Lecture on Christian Science, Title Unknown (2)
Frank H. Leonard, C.S.B., of Chicago, Illinois
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Ages ago Shakespeare wrote: "There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so." The world has looked upon this as indicating that a bad thing may be made good to one who thinks it good. I am convinced, however, that even unknown to himself Shakespeare was having a glimpse of the great Truth which even then was germinating in consciousness only waiting for recognition that it might begin its great work of salvation in the world, namely, the knowledge that the source of all things is Mind. While he did not know the distinction between divine Mind and mortal mind, Shakespeare did realize the reason why "There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so," is to be found in the fact that Mind is the only thinker and creates thoughts; and all things whatsoever they may be called are but thought externalized or manifested. The mortal or carnal mind conception of all things is false and imperfect and it is because of this we seem to be surrounded on all sides with evil impurity and consequent corruption, decay and death and we can rise out of and above the seeming turmoil and disaster only by turning away from the "fleeting and false" to the enduring and true, which abide in the "Mind which was also in Christ Jesus" to become apparent to us as we obediently search for that same "Mind" unto the full recognition of the fact that the Mind in Christ is God and therefore God is Mind, the thinker or creator of all things which really are.
In St. John we read, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God," and in Genesis we read, "And God said, Let us make the earth and the fullness thereof, and it was so. Let us make man, male and female in our image, after our likeness, and it was so." And the thought of that divine perfect Mind, which God is, created a man and universe perfect in quality even as the Creator Himself is perfect; for we may rest assured our Master never gave a command unto man beyond his ability to obey and he said, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect;" and when he gave that command for your guidance and mine he was turning us directly to the realization that it is right thinking which manifests good. Christian Science has come into the world apparently teaching a new something, while really it is simply emphasizing the fact that the Word is God, is infinite and is good.
We may safely and certainly base all the "ills the flesh is heir to" on the human inability to discern "the signs of the times."
We read of the wonderful happenings of the times of Jesus, wish they might be possible now and then accept the universal belief that the time for miracles has gone by. To say the time has gone by for the power of the Word to be manifested is literally "taking the name of the Lord in vain," for he said, "Lo, I am with you always."
Webster defines a miracle as "anything wonderful." What Jesus did was in direct opposition to what we term natural law; but instead of our accepting and clinging as we have to so-called natural law as the real law, we should recognize that no law is natural or normal save that which manifests in all ways and on all occasions good or God. What Jesus did was not supernatural from the basis of real or God naturalness but in full accord with all the promises in the Bible as to the redemptive accomplishments of acceptance of his work as the direct manifestation of the omnipresent power of the Word. The realization of the infinite power of the Word brings to us absolute confidence that when we speak the Word of God, it is always with authority and power; and that the besetting sin of the sons of men is their lethargic attitude of unillumined indifference toward anything which seeks to turn them from this negative attitude toward the "things of God" unto the mental alertness which reveals "the deep things of God" and literally brings God's kingdom "in earth as it is in heaven."
We do not need to pray to God to take sin from us and give us good, for God is good and we already have Him. We need to pray that we may be delivered from the belief that God ever sent evil; from the belief that the perfect can ever become imperfect and the eternal, temporal.
Intercessory appeal to God is less than prayer, if it implies doubt of the changeless perfection of the creation of the "One altogether lovely" who is the same "yesterday, and to-day, and forever."
Right knowledge of the changeless God is manifested in the refusal to accept the belief that the man God made has degenerated into a mortal finite being which Job characterized as a poor, miserable "worm."
Knowledge of the changeless God starts one to investigating all lines of teaching which imply anything contrary thereto and reveals that sole reliance on the vicarious atonement to work out the plan of salvation is simple mental unwillingness to "search the Scriptures."
The Bible demands of us that we shall "work out" our "own salvation" and this demand indicates that no one else can work it out for us. We can be helped and aided. Our feet may be planted in the right place and our faces turned in the right direction; but salvation is individual and the work is individual, and we all have the work to do ourselves because it is only individual right thinking which brings individual salvation, or "the kingdom of heaven within."
From the human standpoint, it seems as though evil is the dominant factor in all things. It seems as though there is no direction for us to turn where we do not find ourselves face to face with evil. Now let us change our thought about things and strive to realize the real or God-like things! to realize the allness of good and to realize the infinite power of the Word.
Then no matter in which direction we turn, we find ourselves face to face, not with evil, but with God.
The mission of Christian Science in the world is to establish right-thinking about God, man, and the universe; about Life, Truth, and Love.
Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," telling us literally in this statement that Truth is the "resurrection and life" for he also said "I am the way the truth and the life."
Humanly speaking, we may have a million ideas as to what constitutes Truth and none of them be correct.
From the human standpoint Truth seems the most narrow, arrogant, bigoted, unbending, unchanging, and unyielding thing there is in all eternity. We may have all the different opinions relative to Truth we choose, but sooner or later we will have to come to Truth's knowledge as to what Truth is, which eliminates all personal or human sense of it, When we are freed from our finite sense of Truth we come to that realization of it which is "our bread from heaven," the realization which enabled the Master to heal the sick, to forgive sin and raise the dead.
Humanity protests when told that sin and sickness are synonymous when both are considered in the light of breaches of the law of God, because sickness has always seemed involuntary while sin has seemed voluntary. Christian Science preaches no new doctrine in its attitude towards sickness as sin, or an infringement of God's law for, when Jesus healed the one who was sick of the palsy he said, "Whether is it easier to say . . Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say Arise and take up thy bed and walk?"
Jesus knew that all the one sick of the palsy needed to know was to how to think aright about God and His law and he would be freed from his bondage to sin, alias sickness.
We need in this connection, however, to know that sickness is not always a manifestation of wilful sin but that it is the result of failure to see the necessity for constant growth in grace or in knowledge of God unto the coming of the perfect realization, of the unity existing between God and man as expressed by Jesus the Christ when he said, "I in them and thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one."
What is sin? Concisely stated it is any form of voluntary or so-called involuntary disobedience to the law of God, and when we infringe that law, when we manifest anything not in absolute accord with the law of perfection, which the Master indicated when he said, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect" we are sinning against God. Christian Science in its healing ministry in this world is not simply handling effect, but is disclosing real cause and its suppositional opposite or mortal cause, thus making evident the unpardonable sin whose wages is always death as being the belief in a creator or cause and a creation or effect as other than spiritual and perfect.
What sort of a conception of God can one have who believes in a dual-natured God? Our Bible teaches in its every page that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent! He can not be omnipresently both good and evil for one is the absence of the other; neither for the same reason can He omnisciently think both life and death nor omnipotently decree these negations! and yet the acceptance of them by mortals as being both real and present is literally a manifesting of belief in just this impossible condition.
In Deuteronomy we read, "The Lord our God is one Lord," therefore the Lord our creator is one creator and He created all real things perfect and good and as the creation must be like the creator, cause and effect must agree; we know that all real things are omnipotently, omnisciently, and omnipresently good just because God is good.
When Jesus was accused by the Pharisees of casting out devils by the prince of devils he reminded them that a "house divided against itself shall not stand." When we apply this same logic to the creation of God we readily see if He created good and evil, right and wrong, life and death, He is a house divided against itself and can not stand.
We must accustom ourselves to reasoning out the things of Spirit and cease believing they are hidden from us until after the change which we call death. The things of Spirit are eternal and it is as much eternity now as it ever will be. Now is the time when we are to worship God "in spirit and in truth" and cease giving willing ear to the cry of carnal minds which is at war with Spirit and is death unto any possible knowledge of God.
But, carnal or mortal mind declares evil is real and all around us, and how can you declare that good alone is real and what proof have you to offer in support of such a statement?
Jesus the Christ healed the sick, cleansed the leper, cast out sin and raised the dead, and he said speaking of his mission on earth, "I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." Surely all will agree that Jesus the Christ was fulfilling the law of God in all that he did.
But it may be argued these things existed even while Jesus was on earth and have existed ever since. Very true, it does seem so, but it proves nothing other than that we have failed to realize that the Mind "which was also in Christ Jesus" is also in us. Not until we have the same "Mind" consciously shall we know how to resolve "things into thoughts" as Mrs. Eddy has written in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 123) and not until we do this as the Master did shall we be able to accomplish the works in their completeness, which he did. But the day cometh when we shall do them all for he said "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask your Father in my name, He will give it you."
The query might be put here, If we ask for something we ought not to have and ask in his name, will we receive it? When we really ask in his name it will be with the same "Mind" which he has and that "Mind" neither thinks nor knows anything less than good and therefore at that time no sense of wrong will remain and of a truth, we shall "know him as he is."
Temptation to do evil is no sin, it is sin to yield to the temptation.
Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are, but was without sin. He recognized it to be nothing more or less than a suggestion to think wrong about God, and, refusing to yield thereto, he kept his thought pure and his freedom and dominion over all things was the consequent result. The knowledge that right thinking means right living makes us know we do not need to apply material remedies when one is in pain, but do need to help him think right, thus applying the cleansing influence of Truth the outward manifestation of which is harmony in its highest sense.
Christian healing is accomplished through the ministry of Christian Science as we realize the allness of divine "Mind" and the nothingness of what is termed matter. We do not claim we have yet risen above the belief in matter for if we had we would manifest Spirit alone, but we have risen above the belief that it is anything other than a belief.
What is it that sees, hears, feels, tastes, smells? Is it the eye that sees? Is it the hand that feels? Is it the ear that hears? When we stop to think about it, we know that there is not a physical thing to do anything, either seeing, hearing, feeling tasting or smelling. But it is all Mind. Therefore whether we call the thing matter or call it a flower, it is just a mental impression to us — that's all — no matter how real the impression seems to be or how unreal. We all know the testimony of the physical senses is absolutely unreliable and undependable.
That which looks attractive to one is repulsive to another. Harmony to one is discord to another. Pleasure to one is pain to another. We readily comprehend when we consider these simple illustrations what Christian Science means by the allness of Mind and the nothingness of matter.
The Bible teaches "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind," and this means we are to be changed in substance by beginning again with Mind.
Jesus the Christ transcended all material beliefs and theory when he healed the sick with the word of God and yet he said "I can of mine own self do nothing," indicating it was the "Mind" in him, the Father, God, which did the work.
It is very easy to go to God when we are in distress if we will only go aright and not make the endeavor a futile one by trying to tell Him what to do. It must be not my way, but Thy way, not my will but Thy will. "My way and my will" are the barriers which mortals have thrown up between themselves and God. These are the things we have to cast aside and rise above, for they constitute the veil which was rent asunder when the Master in his humility and meekness seemed to yield temporarily to the hatred of the carnal mind for good, the meekness and humility which brought him out from the shadow and the tomb through the realization of the spiritual Mind which is "life and peace" unto the absolute overcoming of the belief in sin, disease and death and the establishment in consciousness of eternal Life, Truth and Love.
Paul wrote, "There is no respect of persons with God," which means that the right to go to God with our every problem is innate, belonging to no special period nor to any select number, but is as eternal as eternity itself. Each one of us has the same right to demand of Truth the fulfillment of its very promise as had the humble Nazarene and, when we ask aright, each will find the Word clothed with authority and see God's glory manifested in his individual experience through the overcoming of evil in all its varied claims of power and law.
In order that we may know the "only true God and Jesus Christ" which knowing is "life eternal," we have to reverse evil and we find the word "evil" itself bears out this statement, for if we spell "evil" backwards we find it spells "live."
Christian Science teaches that to reverse evil means to stop being afraid and when we think of it, we know there is no need in the world so great as the need of the knowledge of that "perfect love" which casts out fear. Mortals manifest fear from the veriest babe unto the oldest men, for they all worry, and worry is but another name for fear. It is just as unlawful, according to the law of God to be afraid of a pain or of evil in that form as it is to be afraid of anything from a moral standpoint. We ought to be fearful when we come face to face with problems which would suggest the acceptance of an immoral belief or thought. We ought to be just as fearful in the right way when the suggestion comes to us of that other kind of an evil or ungodly thought which calls itself pain.
But some one who is suffering may say "I guess if you felt as I do, you would say you had a pain."
So long as any one feels that way about it he will continue to have pains unto the ultimate of that wrong thinking, for the Bible tells us as men "think it in his heart so is he" and "The thing which I greatly feared is come upon me."
Mortals have a seeming ability to think wrong and have the wrong manifestations or to think right and have the right manifestations. If one is determined to hold unto the statement that he has a pain and knows it, there is only one thing to do, and that is to let him have it. It is entirely a matter concerning himself, and no Christian Scientist will interfere to dispel it unless asked to do so.
I had nothing but pain for years and was absolutely convinced that pain was the most real of all things in my entire experience, and as long as I felt that way I continued to have pain. Then Christian Science came to me and in its teaching and treatment brought to me the conscious knowledge that I had been thinking wrong and was believing in the wrong thing — I had not been rightly educated about the power and the infinity of the law of God; and when the Christian Science practitioner said that the pain I had been suffering from was simply the outward manifestation of wrong thought and belief about God, I began to change my belief; and when I thoroughly changed my belief I did not have the pain and for the first time of which I am conscious, was well.
Now, really, this presents just one question: If to believe in the reality of pain gives it to you and keeps it with you and to know the unreality and falsity of the belief takes the pain away, is there any one in this world that would not be willing to have the knowledge of reality, or God which gives him peace and strength and joy and happiness?
There are two kinds of fear spoken of in the Bible, "the fear of the Lord" which is the beginning of understanding and is to hate evil; and the fear that there is power apart from God. One is terror, the other is reassurance; and when we have the "fear of the Lord" which is reassurance and the beginning of wisdom we realize that dominion and not slavery is our portion. What are we called upon to do in order that we may be fitted to accept and use this realization of Truth — the knowledge of right thinking that means right consciousness? We must lay self-love, self-will, self-justification, self-complacency, self-exaltation, mad ambition, and everything akin thereto, on the altar of self-abnegation for Christ's sake.
Mortal mind will cry in answer to this demand "if I do that I shall literally lay myself upon the altar." Yes, that is true, but in its entirety mortal mind only constitutes the sum total of inharmony, sickness, unhappiness and discord or in other words the shackles and fetters that have held mortals in bondage to this wrong belief, relative to God; and until in the realization of Christian Science one willingly lays all on the altar for Christ's sake he never knows what relief, what freedom, what joy, what happiness there is for man in thinking right and laying aside everything that is ungodly, unholy and unrighteous.
The healing work of Christian Science is the direct outgrowth of right thinking. Our Master healed those who came to him sick and in all forms of distress instantly because he knew through actual demonstration there is no such thing as the power outside of or apart from God.
The Christian Scientists have never claimed that with their present day apprehension they have reached the place where they have overcome the universal belief in seeing disease, death and kindred evil; in fact, Mrs. Eddy in her book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," very plainly expresses the thought which she had relative to this when she writes (p. 348):
"I have never supposed the world would immediately witness the full fruitage of Christian Science, or that sin, disease, and death would not be believed for an indefinite time; but this I do aver, that, as a result of teaching Christian Science, ethics and temperance have received an impulse, health has been restored, and longevity increased. If such are the present fruits, what will the harvest be, when this Science is more generally understood?"
Christian Scientists with their present day apprehension of the infinite power of the word of God are finding themselves daily face to face with the statement that they must grow in grace, and they will never stop growing in grace until they have come literally to the fullness, the liberty and the stature of the fullness of Christ.
It has been said of Christian Scientists that if ever anyone came into their home who was sick and who was not a Christian Scientist they would lock the doors and windows and lose the key to prevent them from having a physician if they wanted one. I want to read from the Christian Science text book (p. 443) what the leader of the Christian Science movement has to say on that point:
"If patients fail to experience the healing power of Christian Science, and think they can be benefited by certain ordinary physical methods of medical treatment, then the Mind-physician should give up such cases, and leave invalids free to resort to whatever other systems they fancy will afford relief."
That is common sense and common sense and Christian Science are one and the same thing when it comes to a consideration of how to treat disease and knowing salvation to be an individual work. The Christian Scientist takes this attitude because the Bible teaches us that man may plant and man may water, but it is "God that giveth the increase." The increase is God's business and it is not in our province to endeavor to interfere in any way. All must follow the line in their striving for salvation that seems right to them until they come to the realization that it is not the right way; and the blessed promise is held out to us that eventually we shall all come to the right way — for the Bible teaches that God Himself said "They shall all know me the from the least of them unto greatest of them."
We must gain a spiritual view point from which to grasp the spiritual allness of Christ's teachings. We cannot grasp what he taught in this world from a materialistic view point. It is utterly impossible, because either materiality with all of its misconceptions or spirituality with all of its perfections must be true; and the acceptance and knowledge of the one means the annihilation and obliteration of the others. We must rise to the spiritual standpoint of Christ in order that we may realize the purity and up-lifting which comes to one when he gives up looking after Christ's teachings from a materialistic standpoint.
The Scribes and the Pharisees failed to grasp the Truth of the Master's teachings because their whole endeavor was intellectual discernment and discussion, and the world has followed in their footsteps ever since and striving to understand his teachings from this viewpoint constitutes an endeavor to justify present conditions rather than an endeavor to know the truth which he taught.
Christ knew they were striving to harmonize spirit with matter, the real with the unreal — to prove to themselves the eternality of matter in the temporality of Spirit. And so he said "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes."
The world at large has had great misapprehension as to the position accorded to Mrs. Eddy by the Christian Scientists.
They have never looked upon her as a Creator but simply as a Revelator who through consecration, self-abnegation, and profound spiritual searching of the Scriptures, discerned the great Truth of the life "hid with Christ in God" which she transcribed in the Christian Science text book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," so simply that anyone who is willing to study may comprehend and know the "Truth" which makes man free.
Newton did not create anything when he gave to the world the law of gravitation. He simply dispelled its ignorance relative to something that had always existed.
Fulton did not create anything when he revealed the power of steam to the world. He simply eliminated its ignorance relative to the way in which it might be used.
Marconi in giving us the wireless, Morse in giving us the telegraph, and Graham and Bell in giving us the telephone, gave us nothing new. They simply eliminated ignorance relative to facts, principle, and law that had always been.
Mrs. Eddy found the world steeped in ignorance of the spiritual fact of the infinite God and, because she has eliminated this ignorance, to those who have studied the Christian Science text book she is the avenue through which God's word is become practical as a "very present help in trouble," and is the revelator of right thinking based on the fact that God is Mind, which is salvation or the kingdom of God come unto us.
Christian Science is not Mrs. Eddy's science; it is Christ's science or Christ's eternal continuity, presence, and activity, manifested in works as well as words, teaching us that only as we intelligently know and have righteous faith in him and prove it by demonstration have we become as little children accepting the kingdom of heaven which is "within."
We have scant record of what Jesus the Christ said while on earth, but the New Testament is filled with records of what he did and in working out our salvation, it is just as essential that we do the works in obedience to his commands as it is that we obey his words; for he says, "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;" and no one may say he did not mean that his statement should be taken literally.
The arm of the Lord is not foreshortened unto this generation. The word of God has not disappeared from the face of the earth. The law of God has not ceased to be law, nor has the will of God ceased to bring out the the lawful sequence of God, Christ, man and the universe, all co-existent and all in agreement as cause and effect, one and inseparable, all spiritual and eternal, manifesting Life, and Truth and Love.
We really sum up all the teachings of Christian Science when we bring out the right knowledge of Love. It is Love that healed the sick through Jesus of Nazareth. It is Love that healed the sick through his disciples. It is Love that healed the sick through patriarchs and prophets. It is Love that was manifested to this world through the Leader of the Christian Science movement, Mrs. Eddy. It is Love that is the redeemer of promise. It is Love that comes into our thoughts, driving out hate, malice, jealousy, envy, striving, contention and mad ambition. It is Love that prepares the table before us in the presence of our enemies, teaching us our enemies are not the brethren but the wrong thoughts that we have and cling to.
It is Love that establishes in earth His kingdom as it is in heaven. It is Love rightly understood that establishes the universal brotherhood of man, wherein there is no way, no will, and no law save God's.
And it is this Love manifested through Christian Science which has drawn Jew, Gentile, Pagan, Agnostic, and Atheist unto Christ through lifting him "up from the earth" into the realm of spiritual reality and consciousness, wherein God is worshipped "In spirit and in truth."
Christian Science has not attained its unassailable position in the religious world through the worship or adulation of personality, but has grown as it has through the elimination of personality, through the elimination of the belief that the mortal man, which David, writing of his own human birth, tells us is "shapen in iniquity" and conceived in sin, is the God-made man, the man that He made in His image and likeness and the establishment in thought of the individuality of spiritual or real man who is the image and likeness of God.
This proper comprehension of man comes through worshiping God in spirit and in truth, rendering one immune from any attack of evil, no matter what it may seem to be, giving one a measure of that peace which comes with active, conscious growth in grace unto a right knowledge of God.
Mrs. Eddy, the leader of the Christian Science movement, was one of the humblest, meekest followers our Master ever had on this earth. She thwarted every attempt to give her adulation for she realized if the time ever came when personal worship entered the ranks of the Scientists that would be the time when they had ceased to worship the one God and had descended to the plane of the children of Israel, where as God through Moses led them out of the land of sorrow and woe they turned unto the worship of the golden calf. Christian Science teaches that personal worship is abhorrent under God and an insurmountable barrier between God and himself to anyone who indulges in it.
The Christian Science text book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mrs. Eddy's legacy to suffering and sin-sick humanity, enables one to find the spiritual truths in the Bible, simplifies and elucidates their teachings and makes practical the example of our Master while on earth. It does not supersede nor does it take the place of the Bible, but makes it more desired and studied than ever before.
Legitimate Christian Science is revealed only through profound spiritual scriptural research based on the desire to justify God rather than man, and the Christian Science text book in its absolute insistence on unqualified obedience to the commands of Christ Jesus has been literally a light unto the world and a liberator of all mankind from the letter of the law which killed.
The Bible teaches that God is Love and this Love is all that can bring to us the infinite and unbounded sense of good.
It is futile to strive to know God in any other way than in the way Christ knew him for there is no other "Way" than Christ. The "Way" has not changed so we must walk in it that we may be saved.
Jesus the Christ said to Saul in the vision on the road to Damascus, "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." And striving to know God in any way but Christ's is kicking "against the pricks."
In every step of the struggle out from materiality into spirituality do we find Love with us not thrusting temptation from us, but instantly freeing us when we resist it and endure "unto the end." Jesus said, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The Christian Scientists are demonstrating the absolute truth of this statement. No matter what the problem calls itself, no matter how it presents itself, they take it straight to God, the Great Physician, and the Word does not return unto Him void, but heals them from all their diseases and delivers them from all their destruction.
The message of Christian Science to mortals is the message of hope, the message of activity and the message of joy. It is the glad tidings that at last we know how to worship God and how to "Walk in the Spirit" that we may not fulfill "the lust of the flesh" but "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." "For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things: to whom be glory forever."
[Delivered Dec. 10, 1911, at Becker Theater in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and published in The Shawnee News-Herald, Dec. 13, 1911. Minor typographical errors or omissions were corrected by comparison to another copy of the lecture.]