Lecture on Christian Science, Title Unknown (1)
Frank Bell, C.S.B., of New York, New York
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Under the auspices of Fourth
Church of Christ, Scientist, of
Christian Science does not propose that reality shall be either ignored or changed. On the contrary its entire and only effort is to bring to light the actual nature and character of all things.
Christian Science concurs in the Scriptural assurance that "whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever," that "nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it." As defined by its Discoverer and Founder, Mary Baker Eddy, on page 585 of her book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Christian Science is that "with which can be discerned the spiritual fact of whatever the material senses behold." The reality which is reflected all about us is misinterpreted by the physical senses.
What is needed is not to disregard or to alter reality but so to correct the sense of things that the fact rather than the error shall be revealed. Christian Science accomplishes this correction through prayer, through spiritualization of thought, through the cultivation of a state of mind that rejects false physical sense testimony and accepts the spiritual truth.
Jesus frequently said that his
sense of things was different from that of materially minded persons. This is
especially noticeable in connection with his healing work. Being spiritually
minded, he saw the ten lepers as clean, ready to show themselves to the priest.
He saw the paralytic by
Jesus knew that the kingdom of heaven was "at hand," that it was a state of mind, and that one could be "instructed into" it, as he said.
The Christian Scientist, a follower of the Master, strives for that purity of heart which sees God, good, where impure material sense, impure because material, believes it sees that which is unlike good. In the degree that he succeeds in spiritualizing his thought he finds that this activity is fruitful of health and other abundances.
When Jesus declared, "She is not dead!" it is recorded that "they laughed him to scorn," as doubtless they did also when he uttered other denials of the so-called evidence of evil. The beginner in Christian Science may find something in his heart ridiculing his denial of physical sense testimony. But let him persist in his effort to affirm the truth and reject the error, as a matter of systematic mental practice, and he will surely feel the invigorating effect of the readjustment of his thoughts to conformity with the divine nature.
Jesus verified the prophecy of Isaiah that he should not judge according to "the sight of his eyes" or "the hearing of his ears," according to the material sense verdict. Since the time of Jesus the truth of being in contradistinction to the human belief in evil has not been uttered with anything like the courageous clearness with which Mrs. Eddy has set it forth in her many writings. The purity of her realization of the basic rightness of reality increasingly appears to the earnest student. Christian Scientists therefore rejoice to acknowledge her spiritual leadership. They could no more consistently refrain from so doing than could the student of mathematics ignore the fact that the mind through which came the stately propositions of Euclid was of a high order of logical nobility. Grapes are not the fruit of brambles.
The common belief about a man's life is that he lives within a physical body, that his identity is located inside a material structure of flesh and bones. How life got into the body, what keeps it there, how it is to get out, and where it is to go when it gets out, are subjects of much speculation and little assurance.
All human ills are associated with the sense of life in the flesh. Therein man is supposed to live a precarious life and to die an inevitable death; therein are his aches and pains, his fears and disappointments, his sinful habits, devastating appetites, illusive pleasures. The sorrows and sufferings from which mortals pray to be delivered all have to do directly or indirectly with the so-called corporeal, fleshly selfhood, including that which is called the mind within the body. Christian Science, concerned with the overcoming of human ills, that the inherent rightness of God's creation may appear, invites men to consider the reasonableness of the proposition that since discord is found only within the realm of physical sense, the way out of trouble lies through the taking on of a better sense. It is possible to do this in a perfectly natural way.
To hold to the belief that man lives inside of a material body one must well nigh ignore the fact that actual life has not been found in the body. Each of the activities within the body can be truthfully described only as an effect of something else. If that something else were inside of the body it scarcely could have escaped detection by this time.
The situation is illumined by such statements as this from the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, page 208: "You embrace your body in your thought, and you should delineate upon it thoughts of health, not of sickness." A moment's consideration makes it plain that we do embrace our material body in our thoughts. Therefore both we and our thoughts must be in fact outside of that body. One could not well be inside of that which he embraces. We contemplate our so-called physical selves from without, not from within.
If man does not really live in the
flesh, then clearly he ought not to go on believing that he does. Inspired
thought beckons us out of materiality. In Genesis we are assured that true man
is the image and likeness of infinite Spirit. A psalm reminds us that we shall
be satisfied when we awake in God's likeness, the likeness of Spirit. Isaiah
urges, "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is
he to be accounted of?" Jesus, commanding his followers to take no thought
for the body, declares that real life, life eternal, is a state of mind, to
know God aright.
Christian Science teaches and proves that to lift one's sense of identity and reality up out of the flesh into infinite Spirit promotes health and harmony. Thus Christian Science restores that which was lost, Christian healing.
Life was no mystery to Jesus. "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing," said he. The sick are healed and sinners are reformed through learning to look outside of the flesh for that true spiritual animation which alone is capable of maintaining the universe and all that is therein.
To the Master evidently it was
clear that health is primarily a state of thought and only secondarily or
incidentally a condition of body or matter. To him the sick were those
"whom Satan hath bound," the Satan whom he described as "liar,
and the father of it," a self-constituted lie or false sense, having
"no truth" in it. Both the casting out of
devils, sick, deluded beliefs, and the spiritual quickening of those who came
to be healed were accomplished through the operation of the Mind that was in
Christ Jesus, as
The teachings of Christian Science coincide with the affirmations of the Scriptures that all things were made by God, that without Him was not anything made, that God saw, comprehended, creation in its entirety, and it was very good.
The Bible also avers that everything that was made not only was in the beginning perfect and complete, but is now and everlastingly will be perfect and complete. In the words of Ecclesiastes, "Whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it."
These declarations are true, not only because they appear in the Bible; they are true because they could not possibly be untrue. Reason and logic affirm the sublimely simple proposition that the intelligence and ability to create a universe imply the intelligence and ability to create it aright.
But while revelation and reason agree as to the unanswerable fact, human sense argues through a thousand daily experiences that discord, fear, sin, and disease, myriad forms and phases of evil, do exist, are a part of actuality; that creation, if it ever was good and right, was not sufficiently good and right to remain forever good and right.
There is conflict, in other words, between pure reason and human experience. Neither the theories of material science, the blind hopes of superficial religion, nor the forgetfulness of sensualism, will solve this problem.
Fortunately, in all ages there have been prophets and seers who were not wholly deceived by the apparently overwhelming material sense testimony on the wrong side. In the nineteenth century a woman saw the incongruity between the truth of being and experiences of human life. She saw that perfect God and imperfect man could not both be true. Imperfection could not be real unless God, the creator of all, is its author. Imperfect creation could be the product only of imperfect creator. To her the question was clear-cut and unescapable. Her answer was such as would be inevitable from one who loved God whole-heartedly and pure-mindedly as did Mary Baker Eddy. In her textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 113, she writes: "According to the Scripture, I find that God is true, 'but every [mortal] man a liar.' " The sense of things that denies the perfection of God and His creation is false.
When Mrs. Eddy learned that it is the physical senses which presume to take issue with God's perfection, she saw that it is the impressions of these senses which constitute what the Bible terms the "carnal mind," that "is enmity against God." If God's man is all right, the mind or sense which says that he is partly wrong is a lying mind, to distinguish it from immortal Mind, which the latter is properly spelled with a capital M, for it is a complete synonym for God. When Paul declared that salvation should be found in taking on the Mind that was in Christ Jesus, he knew that Jesus had repudiated the so-called mind or sense of things that accepted any evidence of reality in aught unlike the nature of God.
Mortal mind must be put off. Why? Because it is composed of that material sense which is unable to resist the temptation to believe that mindless, inert, non-intelligent matter has the capacity within itself to think, to act, to live; to believe that man, therefore, is not the image and likeness of God, Spirit, but is a physical mechanism. Mortal mind consists of the thoughts that it thinks. Therefore, as the Bible declares, "we wrestle not against flesh and blood." We are engaged in a warfare against wrong thinking. The true sense is spiritual and its fruits are the opposite of sin and death.
"Become conscious for a single moment that Life and intelligence are purely spiritual, - neither in nor of matter, - and the body will then utter no complaints," writes Mrs. Eddy on page 14 of Science and Health. How is one to acquire that consciousness? By diligent right thinking. You are master of your thought, if you so choose. Your affairs, of body, mind, surroundings, are the coincident expression of your thought.
If you begin, as a systematic daily mental practice, to contemplate the essential nature of God, as best you can conceive of Him, and definitely and in an orderly fashion to affirm in your thought the reality of God's nature, if you will in like manner systematically and persistently deny the essential reality of all that is unlike the nature of infinite Spirit; if you will do this not as a matter of vain repetition, but with an earnest striving to bring into this activity some degree of conscious realization of the actual presence and power of God, operating in and through you to bring into expression the essentials of His nature, you will find that, asking bread, you will not be given a stone.
You will find, if your experience does not differ from that of countless thousands of your fellow-men, that the setting into operation of these processes of Christianly scientific thinking will begin to be made manifest in most practical ways in your experience, in healing of sickness, overcoming of sin, mastery of lack, suppression of discord, elimination of fear. There is rich reward in taking your stand mentally on the side of the God and His good creation.
There is in reality nothing the matter with God or His creation. The trouble is with our sense of things. We need to take on the Mind that was in Christ Jesus, which enabled him to say with absolute conviction, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." We need not merely to believe this theoretically, but to affirm it practically, to hurl it as a spiritual weapon against the arguments of imperfection, as did the Master.
The medicine of the Great Physician was denial of error and affirmation of truth. Those whose hearts opened to his teaching were mentally purified and stimulated, and the outward effects were manifest. By this purely spiritual process the sick were healed, the lame walked, the dumb spake, the blind saw, the dead were raised. And the method was always the same - the definite rule of imperfection denied, perfection affirmed. "He sent his word, and healed them." Here was such clear realization of the fact of perfection that mere belief in the supposition of imperfection faded out of consciousness.
The rediscovery of the Christ method of healing, the setting forth of the simple rule and method by which this healing may be accomplished, and the establishment of a church to protect her discovery for the benefit of mankind, these affirm, and will increasingly affirm, the greatness of Mary Baker Eddy. Through her pure love for God and man millions have been blessed with health, strength, abundance, joy, and peace, such as they had believed impossible.
This Science quickly verifies itself in the experience of the earnest student. It is like mathematics in that respect. A few simple applications of the very first rules will prove the Principle and inspire the confidence necessary to further progress. The rule of addition does not solve the higher mathematical problem, but does assure it. In the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mrs. Eddy, are set forth the simple rules by which the all-inclusive fact of being may be apprehended.
What is sin? In the first place it is mental. Back of a sinful act is always sinful thought. Mere restraint of a sinful deed leaves sin untouched. For example, Jesus has said that thinking adultery is committing adultery.
In the second place, sin is not
only a matter of thinking, but of erroneous thinking. If it is true, as according
doth not yet appear, then the sense of things that would hide that appearance is a sinful sense.
Sin includes every thought or concept that helps to make up the sum total of a physical sense of existence in which imperfection reigns. The truth about real man is that he now lives, moves, and has his being in God, as the Bible declares. Therefore, man now lives, moves, and has his being in Spirit, not in matter. If one says, "My whole sense of things denies that," then the answer is that the more completely a sense of things denies the reality of being, the more completely sinful is such sense of things.
The gospel record is that the sinless Nazarene smote "with the rod of his mouth" the suggestions of the sight of the eyes and the hearing of the ears, such as today would tempt you and me to believe that "all that is in the world," is "of the Father," in other words, that God's creation is material, imperfect. Christian Science makes it clear that so-called material things are but objectified thought or sense; that this material sense of things is false, and that it is this mistaken sense, not God's creation, which needs to be corrected in order to accomplish the ends of salvation.
"All that is in the
world" is in truth "not of the Father," as
The disciple of materialism may say, I cannot deny that which my eyes plainly see and my ears clearly hear. The answer is, Then you must accept responsibility for maintaining an impudent accusation against God. You may choose to try to ignore this responsibility, but you cannot avoid paying the price. The practice of Christian Science, now verified by the accumulated proof of more than half a century of active operation, demonstrates that the ills of the flesh are due to the beliefs of the flesh, to a false sense of life in matter and apart from Spirit. In the proportion that the Christian of today learns to master the sinful sense of reality in aught that is not of the nature of God, is Christian healing achieved.
Christian healing is becoming less mysterious to those who see, as men are increasingly seeing, that so-called material objects are objects in sense or thought, not outside of thought or sense, and that this is true of the individual object called a physical person and of the aggregated object called a person's affairs. Modern discovery and invention reveal a distinct trend away from many long entrenched beliefs in the so-called substantial qualities of materiality. Liberated thought is being prepared to accept Mrs. Eddy's teaching, that "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all" (Science and Health, p. 468).
In the nineteenth century lived a woman whose love for God was so pure and true that she gladly accepted the divine commission to declare to this age the omnipresence of God's goodness and the consequent unreality of whatever is unlike the goodness of God. Mary Baker Eddy could not have discovered the Science of Christianity had she not been willing truly to follow him of whom it was prophetically said, "He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: . . . and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth." A mere theory of Christianity might affirm the goodness of God and seek to ignore appearances to the contrary. The actual Science of Christianity must not only assert the goodness of God, but must "smite the earth" in proof of God's goodness, teaching its adherents how to reverse the suggestions of physical sense, which otherwise would deny that the cause of reality is either wise or good.
There need be no perplexity in regard to Mrs. Eddy's use of the term "animal magnetism" on the part of those who accept understandingly her statement, on page 103 of Science and Health, that "As named in Christian Science, animal magnetism or hypnotism is the specific term for error, or mortal mind."
Mrs. Eddy has not undertaken to invent a new kind of evil, nor is the student of Christian Science invited to substitute a mental devil for a physical one. He is invited to use the term animal magnetism as "the specific term for error," because to do so will help him to adjust his thought intelligently to the problems of evil as they appear in his human experience.
Christianity teaches, according to
Good men and women in all times
have yearned for the realization of spiritual existence, but have found it
difficult to resist the attraction of a sense of life not in God, Spirit, but
in animal flesh, which, according to the Scripture, "lusteth
against the Spirit." Like
The specific term for anything is the term which reveals its exact or particular nature. Christian Scientists find that the use of the term "animal magnetism" as "the specific term for error" helps them to understand that evil is a false and fraudulent attraction of the sense of life from Spirit to the flesh, and that outside of the mesmeric illusion of this false and fraudulent sense there is and can be no field of operation for evil mental influences or tendencies. Thus the student learns that evil is not a mysterious something to be either feared or ignored, but a common impulse of the mortal mind, or fleshly sense, to be overcome. Through meeting and mastering this fraudulent impulse, on the basis of the essential rightness of God and His creation, the scientific Christian makes himself a channel for divine Love, which is the specific term for the only spiritually real impulse, influence, attraction, or law. Thus he becomes a Christian healer.
The activity of Christian Science is not of the nature of mental suggestion or hypnotism. Jesus expounded the rule, "Not my will, but thine, be done." The effort of mental suggestion is to impose one human will upon another. Much that is involved in the so-called laws of evil and disease in human experience can be traced to some such wrong mental activity or mental malpractice. Jesus denounced human will and proclaimed the will of God to be the only real will-power. That rule brought healing to the sick nineteen centuries ago, and it brings healing to the sick today.
The rule, "Not my will, but thine be done," is of course, the rule of perfection. God's will is perfect. Thought that is open to the fundamental rightness of being catches something of the spiritual import of Jesus' teaching and this improved state of mind manifests itself, after its kind, in outward conditions and affairs. Jesus must have meant this when he said regarding one of his healings, "Thy faith hath made thee whole." His affirmation of God's will that man is perfect had encountered a measure of acceptance, and that improved state of mind which he named faith, expressed itself in a corresponding state of body, as states of mind never fail to do. The scientific relationship between state of mind and state of health is affirmed and reaffirmed in the Scriptures.
The study and application of Christian Science will stimulate one's natural capacity to reject the mental suggestions of evil and so to counteract their effects. Christian healing will thus be seen to be the result of the adjustment of thought to the nature of God and His good creation. St. James must have been aware of this when he admonished those who were sick to seek healing through the prayer of the righteous. Mrs. Eddy was spiritually minded enough to pray in that manner and to teach others to do likewise. She devoted herself to that loving mission from the time that she discovered Christian Science.
Disposing of a Negation
Having accepted the Scriptural assurance that the author of all reality is good, and the creator of that only which is good, the Christian Scientist does not shun the logical conclusion that evil is not an entity. The teaching of Christian Science, that evil is primarily a negation, may be illustrated by the negativeness of the evil called ignorance.
The schools are devoted to the overcoming of ignorance, yet they do not regard it as something. No time is wasted in the schools in trying to instruct any one as to the origin or elements of ignorance. If a pupil were to demand to know who made ignorance, where it came from and what it consists of, he would have to be told that nobody made ignorance, it does not come from anywhere, nor does it consist of anything. The educator knows that ignorance is not the presence of something but the absence of something, in other words a pure negation. Knowledge of the essential negativeness of ignorance does not tempt the educator to ignore the effects of the negation.
One who has gone to school could not consistently say that it is impossible to comprehend the idea of a purely negative evil, a mere nothing which yet needs to be positively and vigorously handled and overcome. Christian Scientists accept the definition of evil or devil as given by the Master, namely, that it is "a liar, and the father of it," and has "no truth" in it; in other words, a self-constituted lie, utterly devoid of truth.
Jesus' practice was consistent with his preaching as regards the nature of evil. The essential nothingness of evil need not be accepted as a mere theory; it can be proved in many ways by those who are willing to adjust their daily thinking to this rule as explained in the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy.