Christian Science: Mankind's Greatest Need
Albert F. Gilmore, C.S.B., of Boston, Massachusetts
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
If you were asked to name mankind's greatest need you might reply, "To be healed of sickness, to be relieved of the burden of disease which from the very beginnings of the race has weighed humanity down; to be made whole, in order to enjoy the pleasures, comforts, and activities of a normal life." None can gainsay that ill health has been one of the most grievous burdens mortals have had to bear, and from the earliest history, to find relief from this encumbrance has occupied the earnest attention of untold thousands.
Sickness both entails great suffering upon the afflicted, and also deprives him of the fullness and joys of life to which man is entitled. Often it plunges him into poverty and squalor. It does even more than this; it imposes upon society a burden, the extent of which is quite incalculable. The Department of Commerce of the United States Government recently stated, as reported in the press, that thirty-six million wage earners in America lost two hundred and fifty million days from work each year as a result of illness; and that for the same reason twenty-four million school children lose each year seventy million days from school. But these statements relate only to the comparatively healthy, the adults who work and the children who attend school. What of the incapacitated, those who from various forms of disability are dependent upon others for support and care?
A prominent health insurance company has stated that the loss of productive energy from disease is at least forty percent of the producing power of the race. Now, this loss of time and productive energy, grievous as it is, is but one phase of the calamity. The vast economic problem imposed upon society, the necessity of supporting and caring for the sick and suffering, must for greater part be borne by those entirely innocent of any responsibility for its occasion.
But the situation is not hopeless. A way has been revealed whereby sickness may be healed. An effectual remedy has been discovered whereby mankind may be set free from suffering and society relieved of the tremendous burden which it has so long and so patiently borne. There again shines in the world the light of spiritual truth which heals, regenerates, and comforts mankind, destroying every form of error, whatever its name or nature, to which mortals believe themselves to be subject. Mankind is awakening to the monstrous imposition to which it has been subjected, and through this new understanding, is throwing off the burden of disease, is abandoning its sinful ways, and in consequence is being freed from fear and, happier than ever before, is being ushered into a better and more useful life.
Jesus' Ministry of Healing
How is this change brought about? Through adoption of, adherence to, and practice of the teachings of Christ Jesus as set forth in Christian Science. The careful student of the four Gospels can scarcely fail to be impressed, deeply impressed, by the part which healing the sick played in the ministry of Jesus. While he demonstrated the power and availability of Spirit to destroy material sense testimony in many directions, yet standing out above all others are his healing works.
How this golden thread of healing runs through those three marvelous years of the Master's ministry! What wondrous news he brought to suffering humanity! Beautiful indeed, on the mountains were the feet of him who brought the most joyous tidings mankind has ever heard. What was this glad news? That God is Spirit, the divine All-Father. That evil is not real! That suffering is not necessary! That there is present-day salvation from every phase of sin and sorrow, from all misery, from gaunt want no less than from physical suffering!
It is sad commentary upon the instability of mortals, that Jesus' message so soon lost its significance! that in so short a time the Christ healing was buried in its graveclothes of formalism and dogma. In less than three centuries the wondrous light waned, flickered and went out, to be rediscovered and made available again to meet poor humanity's needs only when sixteen centuries had passed. How appropriately have the centuries between them termed the dark ages — dark, indeed, when the glorious lights of Love, reflected through the words and works of Jesus, ceased to illumine human consciousness!
But the prophecies and expectations of the Founder of Christianity have been fulfilled in the revelation of Mary Baker Eddy! Did not Jesus declare in unequivocal terms: "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." Did he not command his followers, not for their time alone, but for all time, to "heal the sick," to "cleanse the leper," and to "raise the dead"? Did he not also utter the precious prophecy: "Greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father"? In Christian Science these predictions, these promises of the Master, are today being fulfilled, wonderfully fulfilled, in the demonstration of spiritual power over the claims of evil.
Christian Science the Perfect Remedy
With the discovery of Christian Science, sixty-five years ago, the method of spiritual healing practiced so successfully by Christ Jesus was restored, later was elucidated by Mrs. Eddy, and is today demonstrating the presence of God and the power of His Christ to destroy every type of discord, every form of error, every phase of disease, misery, want, unhappiness, which restricts and harasses human experience. Through its healing ministry, Christ, Truth, is again meeting mankind's every need. Do you doubt this? Then what of the testimonies, thousands in number, given in the approximately twenty-five hundred Christian Science churches every Wednesday evening, and other other thousands published in the Christian Science periodicals? Do you doubt their authenticity? Who knows better than the healed themselves of the freedom from the bondage of sickness, which follows when the light of Truth illumines consciousness?
Three factors are fundamental in spiritual healing; namely, faith, understanding, and righteous prayer; faith in God, that He is the ever-present and omnipotent Father-Mother, infinite Love; understanding of the divine nature; knowledge of the method through prayer of invoking His aid, always available to meet our needs. These are made so plain in the Christian Science textbook, that through prayerful study all may acquire the method. Mrs. Eddy's cogent injunction, "Attempt nothing without God's help" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 197), would be quite innocuous, had she not shown the way, the perfect way, whereby God's aid may be invoked. "Study thoroughly the letter and imbibe the spirit" (Science and Health, p. 495) is her instruction as to the best means to insure progress in Christian Science.
The Method of Spiritual Healing
A Christian Science practitioner does not attempt primarily to heal a sick body. Sick thoughts alone are to be healed by changing belief in sickness to a sense of health; belief in error to a better belief, falsity for truth. Belief in sickness is changed to a sense of health when it is learned that man, the real man, God's likeness, is both spiritual and perfect, now and forever. Is this so difficult? Why should this be more difficult of accomplishment than the supplanting of any falsity with truth? You may say "Because sickness is so personal, seems so real." Yes! It seems real because we hold to a false sense of man. Is man flesh and blood, a mortal? Or is man the son of God, His perfect likeness, wholly spiritual?
If we are sufficiently conscious of the presence of God and His perfection, of God and His universe of good as the only presence, we can heal without the use of argument. But, it seems that in most cases healing is facilitated by both knowing the truth about God and man, and by denying the claims which mortal mind is presenting as real; that is, by the affirmations of truth arrayed against the arguments of error. This is because materiality with all its discordant conditions still seems to possess some degree of reality. It still holds some place in our consciousness.
Now, we learn in Christian Science that since there is but one cause, God, there is no effect apart from His creation. God and His perfect universe, including man, constitute all reality. There is therefore in reality no other cause than God, and no other effect than His universe of spiritual ideas, including perfect man.
But in the realm of belief there seems to be a universe of materiality, including a mortal, called man, albeit this universe and this man have no existence in reality. That is, God never caused or made either. God is the only real cause, but as there seems to be another universe than His, so there appears to be another cause, the so-called mortal mind, claiming, falsely, all the prerogatives of divine Mind, even to that of creator. Both this so-called mind and its objectification, termed a mortal, are without entity or being. However, as mortals, it is necessary for us to deal with these false beliefs, to know their unreality, their nothingness.
You will recall that when Peter and John went up to the temple, at the Gate Beautiful they encountered a man lame from birth. They did not give him the alms he asked, but something better, vastly better. What was the precious something which Peter gave him?
Not silver and gold, for he declared that he had none. That which he had, and gave so effectually, was his clear understanding, purified and healing, of God's presence and of man's perfection; he reflected the Love that heals. And so potent was this grasp of Christ,Truth, that when Peter lifted up the lame man his infirmity disappeared so completely and so quickly that he entered the temple "walking, and leaping, and praising God."
What, precisely, happened to this man? His belief of congenital weakness in the ankle bones, a belief which had made of him a cripple and a beggar, was so completely transformed through Peter's clear apprehension of the truth about man, that the lie could no longer hold him in bondage. He was liberated through Peter's knowledge of God and man, that man is the son of God, not the offspring of matter. All healing in Christian Science is performed in precisely this manner. Consciousness is transformed, by changing a belief in sickness, in impotency, inharmony, to a belief of strength, of potency, of harmony.
The Healing of Sin
But Christian Science does more than heal disease; through the light of Love, the light of Truth, it transforms consciousness. This is, in fact, the only true healing, since it improves one both mentally and spiritually. It is the gaining of the Mind of Christ. This transformation of human consciousness, of the mental state, destroys sin, the false beliefs which transgress the moral and spiritual law.
Sinful beliefs cannot persist in the presence of Truth, and when thought is sufficiently spiritualized so that the nothingness of all fleshliness is seen, sin, the concomitant of carnality, disappears. Spiritual healing so completely destroys sinful beliefs and desires that Mrs. Eddy could write as a tenet of Christian Science these words (Science and Health, p. 497): "We acknowledge God's forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal. But the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts." To destroy all belief of pleasure in sinful indulgence is the one method of healing sin.
Mrs. Eddy and Christian Science
The attitude of deep respect which Christian Scientists maintain toward Mrs. Eddy is sometimes a stumbling block to the uninitiated. They mistake this attitude for personal worship. The regard which students of Christian Science generally hold for its Discoverer and Founder may be illustrated by a personal incident. Several years ago there came to the office of the Committee on Publication for the State of New York three persons, two gentlemen and a lady, to call upon me, the then incumbent of that office. After a brief visit, as they rose to go, the eyes of one of the party fell upon an unusual portrait of Mrs. Eddy, done by a well-known artist, hanging on the wall. Its beauty immediately centered their attention, and a few moments' intensive study of the portrait called out a statement of what Christian Science, Mrs. Eddy's gift to the world, had done for each. One stated that Christian Science had found him in a state so morally low that he was convinced it would have quickly ended in serious crime and lasting degradation. The other declared that when Christian Science came to him, he was in a state of dissipation that would soon have carried him over the brink into disgrace and death. The lady averred that she had been healed of a mental turbulence, the next stage of which would have been insanity and an asylum. These three have long been faithful and successful workers in Christian Science. For myself, I bore witness that Christian Science had enabled me to remain on this plane of existence, for it rescued me when material means had failed and the end seemed very near.
Such experience could scarcely fail to inspire a sense of heart-felt love and veneration for her who made them possible. To be sure, the Christ, Truth, has always existed, ready and at hand, to heal humanity of all its woes, but a revelator was necessary to make it again available to meet the needs of mankind. And God prepared Mary Baker Eddy for this blessed ministry. Why was she thus blessed? Because through much travail and tribulation she had been mentally and spiritually fitted for this holy purpose. How properly could she have uttered the words which Kipling puts into the mouth of the explorer, who, after much hardship had discovered a virgin empire:
"Anybody might have heard it,
But God's message came to me."
And so the heart of every true Christian Scientist goes out to Mrs. Eddy in love and gratitude, in joy and thanksgiving, for her revelation of the Christ, which is pointing the way, the only way, to complete salvation. The ultimate of this transforming experience is the goal of all mortals, heavenly harmony, and eternal life.
[Delivered Jan. 26, 1931, at First Church of Christ, Scientist, Hilton and Fulton Avenues, Hempstead, New York, and published in The Hempstead Sentinel, Jan. 29, 1931. The headings, omitted by the Sentinel, were provided from another copy of the lecture.]