of peace, harmony, and love. Confident, and strengthened by this conscious unity with God, he continued his journey to the interview with the sales manager, which turned out to be most harmonious and quickly resulted in a settlement satisfactory to both. The sales manager reduced the price of the goods to a very low figure and, when a few days later they were sold at a somewhat higher price, refused to accept the difference.
A few moments ago I made reference to a Reading Room where a businessman found spiritual guidance in solving a problem. Every Church of Christ, Scientist, maintains a Reading Room as a service to the general public. These usually consist of a salesroom and a room for quiet meditation and study. There are librarians in attendance, who help the inquirer to find books or articles he may need, also to answer questions on Christian Science. Only the Bible, the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," and other writings of Mary Baker Eddy, the periodicals of the Church, and other approved books are on sale. In the study room, the current issues of our periodicals and The Christian Science Monitor are available for reading; also there is a library containing bound volumes of previous issues of our periodicals, which may be used as reference books for study, but may not be removed from the room. Books for loaning are available and may be obtained from the librarian upon request. In most cities there is at least one Reading Room on the street level in the main business section. Their locations may be found in the City Directory. These Reading Rooms are entirely free, and all are cordially invited to make use of them, by the churches maintaining them. The librarians are courteous, friendly, well informed, and ready to answer questions.
Over 800 radio and some 165 television stations throughout the world broadcast Christian Science programs in the series "How Christian Science Heals." These programs consist of a moderator, who explains appropriate points of Christian Science teachings, and other participants who relate their personal experiences of healing physical ailments, effects of accident, solutions of other human problems, and adjustments in daily affairs, brought about solely through the application of the teachings of our Church. Those who testify are not professional actors. They are grateful recipients of God's beneficence, who wish to share their experiences so that others may be blessed. In your local T.V. and radio schedules may be found the stations and times these programs are broadcast. To those who may not already have done so, I recommend that you tune in to these stations; I am sure that you will not only find our programs interesting, but also inspiring and helpful.
It is sometimes thought that Paul's exhortation to "pray without ceasing'* (1 Thess. 5:17) is not possible of attainment, but one finds that it is not quite so impossible when one learns how to pray in Christian Science. You see, prayer in Christian Science does not demand that one be in any particular location or assume any particular position of the body. Prayer is mental, therefore one can pray anywhere, at any time. It is an earnest endeavor to keep thought dwelling in God, divine Mind, a sincere and consecrated effort to manifest unselfed love in all our daily affairs. Christ Jesus knew more about prayer than anyone else, and we can follow no better advice than that given by him. On one occasion his disciples asked him to teach them how to pray. He replied (Luke 11:2), "When ye pray, say . . ."; then he gave them that prayer known to all Christian denominations as the "Lord's Prayer." In Science and Health, we find the spiritual interpretation of this prayer. Here let me say that this is neither a substitute for nor is it a rewriting of that prayer. Because of Mrs Eddy's highly developed spiritual sense, attained through her study of the Bible, and many years of daily practical application of the spiritual truth, which this revealed to her, she discerned the spiritual significance of this prayer of prayers.
What could better form, and maintain, a conscious sense of calmness and confidence, fearlessness in times of danger, than an acknowledgment, a recognition, an actual feeling that the cause of all being, the one Supreme Being called God, divine Love, omnipresent and omnipotent, is actually our Father? The first few words of the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father which art in heaven," are spiritually interpreted (Science and Health, p. 16), "Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious." God, Spirit, being the one infinite Person, includes within His infinite selfhood all spiritual qualities, including those of fatherhood and motherhood. A full and clear consciousness of this fact of the fatherhood and motherhood of God, and that man, His son, is ever at one with Him, would instantly wipe out of human consciousness all discords, fears, and doubts, replacing them with harmony, confidence, and security.
A glimpse, a mental sense, of this living spiritual fact was experienced by a student of Christian Science. He had made it a practice to ponder the Lord's Prayer with its spiritual interpretation as he walked along the street, traveled by plane, train, car, or bus. In Christian Science one learns that obedience to its rules, many of which have been referred to earlier in this lecture, and imbuing consciousness with the Christ-spirit, develop the ability to demonstrate Christian Science — to heal disease; and also one's store of spiritual understanding is increased and is instantly available when the need arises. Thus the practice being followed by this student added to his spiritual understanding of man's at-one-ment with God as his Father. His thought was indeed becoming imbued with the Christ-spirit. He was in a measure praying without ceasing, in his endeavor to constantly think the presence of God.
One day he was traveling by flying boat and had been following his usual practice. As the plane came in to land in the harbor, it touched the water, then rose into the air again, and crashed into the sea with terrific impact. Water rushed into the passenger compartment and the other passengers milled around the emergency exit. The water was rising rapidly, but the Christian Scientist, calmly awaiting his turn to get out, had no sense of fear or panic, but rather a consciousness of confidence and security. He was, in fact, praying. Moments later the rushing water swept him off his feet, and he went under. In the discomfort and distress of salt water filling his lungs, the last thing he recalls was mentally calling out, "O my God, my Father.'' Later he regained consciousness floating on his back close to the ceiling of the plane. Hearing footsteps above, he called out and kicked the roof metal. Very soon a hole was cut in the plane and he was pulled out. It turned out that the rescue was effected by a crew preparing to tow the wrecked plane to shore. He could offer no explanation as to how he had managed to get from the passenger compartment to an air pocket in the tail section of the plane, where he was when rescued.
My friends, it was not just chance that he regained consciousness at the moment, perhaps the only moment, when he could make his whereabouts known. It was not just chance that he was carried, in an inexplicable manner, to the only place in the wrecked plane where there was an airpocket. (See Sentinel, October 30, 1954.) The one who felt the awe-inspiring presence of divine Love on this occasion knows that his preservation and rescue were the Father's answer to his unceasing prayer, the result of his earnest and persistent endeavor to be ever conscious of the presence of God. Occurrences such as this are clear proofs that the protecting, preserving power of God, divine Love, is ever present and instantly available.
Let us make a practice of holding constant communion with God, divine Love, in the privacy of our own consciousness, remembering this wonderful promise of comfort and protection voiced by the Psalmist (91:1), "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."
May we feel and carry away with us the holy inspiration of these two verses from a poem by Mary Baker Eddy, "Mother's Evening Prayer," as one of our much-loved hymns:
"O gentle presence, peace and joy and power;
O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour,
Thou Love that guards the nestling's faltering flight!
Keep Thou my child on upward wing tonight.
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"Beneath the shadow of His mighty wing;
In that sweet secret of the narrow way,
Seeking and finding, with the angels sing:
'Lo, I am with you alway,' — watch and pray."
[Delivered Nov. 15, 1959, at First Church of Christ, Scientist, 523 Broadway, Dobbs Ferry, New York, and published in The Dobbs Ferry Register, Nov. 23, 1959.]