Christian Science: The Religion of Fulfillment (3)
Judge Samuel W. Greene, C.S., of Louisville, Kentucky
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The history of men throughout the ages has been an unceasing search after some power or some remedy that would transform and make harmonious every untoward and unlovely condition of human experience. History shows this search to be one of disappointment and failure until the discovery of Christian Science. It has generally been along material lines. The exceptional instance where spiritual teaching or inspiration has appeared and been followed constitutes the great way marks of human progress. Christian Science accentuates this historical fact and explains it. Today I come to point you the way in Christian Science, which when rightly understood and practiced, leads to eternal harmony; for it reveals the only true God and man as made in His image and likeness, and the whole earth to be transformed by the power of this Truth. The promise made through Christian Science, as stated by its Discoverer and Founder, Mrs. Eddy, is "Divine Love always has met and always will meet, every human need." (Science and Health, page 494.)
Christian Science is not, as some have imagined a patent cure-all, nor is it faith cure. It is not the action of will power nor the action of the human mind. On the contrary, it teaches that the human mind must yield to the Divine Mind, to that Mind which was also in Christ Jesus, and, in the proportion that Christian Science is understood, it makes the life, words and acts of Christ Jesus practicable for all ages and all people.
Try as men will to see the bright side, they are always conscious that there are the sick, the sorrowful, the sin-burdened, until sometimes one is constrained to believe that the whole earth is joining in one mournful lament. Christian Science comes to such with a scientific explanation of the comforting words of Jesus, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "Behold I give unto you, power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you."
Now just why do I say that Christian Science comes offering these assurances? You may say of them, you have read them and known them always. But have they been realized in your experience? Have you made them of any practical import? Christian Science teaches that the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, is at hand, is here and now. Through the study and practice of its teaching, men and women in large numbers are being healed of every manner of disease and sin, and their lives are being made brighter, happier and more satisfying. The theory that eternal life and happiness are to be had only beyond the grave has always been a depressing element in religion. Christian Science shows that it is an incorrect theory and that men do not have to wait for death or a final judgment day before attaining an unending paradise. What is generally designated as paradise, may be realized in some degree at once, and progressively through the study and understanding of Christian Science.
Jesus, by his life, taught and proved the possibility of solving all of life's problems here and now. He healed all manner of disease; he provided food in the desert place; found tax money in the fish's mouth; forgave sin; raised the dead; and finally, after his three days in the tomb, reappeared to his disciples, thus conquering the great destroyer, Death.
One of the last things he said to his disciples was, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do, shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father." With such a positive promise from Jesus, we must believe in the present possibility of healing the sick, of casting out sin, and of raising the dead, provided, of course, that we believe in him, that is, understand him and his teachings, which is the real meaning of the Greek word translated by our word "believe" in the new version. Does it not seem strange that the world should have waited so long for one to rise up and call attention to this and other plain Biblical promises, and prove the possibility of their fulfillment? And does it not seem even stranger that when a gentle, sweet, pure-minded woman discovered the practical nature of these promises and began to call attention through healings, to them, and their fulfillment in her own experience, that she should have been subjected to persecution at the hands of Jesus' professed followers? Ignoring, however, the lack of sympathy and interest manifested by the world in her discovery during the early years, Mrs. Eddy never wavered in her course, but patiently and diligently studied the Bible, that she might discover the positive rule for the solution of this problem of Mind-healing. The result of her study she has since given to the world in the Christian Science text-book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. As the years have come and gone during these more than fifty years since her discovery, there has been an ever widening circle covered by Christian Science and an ever increasing army of adherents, men and women who are constantly bearing witness to its healing and saving power; and who are ever mindful of their debt of gratitude to its revered Discoverer and Founder. There is nothing of worship or deification in the reverence and respect paid by Christian Scientists, to Mrs. Eddy, but there is fervent gratitude and appreciation in an unnumbered throng of men and women the world around who have felt and are feeling the uplift and blessing of her inspired teachings.
Up to the time of the discovery of Christian Science by Mrs. Eddy, she had probably never dreamed of being a great religious teacher or leader, and yet no other leader ever lived to see in his own lifetime such an extensive and substantial growth and organization result from his teachings. Such results, however, are to be expected always when work is done as was Mrs. Eddy's. The presence of God was not a mere theory to her, but an actual fact, which she relied upon in establishing the Christian Science movement, as well as in all other things.
Christian Science has revealed the correct concept of God. It asks the question squarely, "What is God?" and gives an answer that is satisfying. God is Love, Spirit, Life, Truth, Soul, Mind, Principle. Perhaps the word Principle as applied to God has aroused more opposition from the critics of Christian Science than any other. They insist that to speak of God as Principle robs Him of personality, takes away His Fatherhood, tenderness and other human attributes. Christian Scientists believe that it is time the world was getting away from the idea of an anthropomorphic God, a sort of superman, as Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health, p. 249, "Human philosophy has made God man-like. Christian Science makes man Godlike."
Principle is without beginning or end, is continuous, is perfect, is immovable, is inviolable, is ever active. Principle is not moved by the breath of praise or flattery; nor by entreaty or threat. In the thought of God as Principle, Christian Scientists have abandoned the idea that God interferes in human affairs at the behest or entreaty of this or that one, or that He interferes with His own law, and causes the unnatural or supernatural to be happening in the affairs of men. Christian Science shows that God's creation is already complete and perfect, consequently the true mission of scientific Christianity is to reveal this fact to us, and then to show us how to overcome in our lives and experiences, all those things which are unlike God's creation. We will suppose a man to be sick, and he desires the help of God and turns to Christian Science to be made well. There is no specific or individual action required of God, that this man's condition may be righted, but the treatment or prayer of the Christian Science practitioner would be a clear realization that God has made all and made all good. God has created man in His own image and likeness, therefore, the real man being made in God's image, cannot be what God is not, and certainly God cannot be sick. God has made only good, therefore He never made any colds, fevers, aches or ills of any kind, and as God is the only power, no other power has made these ills or aches, consequently they have not been made and man cannot have them, because they do not really exist.
To persons accustomed to use material remedies in case of illness, such a system, of course, only briefly and inadequately indicated here, might not be considered scientific or beneficial, yet the actual experience of anyone who will test it according to the Principle and rule of Christian Science will prove that it is both scientific and beneficial. Of course, starting from the standpoint of perfection, there is in reality no sick man, and therefore, no man in need of healing. When the human consciousness becomes spiritualized through right thinking or knowing, and man is revealed as the perfect manifestation of Spirit, not of matter, the divine Mind is reflected, and man is governed by God. Mrs. Eddy says, "God will heal the sick through man, whenever man is governed by God." (Science and Health, p. 495.) As the light of this healing truth is carried into that consciousness which is darkened by mortal belief it banishes all sense of error, even sickness as well as sin, and illumines it with love. Mrs. Eddy, in speaking of Jesus' treatment of sickness says on pages 476 and 477 of Science and Health, "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning, mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick."
God, as an infinite power, eternally continuous, is always at man's service, but man must bring himself into adjustment with that power, before it is available for him. Man's access to God's power for the healing of sickness or any other discord, is by means of prayer. Not wordy petitions or fervid appeals as though addressed to some earthly potentate, but, as Mrs. Eddy says, "An absolute faith that all things are possible to God, — a spiritual understanding of Him" (Science and Health, page 1). To be made whole, man must, through prayer and right understanding, be brought into harmony or adjustment with the divine Mind; he must realize his at-one-ment with God.
"But," says a friend, "why try to tell me that I am not or cannot be sick, when I know my back is aching?" No one could be found in world who would have more loving consideration for those suffering with disease and pain than a Christian Scientist. Christian Science is not an admonition to bear suffering patiently, or to endure it stoically, but is, on the contrary, a scientific system by which disease and pain are to be overcome; and it shows any person who earnestly studies and practices it, that the evidence of the senses is all there is to any suffering, and if this evidence be changed or overcome, the disease or suffering disappears. Have you ever observed how the physical senses are so easily and commonly mistaken and deceived? One of the most ordinary examples is that of sitting in a railroad train that is still, and have a train on the adjacent track pass you going the other way. As you watch the moving train, every sense tells you that you are moving, and your escape from this delusion is to look away into the opposite direction, and then you see things as they are. So when the human senses tell us that we are sick, we should look away from the things of sense to God, and see and know the real man as he is in God's image and likeness, and we shall come to know that this real man cannot be sick or discordant. In this manner of thought, God becomes a living, vital, ever-present power and influence in our lives, and we can begin to realize what Paul had in mind when he said, "For in Him we live and move and have our being."
This brings me to a discussion of what man is, and of his relation to God. I suppose every careful reader of the Bible is familiar with the two very dissimilar accounts of man's creation, as detailed in the book of Genesis. You will remember that the first chapter says: "So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." Christian Science teaches that this is the true account of creation. It sets forth the spiritual man. When Christian Science says that man cannot be sick, man cannot die, reference is made to the real man, the spiritual man, the God-man. The possibilities for man thus created in God's image and likeness are unlimited; such a man cannot possess any qualities that God has not, and he must, in a degree, reflect every attribute of God. Other systems of religious instruction have taught that the spiritual man is perfect, but they have not made this teaching practical. They have generally assumed that man must first pass through the experience called death, and after that, be invested with his spiritual nature. They have scarcely dared to hope that life could be other than the generally accepted "vale of tears." Christian Science shows that the truth concerning the spiritual man, is scientific truth, and through Christian Science, it may be understood, and become operative in behalf of humanity. Christian Science teaches that God's presence in the lives of men is not a theory, but an actual fact, that may be, and should be relied upon in all circumstances and under all conditions. It teaches that God's omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience should be borne in mind by man as actual realities for his benefit in every human survey and undertaking. This will be a wonderful world when all men begin to realize their God-given heritage, no envying, no jealousy, no fault finding, no judging, no coveting, where all is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness. Man is the expression of God's goodness, of God's love, indeed, of all the qualities of God; and it is only through the perfect expression that we can know God. Was not this real man what Jesus had in mind when he said, "Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect?" Through the consideration of such facts we may begin to have some conception of the bigness and the joy and freedom of this Christian Science teaching.
Let us turn now from this beautiful picture to the account of man's formation in the second chapter of Genesis, "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul," and also the account of woman's creation, how God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and He took from the man a rib and of the rib, He made a woman. With these two irreconcilable accounts before you, why do you hesitate to proclaim yourself and your race of the true type, the real man with God-given dominion and power over every living thing; for this power is also ordained by God in the twenty-eighth verse of the first chapter of Genesis. Is not this in harmony with the promise given by Jesus quoted in the beginning of this lecture, "Behold I give unto you all power?" Does it occur to you that perhaps Jesus had in mind this early ordinance of God? Then as he had found the world steeped in materialism he proceeded to demonstrate by so-called miracles step by step, man's power to overcome all the power of the enemy.
This might be the subject of inquiry at this time: what is this enemy whose power we are to overcome? We find Paul saying, "The carnal mind is enmity against God." It is, therefore, this carnal or fleshly mind, or to use Mrs. Eddy's expression, the "mortal mind" — as opposed to the spiritual Mind. Paul says: "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." Then this carnal or mortal mind is the enemy we are to overcome. Mortal mind is a state of ignorance, and when it is the only mind that a human being has or knows anything about it, it subjects him to every ill to which flesh is heir, and this subjection is not decreased, but rather increased, by what is ordinarily called education, unless this education is carried on with the understanding of Christian Science. Mortal mind is full of fear, of doubt, anxiety, envy, hatred, malice and what not of all this brood. It is no wonder that man governed by mortal mind is sick, or unhappy, or a thief or a murderer. All these things are but manifestations of the fear and ignorance of the mortal mind. Jesus early in his ministry told his disciples that they had power over this enemy, and this is easily understood; for anyone can see that in proportion as he becomes enlightened, he has power over ignorance, especially when he perceives that this same ignorance has constituted his own mentality. And do you wonder that Christian Scientists, having learned the spiritual interpretation of the Bible, and realizing that this same power is possible for them, are grateful to Mrs. Eddy for discovering the way? Mrs. Eddy, in the Christian Science text-book, has explained that the expression "mortal mind" is not really accurate. There is in reality but one Mind, the infinite, the divine. There are not minds many, just as there are not Gods many. As we live, move and have our being in this one Mind, no erroneous or harmful thought should come to us to be manifested in some discordant or ungodlike act. The expression mortal mind, for want of a more descriptive term, refers not to an entity, but to the lack of the one Mind. When man ceases to reflect the divine Mind, then the human senses so-called, have the ascendancy and man may seem to be sick or sinning; but it is only a seeming, only a counterfeit of the real, the eternal, the perfect, the God-like man. Our mission, our constant effort and prayer should be to let no imperfect impression come to us — to look ever for the perfect, or as Mrs. Eddy says on page 261 of Science and Health, "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." Is not this indeed what the prophet had in mind when he said of God, "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil?"
As Christian Scientists are sometimes criticized for denying the reality of the so-called devil and evil — let us proceed with this reasoning. All will agree that God is good and that He has all power, and that, being good and having all power, He has made all things good; and the record says He pronounced all things as very good. Then where does your evil originate? God didn't create it. But, you say, what about the devil? Certainly God didn't create a devil to undo or make for naught the work of His own might. Is it not pretty clear to you, my friends, that you cannot locate the devil by any reasonable theory? You cannot say he just happened to exist. You must conclude that there is one God and no devil, or else that God is not omnipotent and that there is another supreme power that is evil or devil and opposed to God, which thought is unbelievable.
But, you say, what will you do with the Satan or devil of the Bible? What did Jesus say of him: "He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar, and the father of it." (John 8:44.) Is not this the weightiest testimony to the falsity, the nothingness of the belief in any actual devil or source of evil? Think what a world of fear, sorrow, unrest, sickness, suffering and death this supposed Satan has brought to humanity. It is strange how unready many of us are still, to deny him and to claim and prove God's allness. When we come to analyze the beliefs and practices of man for centuries, we find that they have been mainly impelled by a fear of some power that was superior to God, or could in some way outwit God. This is witnessed on every hand; for instance, men build fortunes and amass large sums of money that no want or lack may come to them or their families for generations after their own lives. Surely men would not bend every energy, work night and day, drive sharp bargains, starve their employees for the piling up of money, unless they attached value thereto. Nothing could more clearly indicate their distrust in God's ability or willingness to provide their loved ones with all their needs. No fallacy has been more universally exposed in the lives and experiences of men than this: for did not Jesus say, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you," for our guidance in this respect? Then, when men have an ache or a pain, do they seek the help of Him who is all powerful or do they for the most part seek the aid of material relief? Mute testimony this, to their distrust of God's ability to overcome some power opposed to Him. But what a mournful testimony is given in Bible history of King Asa, who sought material help for disease, for says the record: "Yet in his disease, he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers."
Christian Science is trying to help men to see and to understand that for every need, one should look to God, to the spiritual, and not to the material. But one may say, "We do get some material relief." Yes, but it is only temporary, whereas, if one in Christian Science understands the nothingness and powerlessness of any so-called sickness or evil, he is not only relieved, but is less likely to experience the same false belief again. If one knows that sickness has no power, he will cease to fear it, and with the overcoming of fear, one of the great producers of disease will be gone. Christian Science teaches us that there is nothing to fear, for God is All-in-all. One cannot fear God or good. Indeed, John said, "perfect love casteth out fear."
The text-book, commonly called Science and Health, was written by Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, and was first published in 1875. It contains a chapter devoted to Genesis, and another to the Apocalypse or Revelation of St. John, wherein is set forth the spiritual and proper interpretation of the Bible, thus justifying that part of its title, "Key to the Scriptures." The last chapter called Fruitage, which has been added to the earlier editions, is a series of wonderful letters and testimonies from men and women from widely separated localities, testifying to having been healed of blindness, deafness, rheumatism, Brights disease, tumor, dyspepsia, stomach trouble, cancer, tuberculosis, fevers and nearly every known disease, simply by reading the book, Science and Health. The practical tribute to this book is to be seen in the fact that it is found in nearly any public library, in every Christian Science Reading Room and is available to any person who is interested. The book itself tells its own story better than can anyone for it. For me, it has illumined the Bible, and revealed it as a storehouse of profitable and life-giving truth, from which can be drawn supply for every human emergency. That its perusal and study have brought health, happiness and regeneration to a great number of people cannot be denied. Mrs. Eddy never intended that it should take the place of the Bible, but be read and studied in connection therewith. Critics of Christian Science have sometimes said that its followers do not read the Bible. No criticism could be more unjust. Christian Scientists study the text-book and the Bible conjointly. Provision for this plan of study is made in the Christian Science Quarterly, wherein are found side by side, references to passages from the Bible and from Science and Health, which are read at the Sunday services in every Christian Science church. Knowledge of the Bible and familiarity with its contents on the part of Christian Scientists is plainly witnessed by attending any Wednesday evening testimonial meeting in a Christian Science church, where nearly every speaker refers in connection with his healing to some passage from the Bible, and how it has been made applicable to his problem through spiritual understanding as gained from the study of Science and Health.
As a treatise on philosophy, science and religion, the Christian Science text-book has been subjected since its first appearance to the most unsparing and searching criticism. Physicians and teachers have tried to prove its teachings to be fallacious and tried to accomplish its destruction, but it has stood the test, and is today being published and far more widely circulated than ever before, and is perhaps more universally read and studied than any other publication except the Bible. Its use is not at all confined to those who are members of Christian Science organizations, but it is read and prized by teachers, preachers, doctors and others, many of whom, who, while not ready to accept its teachings fully and publicly, are nevertheless being surely led by reading it to higher planes of thinking and living. I believe it would not be saying too much to claim that the Christian Science text-book has leavened and is leavening the thought of the whole world.
It has been asked by some, what is the attitude of Christian Science toward the war? No people have been more loyal to their government in this crisis than have Christian Scientists; no paper more assiduous in supporting the governmental policies than The Christian Science Monitor; indeed, at a conference in Washington with one of the departmental chiefs, he stated that no other great daily newspaper had so clearly sensed the plans of his department and so loyally supported them as had The Christian Science Monitor.
Christian Scientists have, since the beginning of the war, been collecting and sending to the distressed and needy in England, France and Belgium, large sums of money, and are knitting and preparing in every way to carry comfort and help to our soldiers as their needs may appear.
Scientifically and metaphysically we do not see in the war, a mortal combat between nations, or between men; but rather the inevitable combat that must result between truth and error until all false beliefs have been destroyed. It is not a difficult task to find the mortal, carnal mind motives and beliefs that led to the inauguration of this great struggle, and perhaps no war of history will more clearly show than this one, all the attributes of the flesh, greed, selfishness, hatred, envy, ambition, pride, arrayed on one side against the spiritual ideals of the other. As in every conflict between the unreal forces called evil and the realities of good, so in this struggle no other result is thinkable or conceivable than the triumph of good, of Principle; for has not the inspired writer said, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." That there has been more savagery, more uncivilized and ungodly practices in this war than in any other of modern times, is but further evidence that the hideousness of error will eventually destroy itself. As Mrs. Eddy says, "The only power of evil is to destroy itself. It can never destroy one iota of good. Every attempt of evil to destroy good is a failure, and only aids in peremptorily punishing the evil doer." (Science and Health page 186.) Christian Scientists in considering the problems and questions raised by the war, are compelled, as in all other human discords, to look to God for the final solution, for did not the prophet of old say, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee?"
This leads to a consideration of prayer. Christian Science has given to the world a sensible and reasonable idea of prayer, one in keeping with the dignity and allness of omnipotent God. How often have we listened and marveled in the old churches at the flowery, wordy petitions that were poured forth seeking the ear of divine Love; marveled at the information that was being showered on infinite intelligence; marveled at the curious, unnatural requests made of eternal Principle; marveled indeed until one has wondered if one would ever attempt such a style of prayer again for one's own needs. Perhaps out of a multitude of blessings that have come to me through the study of Christian Science, the most satisfactory one has been that I have learned how to pray. Christian Science has taught me what Jesus meant when He said: "Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him." Prayer, as understood in Christian Science, is not an effort to inform the Infinite, nor to invite His interference in the affairs of men. It is rather an effort on our part to realize, recognize and be conscious of ever-present Love, and to know that infinite power and wisdom is being reflected by us. It is an effort to know and understand that there is no reality or power in evil or in a belief of evil. It is to know and understand that all good is meant for God's children, and nothing can prevent its manifestation. It is rather a process of affirmation and of realization than of petition. It is not to ask God to take a hand for us, but to know that His omnipotence exists for our benefit, and to bring ourselves into harmony with God's plan that we may avail ourselves of His power. With this thought, prayer becomes of necessity, "Not man's will be done, but God's." We may be sure that no other prayer will find an answer. Christian Scientists have learned what Jesus meant when He said, "Men ought always to pray," and a Christian Scientist is constantly in prayer, that he may keep his thoughts free of all that is unworthy, and filled with all that is Godlike. Mrs. Eddy has, in a few words, in the opening sentence of Science and Health, covered the whole ground of prayer. "The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, — a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love."
Christian Science has been assailed because of its teaching concerned Jesus, and it has been denied a place in the galaxy of so-called orthodox religions because it teaches that Jesus was not God. When we realize the difficulty Jesus had in making even his disciples understand who and what he was, it is not strange that the Christian Science teaching on this subject has been misunderstood. Perhaps few of the immediate followers of Jesus saw clearly the distinction between the human Jesus and the Christ idea; but Mrs. Eddy has made this clear in her teachings. The man Jesus was human, born of Mary, and his life covered but a brief span of years; but the Christ, which was not a name so much as the divine title of Jesus, expressing his Godlike nature, is eternal, "Without beginning of years or end of days," and is ever inseparable from God. Jesus, in referring to himself as the Christ, said, "I am the way, the truth and the life," "Before Abraham was, I am," and again, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." The Christ is now and always has been present in the world, to be discerned and demonstrated by men. Jesus, the man, came to earth to be the Way-shower or as Paul says the mediator between God and man. He proved that men may realize their opportunity in the flesh, to overcome sin, disease and death. He possessed more of the Christ, the divine Spirit than any other person who has ever lived, and he is therefore called Jesus the Christ, or Christ Jesus. The Christ cannot be confined to an individual any more than can divine Principle or God, but comes as the spirit of Truth, of God, to men as they rightly seek Him and desire Him. It is true that Jesus said, "I and my Father are one," but this expression is not at all inconsistent with Jesus' other statements concerning himself. He was one with the Father, as explained in the Christian Science textbook, as a drop of water is one with the ocean, but it is not the ocean. Or a ray of light is one with the sun, but it is not the sun. So is every man, as an idea of God, one with the Father, else how could Paul have been correct when he said: "For in Him we live and move and have our being?" When Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden," it is not to the human Jesus he was asking us to come, but to the Christ, Truth, which redeems and saves. To those of us who have but touched the hem of his garment, have but caught a faint glimpse of this Christ that heals of sin, sickness and sorrow, has come the fulfillment of promise, "and I will give you rest."