Lecture on Christian Science, Title Unknown (1)
Willis F. Gross, C.S.B.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The widespread and rapidly increasing interest in Christian Science is due to the fact that its promises are being fulfilled. Present results are an earnest of future possibilities and the glorious vision of a new heaven and a new earth, wherein God's law is supreme and governs all, rejoices the heart of humanity and gives promise of an effectual and speedy deliverance from discord and suffering. The opportunity for demonstrating this science has not always been all that could be desired. There has been opposition, occasioned by ignorance and prejudice, and Christian Science has not been correctly stated by those who have essayed to criticize a subject, concerning the fundamental teachings of which they were not in the least informed. But opposition and unjust criticism have not succeeded in retarding the progress of that teaching which has accomplished so much for suffering humanity even though its possibilities have scarcely been tested.
Conditions are rapidly changing, and loyal, faithful friends to Christian Science are being raised up everywhere. There are thousands of intelligent God-fearing men and women whose interest in this movement can be accounted for in no other way than that they recognize the good work which is being done. These persons are not Christian Scientists; many of them know but little of what it teaches, but they appreciate the good works of others even though they do not understand how those works have been accomplished. They are willing to judge the tree by its fruit and they are persuaded that if the fruit is good the tree cannot be corrupt.
Christian Science has appealed to men in all the walks of life. There is scarcely a phase or condition of human experience which has not responded to its quickening touch. Whenever and wherever Truth, as revealed in Christian Science, has begun to manifest its healing and saving power, humanity has at once been lifted to a higher plane of thought and activity. The healing has been effectual and there is a greater desire for good and a more intelligent effort to gain that which is desired. The effect of Christian Science is not limited to a person's physical or mental condition. It has a decided influence on what he does — the performance of his daily duties and his attitude toward his fellowmen. He becomes more proficient, and consequently more truly successful in the practice of his profession, the conduct of his business, or the performance of his daily work. If his occupation is such that it cannot be made to serve the purpose of good, he gladly gives it up and devotes himself to that which is beneficial to others while it ministers to his daily needs. Having gained that truer sense of good which is productive of present results he is a better man, a better neighbor, a better citizen.
There is scarcely a community where such a reformation has not been accomplished in the lives of individuals. Many are ready to give Christian Science the credit for what is being done and they desire to know what it is that can avail so much for humanity. That these persons may be correctly informed as to the teachings of Christian Science is the principal reason why these public lectures are given. Most persons desire to know another's point of view and the reason for his faith even though they may not be prepared to accept his conclusions.
Teachings Correctly Stated
Every teaching should be correctly stated and left to stand or fall on its own merits. It is said that false doctrines and evil practices must be uncovered and denounced or the ignorant and unsuspecting will be deceived and led astray. This is true enough, but one must know that a doctrine is false and a practice is bad before he attempts to expose it. Evils must be uncovered, but the most effectual uncovering of evil is instruction in righteousness. No evil is really uncovered until one gains the sense of good which enables him to see evil as it is. A woe is pronounced upon them who call evil good and the same woe is unto them who call good evil. The latter is just as fatal to man's well being as is the former.
There is no occasion for one person being disturbed by another's concept or presentation of the truth. If it is the truth it will stand and nothing can prevail against it. If it is not the truth, it will fall and all that was builded thereon will be overthrown. It is required of every man that he be faithful in the teaching and application of the truth as he perceives it, and that he accord to every other person all the rights and privileges he claims for himself.
Christian Science must of necessity differ from other teachings, else there were no occasion for the organization which is devoted to the promulgation of that which is believed by many to be a new doctrine, but which the Christian Scientist has accepted as the correct interpretation of the Master's teachings. The proof that it is correct is evidenced by the fact that it enables its followers to heal the sick in the same manner as the sick were healed by the members of the early Christian church.
Spiritual Interpretation of Scripture
Christian Science is based upon the spiritual interpretation of the Scriptures. The first tenet of our church is "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 497). All Christian people can heartily indorse this tenet of Christian Science. Religious organizations are devoted to the establishment of good. They all accept the Bible as the basis of their teachings and works. However much they may differ as to what is the correct interpretation of Biblical teachings and how much of that teaching can be translated into works at this time, they all have the same end in view, and should be given credit for honesty and sincerity of purpose.
The apostle Paul, whose success as a teacher and in doing the works which the Master declared would be accomplished by those who believe, enabled him to speak with authority, declared that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," and then he adds, "that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." Christian Scientists should not be criticized for accepting this simple, definite statement and ordering their lives accordingly.
The Scriptures are profitable for doctrine, says Paul. There can be no teaching more worthy of acceptance or of greater practical value, even in the affairs of every-day life, than are the spiritual teachings of those "holy men of God" who "spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." The Scriptures are profitable for reproof. Nothing can point out the errors and evils of mortal thought so effectually as the understanding of Holy Writ, and there is nothing else that really corrects these errors after they are pointed out. And surely no one would presume to say that any other teaching could be so profitable as are the simple, direct statements of those who spake inspired.
Great good results from these questionings and this increased mental activity along spiritual lines. Men are beginning to doubt whether the Christian religion has meant as much to them as it should, and whether they are experiencing all the benefits and enjoying all the blessings to which they are entitled. The demand for Christian healing was never so great as it is to-day, and from all sides we hear of those who are seeking to learn what there is in their own religious teaching, or belief, which can be made available in the healing of sickness or the alleviation of suffering. These efforts may be more or less spasmodic but they show the trend of human thought and give expression to the underlying conviction that there must be something in the Christian religion which will prove effectual in the healing of some diseases at least, if not all. When men begin to learn that Christianity does heal sickness, even in small degree, who can say how much is possible?
This is an age of progress. Present attainments do not satisfy. The success of to-day reveals the possibilities of to-morrow, and men are hastening to greater achievements. In the material world two things are greatly desired. First is better and more satisfactory results; and men do not hesitate to spend all the time, money and effort that is necessary to attain the desired end. Man feels that he is entitled to the best and must have it whatever the cost. When this is accomplished, the next step is to gain the same results with the least expenditure of effort and energy. The power of mind is becoming recognized more and more, and it is acknowledged that intelligent mental activity is the essential thing in all lines of human endeavor.
Generally speaking, it is believed that the world is advancing with marvelous rapidity, but in some respects it is admitted that the greatest success was accomplished in the past. The world's greatest musicians, painters, sculptors and writers belong to other centuries. Whether this will always be so we cannot say, but at present there is little indication that the future will ever excel the work of those, whose fame increases with the passing of time.
The greatest success in the healing of sickness was accomplished nineteen hundred years ago. If the records of sacred and profane history are to be depended upon, there was practised a method of healing, during the first three centuries of the Christian era, which was the most effectual in the history of human experience. The humble Nazarene was unquestionably the most successful healer the world has ever known. Results were always satisfactory and the least possible effort was required on his part. The healing work of the Master was merely a question of knowing. He said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." This knowing was the basis of his practice, the secret of his success. Simply by knowing the truth men were to be made free mentally, morally and physically. By example and precept he sought to impart that spiritual knowing which delivers from evil, the evil of sickness as well as the evil of sin.
His method had this decided advantage: both physical and moral healing were accomplished at the same time and by the same means. On one occasion when he said to a man who had been brought to him for healing, "Thy sins be forgiven thee," the people misunderstood and condemned him. To their sense his words were blasphemous, and they asked, "Who can forgive sins, but God?" They had come to regard the healing of sickness as something he was able to accomplish of his own volition, but when he sought to impress upon them that the same power which forgives sin also heals sickness, they thought he was claiming to do that which they knew no one but God could do. He said, "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." Of himself he could do nothing. He had power over sin as well as over sickness because he understood what it is that heals both.
Physical and Moral Healing
It is sometimes said that Christian Science lays too much stress on physical healing. This criticism is offered by those persons who are not correctly informed as to how great a work is being accomplished in the way of moral healing and spiritual uplifting. Christian Science has appealed to many persons as a religion, and afterwards the possibilities of physical healing were realized, but the great majority have turned to Christian Science because it promised physical healing and inspired hope after all else had failed them.
There is a great demand for the healing of sickness, and the numerous methods of healing and the thousands of intelligent men and women who are faithful in the practice of their profession are endeavoring to meet the demand. All men should be more concerned about their spiritual welfare than they are about their physical condition, but no doubt the great majority of people feel more keenly their need of physical healing than of moral. This should not be so, but such is the present condition and it must be dealt with intelligently.
Moral and physical healing were one in the teaching and practice of the Master. Healing was the foundation upon which he built. The multitudes did not see any connection between his teaching and his works, and it may be that the great majority to-day do not understand that there was a vital connection between what he said and what he did. The Master endeavored to impress it upon his hearers that in the understanding of what he taught was to be found the power which did the works. He said, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also." The belief in him as a man, as the son of God, or as God, has not enabled men to heal the sick or cast out evils, so it must be that to believe on him means to believe, accept, understand and live, or put into practice, what he taught.
The truly wonderful success of our cause is due to its healing works. The cure of disease and the alleviation of suffering is by no means the whole of Christian Science. It is but the beginning of what the understanding of Truth will bring into the lives of all who turn to it for help and are willing to put into practice what it teaches.
There are those who have applied to Christian Science for healing just as they would turn to any material method for help and have given the matter no more concern, but such has not been the experience of the great majority. Most people desire to know what has healed them. When they begin the study of Christian Science they soon learn that it is through spiritual growth and understanding that one is really delivered from sin and sickness. The healing of sickness is a most necessary work, and greatly to be desired, but it has a secondary place in the teaching and practice of Christian Science.
Works of the Master
The Master's ability to overcome sin and sickness shows that he had a truer sense of these evils than did others. If he had entertained the same belief as to the reality and power of sin as did the multitudes, or if he had regarded sickness and suffering as dispensations of Providence, his teachings and practice would have in no wise excelled that of his time. His faith in God was not a blind faith, it was spiritual understanding, and he was able to prove the truth of his words by the might of his deeds. His teachings cannot be improved upon, neither can his method of healing.
The Master's healing was so contrary to the theories and methods of the present that many are beginning to question and some are beginning to doubt whether the healing works were really accomplished. These persons are not atheists; they are not infidels; they are honest doubters who are familiar with material hypotheses and have such confidence in so-called material law and its operations that results which appear contrary thereto are considered among the things impossible. Many such persons have derived great help from Christian Science because it has enabled them to regard the so-called miracles of the Bible from an entirely different point of view.
In this connection it may be interesting to recall what the Hon. Charles Carroll Bonney, president of the World Parliament of Religions, which assembled in Chicago in 1893, had to say on the occasion of the opening of the Christian Science Congress. Among other things President Bonney said, "No more striking manifestation of the interposition of Divine Providence in human affairs has come in recent years than that shown in the raising up of the body of people known as Christian Scientists, who were called to declare the real harmony between religion and science, and to restore the waning faith of many in the verity of the sacred Scriptures. . . . Your mission is to restore a living faith in the fervent, and effectual prayer of the righteous man which availeth much, and to teach everywhere the supremacy of spiritual forces in the presence of which all other forces are weak and inefficient."
Christian Science heals the sick and reforms the sinner. These practical results of faith are most convincing evidence that the sick were healed and that devils, or evils, were cast out by the early Christians.
Discovery of Christian Science
Christian Science was discovered by Mary Baker Eddy in 1866. It is not claimed that this Science is a new teaching, neither is it assumed that it has anything to add to that which has been revealed. The deep spiritual meaning of the Master's teachings is presented in such a manner that mortals can understand sufficiently to begin the demonstration thereof. Christian Science is not an invention, neither is it an evolution of human opinions or beliefs. No teaching or system of modern times was the starting-point of Mrs. Eddy's work. She departed entirely from the beaten paths of recent centuries, and this is why her teachings were so original and her method of practice so at variance with that to which the public has been accustomed.
Mrs. Eddy's restoration to health after all material means had failed gave her the first glimpse of the underlying Principle of Christian healing. She had been a devout student of the Bible all her life and she had faith in God's power and willingness to heal the sick, as in the days of old. When she experienced the reward of her faith she comprehended the goodness and love and power of God as never before. A pure uplifting faith in God had brought healing to many before her day, but none of those favored ones ever attempted to explain how they had been healed. Mrs. Eddy discovered the divine Principle of all true healing. She learned that when the prayer of faith is directed by spiritual understanding it is scientific, and the results are as certain as the demonstration of the science of numbers or the application of any generally recognized law of nature.
She soon learned that the teachings of Christian Science are so at variance with material theories and practices that this Science must be demonstrated before it could be taught with any degree of success. At first she devoted her efforts to the healing work. When successful healing had laid a firm foundation upon which to build, she undertook the more important work of teaching.
The teachings of Christian Science are so revolutionary that they seem incomprehensible to many people until they are regarded from the standpoint of results. The demonstration of Christian Science is always essential, for as a rule, the healing of sickness is the thing which appeals most strongly to those who are in need. Every Christian Science church and society is established upon the physical and moral healing which has been accomplished in the community, and the cause is most active where the healing results are the most satisfactory.
Mrs. Eddy's own healing was the beginning of this great movement. As the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science she is known to the world, and as the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science she will take her place among the thinkers of modern times. Future generations will regard her as the friend of humanity and will marvel that she could have been so misunderstood and that she suffered so much opposition when she was simply endeavoring to teach and practice the Christian religion.
The most noteworthy among the writings of Mrs. Eddy is the Christian Science text-book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." This book was the outgrowth of the author's religious experience. It is adapted to the beginner in Christian Science, and the most advanced student is just beginning to comprehend the height and depth and length and breadth of its teachings. It contains such a clear, concise, and simple statement of demonstrable Truth that numberless cases of physical and moral healing have resulted from the reading of the book.
Teachings which appear inconsistent and unreasonable when regarded from the standpoint of the human intellect which reasons from a material basis, are regarded in an entirely different light when one has gained some practical knowledge of the results of those teachings. One cannot become a mathematician, a musician, or an artist without application, neither can one gain the understanding of Christian Science unless he puts the teachings into practice.
God alone has power to forgive or to destroy sin. and God is the only real healer of disease. Christian Science teaches how the sick are healed. The following from Science and Health is a definite statement as to what it is that accomplishes the healing work. "The physical healing of Christian Science results now, as in Jesus' time, from the operation of divine Principle, before which sin and disease lose their reality in human consciousness and disappear as naturally and as necessarily as darkness gives place to light and sin to reformation" (Pref. p. xi.).
What is this divine Principle which heals sickness and destroys sin? Principle is one of the terms used in Christian Science to convey to the student a definite, demonstrable idea of the Supreme Being. The human concept of God as person, using the word person in the sense in which it is generally understood, leaves a doubt as to what may or may not be the result of forsaking material remedies and depending upon God for the healing of sickness, but the concept of God as divine Principle removes doubt and destroys fear. It assures one that in proportion as Principle is understood and its laws obeyed, results are certain and satisfactory.
One of old asked, "Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice?" and many to-day are asking, Who is God that I should be obedient to His law? When the children of Israel started upon the long journey through the wilderness, it was necessary for them to have definite instruction as to what was required of them. The promised land of their hopes were afar off. An unknown country was before them and they little realized how great would be the transformation of thought as they journeyed on from day to day. It was essential that they gain some definite knowledge of the Supreme Being, and Moses became the voice of God to them, saying, "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shall have no other gods before me." Mortal man gains his first definite idea of God when he recognizes what God has done and is doing for humanity. The children of Israel fully realized that some power outside themselves had accomplished their deliverance. All their lifetime they had been in bondage to the Egyptians, and no way of escape seemed possible. Moses knew how they had been delivered and he was able to declare unto them God's presence and power. The declaration was, "I am the Lord thy God," which is to say, I am the Mind, the intelligence, the power which delivered you, thou shall not have, or believe in, any other Mind, intelligence or power.
One Infinite God
The first commandment is the basis of all right teaching and practice, and the wonderful success of Christian Science is the result of making clear to human consciousness what God is and why obedience to his law is required. Material theories are not in accord with the Scriptural teaching that God is Spirit and that Spirit is the source, or cause, of all that is real. There is one infinite God, is the fundamental teaching of Christian Science, and in proportion as this truth dawns upon human consciousness the belief in other gods, other creators, and other powers disappears.
The ancient belief in many gods has not entirely disappeared. Finite sense is unable to comprehend the infinite and it sought to atone for this failure by establishing the belief in gods many. The human finite conception of God is too limited to meet the requirements, and the ancients thought they had solved the problem when they came to the conclusion that there must be many gods. They conceived of these gods as exercising their power in different directions and being as it were kings in their own special dominions. They believed in a god of war, a god of peace, a god of agriculture, etc. When help or favor was desired, appeal was made to the god who was supposed to have power and to rule over affairs in that particular direction. Altars were set up and sacrifices were offered to these several gods.
However, the belief in many gods did not fully satisfy, because there was always a question as to whether there might not be other gods whose existence was unknown. The Athenians hoped to atone for any shortcomings in this direction by erecting an altar to the unknown god. When Paul discovered this altar he improved the opportunity to preach unto them the unknown God whom they ignorantly worshiped. He declared that this God is Lord of heaven and earth, that He made the world and all that is therein, and that men live, and move, and have their being in Him. Paul's teaching was a rebuke to their belief in many gods. He declared that the unknown God is the one infinite God, which includes all. If this God is worshiped in spirit and in truth, man has accomplished all that is required or possible. The oneness and allness of God is clearly set forth by the prophet Isaiah. "I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me."
God is infinite ever-present good, and His law is ever operative. The Master gave the most convincing demonstration of this eternal truth and Peter declared "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." There has been no attempt to provide an easier or a more effectual method of salvation from sin. The sole purpose of all religious teaching is to make plain the way of salvation which is already established. All the progress which has been made, or can be made, is in gaining a clearer understanding and becoming more faithful in the demonstration of that which has been revealed. The method is perfect and complete; imperfections are to be found only in human belief and practice.
It has never been claimed by those who accepted the Biblical record of the Master's works, that a more scientific or more effectual method of healing sickness has ever been discovered. The principal reason why the Master's method of healing has not been generally understood and put into practice is because it was considered miraculous, i. e., contrary to law, or at least contrary to the laws to which men in their present state are subject. The healing of sickness is no more miraculous than salvation from sin, and Christian Science is demonstrating that there is one effectual remedy for both. The belief that the Christ method of healing sickness is no longer necessary or possible has caused mortals to seek a material remedy, and as a rule they have turned to God for help in sickness only when material means have failed.
God is Mind
God is Mind. One infinite God means one infinite Mind. The teaching that God is Mind and that creation is the expression of Mind, is the basis of Christian Science. We have no record that any writer or teacher outside the Bible, except Mrs. Eddy, ever taught that God is the only Mind. This is her contribution to the enlightenment of the age. The declaration that Mind, God, is the life, the intelligence and the substance of man and the universe, has inaugurated a warfare with material beliefs which will never cease until the might and supremacy of divine Mind is universally acknowledged.
Opposed to the scientific fact that God is the one infinite Mind is the mortal belief of minds many. This belief is designated in the Scriptures as the carnal mind. This so-called mind is in no sense subject to the law of God. It seems to exist and to be active in a realm of its own. Divine Mind is the source of all good; the carnal mind is the source of all evil. Both sin and sickness are the manifestation of the carnal mind, and nothing but divine Mind can effectually destroy these evils.
The effect of mortal mind on the body is universally recognized. Discordant mental conditions disturb the harmonious action of the system. The beneficial effect of right thinking is an accepted fact. Are there any limits to what can be accomplished in this direction? Who can say, "Thus far and no farther"? Instead of declaring that certain results cannot be accomplished by correcting erroneous thoughts, would it not be wiser to see how much can be accomplished in this way? That much is being done cannot be denied, and no intelligent person will declare that still greater results are not possible.
The Master recognized both sin and sickness as the work of evil. There is nothing in his teaching or practice to justify the conclusion that sickness and suffering are good or that they manifest the divine will. He spoke of one who appealed to him for help as "a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound." This woman was no more under the influence of evil than were others whom he healed. Those who turned to the Master for help were no more in bondage to evil spirits than were their friends and neighbors who depended upon the material systems of their times. This woman was afflicted with what was considered a physical infirmity. For eighteen years she had been "bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself." No doubt she had employed many physicians. They had given her disease a name and accounted for it in a material way. The Master understood that the cause was mortal mind and that divine Mind was the remedy; knowing the truth of being, he spoke the word and she was healed. Results proved that his diagnosis was correct and his remedy effectual.
The theory that man is material and subject to and dependent upon material law increases the human liability to disease and suffering. Divine Mind heals effectually because it destroys the mortal belief in the reality of sickness. A man's power of resistance is greater after he has been healed in this manner, because consciousness is less material and less subject to material conditions and environments. Humanity has everything to gain and nothing to lose by looking to divine Mind for salvation from sickness as well as from sin.
Even the advocates of material methods of healing do not claim that the remedies which are administered accomplish the healing work. The most that is claimed for them is that they assist nature. Unless the laws of nature are understood, the material remedies employed may operate as a hindrance rather than a help. In such cases when the sick recover it is not because of, but in spite of, the method of treatment.
Christian Science teaches that all inharmony of mind and body is the result of conscious or unconscious violation of the law of divine Mind. The only effectual remedy is obedience to law. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." There is no way to escape the self-imposed penalty of disobedience, and no means of attaining the desired harmony except through obedience to the law of infinite good.
Reliance on God
Mortal man feels the need of something outside himself, and he seeks diligently for that which he believes can be depended upon in time of need. Believing so firmly in the things that are seen, it is not surprising that he puts his trust in material things so long us there is any hope that these things will afford the needed help. He is instructed in material beliefs and educated in material theories. He understands that these material things are only for the present, and that they can avail him nothing in the future. Theology teaches that he must make preparation for the future, and so his efforts are divided. He tries to rely upon both matter and Spirit. He looks to matter for help in the present and depends upon Spirit for that which pertains to his future welfare. The effort to serve two masters, matter and Spirit, has not been successful. There has been constant failure where there would have been success if man had looked to God and relied upon Him alone. The goodness and love and power of God never fail. Divine help is effectual and always available.
It is through the spiritualization of thought that man becomes conscious of God's presence, and there is always the assurance of help when the divine presence is realized. The purpose of prayer is to lift humanity above the discordant things of mortal mind into the realization of being in harmony with divine Mind and its laws. The unceasing prayer of earnest desire for good avails much and accomplishes man's deliverance from evil. Failure is due to lack of faith or spiritual understanding. Increased confidence in good and more implicit reliance on good is the great human need. Lasting harmony, in the present or the future, comes as the result of moral and spiritual growth. In this way one builds on a sure foundation, and his work will stand.
Perfect Model Desired
It is sometimes said that Christian Science is ideal, but it is not practical. It may be that this is the sense too many have entertained of the Master's teachings. From the human point of view there is little hope of ever being able to love one's neighbor as one's self or to become perfect as the Father in heaven is perfect, and so mortals have not always done as well as they might. There is a decided advantage in having an ideal, even though the present may fall far short of its attainment. The higher one's ideal the greater will be his success if he earnestly strives to attain his heart's desire. It is true that high ideals are seldom attained, and as a rule the most truly successful persons realize they have fallen far short of what they hoped to accomplish; but who would say that they might have attained greater heights if their ideals had been more in line with their ability to perform? One should have a perfect model, and he should never be satisfied until he has done everything he can to make his work conform to its requirements.
What is the model which Christian Science presents? First there is one infinite, eternal God; the only cause and creator; the only Mind, intelligence and power: divine Love, unchanging, no respecter of persons, "the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever;" the all good which is incapable of evil and could not create that which made evil possible. All that God has made is good and He made all that was made. Man is God's image and likeness, and he has no existence apart from his Creator. Of himself man is nothing. God is his life, his intelligence, and he knows no other substance than Spirit. Since there is no evil in God, there is no evil in God's image and likeness. Neither sickness nor sin has any place in man's true being; he manifests good and nothing but good. He is subject only to the law of divine Mind; "his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he mediate day and night." God's image and likeness must of necessity be "perfect, even as the Father which is in heaven is perfect."
Work of Transformation
No Christian Scientist claims to have attained perfection. He claims perfection for God's image and likeness, but not for mortal man. The imperfections of mortal existence must give place to the eternal realities of man's spiritual being. Paul tells us not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. That which exists in thought finds expression in word and deed, and sooner or later the effect is manifest upon the body. The real work of correcting the evils of mortal existence begins in thought, and Christian Science teaches that one must not think that which he does not wish to see manifest in his daily life. No evil is ever really overcome until it is rooted out of consciousness and good takes its place. From the human point of view this work of transformation and regeneration seems an almost impossible undertaking, but Christian Science shows how it is possible to make a beginning, and present results are sufficient to convince the student that he has started right and all that is required of him is that he build well on the foundation which is laid.
The wise Christian Scientist does not claim for himself anything more than has been accomplished. He has a perfect model, but he does not claim to have demonstrated perfection. He has entered upon the great work of working out his salvation from all evil. He does not cover up the imperfections of mortal thought, for he understands that all evil must be recognized as such and overcome with good. "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." Imperfections of every kind and character must be eliminated from consciousness, hence his mental activities must be such as will bring out a higher degree of perfection. He understands that to acknowledge the reality of sin and sickness is to build up in consciousness that which must be torn down before the perfect model can appear. All the claims of evil must be dealt with as false claims. They must be intelligently denied and their falsity demonstrated.
The teaching of Christian Science concerning evil is not always understood, and it is sometimes said that the adherents of this faith do not attach sufficient importance to evil. The reality and power of good is the only foundation upon which one can build with any degree of safety and the wise builder is ever watchful that he be not deceived by evil or permit it to interfere with his work. The mortal belief in the reality of evil can never demonstrate the oneness and allness of good, and this belief must be forsaken if one would escape the discord and suffering it occasions.
The work of the Christian Scientist is constructive, his faith is positive and demands results. He rejoices in what has been accomplished for this is the proof that his faith is right. No one realizes more clearly than does the Christian Scientist that he has but caught the first faint glimpse of the eternal realities of being. He counts not himself to have apprehended, but forgetting those things which are behind, he reaches forth unto those things which are before and rejoices that he is beginning to understand even in a small degree that Truth is one, infinite, and eternal, and that all may know the Truth which brings into human experience better health and morals, increases the desire for good, awakens a loving interest in all mankind, and enables one to make his life what it should be, — a life of service, wherein he is not judged so much by what he has gained for himself as by what he has done that contributes to the universal good. The understanding of Truth reveals the eternal fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. It demonstrates the ever-presence of infinite good which is the antidote for all evil. That glorious vision of the Revelator wherein "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away," is no longer regarded as an uncertain future experience, but a present possibility. When thought is liberated from the bondage of material beliefs and man begins to know "the glorious liberty of the children of God" he sings with the psalmist, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever."
[Published in The Times-Dispatch of Richmond Virginia, Feb. 19, 1912.]