Christian Science: Spiritual Regeneration
John J. Flinn, C.S., of Evanston, Ill.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
In that illustrious and immortal document, the American Declaration of Independence, one of the truths which the framers and signers held to be self-evident was that all men are entitled to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Countless multitudes in practically all nations of the earth have since subscribed to this assertion of elemental human privilege. In recent years, outside as well as inside of the United States, more than ever before, the inalienable right of mankind to life, liberty and the unhampered pursuit of happiness has been affirmed.
Eighteen centuries before the Declaration of Independence became the Magna Carta of the American colonies, however, man's right to life in all its fullness was proclaimed by Christ Jesus in the presence of the persecuting Pharisees, in that beautiful figure of speech wherein he describes himself as a Shepherd who is willing to lay down his life, if necessary, for his sheep. "I am come," he said, "that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." Again, he told the Jews, who were striving to harass and embarrass him, how they might secure real freedom. In almost his first utterance in the presence of the rabbis, he read from Isaiah the marvelous passage predicting the coming of the Messiah: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." In the First Psalm is laid down the basis upon which man may obtain happiness. He "walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the Lord; in his law doth he meditate day and night." And Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, ever alert to perceive, and ever jealous to conserve, every privilege of the children of God, declares in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "Discerning the rights of man, we cannot fail to foresee the doom of all oppression. Slavery is not the legitimate state of man. God made man free. Paul said, 'I was free born.' All men should be free. Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. Love and Truth make free, but evil and error lead into captivity."
Fruitless Pursuit of Happiness
For ages men have been engaged in an effort to get more out of life, to obtain a larger measure of liberty, and to find in the possession of both that ease, comfort, contentment and peace which are supposed to make up the sum of human happiness. But the prizes sought have been elusive; they have lost their value even with seeming attainment, for the struggle to capture them has, in the main, been carried along on the theory that happiness is something material and, therefore, to be pursued by indulging the material senses and turning loose upon the chase the sensual desires.
To judge by appearances, the world as a whole today is unhappy; never more so in all its history. If one were disposed to indulge in it, here would be an exceptionally tempting opportunity to satirize material prosperity. Prosperity and happiness, happiness and prosperity, as we all know, are almost invariably coupled in human thought and conversation. Humanity in general thinks of happiness as something largely if not wholly dependent upon, or certainly as a companion of, prosperity. In the opinion of the world, to be prosperous means to be happy.
In all the ages, so far as known, there was never before such widespread prosperity on this planet as that which prevailed during the twenty years preceding the first of August, 1914, and later developments seem to show that never in all the ages was discontent so prevalent in the breasts and thoughts of men as during this period. Some of the nations were so rich that they could afford to apply almost unbelievable surpluses of revenue to a means of giving vent to their unrest. Freedom from indebtedness, phenomenal expansion of trade, luxury unrivaled in ancient or in modern times — individual fortunes swollen almost beyond calculation, individual extravagance carried on with a confidence and a boldness that could neither be reasoned with nor abashed — these were all present, and yet the nations and their populations were unhappy.
Time was, and that not so very long ago, when, comparatively speaking, a man's wants were little here below, and among the great majority of the people only moderate effort was required to supply them. But prosperity, legitimate and artificial, has multiplied men's seeming wants in our days many times over, and has made them so complex, that they have long since passed and distanced actual needs. To meet what have now come to be known as wants demands a constant strain; attainment only whets the appetite for more; emulation takes the joy out of accomplishment; possession disappoints rather than satisfies, and getting gnaws at the heels of having.
Materialism Has Its Chance
Never has materialism had its way more completely than in the last seven years. Never has its way been less obstructed. To have opposed its headlong career during the greater part of this time would have been to invite opprobrium and hostility. It dominated nearly everything and everybody. An opponent of its methods would be as one crying in the wilderness in the midst of a howling storm. Here was its chance, and it made the most of it. For years it had been impatiently awaiting the day when it would prove itself the greatest force on the globe. The opportunity coming at last, it proved only one thing: its ability to destroy. It upset the world, it halted progress, it stopped production, it unsettled the thoughts of men, it wrought havoc and scattered wreckage wherever its power or influence was felt. The world is still staggering from its thunderous explosions. It counted upon its big loans, big profits, high wages, great bank accounts — the setting in of an era of inflation and artificial prosperity — for justification. All of these were realized to the satisfaction of human craving, and with their realization came a period of luxury and extravagance such as history had never before recorded; but in conjunction with it all came experiences in popular disillusionment, popular disappointment, and, worse than all, in widespread moral degeneracy, from which no permanent recovery is possible save that which shall be brought about through spiritual regeneration.
The ailment from which the world is suffering is mental and individual. All causation is mental. Society, taken either in its smaller or larger aspects, is primarily individualistic. That which deleteriously affects the individual deleteriously affects the mass; by healing the individual a great step is taken toward the healing of the community and the nation. Mary Baker Eddy, a solitary, but by no means a lonely figure in the world's history, thought all this out, and thought it out to a logical conclusion, over half a century ago, when as the herald of a new crusade she sounded the keynote of universal freedom, asking a fuller acknowledgment of the rights of man as a son of God, demanding that the fetters of sin, sickness and death be stricken from the human mind and that this freedom — a freedom immeasurably greater than anything in the nature of political liberty — be won through the abandonment of all barbarous and savage methods, and by resort to the spiritual healing of existing wrongs. How much the world — how much mankind — would have gained in the last fifty years had her doctrines been adopted by rulers and statesmen at the beginning of this period, and steadfastly adhered to, is beyond computation. The sorrow, the anguish, the bitter woe piled upon human misery during the last eight years could have been, and would have been averted, if only her tribute to the First Commandment had been taken into the consciousness of men and nations.
Looking in the Wrong Direction
Outside of Christian Science, practically all are looking in a wrong direction for an acceptable and satisfying arrangement of the differences that are disturbing the world. It is generally hoped that by appealing to the individual and collective selfishness of men a basis of settlement may be found through territorial gifts, through some amelioration of indemnities, through resumption of trade relations, through preferential tariffs, or, when these, or any of them, fail of effect, through some kind of pressure. The thought of bringing about an understanding on a basis of good will, of unselfishness, of forgiveness and forgetfulness, of brotherliness, of the Golden Rule, of the Christly injunction that "ye love one another," is submerged by the false and foolish belief that behind every international treaty all the ancient geographical, racial, tribal, political and religious bigotries, prejudices and bitterness must be preserved to meet possible or impossible emergencies.
This is the bad old method of international intercourse from which advanced government has essayed from time to time, and struggled honestly and earnestly, to escape by the adoption of an open and frank diplomacy.
The condition thus sought to be remedied, and which is still to be remedied, has prevailed from the earliest period. The Prophet Isaiah was constrained by the materialists about him to say: "The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace. Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness * * * And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter."
Mary Baker Eddy, if the leaders of the peoples of the earth would see it, as some day they must and shall, has long since made clear the basis upon which world harmony can be secured; namely, through the understanding of the one great and only God, whereby the destruction of all false gods may be brought about.
Recognized Efficacy of Christian Science
That Christian Science heals sin, sickness and disease and drives out all manner of evil in individual cases is a fact so often attested and so thoroughly established that it were a waste of time at this late day to undertake to offer further proof. The healing efficacy of Christian Science is now admitted by informed people everywhere. Ministers of the orthodox churches and even medical doctors very generally acknowledge it, although with certain reservations. They have not all yet been brought around to the point of seeing that there can be no reservations, limitations nor restrictions when we are dealing with the power and mercy and love of God. They might as well acknowledge the principle of mathematics or recognize the law of gravitation, or the diurnal revolution of the earth, or the orderly motion of the planets, or the rise and fall of the tides, with certain reservations.
Truth admits of no variations, no modifications. The doctors of divinity and the doctors of medicine, than whom, as a rule, there are no more conscientious men in the world, feel free to say in these days that, no doubt, there are times when Christian Science does some good. When pressed they will even go so far as to recall instances that have come under their immediate observation where men and women have been greatly improved physically, mentally and morally by Christian Science, but often they will be quick to qualify this admission by saying that there are times, of course, when Christian Science goes too far. Here they are inconsistent and illogical again, for they are, perhaps inadvertently and unconsciously, but nevertheless surely, committing themselves to the position that right can be wrong, or that good can be bad, or that truth can be false, in certain circumstances. They would not think of saying that in their experience they had found addition, subtraction and multiplication to work out fairly well, but that the rules of arithmetic are sometimes carried too far.
Now, Christian Science is true from the first to the last word of our textbook, or it is not true at all. If it be false at any point, if it be faulty at any point, if it be not in absolute line with the one invariable, changeless Principle at all points — then, to use the words of Paul, our preaching is vain; and moreover, to paraphrase slightly the language of that great Apostle, we who have accepted Christian Science are the most hopeless and most miserable of people. To go further, if further it would be possible to go, if Christian Science is not altogether true — if the healing power of the Christ be not present yesterday, today and forever — then we who have been proclaiming our healing through Christian Science from the very housetops are false witnesses.
But we who have been healed in Christian Science, and we who have practiced it to the healing of others, know full well that when its Principle is intelligently, honestly and trustfully employed, it never fails. This Principle has always existed; it has been known to certain of God's people throughout all the ages, and it was understood by Jesus more clearly than by any of his predecessors.
Mary Baker Eddy's Task
Apparently lost for centuries, the Science whereby it could be put into operation as a tangible, practical, usable, workable agency, was rediscovered by Mary Baker Eddy. Her great task, the greatest that woman has ever been called upon to perform, was to proclaim and demonstrate convincingly to a doubting world her marvelous revelation. In her own simple but beautiful language she tells us when and how each of her steps was taken. Those acquainted with her writings are familiar with the story. She left nothing to mere assertion. She proved by demonstration every declaration which she set down in writing. In the year 1866, she tells us, she discovered the Christ Science or divine laws of Life, Truth and Love, and named this discovery Christian Science; but her first pamphlet on the subject, although copyrighted in 1870, did not appear in print until 1876, or ten years after her divine revelation, "as she had learned," to use her words "that this Science must be demonstrated by healing, before a work on the subject could be profitably studied." She was in no hurry to launch her discovery upon a world slow to yield itself to consideration of a new philosophy of life, and one especially that undertook to refute or reverse practically all the theories of human existence handed down by the schools from time immemorial. She knew too much of the world to trust her revelation in its hands until she was prepared with such proof as it would demand to insure at least a respectful, if a skeptical, hearing. To obtain these proofs, and to render them convincing and irrefutable, she gave herself over to prayer and study. When she sought authority she sought and found it in the Bible. When she sought guidance, she looked for it in the teachings of Christ Jesus and his apostles. All of her dependence for light was placed upon the Scriptures, and when she finally laid her thesis before a critical people it was fortified with spiritual truth in every line, sentence, paragraph and page.
Nothing has been more puzzling or more annoyingly baffling to her critics than the fact of her scrupulous, persistent, tenacious adherence to the Bible — to the book which Christians through centuries have regarded, or have professed to regard, as divinely inspired. She took it and employed it as the keystone of her philosophy. She took it, as it was intended plainly by its inspired writers to be taken, in spirit and in truth, neither deducting from it nor adding to it, but accepting it with open mind and interpreting it in accordance with its manifest design and meaning.
Christian Scientists and the Bible
Just as the discoverer and founder of Christian Science places the Bible first at all times; just as she looks to it and clings to it at all times for inspiration and for strength; just as she has given it first place in the religious tenets and services of the church she instituted and organized, so do all of her loyal followers accept its inspired Word as their sufficient guide to eternal life. It is entirely within reasonable bounds to say that in no other class or denomination of professed Christian religionists is the Bible esteemed more highly or studied more regularly, closely, earnestly or intelligently than it is among Christian Scientists. The Christian Science textbook, Science and Health, is an exposition of the Bible, a Key to the Scriptures, and, as such, it has already unlocked for millions, as it is destined to unlock for countless multitudes to come, inexhaustible treasures of spiritual wisdom and understanding.
In the earlier days of her labor the critics were puzzled and baffled by the discovery that many statements in her works which they regarded as the most radical and the most startling — statements that challenged and sometimes flatly contradicted or positively controverted their time-honored and seemingly rock-rooted theological premises and conclusions — were based upon biblical passages which they had commonly and habitually used in services and sermons, but which, in the light shed upon them by this woman — this presumptuous woman — presented a meaning altogether new to them — so surprisingly new, indeed, that when they came across them in Mary Baker Eddy's writings they questioned the correctness of her quotations and flew to their Bibles in the confident but vain hope of proving her inaccurate and and unreliable.
Christian and orthodox in her environment through childhood, girlhood and young womanhood; Christian and orthodox in research and thought throughout her long years of study to fit herself for the work to which she had been called, she was moved by no impulse to overturn the faith to which her Puritan ancestral beliefs led her to subscribe, but, rather, to buttress it with the support which its foundations lacked — with the proofs, that is, which she intuitively felt were obtainable through a higher and holier understanding of the Bible.
A Remarkable Record
Unless one has made a study of her life-work, especially during the period of her greatest activity, the period in which she instituted and established a denomination which now spreads throughout the habitable globe, it will be difficult if not impossible for him to obtain a comprehensive understanding of this remarkable woman's achievements. Beginning while still an invalid, by delving into all the authorities she could lay her hands upon, questioning and scrutinizing the generally accepted premises and conclusions of the theological debris of centuries in the confident hope of finding the lost key to the Scriptures: finding it, reburnishing it and unlocking the treasures which she sought, safeguarding them that they might not be dissipated among the ignorant, going on to the teaching of her first student, to the writing and distributing of her early pamphlets among a chosen few; preparing and publishing a book that has changed for the better the thought of millions, founding a College of Metaphysics, in which during seven years she personally taught over four thousand students, organizing the first established Church of Christ, Scientist, acting as its pastor, filling the presidency of the first Christian Science Association, revising her first work, writing other books, editing, alone and unaided, for a period, as well as publishing The Christian Science Journal, carrying on direct supervision over the whole Christian Science movement down to the smallest important detail — writing. traveling. dictating, preaching, founding a weekly publication and later on a daily, and through it all compiling a Manual containing bylaws for the government through all the years to come of the church organization which she had established. What a picture is this! What an exhibit is this of dedicated intellectual and moral effort, of unselfish and unselfed devotion to an ideal, a conviction and an inspiration!
The preparation of the Manual would of itself constitute a monument to the inspired wisdom of Mary Baker Eddy, embracing, as it does, rules and laws for the government and perpetuation of the Christian Science organization that have withstood, and are destined to withstand, all the shafts of evil that may be directed against them by open or by hidden foes. It has taken centuries to bring about the separation of Church and State, even in the degree to which it is at present acknowledged and maintained. The Manual of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, is destined to be the model of legislation under which in all countries religious worship in the future will be assured of freedom from State regulation and political interference.
There is still existent a certain amount of irritation in some quarters because Christian Scientists, to use a common phrase, "make so much of Mrs. Eddy." Some of our critics express the opinion that the name of Mrs. Eddy occurs too often in Christian Science services, in Christian Science testimonials, and in Christian Science writings. It will have to be admitted that, as a matter of fact, Christian Scientists do make much of Mrs. Eddy, but a very simple reason for it should be sufficient justification. They make so much of Mrs. Eddy, because Mrs. Eddy has made so much of them. But there is another and a stronger reason: Christian Scientists make so much of Mrs. Eddy because not to understand and appreciate her would mean failure to understand and appreciate the truth which God has revealed through her to the world.
I believe the lawyers in this audience will agree with me that there is nothing in the line of testimony that goes farther with court or jury than that which comes freely at first hand. This it was that gave immeasurable strength to the preaching of the Apostle Paul. This it was that down to our time gives so much weight to his epistles. Christian Scientists do not feel hurt nor offended when the right of their revered Leader to so much recognition and gratitude is questioned, for they attribute such criticism to lack of understanding of the facts. Many, perhaps a very great many, who are today numbered among those who never miss an opportunity of expressing gratitude to her, were at one time numbered among the people who became impatient at the mere mention of her name. Neither do Christian Scientists feel hurt and offended when doubt of the healing power of the faith they hold is voiced in their presence, for, very likely, they have been at one time audible doubters themselves. They would rather, indeed come into personal contact with the vigorous, robust, outspoken, honest doubter, than with one who is overready to accept superficially everything that is offered, without looking for proof, and without proper consideration or investigation.
Science Open Wide to Inquiry
The more questions an inquirer asks in Christian Science, the more proof he demands, the more determined he is to investigate for himself, the more promising convert and the better church member and worker he becomes eventually. It is safe to say that an overwhelming majority of those who accept Christian Science are persons who can give a reason for the faith that is in them. They are persons who have taken nothing on hearsay, who have not been swayed by the influence of others, who do not conjecture, who do not guess, who do not merely believe, but who have won understanding from experience, and who know.
Paul knew. He had had personal experience with the regenerative power of the Spirit. He drew and convinced great audiences everywhere because he was able to give testimony at first hand — because he could speak out of the fullness of personal, actual, human experience, because he could tell of a mental change that with the quickness of a lightning flash transformed his character and made him a new man. There are tens of thousands of Pauls in our day throughout the world — tens of thousands of persons, that is, who have been turned through Christian Science from wrong to right thinking, healed of sick and sinning beliefs, cured of pernicious tendencies, relieved of slavish habits, liberated from bondage and restored to the liberty which belongs to God's children; and these are ready and willing to give direct testimony to the healing power of Life, Truth and Love and to offer heartfelt gratitude to Mary Baker Eddy, who led them from darkness to light.
We have from our revered Leader an unqualified indorsement of the axiom that the impossible never happens. We have learned from her that what blesses one, blesses all. Most of us realize from our own experience that good manifested radiates beyond the bounds of our vision, even beyond the bounds of our imagination. Our reasoning faculties teach us, even if our spiritual intuition be dull, that if Christian Science heals in one instance through the intelligent application of Principle, there can be no limitations placed upon its healing efficacy. It needs only to be applied to government, to politics, to economics, to finance, to commerce, to sociology, to education, to the morals of the people, in order that it shalt work marvelous changes in that potential power of democracy known as popular opinion.
There is no more efficacious agency than Christian Science for the promotion of better taste, higher aspirations and good will among all people. It is the most tranquilizing influence operating throughout the world today. Its doctrines have already transformed for the better the aspiration and character of millions of people in all parts of the globe, and every one of these is spreading its truth, expressing his gratitude, not so much by word of mouth, nor by indulging in religious controversy, as by letting his light shine. Through the reflection of Life, Truth and Love, the omnipotent power of God is being more widely recognized now than ever before, and there is coming into the consciousness of the nations, slowly but surely, an attitude of thought which will eventually weld the hearts as well as the interests of men.
The Paramount Mission
It must never be lost sight of that Christian Science is engaged first and last in the task of restoring to the world the Word and perpetuating the works given and carried on by Christ Jesus, and that its grandest mission and its greatest joy is to restore primitive Christianity and to perpetuate these works as the Master himself, were he once more among us, would direct. He came with healing in his thought, with healing in his voice, with healing in his touch. He went about everywhere doing good. As in his day, the Word is healing all manner of disease, yet Christian Scientists know full well, for their teacher has so instructed them, that, as in Jesus' day, the healing of physical ailments is a means rather than an end. Because of the stiffness of their necks and the hardness of their hearts, in our times, as was the case nineteen hundred years ago, human beings must be impressed with some tangible evidence suitable to their understanding, of the love and mercy and power of God before they are brought to a realization of the fact that the paramount mission of Christian Science is the destruction of sin, the root of all human sorrow and suffering.
Christian Scientists make no stronger pretensions of belief in the Bible than do other professed Christians, but Christian Scientists go farther than mere belief — they trust, and strive to understand. And according to the measure of their understanding they make practical application of Bible truths and achieve demonstrations. One might believe in mathematics fervently, devotedly, unwaveringly, everlastingly, without ever getting further than belief. Mere belief would never solve a problem in figures. One must take chalk, or pencil or pen in hand and work the problem out in accordance with the principle of the science if anything is to be accomplished. Christian Scientists, following the instruction of Mary Baker Eddy, and adhering to the Principle which she discovered, prove the the truths in the Bible through their understanding and their work as they go along, and bring realization of its prophecies and its promises into their daily experience.
Christian Science is not blind faith: it is an intelligent understanding of God and of man's relationship to the Supreme Being, the omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent Creator. It is an understanding of God which admits of no limitation, question or doubt with regard to His all-seeing wisdom, His all-inclusive power, His all-embracing Love. It is complete acceptance of the Father-Motherhood of the Eternal. It is an absolute acknowledgment that the God of our Bible reigns, governs, controls the universe, and that there is none other beside Him.
An Understanding of God
Christian Scientists here come to know and to measurably understand God through the teachings and works of Jesus Christ. the Wayshower, and through the revelation which Mary Baker Eddy, God's inspired handmaid of these latter days, has given to the world — a revelation which, among other things, has re-established in the consciousness not only of her students but of vast numbers who may not as yet be included among her followers, the conviction that Jesus did not demonstrate the divine power to heal for any select number or for a limited period of time. We have the prophecy and the promise of Jesus: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall be do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father."
Mrs. Eddy looked forward implicitly likewise to the opportunities which would come to her followers for the accomplishment of greater demonstrations than any that were crowning their efforts in the first half century of Mind-healing which her discovery had brought about.
Thus we see that demonstration of the almighty healing power of the divine Mind is still in its infancy. Jesus saw and prophesied that not only such wondrous works as he performed would be continued after his earthly mission had been brought to a close, but that greater works would be accomplished by those accepting his teaching and following in his steps through the future. Mary Baker Eddy, in her self-abnegation, was solicitous that she should be known only as one who had planted and watered His vineyard, leaving to the years to come, and to growth in understanding, the gathering of greater harvests than she had been privileged to see.
Doubtless, there are in this audience some who would like to know how even a slight understanding of Christian Science might be obtained. They need not be ashamed to confess their ignorance; rather should they be proud to entertain and to express a desire for the possession, even in a small degree, of that which cannot be gotten for all the riches contained in all the earth.
"Whence, then, cometh wisdom, and where is the place of understanding?" asks Job. And he replies: "God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof, for he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven. * * * And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil, that is understanding." "Wisdom is the principal thing," said Solomon in his Proverbs, "therefore, get wisdom, and with all thy getting get understanding."
The Beginner in Science
To obtain an understanding of Christian Science, is to obtain an understanding of God and His relation to man. If seekers are in earnest, I can promise that they will quickly find ready, kindly, patient and competent helpers, not only at the beginning of the journey, but all along the road. They come in the right attitude if they come as little children, with receptive minds, prepared to listen to the Truth. Only by putting away self-satisfaction, self-contentment, self-righteousness — all self-made, man-made, world-made opinions — and by consecrating themselves to the task of acquiring it, at any cost and at any sacrifice, can an understanding which will enable them to make progress in divine Science be attained. "When we wait patiently on God and seek Truth righteously, He directs our path," says the discoverer and founder of Christian Science. (Science and Health. p. 254:10.) "Imperfect mortals grasp the ultimate of spiritual perfection slowly, but to begin aright and to continue the strife of demonstrating the great problem of being is doing much." To begin aright, is to provide oneself with a copy of the Bible and of the Christian Science textbook, and to zealously and religiously study their contents. All of Christian Science is contained in these two volumes.
To study the Bible and Science and Health intelligently and profitably demands constant recourse to prayer, that the eyes and the heart may be opened to understanding. "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick," says Mrs. Eddy, "is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God — a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love." It is a fact, strange as it may appear to those other religious denominations, that through Christian Science hundreds of thousands of Christian people have been instructed for the first time how to pray.
Great multitudes have come into Christian Science seeking health, seeking a larger share in the refinements and comforts of life, seeking domestic tranquility, business ease; great multitudes will continue to come into Christian Science in the hope of obtaining the peace they have sought elsewhere in vain, and they shall not be disappointed. But the vast majority advance in Christian Science because they have, in progressing step by step, made every other consideration secondary to that of rising in spiritual understanding and working out their own salvation. In no other way than by accepting Christ's many invitations to come unto him, to bring our troubles to him, to ask of him, believing, anything we may need — not something we simply want — may divine assistance be obtained along the rugged way to salvation. To obtain either healing or salvation, we must be ready to abandon self. Self is the great hindrance. Self blocks the way. Self submerges us in our own shadow. We must get rid of self by realizing the allness of God, by throwing up our hands and declaring with all the earnestness and honesty we can command, "Thy will, O Lord, not mine, be done." When this point is reached, and we are trusting divine Love, not partly but wholly; not conditionally, but absolutely, the point of healing is also reached, and salvation to crown the healing is close at hand.
An Unwarranted Insinuation
There are certain fundamentals to the discovery and philosophy of Mary Baker Eddy which when recognized and understood by the impartial student forever brush aside the utterly unwarranted and gratuitous insinuation — the utterly silly aspersion — that Christian Science is neither Christian nor scientific. The man who first said this, apparently, was more concerned about the fashioning of a clever and catchy epigram than about the truth. The saying was picked up by a thousand preachers and repeated from a thousand pulpits, but from first to last it has impressed only the ignorant and the prejudiced. The term Christian Science, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science says (Science and Health, p. 123:16), was used to designate the scientific system of divine healing. Nothing could be more appropriate or more logical since she holds it to be basic that all Science is of God, not of man. (Science and Health, p. 531:16.) She holds that Jesus was the most scientific man that ever trod the globe — one who plunged beneath the material surface of things and found the spiritual cause. Again and again she pays him reverent tribute. She holds that he was inspired by God, by Truth and Love, in all that he said and did; that his spirituality separated him from sensuousness, and caused the selfish materialist to hate him; that Jesus established in the Christian era the precedent for all Christianity, theology and healing; that he read mortal mind on a scientific basis, and that Christians are under as direct orders now, as they were in Jesus' time, to be Christlike, to possess the Christ spirit, to follow the Christ example, and to heal the sick as well as the sinning.
With the clearness and keenness of spiritual vision which characterizes all the thinking and speaking and writing of Mary Baker Eddy, she is able to differentiate between the man Jesus and the Christ, and thus, to the satisfaction of Jew and Gentile alike, permanently has she bridged for millions a theological chasm that has yawned menacingly before the eyes of confused and bewildered humanity for centuries. Thus has she enabled her followers to acknowledge and adore one supreme and infinite God; to acknowledge His Son, one Christ; to understand what is meant by the Holy Ghost or divine Comforter; to recognize the real man as God's image and likeness, and to subscribe, understandingly and wholeheartedly, to those tenets which fix Christ Jesus indelibly in the thought of Christian Scientists as the Wayshower, the Redeemer, the Savior of humanity.
Whether we seek understanding or healing in Christian Science, and it should be remembered that understanding is possible only through the healing of ignorance, self-opinion and prejudice, we must come in simplicity, trustfulness and confidence. We must have arrived at a decision to go the full length of the way. There must be no shifting, no hesitancy. Nothing short of an unconditional surrender will open the door that lends from captivity to freedom. The wavering, undecided and unready should blame themselves only if these proclivities obstruct the work of the practitioner or the teacher, defer healing or entirely prevent it.
A Blessed Assurance
Christian Science is rich in blessed assurances for the struggling heart, and generous in the granting of them, and one of the most beneficent and benevolent of these is the certainty that where there is an honest desire for understanding and healing, and a genuine willingness to be taught and lifted out of trouble, succor is close at hand. Those who seek understanding and help in Christian Science honestly, earnestly and confidently, do not fail to find it. Nobody need pause haltingly at the gate, fearing lest he is beneath consideration or beyond hope or help. Since God is Love and God is omnipotent, nothing good can be impossible.
Never has there been a time in all history when men were in greater need than now of that clearness of sight, that steadiness of purpose, that strength of character — that probity, perspicacity and unshakable moral stamina — which are imparted through spiritual discernment and spiritual understanding. It is the mission and purpose of Christian Science to bring the kingdom of God to earth, by dispelling the illusion that materialism, sensuality, money-grabbing, money-getting, money-spending, can satisfy the human desire for contentment, peace and happiness. The wreckage all about us of hopes, aspirations, ambitions based upon the attainment of mere worldly success, should constitute an impressive warning to the business and professional man as to the social striver of our day.
Wrong thinking is at the bottom not only of individual troubles and sorrows and sufferings, but it is the cause of all the harrowing evils that beset the family, the community, the nation and the world at large. Christian Science offers right-thinking as a corrective — as an obtainable, feasible, and in fact, as the only possible cure for this stupendous evil. If the thoughts of humanity were in harmony with the divine Mind, with the Commandments, with the Beatitudes, with the Prophets, with the teachings of Christ Jesus and his disciples, with the Principle of Christian Science, as revealed through and expounded and taught by Mary Baker Eddy, the world would be freed from ferment, confusion and tumult. Christian Science corrects, exalts and strengthens the thought of the individual, and the thought of the community, the nation and the world will be straightened, elevated and strengthened proportionately with the increase in the number of individuals who shall claim, and win, their natural inheritance of light and who engage in the work of spreading it among their fellows.
First Glimpse of Salvation
Christian Science has helped many hundreds of thousands of sick and sinning, sorrowing and suffering, disappointed, discouraged and despairing men and women obtain their first glimpse of salvation, to get their first experience of heaven on earth; to realize fully for the first time that God is All-in-all, that He is Life, Truth and Love, that He is an ever-present help in trouble, their strong deliverer, their sure salvation. In Christian Science they learn more certainly than in any other way, because they learn it through their own demonstration, that while God is a righteous judge, He is also a kind, gentle, tender, compassionate, loving, merciful Father; that He is ever ready, has ever been ready, to hear the sigh and to dry the tear of the repentant, to soothe the hearts of those who come to Him in humility.,with longing for forgiveness born of genuine regret for past short-comings and backslidings.
The Christian Scientist, if he be faithful, prays without ceasing, but he prays to a God who is infinite intelligence, who does not need to be instructed, who lacks nothing in wisdom, who knows, without being told, what is best for His children, and who has provided for them out of the amplitude of His love everything they need. He prays for light, for wisdom and for understanding; he prays that the mind may be in him which was also in Christ Jesus; he prays that he may be honest, upright and true, that he may be a good man, a good friend, a good citizen, that he may not think or say or do anything contrary to God's commandments, and with all his praying, which is honest and pure desire, uttered or unexpressed, he yearns for righteousness, harmony and peace.
Christian Science is essentially a religion of faith, hope, and love, these three; to the Christian Scientist the greatest of these is Love, because it comprehends all — that Love which doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things — that Love which finds expression in the simple lines:
Let me be a little kinder, let me be a little blinder
To the faults of those about me; let me praise a little more;
Let me be, when I am weary, just a little bit more cheery;
Let me serve a little better those that I am striving for.
Let me be a little braver when temptation bids me waver;
Let me strive a little harder to be all that I should be;
Let me be a little meeker with the brother that is weaker;
Let me think more of my neighbor and a little less of me.