Christian Science: Its Naturalness, Simplicity, and Practicality
John C. Lathrop, C.S.B.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
It is the purpose of this lecture to show that Christian Science possesses a distinct value; that it has a distinct mission to perform, and that in its valuable mission to mankind Christian Science is natural, simple, and practical. Christian Science is natural, inasmuch as it has come to a suffering world in the ripeness of time, in perfect order, and it has appeared as inevitably as the dawning of a new day. A brief survey of religious history and development will show the natural order of the coming of Christian Science.
Old Testament Prophecies
From time immemorial men have sought more or less intelligently a salvation from sin, sickness, and death. In Old Testament times good people constantly craved a savior who would free them from the bondage of sin and fleshly burdens. The more spiritually minded men or prophets of those days discerned the coming of a Redeemer or savior, who would lead and set free the followers of God. This belief was but a craving for the truth, then naturally taking the form of a personal savior. With this constantly increasing yearning in extraordinary faith on the part of many people, it was but natural that the answer to this prayer should appear in extraordinary form. This expression came, not as was expected, through a personal power with splendor and physical force, but through the birth and development of a teacher, who was more purely to reveal and demonstrate the doctrine of Truth and Love to mankind.
The advent of Jesus and the result of his teaching were significant, for though many were called, few were chosen to perpetuate these spiritual teachings, and it was but natural that the chosen were those who saw and heard through a higher sight and hearing than the material senses, for said Jesus, speaking to those chosen ones, "Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear." And again he said, "For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see: and that they which see might be made blind." In other words, that those who saw not that the only real life and intelligence is Spirit would be taught to see it, and they who saw life and intelligence to be in matter would be made blind to this belief, or would be shown that the belief was false, and thus they would believe it no more.
The Bible records that before Jesus made his complete demonstration over material law in his resurrection and disappearance from material sight he said to his disciples, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth." At another time when impressed by Peter's recognition of the Christ, Truth, he said, "Upon this rock (or understanding of the spirit of truth) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." It is of prime significance that Jesus had withheld a higher teaching from his disciples because of their mental unreadiness to "bear (it) now," which higher teaching would be revealed in the fullness of time, through "the Spirit of truth" who "will guide you into all truth."
Even the twelve disciples did not comprehend Jesus: one doubted him, one denied him, one betrayed him, and all forsook him. This lack of understanding on the part of the disciples of the subtle workings of evil and material law, to which Jesus evidently referred, showed itself in subsequent years. After several centuries of successful resistance to severe temptations through simple faith, the early Christians about the year 325 A. D., succumbed to the artful promises and selfish designs of the crafty Roman Emperor Constantine, whose ambition to rule the world must necessarily include the separate and fast growing body of Christians. It is again noteworthy and natural, that from this time forth the power to heal the sick and to raise the dead by spiritual means alone disappeared from the Christian faith. And with the spiritual power disappeared also faith in the naturalness of healing by spiritual means. Gibbon, in his "History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Volume 1, p. 540) states, "The miraculous cure of diseases of the most inveterate or even preternatural kind can no longer occasion any surprise when we recollect that in the days of Irenaeus, about the end of the second century, the resurrection of the dead was very far from being esteemed an uncommon event; the miracle was frequently performed on necessary occasions by great fasting and the joint supplication of the church of the place, and the persons thus restored by their prayers lived afterwards among them many years. The second century was still more fertile in miracles than the first."
Failure of Early Christians
But what of Jesus' promise that the Spirit of truth would come and guide into all truth? When was this higher event to take place? When were these "many things" which the disciples were not ready to bear to be made known to the world? What was their mysterious and spiritual nature, and when would the world be ready "to bear" or understand it? Religious history shows that after the loss of the spiritual power to heal the sick, during the fourth century and during the following centuries, so complete was the surrender of the early Christians to material laws and means that it required many periods of reform, beginning in the sixteenth century, to awaken and prepare human thought for the coming of the Spirit of truth, which was to guide into all truth. The truth had long been coming like the ocean tide gently rising on a stern and rock-bound coast, advancing and receding, wearing away here a stubborn crag, and there a persistent cliff, until finally after centuries of human effort this resistless oncoming tide of truth found an opening where it was least expected — a natural cleft between the crags of time-honored and tenacious human opinions, a place receptive and yielding, — the exalted character of a noble woman of the nineteenth century.
The Discovery and Discoverer
This great fact, that the Spirit of truth has come and is now leading the world into all Truth, has become historical. For over fifty years it has been conclusively demonstrated by countless cases of mental reform and physical healing. In the year 1866, Mary Baker Eddy, a New England woman of Puritan forbears, through a purified state of mental readiness, discovered the divine Principle of being; and through further inspiration gradually developed the spiritual rules, which assumed a method or system of healing and reform which she was divinely led to name Christian Science. The discovery was made through her own physical recovery from an internal injury which attendant physicians pronounced fatal. Left alone she turned to her Bible, opened at the ninth chapter of Matthew, read Jesus' healing of the palsied man, and immediately the deep significance of the relation of sin, fear, and material beliefs, as the mental cause of all bodily ailments, dawned upon her thought. She suddenly awakened as from a dream, felt new life and strength, and arose from her bed instantaneously healed.
She soon had an ardent desire to put her discovery into writing for the deliverance of a waiting world. She realized, however, that the discovery must first be thoroughly proved, and after several years of conclusive demonstration in healing, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" was written, and became the textbook of Christian Science. In this inspired work Mrs. Eddy makes this significant statement: "Our Master healed the sick, practised Christian healing, and taught the generalities of its divine Principle to his students; but he left no definite rule for demonstrating this Principle of healing and preventing disease. This rule remained to be discovered in Christian Science" (p. 147). Mrs. Eddy had discovered this definite rule, or the hidden spirit of truth, which was to lead into all truth; and it is the aim of this lecture to help others to make the same discovery.
Discovery is Individual
Newton discovered the law of gravitation by observing a falling apple, — a very simple and natural event, — and each person discovers for himself the higher law of Spirit through some occurrence just as simple, timely, and natural. It may here be said that some persons unconsciously retard the discovery of Christian Science by holding an opinion about Mrs. Eddy, which, while meant to be scrupulous and just, is really found to be prejudiced, unreasonable, and unjust. I, myself, in my early days in Christian Science, was tempted to criticize severely what I thought was a personal and arbitrary power exercised by Mrs. Eddy, until I awoke one day to realize that this opposition was obstructing my progress, and was only caused by the selfish and ungrateful carnal mind in myself, which, as St. Paul says, "is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." I learned that ingratitude darkens one's thought and shuts the door on progress, and that if one is ungrateful he will be unloving and unjust. In the years following it was my privilege to know Mrs. Eddy intimately, for over a year to be a member of her household, to watch her daily habits, and to weigh and follow her advice: and I can testify in dispassion and in truth that such was her devout obedience to God, her unwavering devotion to divine Principle, and her unselfish love for others, that it may be said of Mrs. Eddy that she was one who measured up to the Master's ideal, and not only laid down her life once for her friends, but did so daily.
The chief difficulty mortals have in understanding a spiritual idea is the obstinate unwillingness of the material mind to accept anything which may disturb its complacency or displace its supremacy. The material mind is innately selfish and jealous of its supposed material comforts and rights. From this mistaken sense proceeds willfulness and the material human will is the chief obstacle in the way of mortals understanding Christian Science. The natural spiritual fact of the allness of God, or Spirit, and of spiritual man and spiritual universe which the Bible teaches, is most unnatural to the material senses of mortals, whose god is matter, whose man and universe are material, and whose will or law is material opinion or belief. Matter seems to these material senses to be the great and only fact. Honest thinkers sooner or later learn that the so-called law of material belief, and its effect, called matter, is a contradictory, confusing, and false claim, and is wholly contrary to spiritual law. They come to see that material sense is no law nor lawmaker whatever. Matter is the opposite of Spirit in nature and expression, and being the very reverse of God it cannot be the creation of God, Spirit. Hence, if Spirit, God, is All-in-all, and therefore the positive force of being, as most people believe, matter must be a negation and an illusion. A minute examination of matter verifies this conclusion, for the more thoroughly it is analyzed the more it contradicts and negatives itself and the more its nothingness is discovered.
Unreality of Matter
The New Testament is very explicit in denouncing the "flesh" as being contrary to Spirit, as witness many sayings of St. Paul and the following in particular: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing"; "for the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would"; "so then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you"; and that conclusive saying of Jesus, "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing." That "the flesh" meant matter in general is certain, since all forms of matter, in nature and quality, are actually the opposite of Spirit. These inspired Bible statements are a strong argument against the reality of matter and the carnal or material senses. Says Paul, "The carnal mind is enmity against God." Nobody really loves matter; one merely has a sense of life and intelligence in matter which he believes is pleasurable. But as matter has no life nor intelligence, this belief of pleasure is an illusion and is enmity against God. This is realized as the real pleasure as life and intelligence in Spirit dawns upon the thought.
Unnaturalness of Material Methods of Healing
One of the common beliefs of life and intelligence in matter is the power that is given to a drug to restore health. This faith in matter in the form of a drug is more important and harmful than most forms, because it shuts the door on direct faith in God, Spirit, as the immediate and only restorer of health and life. What a god some people make of medicine! The drug is said to be given to assist nature to produce a cure; but the drug has no intelligence, it does not know where to go, then how can it assist nature in the cure of disease? Nature truly is the natural healer of disease, but matter is not nature. Nature, rightly understood, is the manifestation of divine Principle, and Principle, or Love, and the spiritual Life thereof are not expressed through a negative false belief called matter. Physicians say that you will get well if you have a good constitution and enough vitality, and that nature cures you, but what are vitality and a good constitution, and what is health?
There are more delusions and superstitions about health than there are hours and days in the year. For instance, how many people still believe that a horse-chestnut or a potato carried in the pocket will prevent rheumatism; how many believe that only nauseous medicines cure, that the germs of typhoid will cure typhoid; that a rabbit's foot on a watch chain will dispel fear? A piece of raw pork tied behind the left ear, is still recommended in some regions as a sure remedy for colds; and when I was a boy my mother ardently believed that a periodical throat trouble, caused by an elongated palate, which doctors said I had, could only be relieved by wrapping my throat with a piece of red flannel smeared with lard, camphor, and salt; and the flannel always had to be red flannel. When, soon after, my mother was healed in Christian Science, she immediately commenced healing others; and in two treatments which she gave me fifteen minutes apart, that palate, which doctors said required a surgical operation, suddenly became so shortened that I have not known since that I ever had one. There is also a superstitious belief, which possesses some logic, that if medicine is good for sick people it must be still better for well ones. And if drugs really possessed any virtue, this would be so. Spiritual Truth and Love, the real healer of mortals, is not only good for sick people but is equally good for well ones, a universal, everlasting benefit to mankind in sickness and in health.
The recent experience in combating the so-called Spanish influenza is a notable example of the negative results from material means of healing. From a variety of sources came a variety of experiments and results, which doctors freely admitted were for the most part conflicting and unsuccessful. One hundred volunteers, who for several weeks in 1918 were under observation by the Navy Public Health Service to ascertain the cause of influenza, had influenza germs placed in their nostrils and throats, and ate them with their food, with the interesting result that not only no cases of disease developed, but the only noticeable, effects of the experiment, according to the physicians, were increased appetites and more vigorous health. The health officer of New York City, Doctor Copeland, in an after interview (The Christian Science Monitor, April 5, 1919) stated that "the chief thing he had to do in the control of that epidemic was to preserve the morale of the community and eliminate fear"; and it is well known that the mortality during that period was lower in New York City than in any other large community.
Reason of Failure
It is not necessary to continue these citations; they are commonly known. Why is it not seen that the uncertainties in the progress of medicine, which history has shown, are due to the uncertainties of matter and material belief? When will all good people see that drugs do not, can not, restore health, since "in him (Spirit) we live, and move, and have our being"? And when will it be seen that matter is not a cause, but an effect, the effect of the material mind, and one goes badly astray so long as he deals with the effect, — so long as he drugs or treats it, fears or honors it? Hence, the mystification and uncertainty in circles, which should ere this be awake to the subtleties of the material mind as the cause of matter, evil, disease, and death.
It should be obvious that health, vitality, and nature are not to be found in matter. Then what are they and where are they to be found? The correct solution of this vital question should unite the physician and the Christian Scientist. They can come together on this question and the minister can unite with them. Though vitality, health, and life are beyond the comprehension of the physician and the minister, as they themselves readily acknowledge, may not these forces now be understood and explained?
Solution Through Christian Science
Looked at materially there always will be something unsolved in regard to vitality and health, but it is found that Christian Science disentangles these forces, sets them free from their material complications, and reveals health and vitality to be spiritual qualities or forces. Christian Science teaches that there is one and one only real Mind, or divine Principle, which is all life, intelligence and substance, — therefore, must include all true nature, vitality, and health. Christian Science does not take away the beauty and harmony of nature, but rather by improving the material sense of things it discloses a beauty in nature and man never before seen. This nature and beauty revealed in the realm of divine Mind are the reflection of God; they are God's spiritual ideas, and there is no other nature. Says the Bible, "All things were made by him (God); and without him was not anything made that was made." Therefore, when nature is healing the sick, it does not mean that some mysterious force is at work in matter, but it means that divine Principle or divine Mind is being naturally expressed through spiritual thoughts, through the good thoughts of hope, faith, and understanding, through the law of Life, Truth and Love; such thoughts destroy the false beliefs of fear, disease, and sin.
Divine Principle the Natural Healer
Real nature's healing results, as Mrs. Eddy explains in Science and Health (Pref., p. xi), "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." Jesus understood this rule of nature or divine Principle and practiced it in his healing the sick, casting out evil, and raising the dead — wonders which are often called miracles, but which, when the simple rule is understood, are no more supernatural or miraculous than the transporting of fifty people in an aeroplane or talking by wireless from Boston to London: marvels which fifty years ago were incredible and would have been pronounced miracles, but now are regarded only the natural law and order of progress. Professor Wendling says "The divinity of the Christ does not rest upon miracles, — the miracles rest upon his divinity." The reversal and correction of false material law by the law of divine Principle is not a wonderful or marvelous thing. It is not marvelous that this ever operative law of Spirit should act instantly and fully; the marvel is that divine Principle is not always thought of and applied first to every human ill.
Vitality and Health Spiritual
Error is defined in Christian Science as the false belief that there is life, intelligence, and substance, in matter. Thus vitality and health are shown to be conditions of thought or manifestations of divine Mind, and not attributes of matter. Then it is wrong and disloyal to God to believe that nature works in or through a drug or any material remedy to cure disease. Neither nature nor divine Principle needs any help from matter; in fact Principle does not know matter, any more than light knows darkness. Light destroys darkness, and this illustrates how it is that divine Principle destroys material beliefs. Nature working through so-called good germs is a theory which may serve to show that divine Principle is expressed through good thoughts, provided that we remember that divine Principle alone is the reality in nature. Matter is unintelligent and negative and there can be no good germs or bad germs.
Divine Principle and Practical Prayer
A minister of the gospel once asked me: "In Christian Science you call God divine Principle. How can I possibly pray to a principle?" The answer is by understanding what Principle fully means. One must turn his thoughts away from matter, which contains no principle, to God, as the one infinite Spirit or Mind of the universe, including man. Christian Science teaches that God, Spirit, is the only cause, Life, intelligence, and power, therefore He is the divine Principle of the universe; and it teaches that man is His image and likeness, therefore that man is spiritual and not material. This divine Principle of the universe and man is active, concrete truth, and as such is capable of healing demonstrated in all human affairs. Such demonstration is made through prayer, according to the Christianly scientific method of Christian Science. The availability of the Christian Science prayer lies in its practical, workable nature. The Christian Science prayer works, or avails, just in so far as one understands and applies the divine Principle and rules of Christian Science to discordant mortal beliefs. This means that prayer is right thinking; and in order to pray aright one must learn to think aright, and in order to do this must learn of divine Principle; one must cease believing that blind supplication to God to grant personal desires avails anything. Science and Health explains (p. 3), "His work is done, and we have only to avail ourselves of God's rule in order to receive His blessing, which enables us to work out our own salvation." This rule is nothing more or less than the long hidden "Spirit of truth," and it is the rule of Christian Science revealed in this day and generation, namely, the law that life, intelligence, and substance are spiritual and not material. This law must be conscientiously affirmed and realized in thought, and material and evil beliefs must be denied and seen to be unreal. This intelligent affirming of the true facts about man's spiritual being, namely, that he is God's image, perfect, pure, and free, — and the denying of the opposite material beliefs in fear, disease, and sin, constitute treatment in Christian Science. Such is "the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man" which "availeth much."
Available to All
Anyone can understand how Christian Science heals the sick, and anyone can be a practitioner and give a treatment in the measure that one obtains this understanding. Many people commence to help and heal others immediately after they themselves emerge from darkness. Thus a person becomes a pioneer missionary for good in his own family and in his own community; he becomes the happy channel through which much trouble, disease, and discord are destroyed. There is no element of danger in this process, for with spiritual faith and understanding come the tact and wisdom necessary to act and talk sensibly, and which teach a Christian Scientist not to undertake problems beyond his understanding. One does not attempt to solve a problem in algebra before one has mastered multiplication and division. There is a protecting power in deep divine faith which surpasses all mortal knowledge.
Simplicity of Christian Science
If Christian Science is truly natural it must be simple, because true nature is simple and sincere. A simple thing is one that is plain and single; not complex. To be simple is to be clear, direct, humble, and unadorned; not combined with something else. Matter possesses none of these characteristics, but is complex, entangled, vague and deceitful; for this is the character of the material mind. Matter is anything but simple. It is so complex and confused in material, mortal belief that it never has been and never can be understood by this false belief. If material belief were more humble and simple it would not lie and claim its effect, matter, to be a cause and creator. Matter is the mask of mortal belief, and this lie of belief shields and hides itself behind this mask, until it is unmasked by Christian Science.
Simplicity of Spirit
The only substance that is simple, artless, and entire is Spirit, and its qualities are the same. Spirit is God, and God, good, is the simplest thing in the world to the good and pure-minded. "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God," said Jesus. Only the materially minded, enslaved by the lie that life and intelligence are in matter, find Spirit, God, abstract or hard to understand. Unmask mortal belief, expose and reverse its evil claims, lay bare its willfulness, mesmerism, and nothingness, and the light and simplicity of spiritual Truth, without seam or rent, begin to dawn upon the thought, and the real man, as the image and likeness of God, is revealed. This ideal Christ-man, in all his simplicity and perfection, is not material but is a spiritual idea. This is the man whom Jesus saw, and this correct idea of man enabled him to cast out errors of belief and heal the sick.
Jesus' Example of Simplicity
Jesus lived a life of simplicity, a life apart from matter or the flesh. He saw man in God's likeness and this law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus will make anyone "free from the law of sin and death." Christian Science is this simple law of life and intelligence in Spirit, not in matter. The question is asked, "If Christian Science is the same as Jesus taught, why is it not more simple, so that all can readily understand It?" Mrs. Eddy answers this question in her "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 53). "The teachings of Jesus were simple; and yet he found it difficult to make the rulers understand, because of their great lack of spirituality. Christian Science is simple, and readily understood by the children; only the thought educated away from it finds it abstract or difficult to perceive. Its seeming abstraction is the mystery of godliness; and godliness is simple to the godly; but to the unspiritual, the ungodly, it is dark and difficult. The carnal mind cannot discern spiritual things."
Children in Christian Science
The unusually large Sunday Schools in the Christian Science churches indicate the pleasure and interest children take in learning the simple truths of Christian Science. Children of all ages soon learn to love these spiritual truths, which they themselves can apply with practical results in their daily studies, as well as to their habits and to their physical needs. Children do not take naturally to drugs and nostrums, or to fear and condemnation. Christian Science teaches children to think and reason, and that child was consistent who said to its mother, "Mamma, you say if I get my feet wet I get cold in my head, but if I get my head wet, I don't get cold in my feet" — a very good illustration of the ruling and contradictory nature of material belief. As a rule children take skeptical views of material diseases, like the boy who called his father's disease "expendicitis." The child thought is naturally lowly and trustful, honest and sincere. This is good ground which receives the seemingly abstract truths about the nothingness of evil and matter, with simple faith and conviction. These ideas need only then be protected and fostered to develop in the child strength and independence, which releases its true individuality, and the child grows up happy and free, unbound by material laws, governed by divine Principle instead of human will. This saves the child many weary after years of fear, confusion, and suffering. Accepting Christian Science at the age of fourteen, I well know to what extent its teachings have saved me from physical disease and mental discord. Jesus' sayings, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven," and "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God," can well be read together, the latter saying supplementing the former. These sayings are not abstractions, but practical daily rules.
Heaven and Hell
Thus heaven is found to be a state of ever present harmony and peace, — a mental state, the door to which is opened by the child qualities of humility, honesty, purity, and love. The opposite of this condition, called hell, is dealt with very simply and practically by the teachings of Christian Science. If heaven is not a place but a state of purified consciousness, then hell is the very opposite state of mind, and most persons are in a measure to testify to this.
The Bible teaches that if we resist the devil, he (evil) will flee from us; but with material thought this has been an impossible theory. Evil would sometimes seem to disappear only to reappear in another guise, and perhaps more subtle form. Christian Science goes to the root of evil or sin and finds it to be only the impersonal and false claim that there is a power apart from God, good. This false claim Mrs. Eddy calls mortal mind, as she says for want of a better term; and this mortal, material mind is the same carnal mind which is "enmity against God," and what Jesus called a liar from the beginning.
Human Will is Mesmerism — Destroyed by Divine Principle
Christian Science shows how each individual can, and must, for himself overcome these subtle evil beliefs. It shows that these beliefs let loose are aggressive and are expressed through what is called will power or mental suggestion, which is only another name for hypnotism or mesmerism. And it shows that disease cannot be healed by willful thoughts or suggestion, since one error cannot destroy another error. Christian Science shows that as the resistance of these false evil beliefs is not personal, therefore no personal harm can be done. It is an impersonal resistance in the sense that evil is impersonal, and in the sense that divine Principle, Love, is the impersonal power that human consciousness reflects to destroy evil. This impersonal method of handling evil is the only method by which evil can be destroyed, and therein lies the great practicality of Christian Science. Any method that starts from the premise that evil material sense is God-created or God-acknowledged starts ignorantly and falsely and has no perfect Principle with which to destroy error.
Practicality of Christian Science
Christian Science is practical, as the healed and regenerated everywhere do gladly testify. Christian Science is a divine law or system of perfect rules to be proved, and while the absolute is always possible, no one must think that he is expected to attain it in any other way than by steps and stages. No one ever does so. Therefore he must not feel that he is required to give up everything that seems dear to him before he can take the first steps in Christian Science. Growth will forever be gradual. Any pupil knows that he must first understand addition before he can take up the problems of subtraction and multiplication, and any man or woman knows that he just naturally outgrows the pleasures of marbles or dolls and cannot return to them. Whatever explains what fear, sin, and disease are, whence they originate, and how they are to be overcome is eminently practical.
Fear is the shadowing torment of human existence that is responsible for more than half of human discord and disease. Christian Science shows that fear comes from ignorance or sin. It teaches one how to rise out of ignorance and out of sin, and thus prevent and heal all kinds of fear.
Fear Epidemics Preventable
Waves of fear seem occasionally to sweep over the country. They generally are manifested in one of two forms, a fear of lack of supply or a fear of contagion or disease. These so-called epidemics seem unpreventable and uncontrollable to the limited material sense of things, which cannot see the source of the trouble, and which employs only shallow and contradictory means to stem the tide. Material means clip off only the branches, while Christian Science goes to the root of the tree, for a Christian Scientist, with the perfect assurance of spiritual understanding, employs means recommended through the ages, — namely, the word of God; means which when scientifically understood, in the words of the Bible are "quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
Solution of Supply
Christian Science destroys the fear of lack of supply with the same divine Principle with which it destroys the fear of contagion or disease, proving that there is no difference whatever between the law of wealth and the law of health. Christian Science shows that lack of supply is only a material belief, a symptom of the false material sense of things, a fear occasioned wholly by ignorance of man's unlimited, eternal sonship to God. Discover this likeness to God, claim this sonship according to the rules of Christian Science, then leave the outcome with divine Love, and the limited material sense changes to an unlimited spiritual sense, which brings into light and practical action the law of divine Principle, which supplies all wealth and health.
"Yes, leave it with Him;
The lilies all do,
And they grow, —
They ask not your planting,
They need not your care
As they grow:
Dropped down in the valley,
The field, anywhere, —
There they grow:
They grow in their beauty, arrayed
In pure white;
They grow, clothed in glory by
heaven's own light, —
The grasses are clothed
And the ravens are fed
From His store;
But you, who are loved
And guarded and led,
How much more
Will He clothe and feed you, and
give you His care?
Then leave it with Him; He has
This law of unlimited supply is eminently practical, as thousands have proved and are proving. These thousands who have come up out of great tribulation and washed their robes white, have awakened from this false sense of lack and poverty, weakness and disease, and thanks to the practical rescue of Christian Science, are now restored, regenerated, and rejuvenated mortals.
Fountain of Life Discovered
The rejuvenation of mortals, or the renewal of youth, is a natural sequence and practical result of the advent of Christian Science, and a highly important result. The fountain of life and wisdom has long been sought, and to the uttermost parts of the world, but "the depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me." In other words, life never has been found in matter, and it never will be. The discovery of Life is the same as the discovery of divine Mind, Spirit, Love, for these are synonymous terms for the one eternal Principle, called God.
According to the first chapter of Genesis, man is created in God's image and likeness and has dominion over all created things. Christian Science shows that when the temporal mortal man discovers that man is spiritual, and not material, he will realize that Life is eternal and ever present, and that mortal birth, decay, decrepitude, and death are only false material beliefs, over which man has full dominion. When this inheritance of dominion is claimed and exercised, a mortal will no longer measure his life by the standard of material inheritance and years; he will begin immediately to deny and overcome in thought these false laws.
Daily Demonstration of Eternal Life
Naturally a Christian Scientist does not limit life and man; then, practicing this rule daily, he does not limit his continuous power and vitality. He does not expect to grow old, to become infirm, stoop-shouldered, dim of vision, or hard of hearing. He knows his strength and true faculties are in divine Mind and cannot become weakened. He realizes he must not become indifferent or careless about his habits or his appearance. He does not, in fact he knows he cannot lie back on the things he has done or sit in a corner with folded hands and shift his burden of responsibility upon a child of the flesh, for he well knows he cannot selfishly lay down his own problem for a successor to solve. A successor will have his own individual salvation to work out, and besides he knows that the real man, made in God's likeness, can have no successor. Men and women of riper lessons and experience surely should realize their dominion over the mesmerism of fear, limitation, and reversal. All persons should realize the danger of becoming self-satisfied, or satisfied with a "good enough" religion. Nothing in matter is good enough for one who is seeking freedom, peace, and salvation.
The True Church
Christian Science teaches that Life or divine Principle, and its idea, man and the universe, are "an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens;" therefore, can never dissolve or become disorganized. Organization is a consolidation of human beliefs which may be good or bad, according as truth or error governs it. Good organization is a temporal, human structure which proves its elevating power and utility until its inevitable disappearance before the divine idea. The human body and the human church are prominent examples of organization. Jesus said, "I am not come to destroy but to fulfil." The human body and church are not to be destroyed but human beliefs about them are to be improved until the body and the church have fulfilled their useful and practical functions. The real church is a spiritual "house not made with hands," comprised of spiritual and right ideas, in other words, all that proceeds from divine Principle, Love. This is Jesus' church, which he foretold, built on the rock of spiritual understanding, the one universal church. It is the divine ideal of the human church, the latter proving its utility in demonstrating the Holy Comforter or Christian Science, and ministering to the masses, to rich and poor alike. This is the function of the Church of Christ, Scientist, an organization established by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879 whose parent church, The Mother Church, is in Boston, Massachusetts, and whose branches numbering over 1800, extend over the world.
Value of Church Membership
Membership in the Christian Science church is an outward uniting with the Christian Science organization, but it is essentially a non-ceremonial spiritual step. It is a new birth, a new sense of life, a new sense of Truth that is able to destroy error and heal the sick. In other words, it is a step that each individual takes for himself, governed by divine Principle, not by human will; hence, thereafter the member recognizes that he has advanced in spiritual understanding and is grateful to the wise rules of church membership which have helped him to subdue fear, pride, procrastination, and human will.
The Practical Lesson-Sermon
The Lesson-Sermon read in the Christian Science churches is another distinct departure from time-honored custom, and is an example of the practical and individual nature of the Christian Science ministry. During the week, throughout the world, unnumbered earnest seekers after Truth are studying and assimilating this prepared Lesson-Sermon, with the practical result that they become independent of personal leadership and personal ministry. They come together at church services and meetings, recognizing the great value of united thought and effort to crystallize and protect the movement, and side by side, in love and confidence, guided by the one Mind or Principle, they work out their own individual salvation in Spirit and in Truth.
Salvation Through Self-Determination and Self-Development
Self-determination and self-development are now said to be the only road to liberty and progress. This is true and is the teaching of Christian Science. Self-determination, or the freedom of the individual to decide for himself, and self-development, or the freedom of the individual to develop himself, are inborn and inalienable rights. They are really laws of divine Love and justice, forever governing and directing the man of God's creating. Divine Love and justice are man's highest protectors. Divine Love and justice demand that all men shall now in this day and generation awaken to their natural spiritual rights; that the time is ripe for full self-determination to awaken from the long night of material mesmerism, the determination to strike at the root of all human bondage and discord and throw off the yoke of false material beliefs, the determination to develop the Christ-idea or Christ-child in each human consciousness and experience now man's eternal heritage of dominion and health, peace, and joy. "Then," in the words of the prophet, "judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. And the work of righteousness shall be peace: and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever."
[Delivered May 20, 1920, in First Church of Christ, Scientist, Washington Street, Peekskill, New York, and published in The Highland Democrat of Peekskill, May 22, 1920.]